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Home Alone: Who's the Boss? - Issue 277
November 30, 2012
Hi there! ....

Last weekend Naomi was a part of a local amateur theatre production of Oliver. As the local newspaper put it,“Naomi Letchford exuded confidence and kept the audience entertained as the cheeky Artful Dodger”. I’ll try and blog about it and share some photos over the weekend. So while Nomi rested and recovered during the week, Jessica has hit my overflowing cupboards with a vengeance – she has pulled out a lot of stuff that was used in our early homeschool years but hasn’t been touched for a while. We are sharing with the local homeschoolers all sorts of games and art supplies. It is a blessing to have her declutter things around here. Josh is over east with a leadership course, he visits his grandparents this week and then goes to a Christian youth conference next week. We miss him! Daniel is being very diligent with his studies and has done a lot out in the yard this week after a few storms which blew the palm trees around a bit. I’ve been working on a few different projects but my main efforts have been to order presents so they can arrive here in time for Christmas! Life is full and fun.

Live life with your kids!

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Home Alone: Who's the Boss?

As our kids grow older one of the things that we can do is leave the older ones at home to care for the younger while we duck out. We may go to do the shopping, some chores, a quick visit with a friend, or a coffee date with our husband. It is a freedom for us and a responsibility for our older kids.

One of the things I decided early on was that my freedom was not to come at the expense of my children’s relationship with each other. That is, unless they could maintain a friendship while I was away I did not leave them at home alone. This meant unless the younger ones could respect the authority I gave the older ones I didn’t put the older ones in that position. I wanted things to be harmonious while I was away.

Once all the kids were of an age where they could be left alone for a while my expectations changed. Instead of saying “Josh and Jess are the boss – you need to do what they say” (which is an aspect of me giving them the responsibility) I now say:

    You are all old enough to make the right decisions yourself while I am away. And yet, God has made us a family where we are to encourage each other to do the right thing. So I want each of you (youngest and oldest) to listen to each other should someone encourage you to think about what you are doing.

This leaves the sense of responsibility on everyone’s shoulders not just the oldest. The oldest is no longer the boss of everyone instead they are working together as individuals who are committed to doing the right thing.

Of course as parents we have to make this shift in our instruction and expectation. Our ultimate goal for each of our children is for them to know what is right and to have the inner strength to make decisions in keeping with that. The first way we can test this is by leaving them at home without our presence as this is a narrower field than setting them out in public to test their moral conviction.

The Bible tells us to encourage each other to good works (Hebrews 10:24) and this has been one verse that we have used to help our children in their relationship with each other. There is a very fine line between being bossy and encouraging each other so they have had to learn to check their heart before they open their mouth! But if we are told to encourage one another there is an implied instruction to receive encouragement from our brother/sister as well. This is equally challenging.

The Bible also tells us to submit one to another (Ephesians 5:21) so our children do need to know that there are times they do need to follow the advice, encouragement, instruction of another person but this isn’t necessarily dictated to by age. We submit to each other when there is a moral equality and we should be seeing in our kids as they grow older.

Of course we can’t leave the house and just hope for the best. We have to expect our kids to relate to each other like this even when we are in the house. We need to teach our kids to encourage each other, to accept the encouragement, to be humble enough to change our path when someone says something to us, to be brave enough to say something when you see someone do something wrong. If this is normal practice (without your prompting) when you are around, then you can expect that to happen when you are out.

There are times when I leave my kids with this encouragement and expectation only to get a phone call because things have gone pear-shaped! It is easy to simply get them to do the right thing with quick instructions but this isn’t the important thing to address. Instead I need to ask them questions to help them see that somewhere along the line their response to their sibling hasn’t been right. I can ask, “Are you being bossy or encouraging to your sibling?” Or maybe the questions need to be asked of the other child:

  • Are you listening to the encouragement from your brother/sister?
  • Are you willing to be corrected?
  • Are you willing to change?
  • Do you need to put something right with your sibling?

These questions deal with the relationship not the issues that made things tense. Most often or not dealing with their heart towards each other fixes the other issue too, but sometimes you may need to come back to them, after their relationship is fixed and deal with the other thing. For example one of the girls may encourage one of the boys to clean up their bedroom. Brother gets offended, upset and won’t. Phone call happens. Once we deal with the relationship breakdown, more often than not the brother realises that he should simply go and do his bedroom. We have to make sure we address the key heart issue – which is relationship.

It is a joy to see our kids living together in harmony. This is one area we need to address intentionally as parents. We need to see where the gaps are and address those issues and step by step grow towards our children being functioning moral people in our family.

I blog throughout the week at Live Life with Your Kids! This week I've written: You might also like to read, It's All New to Me" which I posted over at AussieHomeschool Blog

My Bookshop

Restoring the Heart, Mind and Soul of Christmas Do your Christmas celebrations line up with what you believe? Do your celebrations help your children learn more about Jesus?

This e-book is based on a workshop I held for a couple of years to help families see that Christmas can be a significant tradition in our family life. If we are intentional about how our family celebrates we have the opportunity to use this time to teach our children about Jesus, and his love for each one of us.

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.

My Sitemap is a quick reference to all you will find on Lifestyle-Homeschool. I encourage you to have a browse around!

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Until next week

Belinda Letchford
Living life with her kids in Australia!

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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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