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Developing YOUR Character - Issue 206
June 24, 2011
Hi there! ....

This week has been kind of slow and gentle. We’ve all been recovering to some degree from the flu. We’ve pottered through the things that have had to happen, the girls have worked on some creative projects, we’ve listened to audio stories and Daniel has played around with movie making/animation.

The highlight for me was working in the Kitchen with Daniel. We’ve been watching Masterchef and it has inspired him to cook. So even though it was Joshua’s turn to be cook’s helper Daniel stepped in on Friday and helped me make Gnocchi. We made a huge mess! But he stuck it out with me and cleaned up too. I think the Bob and Larry sing the 80’s music may have helped too. I need to do this more often – it was a lot of fun!

Live life with your kids!

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Developing YOUR Character

One of the ideas that I came away with after last weekend’s seminar was the reminder that developing character isn’t just a task for parents, directing the training towards our children. It is also a matter for our own lives. I know as I study things to teach my children there are many issues highlighted for me to work on as well but I was struck with the idea that we are proactive and reactive in our training with our children – but I am only proactive with myself.

Let me explain: Proactive training is where you learn something because it is right, there is no issue at the moment, we just train in that area and one day the things we’ve learnt will come into play. We learn character in a proactive way in that each month we focus on a different character trait. This trait is just the next one in the book – regardless of what is going on around in our house or in people’s hearts.

Reactive training though is when a heart issue is present, and we have to deal with it. This tends to be a one-on-one issue though sometimes the whole family benefits from a little extra instruction as well. For example someone may be waking up grumpy so we focus on enthusiasm and being an energy giver not taker, someone may be struggling with completing their jobs on time so we focus with them on diligence or thoroughness, someone may be not managing their time wisely so we talk about self control and thriftiness. Of course someone isn’t going to change their habits by a simple discussion; when these issues arise we spend anywhere from a week to a month discussing, reviewing, and practicing with this one person how to apply this particular trait into their life. This is reactive training and it happens mostly along side of proactive.

Now, back to me. The character issues that I address in my life tend to be in accordance with the proactive lessons I am teaching my children. During the seminar we had to take stock of our own life – that is, ME, Belinda. What are the character weaknesses in my own life that I should work on? This is reactive – I see something and I set out to change that.

Have you ever done that? We looked at this list of 49 Character traits and just chose 2. Yes, just two! The next thing to do is to study one of these traits, to start to understand how Jesus views these things and to pray for grace to change. As we become aware of what this trait looks like then we will see the different choices we can make in any given situation. We can choose to react or we can respond with character. As we choose to respond with character our habits will change.

Just as our expectation on our children is that they make character based decisions when they are relating to people so too should I. I think there is a danger in separating my role as a parent, and my need for character. It is as if we have two standards of character – one for me as a parent, one for me as a person. We forget that our children are people and we are responding to them though out the day. Do we respond with character-based choices?

I remember a conversation with my mother when Josh was very little. Dad had broken a precious teacup of hers. He was very sorry and yet mum assured him that it was okay. There was no grudge etc. Later on she reflected that if that had have been one of us kids (when we were younger) she would not have been as forgiving and gracious. I know there is a line where our children are in training and that is important but I think we tend to forget that they are people, and regardless of the situations we face, we need to respond to the people around us with character. This particular conversation has had a great influence in my own reactions when things get broken or spilt around my house. Stuff happens – what is my reaction going to be?

Another issue that has been on my mind is how do we respond when our children just don’t get it. It is easy to think that we need to get ‘angry’ to show the kids how important this issue is. Sometimes we think they don’t even get it without us getting angry. (I’m not talking fist through the wall anger here – just a normal angry). But when we do that we need to ask: are we responding to the situation around us, are we responding to the people around us with character? The answer would be: No. Anger is not a good character based choice regardless of the provocation.

We must guard our reactions. Just as I tell my children:

One person doing the wrong thing,
doesn’t make it right for you
to do the wrong thing!

When our children do wrong we would be better responding with boldness (confidence to say or do what is true, right and just) and determination (purposing to accomplish right goals at the right time, regardless of the opposition). This type of reaction (or response) would be far more effective in reaching our children’s heart than demanding my right to be heard as the parent by raising our voice!

I’m reminded of the story Jesus told about the speck in one person’s eye and the log in the other. We must remove the logs in our own eyes before we address our children. This isn’t to say that our character must be perfect (for it won’t get that good!) but we do need to be humble and honest, working on those things in our own life that are not right.

Keep your heart with all diligence;
for out of it are the issues of life.
Proverbs 4:23

This is a scripture that I have used to encourage my children many times. But it needs to speak to me too. I need to keep my heart – with all diligence – because out of it come the issues of life! I need to guard my reactions to the people and situations around me - even if they are my kids!

Note: All character definitions in this newsletter have been taken from Character First

I blog during the week over at Live life with your Kids Blog. This week I wrote:

You can join us in learning more about character by reading the Character Education pages on my website.

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Blending Life with Lessons e-book - Does your everyday life challenge your homeschool ideas? This is my journey as I discover that it is possible to disciple my children in today's busy lifestyle.

Heart Focus Parenting book/e-book - A heart focused parent will keep their attention on their child's heart for God, instead of on external behaviours.

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Until next week

Belinda Letchford
Living life with her kids in Australia!

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About Live Life with your kids Newsletter I know homeschool mums are busy with lots to read, so I have divided my newsletter into four sections and you will receive one section a week; short but regular newsletters!
  • Be a Deliberate Parent – Encouragement to continue in purposeful and intentional parenting.
  • Family Life – Spotlights on a particular aspect of family life so we can see the natural opportunities available to us in educating our children.
  • Character Education – Each month we focus on a different character trait – The newsletter will include application for Mums, as well as seeing character training opportunities in everyday life.
  • A Homeschool Thought – Discussing homeschool issues

The newsletter will also keep you updated with all additions to Lifestyle-Homeschool

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