Thursday, December 30, 2010

Training Up My Children... And Myself

I have realized that I am often just getting through the days and working as hard as I can for as long as I can and then I shut down for a few hours in the afternoon.  But, this isn't the best way for me or our family.

Some time this summer, I picked up a book for a quarter called Confessions of a Happily Organized Family by Deniece Schofield.  It was published over 25 years ago--in 1984.  But, the first chapter still rings true.  Here are a few quotes from pg. 8 "Organization, and even cleanliness, is a means to an end.  In and of itself, it's worthless.  The object of efficient home management is to do the right job right...moderation is the key to successful home management...Pay attention to the messages that you're sending to your family.  don't ever give them the impression that the house is more important than they are."  Later, she talks about goal setting.  It is our goals that set our priorities and what we choose to do with our time.  When we procrastinate our time is still getting spent, but that time is getting stolen from something else.

These thoughts gave me pause--particularly a story who got hit by a car and was concerned that her mom would be upset because her clothes were torn.  There are times when I get upset by little things and I don't want my kids to remember me that way.  What goals are guiding my decisions when I overreact?  What am I considering to be the most important things in those moments?

As a Christian, I have always just accepted the goal of glorifying God as the assumed goal.  But, I don't think I've articulated that in practical terms for what I want for my children.  This is my working list that I'm beginning right now:

1)  I hope my children will grow up knowing and loving the Lord.
2)  I want my children to feel unconditionally loved--as much as I am imperfectly able to do that.
3)  I want my children to feel safe and comfortable in our home.
4)  I want my children to feel a sense of order and discipline about their lives--that they might glorify God by taking care of their bodies, hearts, and minds.  That they might not be entrapped by the struggles of selfishness and laziness.  As the quote above says--I desire this in moderation, not in a legalistic way.
5)  I want my children to feel grateful  for what they have and not to feel entitled to life being easy or to have everything they want when they want it.

There are a few things that I see in our culture that grieve me.  One thing that many friends of mine are struggling with is the entitlement mentality that has stolen into our children's minds and hearts.  Many books have been written about how to cultivate a hearts of gratefulness in our children.  Earlier this year, I read a book titled Growing Grateful Kids by Susie Larson.  I enjoyed the book and it was challenging to me.  The author repeatedly said that we cannot give our children something that we ourselves do not have.  For each of the five goals above, I cannot give these things to my children if I do not have or am not seeking them myself.

Another thought that has been nagging at me is that my children are at an age where they need to start doing more.  I commented to my pastor's wife, Jenny, last Sunday that I admire how her boys all have jobs to do when they arrive at church Sunday morning.  I want my girls and my little boy to learn how to see what needs to be done and then to go do it.  Starting this Sunday, I'm going to teach them how to set up our little church nursery.  I think they can do it.  But, talking to her made me realize that I need my kids to learn how to do more all around.  I carry in all the groceries, do all the laundry, take care of all the cooking, cleaning, etc.  There have been many reasons over the past few years why I've done everything, but the biggest of reasons is that my girls are little.  Autumn is a head shorter than girls her age and Sami's 2 inches shorter than her.  But, they're bigger now and more coordinated and I realize that it's time.  It's time for them to help more and it's time for me to start letting them!

In Confessions of a Happily Organized Family, Ms. Schofield identifies six reasons why we don't delegate to our families.  from pg. 91...
"1.  It's easier to do it myself.
2.  I get the job done the way I want it done, if I do it myself.
3.  I don't have time to work at the kids' speed.
4.  I don't have time to train the help.
5.  Actually, I don't mind the housework.
6.  I hate to nag."

It's number 6 that is the trap for me.  Someone told me in her book about the lies women believe, Nancy Leigh DeMoss writes about how we tell ourselves that we can do everything--and even that we must do everything!  This is the trap I fall into.  It kind of lumps 1-6 in all together.  I also won't tell my children or my husband (who I ask, not tell) to do something more than once before I just go do it.

But, I'm doing such a disservice to both my husband and children by doing this.  I'm even doing a disservice to myself.  It's not best for anyone!  So, my new resolve, along with updating my Mom's Home Journal which I started earlier this year (and I'll write about next post) is to take the time to remind my children and teach them.  So far, I have to be honest, I am finding I have less time.  It takes more time to remind them, but I am trying to keep my goals in mind--my long term goals and not just my short term ones like getting dinner on the table.  I know those short term ones are important too, but I need to balance them and make good choices with the little time I have.


  1. Really great post and gives me a lot to consider. Making the goal of "glorifying God" practical in parenting is a real challenge, and I appreciate your list a lot. Need to look up "Growing Grateful Kids"!

  2. I agree with Alison's comment :-)

    You know, for me, I realized before I had kids that there were a few things I did that I wanted changed with my own kids. And one, I was terrible about chores. My mom pretty much did it all and then as we got older and she wanted us to help out my sister and I were just very unwilling and it was like pulling teeth. Even though I was old enough to know that I "should" help....I also knew Mom would do it. So....i def. made a conscience choice to require my kids to do things as soon as they were able such as pick up their toys (I'll tell Noah to "toss" them into the box/basket....then its more fun :-), put dishes in the sink, throw away or recycle something, etc. Emily has stated "responsibilities" ( a few chores, using table manners, brushing own teeth in the am, etc.) and does receive an allowance ($3/wk) but, the money is not really tied to the responsibilities, bc I did explain that its just being part of a family and we all have to pitch in, etc., so she can't choose to not get paid for not doing anything :-) I read a book that had an interesting idea re: allowance....but I've already 'talked' too much :-)

  3. Michelle, You can never "talk" too much on a blog! That's what blogs and comments are for! =) Thanks for sharing. We haven't ventured into the land of allowances yet. This Christmas was the first that the girls bought gifts for each other and it was neat to see that though they have no concept of how much money $10 is, they both wanted to use the money they'd been given by relatives to buy gifts for each other.