Honesty

Like all kids, my grandkids will try to spin the truth at times, especially if it is to their advantage to do so. “I have no idea who did that” turns to “actually I think so-and-so did it” and then to “well he sort of made me do it.” They haven’t figured out the finesse of deception well enough to get by with it consistently and I hope they never do!  I find them pretty easy to still “read.” Evolving stories. Downcast faces. No eye contact. A fretful disposition. This gives me hope that deception has not become a comfortable pattern for them. Honesty was a virtue my father highly esteemed. I pray that my own grandchildren will come to embrace honestly as well and that they will choose to abide by the truth in Proverbs 10:9 that “whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.” Deception is sadly very common among today’s students, especially as they age. As the school’s disciplinarian, the most common misbehavior my husband addresses is cheating, another form of deceit. According to confidential surveys of our nation’s high school students, 74% admit to cheating on an examination at least once in the past year. And that percentage is merely those who admit to it. Here’s a few other facts about academic cheating from the Educational Testing Service Website. Cheating no longer carries the stigma that it used to. Grades, rather than education, have become the major focus of many students. Students who cheat often feel justified in what they are doing. They cheat because they...

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 #13: Maintaining Both a Loving Connection and High Expectations

“She hasn’t learned that you don’t mess with Oma,” Kate whispered to her brother as Haddie stubbornly stood by the piano with her arms crossed. Rather than her typical “I can do this” attitude, Haddie had chosen a whiny “this is too hard” mindset for her piano lesson that afternoon. Kate was right. Pouting, whining and refusing to try fall into the category of behaviors, I won’t tolerate. I love my grandchildren too much to do so. Free to Parent was written with incidents like this in mind….. ……how to hold kids to high standards and at the same time maintain a loving connection with them – even when they mess up and choose poorly. Because I believe a loving connection is of upmost importance, I may at times give the impression that I am a push over or that I don’t promote parental authority. Nothing could be further from the truth. (Ask my grandchildren) I just believe that parents must learn to consistently maintain their expectations and at the same time lovingly affirm their kids. These ideals are not in opposition with each other. Rather parenting within a tension between the two forms a loving authority, one that best incarnates Christ, who was the perfect embodiment of both grace and truth. Without standards that are consistently upheld, children readily fall into bad habits. They get lazy and learn to cut corners. They get caught up in distractions. They give up when the going gets a bit tough. Then goals and aspirations diminish and discouragement sets in. Why? Because deep inside kids want to aspire to great things and...

Mini Blog #3: Teach Your Kids to Journal

There’s something about writing things down that helps me remember.   Whether it’s a grocery list, a to-do list or a list of people to pray for, writing information down makes it far more likely to be remembered.  Throughout the years I have recorded many things in my journals, which include times when my life seems to be crumbling as well as times when everything comes together perfectly. Overall this stack of journals form a record of prayers as well as my spiritual journey AND they form a reminder of God’s promise-keeping faithfulness in my life. Because this practice has been so life-giving, I decided to begin journaling with my grandchildren. I am blessed to have one school-at-home day each week with my grandchildren. After a morning group meeting, I hand them their journals, which include a note I have written to each beforehand.  I usually include both affirmations and suggestions. Then ten minutes of silence follows during which they write a response to my note (as well as anything else they wish to write about).  Their statements are heart-felt and often define behavioral expectations they plan to work on. At the end of the day, I ask each child how they felt they did in hindsight.  The girls in particular choose to write again reflecting on the day after it’s completion. I am reminded of how reflecting on our experiences can be a better teacher than the experience itself.   Journaling is definitely a means by which to intentionally foster reflection. At first the process felt awkward to them, but in just a few days, their journaling is...

How Do We Keep Our Children Growing and Learning?

First, we need to ensure that they keep growing.  Growth promotes growth.  When a child gains a new skill or discovers something new, they get excited,  grow in confidence, and continue growing. Some kids are naturally inclined with a nature that is willing to face challenges and grow.  In addition, some refuse age appropriate limits and create considerable angst for their parents as a result. Will, my two year old grandson is one of these kids who prefers to experience life head on – regardless of the risk involved.  He wants to “do it myself” like his older sister and brother. He has no fear of getting hurt or fear of failing.  He will jump right in and attempt things well beyond his years.  A few weeks ago, he quietly disappeared- never a good sign! He had located the keys to their Expedition, opened the heavy door, climbed up into the seat, put the key into the ignition and had the engine running. The garage door was open and the two year old was trying to put the car in gear when his parents found him!  Motivating him to try new things will likely not be an issue as he has a built in “nothing is impossible” mindset. Will however needs wise boundaries, faithfully set and enforced,  so that his unbound energy can be directed productively – and safely. What makes a child quit growing and become complacent instead? Mostly it has to do with their mindset – how the challenge of growth is viewed from within. Will’s six year old cousin Jude is more hesitant by nature.  Behind...

Resist What Is Easy

   Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Matthew 7: 13-14 Watching the figure skaters perform in the Olympics inspires me.  Not that I desire to skate but I marvel at their courage. And their mental toughness, determination and dedication to hard work. Achieving greatness in anything does not come easy. Yet we tend to choose what comes easiest – the path of least resistance – but it often comes at the cost or neglect of that which is best.   Following the path of least resistance can become a habit that guides our lives and establishes who we are. “Every time you make a choice you are turning into the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different than it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a heavenly creature or a hellish creature….”  C.S. Lewis We naturally lean toward what is easiest, what seems most enjoyable at the moment, what is least painful and challenging.  Not every choice we make needs to be a difficult one, but the path of least resistance must never become our standard for making decisions. So much is learned in the struggle of learning; so much is missed out on when we choose what is...