Christian living- dealing with one 'oops' at a time…

Archive for November, 2012

Why We Home School

Someone asked how and why we home schooled. Since these are huge topics, I will try to answer them one at a time. Our reasons for home schooling are different than most, so I am not sure how much you will benefit from knowing them, but it is fun learning about where other people are coming from. So here it goes…
In 1999 we began the process of adopting a family group of three children, ages 10, 8 and 6. We were told by Social Services that they were at grade level in school and doing fine. When we enrolled them in our local school, and then finally received their school records we saw that this was not the case. How could Social Services lie to us? Well, technically it was not a lie. Our children were in regular classrooms being pulled out only for math and reading and being given better grades than they deserved because, as the new school would tell us, ‘those kids need to see those grades.’ (Apparently this is the norm in most schools.) So technically our children were doing ‘just fine.’
But they weren’t. So we worked with the children when they got home, and enrolled our daughter in Sylvan (which was very, very pricey) for extra help. Why? Because at the end of the third grade she was still trying to count beans in math and she did not know all of her letter sounds. Her teacher was very proud of her because when it was her turn to read aloud she did so with self-confidence, making the entire thing up. She won two awards at the end of the school year. These were not ‘special ed’ awards, but awards open to the entire class. One was for best behavior (She was an extreme behavioral problem) and the other was for creative writing (As my husband put it, ‘Her writing sure is creative!’ Remember, she does not know all of her letter sounds yet…)
Since the school’s plan for our children was two thirty minute pull-outs a day, one for reading, and one for math, into a class with a 15:1 student: teacher ratio (the same plan as their last school) we looked for a private school that could offer more and moved them.
Even with the private school’s attention there was still a significant amount of home work to be done at night because our children did not behave well enough to do their work in school. This meant that there was little time for our son who was currently in the first grade and doing well. So we decided to home school him through the second grade so he would have more time with mom, and then we could focus on the other children when they got home.
Our son completed the second grade curriculum in record time. When I asked my husband what he thought we should do now he told me to order the next grade. It was fairly obvious that this child was not going to easily re-assimilate to the slower pace of even the private school system we had put him. Our other children were asking to come home to school too. We had one in kindergarten that did not like the fact that his younger sister (who I was teaching at home for pre-school while teaching the second grader) was getting ahead of him. Our oldest adopted child was also asking to come home. He told the teacher he would have had for the next grade that his mom thought she was too tough and was not going to let him be in her class. I had said nothing about bringing him home, or what I had thought about the teacher, and assured the boy that mom would be tougher. But, since they closed the private school my two oldest were in, there seemed to be little choice. Our options were to put them back into a school system than had already failed them, or take them home. So the two oldest came home. The second grader wished to stay home and the kindergartener wished to come home as well. It seemed the only person not begging to be home was the adopted child who was currently in the third grade. Since he was proving to be a master thief, cheat and puller-upper of girl’s skirts it seemed like a good idea for him to have some more one-on-one time with Mom as well. It was supposed to be short-term, until some of the more obvious problems resolved…
But, when the adopted children’s standardized test scores went from the bottom of the graph to around the 75th percentile it was hard to think of putting them back into the system. Further, the schools had already informed me that my oldest and youngest adopted sons would be placed into a school for behavioral problems after sixth grade, and my daughter would be in a year-round school for the emotionally handicapped. She was expected to live her adult life in a group home, since, with her EH her IQ testing would likely drop into the mentally retarded range as the other children continued to mature, while she did not. No matter how difficult they were at home I could not in good conscience allow this to happen. The younger children were also flourishing, and we stopped talking about what grade they were in because they were significantly ahead in their schoolwork. (They were disappointed when they realized that this did not mean Mom was sending them to college early. While they were capable students there is a maturity that comes with age, and we planned to send them to colleges with other students who were equally as bright.)
All of my adopted children graduated and received diplomas. (Two through Royal Academy, and one through the State of New Mexico which allows home schoolers who test high enough on the GED to receive an actual NM diploma.) My oldest son (fetal alcohol syndrome/ cocaine baby) finished four years in the Marines and now makes six figures doing security work in Kuwait. My daughter (cocaine baby/ RAD) is married, works as part of the hotel cleaning staff, and is expecting her second child. (She is not in a group home!) My other adopted son (cocaine baby) works as a front desk supervisor in a hotel and is working his way into management. My oldest natural born son is going to a very respected school for engineering on a full scholarship. My other children are still home schooling. After four have moved on home schooling the three feels like I am doing nothing! My son who is still in our home school wants to follow his brother and become an engineer as well. They are both hoping to start their own companies. (Home schoolers tend not to aspire to be employees.) One of my daughters wants to be a wedding planner, and the other (whose pictures you will see on my books and blog) wants to be a photographer, though both wish to go to college just to have had the experience.
I am glad we home schooled. I believe all of my children are doing better than they would have if we had left them in school. They are self-confident and capable. They can also cook, clean and do the laundry! My younger children also avoided the bullying I was subjected to in school. (If you couldn’t tell, they are geeks.) While I did not choose to home school them for this reason, I am glad they avoided it. When I see how proud they are to be them, I realize that there was an extra ‘gift’ in bringing them home. By the way: All of the ‘benefits’ of socializing when you are a nerd/geek are baloney. Being abused rarely has good results. (And when I see my college son’s friends who have trouble getting up the courage to speak with me when they visit, even though it is obviously a geek-home, I am glad my children were able to be schooled by me.) That does not mean that we were recluses. Quite the contrary. We were out with friends almost every day. But we picked people who were good to us, and taught our children it is okay to set boundaries with those who aren’t.
Home schooling, like everything else, has its plusses and minuses. For one, our bank account would have been significantly bigger if I had not stayed home, but had continued to work as a physical therapist. I am certain I would have owned my own practice by now and had others working for me. I would also have not had to answer annoying questions every day about why I home school, and don’t I think they are missing out on something/ everything.
There is also a better chance of having a relationship with your children since you see them, and talk to them more often. (Another surprise benefit.) I would not trade this for the world!
That is not to say everything worked out perfectly. In our case, the problems that children who are adopted as older children face still haunt them in many ways, and they like to blame that on me more than their birth parents. That is the price many adoptive parents pay for trying to right what someone else did wrong, but you’ll need to check out my posts on adoption for more about that.
Right now, I have to wrap this up… someone needs help with their math!
P.S. Home schooling also allows you to travel more, and at off-peak times. A perk that makes it more than worth it! (Investing in an RV and being able to just go whenever my husband had the time allowed my children to see most of what they were learning about!)

