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Living Together - Issue 319
October 18, 2013
Hi there! ....

This week one of the highlights for our family has been an evening spent with a YWAM team. I think it is important to fill our home with people who love Jesus, people who are doing different things because of their faith. We live in a fairly remote part of Australia, very transient population and my kids, on the most part, have been the oldest Christian kids around. So it was a great opportunity to have young people around – people a little older than them – excited about Jesus.

The sad news is that our dog, Domino of 7 years just disappeared. We searched, as did our farming neighbours, but we have never found her. So that is a bit sad. But on a brighter note friends had a litter of pups just ready to leave mum, so we now have a new puppy. Bandit has given us a lot of laughs, as puppies do.

Live life with your kids!

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

Living Together

Living together with older children has a degree of adults living together – as if we were all flatmates. This week I started reflecting back on the short time I was a flatmate with a few of my friends – what makes a good flatmate? Unfortunately society is more comfortable with the idea of grown kids moving out of home and living with adults other than their family then they are with adult kids staying home. And though that may well happen in our house, at the moment we are all living together.

At some stage our kids have to start acting like adults and parents have to start treating their kids like adults. As our children grow morally mature (that is able to do the right thing from a desire within themselves to do the right thing) we can change how we relate to each other, which will affect how we live in the same house together. For sure, there is always the aspect that Peter and I are the parents, but to balance that out as the kids get older there is a degree of friendship which puts a slightly different slant on that. We don’t need to be the parents with the authority, but rather the parents with the support.

For parents of younger children these are the things that we teach our kids when they are young, so that when they are older they are a delight to live with – whether that is at home, with a friend, or their spouse when they get married.

Know your responsibilities, know what is expected. Each family, each household, will deal with this issue differently. We have a roster and it rotates every week. Everyone knows who is doing what. Sometimes my kids swap things around with each other to suit their preferences, or their outside commitments, but the important thing is that everyone pulls their weight in looking after the home. We all live here, we all have responsibilities. It has always been my goal for my kids to know what it takes to look after a home – this is more than making their bed and do the dishes. They need to know the whole lot!

Respect each other’s property. Living in close quarters it is easy to become overfamiliar with the stuff that belongs to someone else. We taught this from toddler age up – if it doesn’t belong to you, ask before you use it or play with it. For teenagers, especially the girls, it was an issue of clothes – and not presuming you can wear each other’s clothes, shoes, or jewellery. Now with my kids older it is computers – just because it is in the house, it doesn’t make it yours for the taking. There are items in our house that the owner has given ‘permission’ to be used by others – and for that we need to treat their property carefully, and be thankful for their generosity. Property is stuff that belongs to someone else because they have bought it, or they have been given it. We need to respect that. It is too easy to over-focus on the issue of sharing – and demand that sharing happens. Real sharing happens when something belongs to someone else – it is then theirs to choose to give to someone else.

Respect each other’s space, and yet be there for each other. When my kids were little playing together was one of my highest values – we structured our days to ensure that they spent time together. But at the same time I also valued the individual and gave them time to be by themselves. It was our practice, that if a child wanted time to themselves, they needed to clear it with me first. This gave me an opportunity to check that there were no heart issues being covered up, and someone wasn’t just being mean or avoiding a sibling. If hearts were friendly there was no reason not to give them some space to themselves. And then I taught everyone to respect that need in the other. As my kids have grown older they have recognised in themselves the introvert/extrovert need for space vs. people, we all need some space to ourselves at some stage. Alternatively we have also taught them to be aware of the cry for help – it may be subtle or it may be very obvious. We cannot be so absorbed in our own selves, that we don’t see someone walking into the room, that we don’t sense someone feeling blue, that we don’t see the hurt on their face or hear their request for help for some practical thing. So though we have the freedom to have time to ourselves, never at the expense of not being there for someone who needs us.

Respect each other’s efforts. When we share the responsibilities of life we know what it takes to cook a meal, keep a bathroom clean, do the grocery shopping, maintain the car etc… So when someone else does that we need to be thankful. A grateful heart never takes things for granted. When we are aware of the effort that someone else is putting into one aspect of life that benefits us all we also need to be respectful by doing our bit – if we are going to be late, or not able to make it you let someone know, if you use it you leave it ready to be used for the next person, if you break it you fix it etc. When we do this we are respecting, and appreciating the effort that other people have put into making our life together work. One practical way to help this aspect of being aware and being appreciative of other people’s effort is to keep a family calendar where everyone can know what everyone else is doing.

Keep short accounts. When you are living together there are going to be hurts – it happens. The sad thing isn’t so much that it happens, but when it doesn’t get fixed, when it festers and turns really sour and bitter, and when it explodes. We need to have a family practice of keeping short accounts – of going to each other and talking about the things that have hurt, of asking for forgiveness and of giving and receiving forgiveness. Often people do this well when the kids are little but not so well when they grow up. If siblings can’t sort out niggles, arguments and hurts with their sibling, they won’t be able to do it with their spouse either. This is an important life skill. We need to guard against taking offense. In our house I try and put a lid on pretending to take offense – so quickly that turns to reality because often there is a speck of truth to your pretence. You either are or you are not offended. If you are – deal with it; if you are not – don’t pretend to be.

Be a blessing. This is a heart attitude to be helpful, kind and a benefit to all those that you meet. When we have this attitude we do more than our responsibilities, we go the extra mile, and we look out for the well-being of other people. This puts a stop to legalism in our relationships where we only do what is on the roster chart, where we hold people accountable to what they said they would do regardless of circumstances, where we stand up for our rights. When our kids were little we would occasionally play the ‘secret angel’ game where we would need to do something for someone without anyone knowing. My hope is that this becomes a habit – that we always look for ways to do things for those we live with. Just this week I found a bunch of flowers in a handmade vase sitting on my bathroom bench. What a delight to my heart – I love flowers on my bathroom bench. I didn’t ask for this to be done, it was done from their heart to surprise mum.

Three Bible verses that give us a perspective for relationships in the home:

Romans 12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.


Phil 2:3-4 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

And we are all familiar with the “Golden Rule”

Luke 6:31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

If you have older kids in your home, then this weekend think about

  • How you are relating to them – is it respecting their maturity?
  • What are you expecting of them around the house – do they carry their load?
  • What do you expect of siblings? Are they starting to take responsibility for their relationships?
  • Are they ready to move out and flat with mates? This could be an objective guide to the training you still need to work on. Whether they ever move out or not, family are people too and we need to live together well.

If you have younger kids in your home, then this weekend think about

  • Are you teaching them, and giving them opportunity to practice taking responsibility for their stuff, and for the home you live in?
  • Are you showing your kids how to mend relationships, and how to ask for forgiveness and forgive others?

And all of us can consider how we can be a blessing to those we live with – even Mums and Dads need to consider this – how can you bless your kids this weekend?

During the week I blog at Live Life with Your Kids! This week I've written mostly my toddler series, but other than that I've shared a post over at Aussie Homeschool - Why my kids and I talk on Facebook

I continue my Toddler series: Living with a Toddler for 31 days - topics this week have included -

My Character: Patience and Tolerance
Giving Instructions and Follow Through
Pick your Battles
Time for a Cuddle
Saying No

Or maybe you'd like to read something from my website:

Check out other homeschool and parenting issues 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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