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Sharing Life Together - Issue 268
September 21, 2012
|Hi there! ....
Did I mention last week that Jess had her friend come to stay? Well this week her friend’s brother came to stay as well – who just happens to be Joshua’s friend. So we now have 6 teens in the house - all studying and living together. It has been a great week. The older kids have shown great discipline with their time and I have enjoyed hearing them talk about their studies and assignments to each other.
On the homeschooling front there are a few cracks starting to show, and it is time to address them – I’ve been thinking on these preparing for next week. But of course everything isn’t ‘not working’ so I have been reminding myself to keep a balanced perspective, not to be overwhelmed by thoughts that aren’t really true, and to make changes, a little at a time.
If you are a new Australian reader I would appreciate you reading this special request.
Sharing Life Together
One of the marks of a strong healthy family is that there is a clear family identity – that each member of the group not only knows they belong, but feels like he belongs and knows what he belongs to. The heart desires of the parents are generally what sets that family identity.
A few weeks ago one of my daughters was speaking to a friend on Facebook – she was commenting about how good everyone in this family was with music. She asked: Is that a part of your family identity? It was. Her question was a good one, and one that I asked my kids.
If that is a part of their family identity – what is a part of ours?
They had a few answers (and there was no real right or wrong answer here). The point was that they knew what was important to Peter, to myself and hopefully that they were beginning to see it as important for themselves as well.
One of the things that creates that identity and awareness of the identity is that when the kids are little we take them everywhere with us. Sharing life together – the coffee dates I have with my friends, the calling in when people are sick with a meal, the haircuts and doctor appointments, the practices at the church etc… having my children with me on these occasions helped them see what belonging to our family was about.
They joined me in my life. They were there with me, in the things that were important to me.
Fast forward a few years and I now have teenagers. And to be honest, they are a delight. They still see themselves as a part of that family identity. There are times that their heart gets tugged at by what their peers are doing though they find a grounding in who they are as Letchfords.
One of the things we’ve been aware of though is that for all these years we’ve expected them to be a part of our life (and they have been) and now as their wings spread the question has to be asked – am I prepared to be a part of their life – am I prepared to get involved in the things that are important to them.
I need to be.
A relationship is a two way thing and as my children grow up, the relationship changes and I have to be prepared to change with it. One of these changes is that they will like things that haven’t been a part of our family before; they will want different expressions, different privileges, and different opportunities.
Often our first reaction is to clamp down on everything because after all that is not a part of our family identity.
Or our reaction could be that we let them do whatever because after all we all know that teenagers rebel – maybe if I let them go now, they’ll come back to me in a few years’ time.
There is a third choice: join their life.
I don’t mean go to their parties, join the youth group, drama group or netball team. I mean join in with the things that are important to them. Fashion? Music? Cars? Sport? Art? Friends? These things seem external, and they are – but if we don’t connect with our kids and their interests in some way then we will be overlooked at times when they need someone older and wiser to confide in.
I’m not saying that we need to throw all caution to the wind – we wouldn’t be wise parents – but we need to seriously consider where our line is, talk to our kids about our standard (and reasoning) for each of the areas your teen is interested in, join in when we can, and close the door on it when we have to. But please don’t just presume we’ll have nothing to do with it – what you may hear is the closing of the door to your child’s heart.
I want my child (teen) to be a part of my life (and the things that are important to me) and I need to be prepared to step outside of my comfort zone, outside of my preconceived ideas, outside of my expectations and connect with their world for some of the time. And when I do our relationship is strengthened.
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This week I wrote:
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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Live life with your Kids newsletter is about being a deliberate parent, about enjoying family life and using the opportunities that happen to teach and train your children in righteousness (right living with God). I hope that you will find regular encouragement as you live life with your kids!
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