Photo by Matija Barrett

Keeping Your Marriage Hot!

There have been more than a few people on Twitter asking how to keep marriage ‘hot’ after children, so I figured I’d share a few things we’ve learned along the way. If you don’t like TMI, I’d stop here. Otherwise, I hope you find something here you can enjoy!

1. Date Night.
Romance starts with the relationship. In order to keep the romance alive, you need to take time to be together and talk. Set aside one night a week to go out. Go someplace you can talk. No chores. No movies. Go someplace you can connect and be romantic. Without trust and a feeling of connectedness, sex, at least for most women, is not nearly as good. So men, talk to her, hold her and make her feel loved. And don’t do stupid things that put her on edge and make her feel like she cannot trust you. (Like what she considers reckless driving, reckless spending etc.) She needs to feel she can trust you before she can fully enjoy you!

2. Sexy underwear.
Wives, invest in nice underwear. If you buy things that must be put on before bed you will rarely wear them. Instead pick things you can wear under your clothes comfortably so you are ready for the night. Sexy underwear also keeps your mind on the fact that there is something to look forward to later tonight. You’d be surprised how much you can wear all day- just don’t go to the gym in it…

3. Share your fantasies.
Talk about what you might like to do. While some of them may be out of the question, they can be modified. Make an effort to try new things. Make it part of your ‘to do’ list. Get creative. Nothing kills romance faster than routine. Don’t get stuck in a rut.

4. Make sure she has ‘fun’ too.
As a couple we read an article that stated that most sex ends when the husband is done. The woman reaches her end only about half of the time at best. And, it usually takes a woman at least 45 minutes to ‘get there,’ on average. My husband took this to heart, and saw it as unfair, especially since a woman’s body can ‘have fun’ more than once. Making the encounter incredibly ‘fun’ for the woman most of the time increases the woman’s interest in doing it more often.

