Basics, Friendship, Parenting

Transparency Makes a Difference

Transparency takes courage, but it changes everything. I vividly remember a homeschool prayer breakfast where I learned this truth.

After listening to a beloved supporter of our group encourage us in raising our children in accordance with Scripture, our leader asked for prayer requests. Usually, we shared about children struggling with reading or learning math facts, wisdom in ordering our day, last minute curriculum decisions, dealing with those who opposed our homeschooling, or husbands’ work schedules.

Our speaker jumped in first. She poured out her heart about a matter that was deeply troubling her. She listed her questions, her fears, and her doubts. As an older and wiser woman, she had just given us advice, but she was not afraid of being transparent. She understood she had no merit apart from Christ’s sacrifice. She was equal to us in needing and relying on the grace of God alone.

Our speaker’s transparency—and vulnerability—changed the direction of our meeting. We eagerly followed her example and openly talked about—and then prayed for—the concerns that were most heavy on our hearts. We were different when we left.

Has someone’s transparency helped you?

PS Thank you J’aime.

Book Recomendations, Parenting

Protect the Colts

While playing with peers, my sons were exposed to inappropriate, harmful behavior. My husband and I made the hardyet easy—decision that there must be adult supervision when our boys were with a certain child.

The day after we explained our unpopular stance, we providentially read aloud Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Young Almanzo wanted to train the two-year-old colts, but his father said,

A boy who didn’t know any better might scare a young horse, or tease it, or even strike it … It would learn to bite and kick and hate people.

When Almanzo persisted chapters later, he was told,

In five minutes you can teach them tricks it will take me months to gentle out of them.

Eventually, Almanzo went too near the colts. His father repeated his warnings.

That’s too good a colt to be spoiled. I won’t have you teaching tricks that I’ll have to train out of it.

We were accused of being overprotective, of taking mischief too seriously. We knew it was deeper.  Unexpectedly reading Wilder’s words—written over fifty years earlier—was encouraging. How much more valuable were boys than colts.

Have you received parenting encouragement from an unexpected source?

Decisions, Homeschooling, Parenting

Homeschool Peer Pressure

During decades of homeschooling and observing homeschoolers, I observed a cycle. We start by caring what non-homeschoolers think. Next, we bond with homeschoolers and arrive at a place where we don’t care what outsiders think. However, we care too much what other homeschoolers think—at times to the detriment of our family.

Homeschool peer pressure may keep us—or at least delay us—from taking a needed break from homeschooling, or abandoning a popular curriculum, or pulling out of group classes that do not meet our needs.

While being pressured to take advice from others, I came across a principle I still remember.

Decision-making belongs to the person who carries the responsibility for the consequences of the decision.

I needed that reminder.

During driver training, other drivers honked for our sons to turn right on red and into oncoming traffic. Honking encouraged other reckless driving. We told our sons, “It is your injury, and your regrets, and your court date, and our car, and our insurance premium if you have an accident. Not the person honking.”

Our family bore the serious consequences for our driving behavior, not hurried drivers. Therefore, our family made those decisions.

Anyone honking at you?

Parenting

Do You need a Mediator?

As our children age, their sharing with us shrinks, and our need to understand them grows. Misunderstandings mount from lack of communication. They want freedoms we aren’t ready to give, and resulting arguments weary us.

How do we break barriers and listen to each other? One son initiated a method that I later learned was common. He brought in his teddy bear as a mediator.

One evening, Teddy* came and said, “Grandperson, Bob* is upset with you?”

“Why?” I asked.

“He thinks you are unfair.”

“How am I unfair?”

The conversation continued as we patiently listened to each other.

Teddy, our mediator, had a disarming voice and a sweet way of saying Grandperson.

A friend tried this with her son and reported, “It works because you can’t fuss at a teddy bear, and it doesn’t fuss back.”

I shared my experience with another friend. “It is not a new trick,” she said, “but I am always amazed that it works.”

Was this a gimmick? I don’t think so. I think it was a way of breaking bad communication patterns. Variety helped us listen carefully because talking through a teddy bear was unpredictable. And fun.

*Pseudonyms.

What listening techniques have you explored?

Book Recomendations, Parenting

Guitar Notes by Mary Amato (Reprise)

One of my favorite novels has characters who lie, sneak around, and steal. As their lives unfold, we learn their behavior is because they are angry, wounded teens who can’t communicate their pain.

Even though the writing is superb—actually I think it is brilliant at points—Guitar Notes by Amato would not be a favorite if the responsible adults were portrayed as the bad guys. Early in the book, the discerning reader knows that caring parents and teachers are doing what they think is best for the children—given their limited understanding.

Do not be deceived. Your children are carrying hidden pain because it is inescapable in this fallen world.  It helps all to read and discuss books with messy relationships. However, I believe that the story’s resolution should not condone or reward bad behavior, or ridicule or punish good behavior. That is one of my tests for what is acceptable—not the honest, raw conflict along the way.

How have you set standards for your family’s reading?