Friday, January 14, 2011

Becoming the Family We Want To Be: Part 2

I can’t say enough about habits.  I believe habits are the key to any kind of success.  So the next thing I had to do was evaluate what kind of family do we want to have?  Make a list.  Our list looked something like this:

We want to be the family that:
Is self disciplined, compassionate, punctual, hard working, focused, serving, dedicated, motivated, joyful, selfless, fun, loving, thoughtful, organized, healthy, godly, dependable, ….
“The well brought up child has always been a child carefully trained in good habits.”

Then I determined what habits needed to be formed to make these things happen!  We have morning and bedtime habits.  It's a prefect place to start.  Besides the fact that they take a lot of pressure off of me and help the day run more smoothly, these habits set them up to be self motivated, organized, disciplined and more.  Any of the things that you wish came more naturally to you that you think would make you more successful at reaching your goals are probably good things to make into habits for your children.  Rising early and getting ready for the day.  Finishing what you start.  Always striving for excellence.  Going the extra mile.   
Helping our children form healthy habits is SUCH a big gift we can give them.  Do you see weaknesses in your child’s character and personality?  All is not lost!  Habits make up a huge percentage of personality.  Or should I say, habits can OVERCOME a huge percentage of personality.  I've seen it happen.  I'm telling you, I looked at my kids and felt hopeless.  I felt like they were too far gone.  I've seen a complete turn around!!

“Sow an act, reap a habit;
Sow a habit, reap a character;
Sow a character, reap a destiny.”

What do you want the destiny of your family and your children to be?  I believe it hinges on the habits we instill in them today!!!  DO NOT OVERLOOK  THE VITAL IMPORTANCE OF CHORES!  Our children have habits whether we train them to be good ones or not!  Chores are another one of those things that I let go during those months that I was lost.  When “working” is not a habit, there will be much whining and grumbling when asked to work.  Trying to get my kiddos back into the habit of chores was so frustrating!  I was very discouraged.  They were behaving like spoiled brats!!  Entitled to me serving them and doing everything for them!  I want my children to be hard workers.  To be diligent and self motivated.  To be able to do hard things.  This will not come just from me wanting it for them!  I must train them to do it!  I reestablished our chore system (tweaking it a bit).  Our chore system is set up so that EVERY Monday, EVERY Tuesday, etc., they have the same chores.  It’s not the same thing every day, but every Monday they know what is expected of them and so on.  Their chores change yearly, but for that year the chores are pretty much set.  My goal in this is that they will master the how of those chores and be able to do them w/o my instruction.  The when is a habit.  Every morning after breakfast the work is to be done!  I want them to be self motivated.  Once it becomes habit I no longer have to say  “chore time” they simply know what must be done and when.  The diligence comes in b/c there is a time limit.  All chores are expected to be completed in 1 hour.  If they are not done…or not done well, there are consequences.  This has helped w/ attitude around the house and a more peaceful, orderly environment in general.

“The education of habits is successful in so far as it enables the mother to let her children alone, not teasing them w/ perpetual commands and directions-a running fire of DO and Don’ts;  but letting them go their own way and grow, having first secured that they will go the right way, and grow to fruitful purpose.”

This goal of raising kids that have formed good enough habits to not have to be constantly reminded or corrected is lofty, but attainable.  I believe that one of the KEY components to this is consistency.  My biggest weakness!  WATCHING our children.  It seems so simple, but SO often I don’t.  I know they are in the back and getting rowdy….and yet I continue to work on whatever it is that I’m in the middle of.  That is not training them to have good habits.  Letting them behave in a way that is less than you expect is letting them form habits that you don’t really want them to have.  I realized that I must stop what I'm doing every time to train.  It sounded exhausting to me.  But I KNOW that was how it MUST be done to reach the goals I have for my children.

“Not mere spurts of occasional punishment, but the kind of incessant watchfulness and endeavor which go to the forming and preserving of the habits of the good life, is what we mean by discipline.”

It’s a process to train kids to have good habits….especially once you let things slip for too long (ahem).  But it can be done!  I’ve seen it!  I had to remember that I wasn't the only one these changes were hard on.  The kids also got discouraged.  I have found it SO much more profitable to go into it with a cheerful attitude!!  When I started the day w/ a cheerful attitude and was focused on them and expressed to them that I knew WE were going to be able to do even better today, they were more cheerful and motivated.

“Her Mother’s eye is upon her, hopeful and expectant.”

We have expectations of our children.  They are not always good.  I had to retrain myself to expect them to do the right thing EVERY time.  I KNOW they will make mistakes….but I don’t EXPECT them to.  It’s very different.  Children live up to your expectations!  You’ve seen it.  The family pegs him as the trouble maker at 2 and by 19 he’s in jail.  They peg her as the “athlete in the family” and that’s where she focuses all her attention and finds all her self worth.  They tell him that “he is the brains in their family” so he’s bound and determined to get straight A’s.  These are just examples, and in my opinion, none of them are good.  When you label your child it can cause them to feel like that is their only area of worth.  BUT high expectations in general are good.  It shows your child that you believe in them!!  If you don’t expect A’s they may feel like you don’t think they are capable of A’s and in effect be satisfied w/ C’s.  I found that once I communicated (in a positive and encouraging way) that I expected the girls to make their beds a certain way, they tried harder to make them look very nice.  The same way with the way they folded their clothes and the towels.  I have been so surprised and encouraged by how they respond to high expectations.  When I have high expectations of them, they have high expectations of themselves and I believe it strengthens their self worth.

“Mothers can work wonders once they are convinced that wonders are demanded of them.”

I realized that I just had to buck up and face the fact that I was not doing what God had called me to do.  I was being selfish.  Wallowing in self pity.  SELF.  As a Mother, I know that I must consciously die to myself daily before my feel hit to floor to have the most successful day possible.  As long as I have children under my roof, it is not about me!  I must pour myself into them.  *This does not mean being a martar or not taking care of yourself.  That's not healthy.  There is definitely a balance there.  It's different for each person.*

Just b/c I know that helping my kids form healthy habits doesn't mean that I've mastered it!  It ebbs and flows.  I do good for awhile and then I struggle.  That's life.  And I think it's OK.  It's about trying.  Doing our best.  No mother is perfect.  We just keep trying.  We encourage one another and "keep it real."  And we do our best not to compare and to keep things in perspective!

Conclusion coming soon....

1 comment:

Marie said...

Habits are so good! We are working on getting a chore chart together and I would love to see what you have together. I keep tweaking it hoping that by next weekend it will be ready to go. Go you for making these changes and for spurring me on to remember that everyday I have to make the choice to be intentional.


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