5. You don’t have to get to the end.
You’re married. Sex does not have to end, you will see this person again, hopefully soon. If you only have a few minutes here and there during the day take advantage of them. It keeps you interested, it is pleasant, and an unexpected side effect is that, if the process is drawn out over, let’s say weeks, the male experience is very much increased. So increased that he may begin to want to wait, and just ‘play.’ This is not withholding sex. This is week-long foreplay. There is a difference. (And when children crawl into your bed, sometimes it’s the best you can do!)

6. Get a hotel room.
Get a babysitter and take time for each other. You don’t have to stay all night.

7. Be honest with each other.
Tell each other what you like and what doesn’t quite do it for you. You don’t have enough time to waste on things that aren’t ‘effective.’ Be honest, and don’t be offended. Your goal is to please the other. Talk honestly and get good at it! And whatever you do, do not play games! Say what you mean, all the time in everything. And don’t expect your spouse to take a hint. If you are in the mood, be direct. It’s okay if they say ‘not now please,’ but sometimes you miss your chance because both of you thought the other person wasn’t ready. It’s actually very freeing once you get used to it. Be honest about everything else as well. Emotional guessing games where someone ‘should have known’ damage a relationship, and make you less eager to be with one another.

8. Take turns.
Occasionally it’s nice to have a time when the focus is entirely on one person. Just make sure it’s done fairly.

9. Use everyday necessities to excite each other.
Shower together occasionally. Let him watch you change, especially if you are putting on the ‘nice’ underwear. Touch each other. Hold hands. Rub shoulders. Do chores together and play. And, if possible, take advantage of ‘nap time’ to take a ‘nap’ yourselves. (Yes, that is a euphemism!)

10. Have fun.
Make sure you are having fun. Play with the children together. Joke, laugh, watch movies. Give up your solo time and learn to enjoy life together.

11. Don’t forget to do the little things.
Buy her flowers. Make his favorite meal. Do what you did while you were dating that told the other person they are ‘special.’ Don’t get so caught up in the children that what they want trumps everything else, so you are no longer doing things for your spouse. The children learn to honor their parents by how you treat each other, so set the example well. (My 16 year old son just took out the glass wear and dishes we almost never use and washed them thoroughly for me, just to bless me. He saw a need, and acted on it. Guess where he learned to do things like that from… Who doesn’t want a guy like him as their daughter’s husband?!)

12. Keep life simple.
Don’t let ‘busyness’ take away your fun. And, don’t let emotional people (typically extended family members) hijack your emotional wellbeing. Set boundaries and make sure you are fully there for each other. Life is too short to be wrapped up in drama, and one missed sport season is not going to destroy your child’s life. Plus more time with the family may help ensure your children actually have a relationship with their parents.

13. Make sure the other person is well rested.
Take time to nap, or let your spouse nap. Tired people are rarely romantic.

14. Sneak away.
If there are children in your room, find another ‘appropriate’ place to play. Guest rooms are great, but not everyone has one. Get creative. Just because the child is asleep in your bed does not mean you are trapped there!

15. Remember you are sexy.
Keep your self-esteem up. You are the only person your spouse has. Women, if you have gained weight, enjoy your curves. Men, most women care about how you treat them (i.e. How much you listen to them, and how much you notice things about them.) more than what you look like. So be sexy by paying attention to her! (Have you noticed that a woman’s most common complaint is that you don’t listen?) Learn what she like, dislikes, how she does things etc. One of the most endearing things my husband said to me recently was, ‘I didn’t know you don’t use conditioner every day.’ It means he’s still paying attention, and that is good.

I hope this helps. Just know that at 43 year old, seven kids, and 19 years of marriage, married life can still be very good. Very, very good in fact… So Enjoy!

*Warning: Getting good at these activities can result in very large families.

