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To be or not to be Available - Issue 294
April 12, 2013
Hi there! ....

This week has been a big week - we had the baby we care for five nights/mornings (not all day), Joshua ended up with a fractured nose, stitches and black eyes from a Taekwondo accident, we've had the blahs from oncoming colds/flu, we learnt to change a car tyre, and we had our first homeschool co-op in the park (the weather has changed making this a nice morning!). A full week - and in between all those family happenings Naomi and Daniel did a lot of independent study, especially on their media project with the Australian History unit. One of the highlights for us this weekend will be to go and see Naomi in the local junior amateur theatre production. Can you summarise your week - see the value in family life, the purpose of interruptions and the true learning that is really going on?

Live life with your kids!

If you are a new Australian reader I would appreciate you reading this special request.

To be or not to be Available

There is this constant tension happening between my desire to be available to my kids, and the issue of being too available. It is a fine line we need to tread.

Being available means making someone else’s needs more important than your own plans.

Being available means giving our time, our energies, our focus, our skills and knowledge, our talents to help someone else.

When it comes to being available to our kids we need to lay aside our plans, our activities to help our kids grow. We need to be available to them with our whole being – physically, emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, morally and practically.

What does this look like? It looks like

  • stepping aside from our coffee date with our friend to deal with our tired, grumpy, selfish child
  • taking time while doing the grocery shopping to include a child
  • being there at sports or music or drama where your kid is having a go
  • listening to them tell you about their great night out
  • staying at home and not going out because your child is sick

These are the actions of a parent.

Character First says the opposite to availability is self-centeredness.

Availability is about giving of yourself for the benefit of others.

I like looking at the synonyms of words – I liked the thought of these words describing parenting:

  • Obtainable
  • Handy
  • Accessible
  • Ready, Keen, Eager, Willing

But if we give and give and give then soon things come out of whack. Soon the child becomes selfish, demanding, insensitive, and dependent.

This is the fine line between being available and being too available.

We must keep in mind the purpose for our availability. When it comes to being a parent our purpose of being available is to help the child grow. If they start to depend on us to do things that they really should be doing, this is not helping them grow.

I have often been asked which are the hardest years for parenting – the toddler years or the teenage years. I reckon they are both demanding but in different ways. The toddler/preschool years are very demanding physically – you have to be there beside them to show them what is right. The teenage years are very demanding emotionally – there is a lot of talking. Once they are a teenager, you don’t have to necessarily be there physically to make sure they do the right thing, but you do have to be there to talk it through with them – either before or after the event. Acknowledging this switch is about changing our availability.

A few years ago when my kids were a bit younger and I left them at home by themselves they had the freedom to phone me about anything. It didn't matter if I was catching up with a friend, doing the grocery shop, or even in a meeting – my kids have a hotline to my mobile. But now that they are older – the hotline is still there, I'll still answer regardless of what I'm doing, but I want them to think before they call. Most likely they can find an answer themselves or delay doing what they weren't sure about till I get home. The training that needs to go on now is more about them (a) respecting my time and relationships and (b) thinking for themselves and taking responsibility for their decisions. There has been a change in my availability. I'm still there for them, but their needs have changed (or need to change).

One other example where availability changes is that my kids can do their chores without my supervision; I no longer need to hover to ensure they are being responsible. I am still available to help if they get stuck or overwhelmed. But my level and purpose of availability has changed. There are lots of areas like this: I don’t have to sit beside them when they have their quiet times, though I'm still interested in what God is saying to them. I don’t have to go on their play-dates, though I love to hear about what they get up to with their friends. I am available but it looks different.

We can give and give and give to our children but we have to be aware of what that is doing to their heart. Are they becoming selfish, thinking you are their personal slave? Or is your energy, focus, instructions, helping them grow up and become people who can self-govern and are aware of the needs of other people themselves?

On the one hand I am always available to my kids, whether they need help in learning something, or whether they need to talk something out but their needs change and I need to change with them.

I usually blog throughout the week at Live Life with Your Kids! This week I was a bit quiet but I did blog over at Aussie Homeschool Blog with Are you a lifelong learner?

You may like to read about Science Conversations based on the Scientific Method over at my website, Lifestyle Homeschool

My Bookshop

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.

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.

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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About Live Life with your kids Newsletter

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!

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

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