OK, our week started out really rough. Things had been slipping (my fault) and all the bickering and unkindness between brother and sisters and lack of first time obedience had me on the brink! I was feeling overwhelmed and completely incapable. By Wednesday evening...I was done! Everyone knew it and Billy took over (see, he totally rocks! :). He got the kids ready for bed while I cleaned up the kitchen and then I headed back to our bedroom to think and pray.
I so desperately want our house to be a haven or rest, a place of peace and somewhere we all love to be. But w/ all the arguing and frustration....no one has wanted to be here! So, as I prayed, I asked God to reveal to me where I was going wrong and for the love, what I needed to do bout it. The first thing that came to mind was that once again, I was trying to do everything by my own strength. Being a good mom, homeschooling, keeping a clean house, preparing good food and loving my husband is too hard and I was failing miserable b/c I was trying to do it all on my own. Why am I such a broken record?! Will I ever learn? I can do all things, I can do all things, I can do all things. No matter how I tried to reason w/ myself and convince myself that I was capable and could surely do it, I continued to fail. I was missing the "through CHRIST who gives me strength" part. I have got to go to God every day for guidance and encouragement and be filled w/ Him. Ask Him to breath new life into me daily b/c to be honest, at the end of everyday, I am spent!
Anyway, after I worked through all of that my thoughts moved onto the situation w/ the kids. We have been studying in depth the Fruits of the Spirit. We do one every week and focus on it and memorize verses pertaining to that fruit. I try to be conscious of the children's attempts to emulate that fruit and really encourage it. I think it's a really good thing and I can see it making a difference, but ironically we started w/ joy and have gotten to gentleness. I started thinking about those "book-end" fruits that we haven't gotten to yet. Love and self control. Then I looked at the rest of them. Joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness...it seems to me that they all could fall under one of those "book-ends." So then I thought, OK, these are what I need to focus on. If I can (w/ God's help, of course!) instill in them love and self control, the other fruits will be so much easier to attain and show....not to mention they will have a much better life in general! Teaching love didn't seem too daunting, but how on earth do you teach self control?! I thought and thought and prayed and prayed. These are a few things that came to me.
-Learn it yourself! Being a mom, a stay at home mom, and especially a homeschooling mom, their eyes are always on you!!! Watching you and learning from you....always! I was talking to Billy about what a profound impact our parents have on us and how we end up "being" them as adults. Then I shared how staggering the pressure is to me to be w/ them all day every day and the impact that will have! My prayer is that it will be in a really good way, but I must learn and be a good example of self control (among many other things!).
-Pray for it. Ask for help. Pray it over your children. Pray for it for your children w/ them.
-Don't give in to their every desire. Insist that they learn to accept disappointment. This is a hard one for me but so important. I want to raise mature adults and unless they learn how to accept disappointment they will never truly be mature.
-Make them have responsibility and follow through w/ it. Even if it's challenging to them, make them complete the task, every time! Learning to force themselves to do and complete things that they don't enjoy will be a huge gift that we can give to them!!!
-Teach them how to deny themselves. To sacrifice for others and to sacrifice for the right thing. (A little example of one way we do this is to have the kids sit at the table while I'm dishing up their plates and then sit it in front of them, expecting them NOT to touch it until we are all seated and ready. We even expect this of Jack. The way we started teaching him was to tell him to keep his hands on his head. Well, he still does...even w/o us telling him to. Ha! This teaches them self restraint and how to be considerate of others.) I believe that this is another thing that is invaluable to raise mature adults. This is very key in learning self control!
Alright, these are all fresh revelations to me. I'm sure there are more ways to teach self control. I'm going to continue to seek God's strength to be the best mom that I can be and really focus on love and self control until we can see a big difference in the sibling relations thing and the first time obedience thing. My kids are together all the time, so not getting along is just not an option! :) Failing as a parent is just not an option either...nor does it have to be. Our society is falling apart and I feel passionate about contributing mature adults to it that will make this world a better place....and that begins at home!