Psalm 20: An Awesome Blessing to Pray for Someone You Love

Psalm 20 
An Awesome Blessing
(A psalm by David)
By the way: I love this psalm. It is an awesome blessing to pray for someone. I am surprised that it does not get more attention…
Here are the blessings:
1. May God answer you in times of trouble.
2. May God protect you.
3. May God help you and support you.
4. May God remember all of your sacrifices and offerings.
5. May God give you your heart’s desires.
6. May God make all of your plans succeed.
7. May God grant everything you request.
We will celebrate with you when you are victorious and praise God! We know that the Lord saves those who are His. Some trust in chariots and horses (military strength) but we trust in God. Others (those not with God) will fall, but we rise up and stand firm.
The psalm ends with a request for God to save (protect) the king and to answer us when we call.
(While this is intended as a blessing for the king, it is a wonderful prayer to pray for anyone you love!)

from A New Believer’s Bible Commentary: Psalms – Song of Songs

photography by Matija Barrett

The Problem With the Position of the Pastor’s Wife

My doctoral dissertation was about dealing with difficult people in the church. While conducting interviews one person was specifically mentioned over and over again: the pastor’s wife. Whether she was actually to blame, or merely a scapegoat, her contribution to whatever occurred seemed to cause more emotion than anything anyone else had done. And pastors’ wives feel this. They often take the brunt of the emotional assault that accompanies many nasty church leave-takings. Why is this?

Now this is only my opinion. It cannot be proven, and is based on accumulated second hand information. Not the best data, but often the only data we have when dealing with church turmoil. Re-stirring the pot to get to the true root of not one, but many church crisis after-the-fact is probably not healthy, so conjecture is an unfortunate necessity.
So here’s my conclusion: The problem is not with the pastor’s wife, but with her position in the church.

No one would take this job in the secular world, even if it paid well. No one with any business sense that is. Why? Let’s look at the job description. Oh wait, there isn’t one! And therein lies the first problem. The function of the pastor’s wife is poorly defined. Everyone seems to think they know what she should do, but everyone’s ideas are different. She must therefore be all things to all people (and she must guess what those things should be) or be labeled a disappointment. So let’s look at some common expectations:

1. She is her husband’s helpmate. This seems to mean that if there is anything left in the church that no one volunteers to do the job is hers. Lead choir, then run to help in the nursery, and make sure the communion trays are filled, all while taking care of her own nursing baby? Sure the pastor’s wife can handle this!

2. Her children must be perfectly groomed and well behaved. And so must she. I have seen pastor’s wives criticized for leaving the price tag on the bottom of their shoe (seen while praying for someone at the altar) and because their handbag was deemed too expensive for their position. The level of critique inherent in this role is out of control.

3. She must be every woman in the church’s best friend. She has to be there for them if they are having a bad day, or celebrating. She cannot act anxious to go onto something else, and must show up to every special event. And if the event is at the church, and she misses it, that is double the insult!

4. She is not on the org. chart. This is probably the worst thing we do to this woman, though it may not seem like it. She has no real position, yet she runs much of the church, and she is only accountable to the pastor- her husband. She is at no meetings, so she does not get to voice her opinion. And the man she loves is in charge of telling her when she doesn’t meet expectations. There is no impartial third person who can soften the blow. Now this may seem like a kind, gentle way to hear about something that goes wrong, but trust me, it is not. It hurts marriages. There is too much interpersonal conflict in an organization like a church that is based more on relationships than on productivity. Hearing repeatedly from the man you love that you are not measuring up in some way, no matter how gently he puts it, hurts. So often he simply does not tell her. So, until some other brave soul tells her, usually in a frustrated and inappropriate manner that blindsides her, she is clueless. Everyone needs accountability. This system where one of your major workers is left out of the loop is a recipe for disaster. Think about having a job where you were overworked, undertrained, allowed to go to none of the meetings, and then they called your spouse to tell you they have had it with your incompetence, and your spouse’s job is in danger if they do not ‘fix’ the situation.

5. She cannot be moved to a position that would be a better fit. Like it or not, she is it. The pastor’s wife is the pastor’s wife- for life. She is part of the package. Her behavior affects his job. It is one of the few jobs where this is so. This is a lot of pressure for a woman to be under, and yes, it is scriptural in the sense she must be godly, but we ask a lot more of her than that!

