A Firm Foundation

A close family friend came by a few days ago, with her 9-year old son and asked if I could speak to him. “Ellen, I don’t even know what to do with Caleb (name changed). He argues about everything and taunts his siblings all day long. Last night he tried to cheat when we were playing a family board game and then lied about it. What is going on with him?” I had no idea how to respond to this distraught mom, a friend I knew so well. She and her husband set high standards for their four children and held them accountable for their actions. They prayed with their kids and taught them Biblical truths. I believed that Caleb wanted to please his parents and be a positive role model for his siblings.  I knew he held great aspirations in his heart. Yet, from the sounds of things, little in his recent behavior indicated these desires. As I silently prayed, the Holy Spirit moved my thoughts in a different direction. Kids like Caleb, who are being raised in devoted Christian homes, likely know the basics of faith. But knowing does not necessarily equate to understanding or application to their daily lives. I asked Caleb if he would be willing to sit down with me and chat. Having had many honest conversations with this young boy, I didn’t mince words and got right to it.  “I understand you have been behaving poorly with your family recently.”  Caleb nodded in agreement. “How does that make you feel?” I asked him. “Bad,” he whispered. “What do you think you need to do...

Vision

God speaks to His people. He guides and plants vision into our hearts that inspires and moves us down certain paths. School Vision Veritas Academy has always been shaped by individuals who have been led by God-inspired vision.  I still remember many late-night board meetings back in the fall of 2005 when Veritas Academy first opened doors.  At one meeting, Jef Fowler spoke of seeing us on land – land with running streams and lots of trees.  Hills and rocks. Space for kids to enjoy the outdoors. Something stirred in me that evening.  I could envision what Jef was describing as well. For years, Jef diligently searched for such a school location.  Soon this dream will be a reality. I am confident that God has plans for Veritas Academy on our land that we are not even aware of yet. He has established our steps and He will not only bring the buildings to completion but all that He has in mind for us as well. Family Vision This past week, it became official that my grandkids, Asa and Alma, will be joining their sister and cousins at Veritas Academy in the fall. “How crazy is it,” I told my husband, “that ten of our grandchildren will attend Veritas together- and hopefully Beth will join them in the future as well.”  Veritas Academy, in so many ways, helps to fulfill dreams I held in my heart long ago.  Even as a child, I dreamed of being a mother to three children and doing life together with them.  I dreamed of unity and nurturing relationships, perhaps in part because these...

Raising Responsible Kids

(Continued from previous blog “Jesus Restores Me“) As parents, we deeply desire our kids to grow to be responsible. Yet, many young men and women remain irresponsible instead. What will best equip them for their adult lives? What should we teach our children to be responsible for?  It goes without saying that our kids should learn to be kind and respectful to others. They need to learn to wait their turn and not interrupt, to listen and to be mindful of the needs of others. In other words, they must learn to live by the golden rule! Plus, it goes without saying that, as parents, our greatest work is prayer.  Prayer must be our daily agenda, in order to keep our focus on what’s most important.  But what are those practical responsibilities that our kids need to grow in that will equip them for their lives as adults? What is it that our kids need to become most responsible for before they leave our homes?   As parents, we are responsible to equip our kids to walk responsibility into the adult world. Our kids are responsible for learning and maturing, which comes by way of what they can control:  their effort, their attitudes, and their choices.  The outcomes, however, are in God’s hands. It’s tempting to focus heavily on the outcomes we want to see happen – like grades, tests, career choices, and college admissions.  Doing so increases anxiety because the focus goes onto things our kids can’t wholly control.  Putting the focus on what can’t be controlled (like these outcomes, or even the behavior of others), is burdensome and...

Mini Blog #7: Teaching Kids to Comply with Expectations: Your Approach Makes All the Difference.

The past few blogs have centered on annoying habits such as interrupting, arguing, screaming, whining and complaining. How much of your daily parental efforts wind up being thwarted by these disruptive behaviors? Just think how differently your home would feel if your children instead learned to wait their turn, to thoughtfully express their emotions and to respectfully state their needs and wants! Does that sound too good to be possible? It shouldn’t be. Kids can and should learn these skills but your approach will make all the difference in (1) what actually transpires as well as (2) whether their improvements in behavior flow from a heart change or merely in order to get what they want, to avoid punishment or to gain your approval. We can threaten and bribe. We can yell and scream. We can try to scare them into compliance. But we might lose their hearts in the process and that’s a steep price to pay. In Ephesians 6:4 we are told to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord Jesus. What does that practically look like?  This is what I imagine: Gentle but not weak Consistent but not legalistic Gracious but holding to standards Patient but not excusing Corrective but not criticizing Self-controlled but not controlling Which of these speaks to you today? Recently for me it’s been the concept of gentleness. To be gentle, yet not weak. The opposite of gentle is to be harsh. Irritable. Severe. When I am running late or get inconvenienced, when I am feeling discouraged or disappointed, gentleness does not come easy. These are vulnerable times for me...

Mini Blog # 6: Say Goodbye to Whining and Complaining

Kids will whine and complain for silly reasons. My granddaughters happily produce all sorts of artwork, but when asked to clean up and put away their supplies, their joy can instantly melt into grumbling and complaining. Suddenly they have no skills at all and instead find a myriad of excuses for why they can’t, and shouldn’t have to, clean up. To be honest, sometimes it’s tempting to give in rather than face the commotion. “Just 10 more minutes…I just have to finish this game,” your son whines after you remind him again that his time on the iPad is up. You silently rationalize, “What’s ten more minutes? At least I will be able to fix dinner in peace.” It’s appealing to put a temporary end to our kid’s whining and complaining by giving in, isn’t it! Why do kids whine and complain? Because it works! They know it is annoying enough to actually cause parents to expect less or back down. In addition, some kids see it as a means to control their parents, because it is a surefire way to get them to react emotionally – which only reinforces and even fuels the misbehavior. What can you do instead? You can begin to consistently enforce a simple standard that sounds like this: when you whine about work, you get more work; when you whine about a privilege (playing with the iPad, getting more dessert, etc.) you lose the privilege. Set the standard and then, when your child begins to whine or complain, regardless of what it’s about, simply ask the question, “Are you whining/complaining?” They will soon learn...

Mini Blog #5: Putting an End to Fit Throwing and Arguing

I love my grandkids. They are full of spunk however and a very determined lot. The 2-, 3-, and 4-year-olds (of which there are FIVE) often prefer to pout, argue and scream rather than comply. The school age ones are also prone to arguing and insisting on getting their way. In all this, I see the promise of leadership, of SISU (Finnish for grit or dogged determination), and of godly purpose in their lives. Raising up determined kids is challenging and exhausting at times. Nothing is more aggravating to a parent than incessant fit throwing or arguing by a child. How you choose to respond, however, will either reinforce or serve to extinguish this type of behavior. I admit that sometimes I am tempted to react back, to threaten, and to demand obedience. Yet deep inside, I know this does not work. Efforts to gain compliance by intense, forceful words, or actions may temporarily stop the behavior because the child fears the repercussions. It may even help the parent feel they are in control. But who is really winning in the midst of these power struggles? And what type of behavior are we actually fostering? Arguing back with a frustrated, angry child actually prevents authentic communication from occurring by keeping the issue at the surface reactionary level. Such a cycle breaks down connection between the parent and child and puts distance between their hearts. Plus, we wind up modeling the very behavior we want them to stop. So how can we help our children grow hearts that desire to respect and obey those in authority over them? What can we...