6. She receives no training. She is often second in command in the church in many ways, yet she did not go to one course on running a church, nor was she required to sit through one class on the Bible. Occasionally a denomination has ‘pastor’s wives classes’ but compared to what she is called to do, they are still sorely lacking.

Are you beginning to see the problem? You have an employee who works for free, who has no real authority, while seemingly having all the authority since, after all, her husband is the pastor. People obey her since they believe she speaks for him, yet she goes to no meetings and no amount of ‘pillow talk’ can adequately fill her completely in. She is expected to do everything, though there is no one who will tell her what everything is and no one assigned to warn her when she is doing it wrong.

Oh, and did I mention the types of people who typically surround the pastor’s wife? The first set is the ‘yes-men’ (women?) who like to suck up. They are great, but tend to turn rabid the first time she disappoints them. And the second are the ones who like to criticize. She cannot get away from either, because she must be sweet and diplomatic. Heaven forbid someone leaves the church because the pastor’s wife didn’t say ‘hi’ to them and give them all the time they needed!

This situation is untenable. Only a few get through well. Depression is common. Many develop health issues. Becoming calloused, and feeling lonely like you have no friends is also an issue. Some wives wrap themselves up in their families. Others become mini-tyrants because they have learned to not care what other people think, but not in a healthy way. In my opinion: Their lives become skewed because the expectations are insane.

The wives who do the best seem to fall into three categories.
1. They have a job outside the church. People then understand that they are not the church-slave and treat them more like they would treat anyone else. This is healthy.

2. Their husband repeatedly reminds the church that his wife’s ministry is to him, not the church. If she does anything in the church it is because she wants to, not because she must, and she may quit said function at any time. The husband sets a clear boundary between his wife and the church and does not let her take on too many roles. If no one in the church wants to do it, then some things get left undone.

3. She is officially part of the church staff. She has a defined role and goes to meetings. Many times there is also a salary.

So, next time you see your pastor’s wife love her. Give her a break and some space to be human, and remember, if you promise to do something and drop the ball, it often falls to her to do it, so keep your commitments. And let’s see if we can make life better for these women, shall we?

*By the way: My husband was ‘the pastor’s wife.’ Because there were no real expectations of a male spouse, and he had a full time job, we did well.
**We used the term ‘pastor’s wife’ when referring to him as a joke because, even though our denomination allowed women to pastor, they often forgot some of us were not male, and many times referred to the pastor’s spouse somewhere in their communication as a ‘wife.’ One year they sent the church suggestions as to how to appreciate the pastor’s spouse. The suggestions were read by the elders to the congregation to everyone’s amusement! (My husband is large and very masculine looking, so if you can imagine the gift certificates for a perm, or mani-pedi were quite amusing. He was a good sport and enjoyed it as well.)

Things You Learn in Professional Jobs That Mature You.

I was talking with a friend and we noticed that there was a great divide in our community. There were discussions we could have with some people, that, when we tried to have the same discussion with others, resulted in our being accused of speaking meanly about the person. Since we knew this was not so, and since we both had conversation about people in our respective jobs and knew that this type of talking about people was necessary, I wondered why some people look at life differently. The common thread seemed to be whether, or not the person had a professional job that required them to supervise other people in some capacity.
Professional people realize quickly that everyone has weaknesses. This is a fact. Once a weakness is identified one must then decide if the person can learn and improve, or if this is an area that they are just not suited for. This is not mean. This is life. And you can apply it on a personal level. I am a great public speaker, but do not ask me to act. Pretending is not part of my nature. Sometimes points can better be made through drama. I would not be the one to ask this of. Similarly, if you wanted a flash-mob for advertising or to boost moral, I would not fit in. Identifying someone’s strengths and weaknesses and then deciding how to proceed is often necessary and not cruel. Even on a personal level one must assess what a friend can and cannot handle. It’s okay. Some people like random visitors. Others prefer a phone call on a not so regular basis. It’s not personal. It’s just the way they are.
People in professional jobs also learn not to equate criticism with hate. Criticism, when done well, is a loving act designed to help the other person improve. Occasionally I look over other people’s projects. They love that I am willing to do this for them, because they do not want to make unnecessary mistakes. If I were afraid to criticize them this would not work.
They also realize that they do not need everyone to be just like them. Eventually, when working in groups you realize that it is good that the people around you have different skills, and begin to see people who are talented in areas you are not as assets you want to have around. They are not competition that makes you look bad, but people on the same team that are going to help you succeed.
These jobs also teach you that people can have different points of views and still get along. Disagreeing with someone, especially about something that has no relevance to what you are working on, like politics, is okay, and even healthy. All of your friends do not have to think the same as you. You will learn much from their perspectives, and they from you. If you go home upset because you cannot believe your friend thinks that way and do not want to speak to them because of it then you have some maturing to do. Professional situations help people learn to do this, because the environment forces people to be polite, and you must see each other, and be cordial, again. Strong negative emotions just because you don’t like something they said must therefore be dealt with, or you will be the one without a job.
You also realize that people change, but you must deal with who they are now. There are too many times you must deal with people repeatedly, like it or not. Some are just having a bad day, but you must still get them to accomplish what you need them for. You must therefore change your tactics to achieve your goal. You can make nice tomorrow, but today this has to be done. Others improve over time. They will now be very useful where they were not before. If you write them off completely you may lose out on an excellent opportunity to use them where they now shine. Re-evaluation of people is not a bad thing. This is how we give people a second chance. Honest evaluation however is a necessary thing, and it is okay to admit the person is not in a position to be useful at the moment. (I once had a position left open for me because they wanted me, and could wait, but they did not want me with all of the responsibilities I currently had because they knew I would be unable to perform the job to their satisfaction while juggling everything else so they were waiting to make an official offer. This is wise.)
Recently, speaking to a friend I said that a certain preacher had a great ministry and was very effective, but he was just not my ‘flavor.’ It surprised her. But we don’t have to like everything. We can admit that some things have both good and bad points (advantages and disadvantages) and that everyone is not going to be all things to all people (that’s Christ’s job, not ours). And it’s okay. There are plenty of niches for all of us. The beauty of it is, is that when you find your niche, you shine and are very, very happy there. Just remember that it takes longer to find your niche if everyone around you flatters you and tells you how wonderful you are and there is no one who is willing to tell you uncomfortable stuff and lead you to where you could actually do well.

How to Raise Children With a Servant’s Heart

One of the toughest things to teach a child is how to do for others in a selfless manner. Toddlers almost instinctively take toys away from each other, and one of the first words they learn is usually, ‘Mine!’ even though this is rarely said in most households. For this reason I looked back and thought about where we went right while raising our seven and thought I’d share.

1. Ask your children to do things for you.
Ask for little things, a glass of water, a piece of paper picked up. Make doing little things a normal part of your child’s life.

2. Do little things for your children.
If you do not extend them the same courtesies, then they will see what you ask for as oppression, and not just the way life is supposed to be.

3. Share the chores with your spouse.
If there are no ‘his’ chores and ‘her’ chore then children learn to pitch in when needed. Sure one person can typically do a task, but when life gets busy, make sure you lend a helping hand.

4. Pick up after yourself and others when you are out of the house and see a mess.
Watch that you do not teach the ‘it’s not my job’ attitude when you are out. If someone missed the garbage can at church, help out by picking it off the floor and putting it in the trash yourself rather than walking by it. Do not be judgmental. Explain that people have bad days, and everyone misses the trash sometimes. But also explain that if everyone left everything for the janitor, then the place would be a mess, and trash, after people have stepped on it repeatedly is much harder to clean up.

5. Do not have a double standard.
If you would not be that messy at home, do not be that messy elsewhere. Just because it is not yours does not mean that you do not have to take care of it. If anything you should be more careful because it is not yours to break.

6. Leave things better than when you found them.
Make a habit of cleaning up well whenever you borrow a place, even if the mess was there before you got there.

7. Set the example.
Remember, your children are watching you. Most of what they do will be because they saw you doing it. So, help your neighbor, hold the door, be nice to the waitress and they will likely do the same.

8. Volunteer.
When the church has a work-weekend, go! When there is community work to be done, help! Take the children if possible. It is how they learn to work.

9. Make helping seem like fun.
Enjoy yourself. Visit with the people there and go out to eat, or for ice cream after. It is okay to have a small reward for a job well done.

10. Do not ask for too much.
If the work seems overwhelming, children will shut down. Break projects up into small manageable pieces and reward them after every step.

11. Work along side them.
If the project is big, help. Your working beside your child makes it seem like a needed job they can be proud to do rather than child-labor.

12. Don’t assume they are just being lazy.
Children do not have a lot of real-world experience and get overwhelmed easily. Before you yell, criticize or punish, redirect them. Tell them specifically what you would like them to do at the moment and talk them through the job. If this works, problem solved. If they continue to ignore you and the work, well, the consequences are for you to decide.

13. Reward work done when you were not watching more than work done under supervision.
Children need to learn to work when no one else is looking if they wish to be successful in life. If everyone learned to do this, we would need fewer supervisors, but that is besides the point. The point is, being self-motivated and not taking an unsupervised moment as an opportunity for a work slow down are skills you wish to cultivate, so reward them, and make sure they know why they are being rewarded.

14. Praise them for any spontaneous acts of good will.
Children respond to praise. If you want to see them offer guests a drink when they come to your house, make sure you praise them when they do, especially after the guest leaves.

15. Be the type of person you want them to be.
As a parent you are ultimately your children’s biggest influence. Make sure you are modeling the behavior you want to see in them.

16. Surround them with other positive influencers.
Don’t forget that the people around them will have an impact on their lives too. Make sure they are surrounded by people who behave in ways that you would want your children to imitate. They should have many role models by the time they reach adulthood, or they may get the impression that you and your spouse are just weird, and that all of that ‘good stuff’ is something they do not need to do.

17. Show them the rewards of going the extra mile.
Use others as an example and point out when someone was blessed because they were the type of person other people could count on, even when not asked. You reap what you sow is a fact of life. Make sure your children understand the long-term consequences of being selfless, as well as where a life of selfish desires will lead.

18. Do not flatter them to make them feel good.
Flattery is lie intended to curry favor. It does not get good long-term results. Instead it results in children who believe they can get away with doing nothing, and still be rewarded.

19. Do not manipulate them.
Ignoring them until they do what you want, or not doing the things they need you to do in a passive-aggressive manner just frustrates them and ruins their relationship with you. Consequences for disobedience should be clear and should not affect the things they rely on you for as children under your protection.

20. Explain the natural consequences to them.
In my house one of the common ‘lectures’ was, ‘If Mom has to do it all then there will not be enough time left to go where you want to and Mom will be too tired to want to do much else, so if you actually want out of this house on a regular basis I’d suggest you help.’ (’cause Mom wants to go to the movies, get ice cream etc too!) There are many ‘natural consequences.’ If you let the lawn go, there are mice and fines from the town. If you don’t take care of the car it does not run. Make sure the children know why they are doing what they do and how it benefits everyone in the home including them.

Why Do We Keep Separating the Men from the Women?

After a particularly great men’s conference, one of my male friends made the following statement. He said, ‘I wish my daughter had been there. I want her to know what kind of man she is to look for, and this speaker made it so clear.’

He has a point. A good one. Why should the other gender not know what the church is saying to their spouse (literal or potential)? Would the men have more of an incentive to be a wonderful man of God if they knew the women had heard the message as well, and were holding them accountable? Would the young girls choose more wisely, and thus motivate the boys to be better husbands, if they had heard what a mature man believes all men could and should be? Why do we keep separating the sexes?

The Pharisee-controlled society of Jesus’ day separated them; but the early church did not. Women supported Jesus’ ministry and sat at His feet to learn. Women were in the Upper Room, and told of the empty tomb. Women ministered with Paul and one taught Apollo along side her husband. With so many examples of the sexes together, why the over-fascination with splitting them up?

The sad truth is that more women probably watched the movie Courageous than men. More women currently attend Bible studies and have daily devotional time. More women work in the church. More women are told that they have to remain pure, but cannot expect this of their future husband. More women settle for men who are not what they should be, and then try to change them once they are married. More women are leading the homes because the man is absent, physically, or emotionally. Our notion of separate, but equal does not work. Men and women are to become one, not separate entities who split the work according to gender roles that make little sense now that there are modern conveniences and the children go off to school. And even if you choose to teach them that way, shouldn’t the other sex know what they can expect?

And our women’s groups seem to be compensating by throwing tea parties and dumbing-down the curriculum choices. Where one could once get fed deeply, a woman is more likely to be required to dress up like a princess at a pre-school party and asked ‘non-judgmental’ questions that have no right answer, rather than examine what the truth is according to God’s Word. Would this occur if the men were invited?

I am tired of women’s conferences that have no meat! (Literally and figuratively- have you seen the menus? Which begs the question: Who decided BBQ and wings were only for men? And how did I miss that meeting?!)

I want my daughters to know what a true man of God should look like, and I want people to stop implying that ‘real men can’t help themselves’ as a motivation to keep them modest. I want the men to stand up and protest any time it is implied that they are animal-like slaves to their hormones, because they don’t want their girls picking a man who is. Sure, modesty is good. But a real man throws his coat over the naked girl and saves her from the burning building without a second glance. He does not ogle her and then blame her for whatever wrong thing he does next.

I also want my sons to know that the good girls make the best wives and that they have no chance of getting them if they are not behaving themselves. I want them to understand that purity is for before marriage, and that girls can and do make the change. False teachings cannot be corrected when one side has no ability to say, ‘That is definitely not true’ and discuss it. Men and women’s roles in today’s society continue to be different- that much is true. But society is changing rapidly and the answer to how we keep up and remain godly lies in communication, not private lectures that are soon forgotten, and occasionally focus on an ideal that could only be achieved in the 1950s or before. Let’s stop playing around and get real.

Men and the Laundry Hamper

Ever noticed that, when you get a group of wives together there is a topic that repeatedly comes up? It can be any group of wives. Rich, poor, working, stay-at-home, you name it, there seems to be a single theme: Men, on average, cannot get their clothing into the appropriate hampers at night.

Why is this? All of the men I know are wonderful husbands who would lay down their lives for their wife and kids. Work a second job? No problem. Take the child to a doctor’s appointment; sit in Chuck-E-Cheese for three hours? No complaints. But when it comes to putting socks into a hamper no amount of nagging seems to work!

Now, just as a disclaimer, my husband actually puts his stuff into the hamper. It involved adopting 3 older children when I had four children, newborn to 4 1/2 years old in the home, but it did happen. I would not recommend going to this extreme just to get his socks off the floor though.

What does interest me is why men seem to buck doing this simple task for the woman they obviously love. They will take out the garbage, put gas in the car, but not pick up the socks. Hmmm.

The problem is, for women this is a big problem. It frustrates them. They cannot figure it out. One woman I know went on strike. Her washing machine was in an alcove across from their bedroom. Every night her husband aimed his clothing towards the alcove so his clothes ended up on the floor of the hallway outside their room. No amount of talking helped, so she stopped picking them up. If the clothes weren’t in the hamper, they were not getting washed. Eventually he ran out of clean clothes. After stepping over his growing mound of unwashed boxers he asked his wife, ‘Honey, do you know where my clean clothes are?’ Yeah, no clue.

As I said, these men are not dumb, nor are they lazy. There is just something in our society that causes grown men to view the laundry hamper as public enemy number one, to be avoided at all costs. Maybe we women make it too hard on them. After all, the majority of us do tend towards buying the nicer hampers with the lids. Maybe if we bought a cheap plastic one and left the top completely open we’d have more luck. Who knows?

What I do know however is a wife, who gave up her career, (and the chance for any mature conversation that doesn’t involve talking about the kids), who is currently at home eating mac and cheese, watching reruns of the latest mind-numbing show kids like, and picking up the same toys she picked up, and stepped on, an hour ago, who knows her husband is having a fancy lunch meeting today is not going to be pleased to have to pick up her husband’s socks too.

The best way I have to explain it is: If you want your wife’s respect, and, more importantly, if you want your wife to see you as a sexual being and not another two-year-old she has to pick up after, get the stuff in the hamper!

I think I’ve made myself clear. Now go have a nice day.

Photo by Matija Barrett

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: