So You Think I’m Wrong? (Personal Advice on Offering Objections)

So You Think I'm Wrong? (Personal Advice on Offering Objections)What should be our inspiration for offering correction when we see someone stepping out of line? A heart to see them right with God. A desire for righteousness. If you think our family is making a wrong move, here’s some personal advice on how to offer your objections to our family’s life choices. Hint: It doesn’t involve yelling!

Before overwhelming us with a verbal attack, here are a few solid tips on how to approach us when you think we might be stepping out of line:

Pray for Us – Before approaching us, ask yourself this question, “Is this Biblical wisdom or just your humble opinion?” If the Lord is prompting you to speak to us, kindly pray about not only what you’re going to say, but how to say it. Pray for us as well, that we would receive your helpful advice as it was intended. We, too, want this discussion to go well. It starts with humility and a desire to seek the Lord in all things.

Speak With Us – Please read that again, carefully. Don’t yell at us. Don’t talk at us. Don’t talk over us. And don’t talk about us to other people. We would love to work this out and resolve the issue, but we can’t do that if we don’t speak. Nicely.

Ask Questions – Odds are you have some questions, and we’d love to answer them for you. We understand not everyone is going to agree with our choices and you may want clarity on why we’ve gone in this direction. Just ask, we love sharing why we do what we do!

Show Respect – While we appreciate your good intentions towards our family, these children are our responsibility. You don’t have to agree with our choices, but you ought to respect them. Mocking us, muttering complaints under your breath, and posting on social media is not the answer.

Believe it or not, we appreciate your advice and questions. Our goal is to constantly grow and increase in wisdom. Maybe the Lord wants to use you, and your words are His tool. However, please consider we might already be following God’s plan and doing our best to be faithful. We don’t make our choices lightly or without care. Believe it or not, a great deal of thought, time, energy, and research goes into what we do and how we do it. It might look a little odd to you, but this is a grand adventure and we take it very seriously.  

May we be inspired to not only give instruction with gentleness, but receive instruction in humility; may we direct people towards Christ and His desires, not our own personal opinions and ideals; and may we be granted strength to stand against those who violently oppose.

(Please note: We are not discussing issues of abuse today. Such difficult situations would call for immediate action, not debate. Instead, we’re referring to differences in parenting decisions such as education, discipline, health choices, and the like.)

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”
Proverbs 3:5-6

Your Turn!: How do you handle unsolicited advice?

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Listen to Me – Revisited

Mouse on the phoneSometimes, well-meaning homeschoolers feel the need to convince other people that keeping their children at home is a must. We feel the need to cajole them into believing that homeschooling is the only answer and that if they don’t homeschool, something is wrong with them.

While, quite obviously, we prefer to homeschool and find it is the best answer for our family; I am very hesitant about what I share and how it is expressed. I would prefer that the Lord be the one working on their hearts, not me.

Over the course of several years, there are some key things I have learned about sharing my heart with other people. Things that I feel help to develop relationships and open the doors to good communication.

Earn respect. How often have we heard well-meaning advice from a complete stranger? Worse yet, someone whom you don’t respect? Before I open my mouth to speak, I ought to ask myself how well I know this person. Perhaps they are not open to receiving what I might want to communicate. I need to earn the right to be heard, not demand that I be listened to.

Learn to listen. No, seriously! How often have we spoken to someone, only to discover we didn’t really hear all that they said? Or that while they were speaking, we were already trying to form our own arguments and thoughts in response? The first step in a good conversation, is listening! Take time not to just hear the words they are speaking, but the heart of the person talking. Sometimes it is not just the statement being made, but the emotions behind them that need to be addressed.

Be humble. How much I accomplish and the efficiency in which it is done, is not to my own credit. It is the Lord who has given me my gifts and it is He who continues to sustain me. They don’t need to hear about all I have accomplished; they need to see how the Lord has directed our lives and used certain circumstances to bring us to where we are. This takes the glory out of my hands and puts it where it belongs.

Be slow to judge others. Imagine how hard it would be to bare your heart to another, only to have them turn and tear you apart. Once you have shared, they proceed to tell you all you have done wrong and how you should have gone about it. In the realm of parenting, there are many methods of schooling, training, and building of relationships. I need to understand that my way isn’t the only way and that all of us are still learning. My responsibility is to edify, encourage, and help; not to bury them under a mound of guilt.

Let the Lord lead. It is not my job to convince someone of my argument or my way of thought. If someone is genuinely interested in what I have to say, they will listen and take my thoughts into consideration. I don’t need to make them believe what I am saying or force them to confess that I am right. If the Lord leads; speak, and let Him to the rest.

Know when to keep quiet. There is a time to speak and there is time to remain silent. It is important to know what the situation calls for. It is okay to offer advice and express my views, but there comes a time when words are of no use. Know how to pick your battles and when to walk away.

When I am offering advice or answering questions about homeschooling, I want to make sure that I am not overstepping my bounds. If I have earned the right to be heard, I then need to make sure I am listening to their concerns. When I respond, my answers should be given gently and with humility. Once I have said my piece, I need to let the Lord lead them and remain quiet.

When being given advice, I need to make sure that I respectfully and humbly listen to the person speaking; whether or not their advice was asked for. Their intentions are usually well-meaning, being rude would only create distance and hinder further communication. I should pray about the advice offered and see where the Lord leads; picking my battles carefully, only defending my position when necessary.

When it comes to homeschooling, questions and advice abound. It helps to know when to speak, how to speak, and when to remain silent. I pray that I learn to speak with wisdom and patience, knowing when it is best to remain quiet.

Do you find it hard to take well-meaning advice? Do you struggle to answer confrontational questions with grace? How do you handle difficult conversations?

The One Thing

Thoughtful insight from a homeschool mom with lots of experience in the field. I pray you enjoy her words of wisdom as much as I have. 

……

I was home’s cool when home school wasn’t cool.

We began home schooling in the US when they would arrest us kooks and place our children into foster care. (They still do this in Europe.) We drilled with our children what to do if Mom said, “It’s the STATE!” We had friends within running distance through our woods. They’d whisk our children by car to other friends. . .

We home schooled with a vengeance. If we could end up paying for this with our lives or our children’s lives, we surely were going to make it worth the while. For many of us, our homes resembled miniature academies. Our schedule actually was posted for all to see:

  • Rise at six.
  • Dress, breakfast, chores, and ready to begin with shoes on by eight.
  • Bible memo and singing lessons until 8:30.
  • Beginner reading lessons until nine.
  • Quiet study until ten.
  • P.E. until 10:30.
  • More quiet study until lunch.

On and on it went, everything in order, orchestrated, recorded, double-tasked with housework, diligent, self-disciplined.

Jaw firmly set.

Makes me tense to think of it, but I was young and I believed we were being watched at all times. It did not help a bit that our neighbors actually did report us to the State for truancy, that a case worker actually did visit, that we actually were at loggerheads with them, and that HSLDA, by the time we discovered they existed, had decided not to take in families like ours who’d already tangled with the State.

It also did not help one bit that unbeknownst to us, the local principal did not forward our Intent Forms to the State, his intent being he could continue receiving appropriations for our children, and we, therefore, were not protected by the law.

That’s the tip of the iceberg.

You can imagine what sternness I felt necessary under these circumstances.

I knew I knew what to do with a child who needed to learn something. I loved teaching children, especially my own. I was positive I could do better than the Illiterati that reigned at our local schools. (Copywork from blackboard: Beavers use their tales to signal for danger by slapping it on the water. Note from Principal to parents: PTA meeting this Tuesday. Everybody are invited to attend.)

Once I received my curriculum, I had a wonderful “Aha-a-a” moment when I realized the teachers do not have to know anything: It’s all in the teacher’s book. I loved this. I was ready to go. And I having grown up during Vietnam, I had enough courage to make it all stick.

And I did make it stick. For the next quarter century, I readied six children for college, and they went on to excel and earn degrees in accounting, sciences, or art.

But I did one thing wrong, one thing I never guessed at, one thing I wish someone had said to me, “Kathy, what are you DOING?! You need to change this!”

Well, actually, I did read this advice when my youngest were teens, and I could not figure how to change.

What was it?

I did not smile on my children.

Oh, don’t get me wrong; we had rollicking good times. There were field trips, snow days with hot chocolate, tennis lessons with ice cream, park days, plays, chess club, and more. There were also spontaneous rubber-band wars, started by the teacher, whenever she felt the atmosphere in the classroom needed a boost.

Imagine having to keep a supply of rubber bands in your pocket, as part of your school supplies, just in case the teacher attacked. Yep, we had fun.

What I did not do, though, was smile ON them, as in making eye contact and looking deep into their souls with a smile.

Didn’t happen.

And I don’t know why.

Yet, one of my favorite Bible verses is the blessing from Numbers 6:24-26 which reads: The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.

It’s the face shine upon thee part I cannot explain away. All my life, growing up in church, each Sunday, I thought of God smiling a glowing smile on me when the pastor pronounced this blessing.

Every Sunday, all my life, I basked in what I imagined was the smile of God, smiling on me.

And I never smiled ON my children, into their souls, so they could bask in it, as I had basked in God’s smile.

Oh, they grew up to be fine people. Accountant, engineer, botanists, Webmaster, professional illustrator, volunteer fireman, volunteer ball coach, building their own houses with hammers in their own hands, leading a future-wife to the Lord, deacons, Sunday School teachers, bearing us ten grandkids, so far, if you count the tiny ones currently on the way, and not one of them in public school. Grit.

They love us, visit us, ask our advice, accept our help.

But I did not smile that smile I so believed in.

Oh, how I wish I had. . .

……

Home's CoolForty-three years as a professional mom. Twenty-five years as an educator. Fifteen years writing for women’s and educational magazines. Katharine loves sticking up for women who are motivated to the woman’s role; loves to write, loves to talk, loves using her education and experience to help in relationships and in overcoming unjust treatment.

The Sanity of Friendship

FriendsHave you ever had one of those days when you just needed someone to talk to? Someone who would understand and sympathize; offer great advice and pray with you?

Life can often be rushed; between cleaning house, doing laundry, fixing meals, animal care, child care, ministry, and add homeschooling on top of that… life can get downright crazy!

Talking to a good friend helps to keep life in balance and sanity intact. Talking helps me to unwind, reevaluate my standing, and gain perspective from an outside source. It helps to know someone who will tell you the truth no matter what; who will give it to you straight, but with love.

My husband is my friend, he offers great advice and helps me work through difficult situations. However, talking to my husband and talking to another lady just aren’t the same. Sometimes a lady just needs another lady.Good Friends

I have been blessed with a few women in my life to whom I can talk about anything. Whether or not we both homeschool, there is no subject that is taboo. We can talk about marriage, children, our walks with the Lord, our fears, our doubts, and our struggles.

There is no harsh condemnation, just constructive criticism. There is no pressure, just honest advice. There are no such things as “too many details” or “getting to the point”; the point is the relationship.

Having fun!It is great to have a friend who will take your side. It is even better to have someone who will tell you when you are wrong. It is great to have a friend agree, but even better when they offer a different viewpoint. Someone who can be real with you and let you be real in return.

A friend is a friend, no matter the distance or the differences. You are friends not because you are exactly alike, but because you each bring something different to the table. You are a better person because they are in your life.

I have been blessed with a few women that I can truly call friends. I pray that as my children grow, they will see how much those friendships mean and develop some of their own.

I pray that you have such a friend. If not, pray that the Lord would bring them into your life and while you are waiting, be that friend to someone else. Who knows where the Lord will lead.

How do your friends help you remain sane?

Listen to Me!!

Mouse on the phoneSometimes, well meaning homeschoolers feel the need to convince other people that keeping their children at home is a must. We feel the need to cajole them into believing that homeschooling is the only answer and that if they don’t homeschool, something is wrong with them.

While, quite obviously, we prefer to homeschool and find it is the best answer for our family; I am very hesitant about what I share and how it is expressed. I would prefer that the Lord be the one working on their hearts, not me.

Over the course of several years, there are some key things I have learned about sharing my heart with other people. Things that I feel help to develop relationships and open the doors to good communication.

Earn respect before trying to speak. How often have we heard well-meaning advice from a complete stranger? Worse yet, someone whom you don’t respect? Before I open my mouth to speak, I ought to ask myself how well I know this person. Perhaps they are not open to receiving what I might want to communicate. I need to earn the right to be heard, not demand that I be listened to.

Really learn to listen. No, seriously! How often have we spoken to someone, only to discover we didn’t really hear all that they said? Or that while they were speaking, we were already trying to form our own arguments and thoughts in response? The first step in a good conversation, is listening! Take time not to just hear the words they are speaking, but the heart of the person talking. Sometimes it is not just the statement being made, but the emotions behind them that need to be addressed.

Be humble when speaking. How much I accomplish and the efficiency in which it is done, is not to my own credit. It is the Lord who has given me my gifts and it is He who continues to sustain me. They don’t need to hear about all I have accomplished; they need to see how the Lord has directed our lives and used certain circumstances to bring us to where we are. This takes the glory out of my hands and puts it where it belongs.

Be slow to judge others. Imagine how hard it would be to bare your heart to another, only to have them turn and tear you apart. Once you have shared, they proceed to tell you all you have done wrong and how you should have gone about it. In the realm of parenting, there are many methods of schooling, training, and building of relationships. I need to understand that my way isn’t the only way and that all of us are still learning. My responsibility is to edify, encourage, and help; not to bury them under a mound of guilt.

Let the Lord lead them. It is not my job to convince someone of my argument or my way of thought. If someone is genuinely interested in what I have to say, they will listen and take my thoughts into consideration. I don’t need to make them believe what I am saying or force them to confess that I am right. If the Lord leads; speak, and let Him to the rest.

Know when to keep quiet. There is a time to speak and there is time to remain silent. It is important to know what the situation calls for. It is okay to offer advice and express my views, but there comes a time when words are of no use. Know how to pick your battles and when to walk away.

When I am offering advice or answering questions about homeschooling, I want to make sure that I am not overstepping my bounds. If I have earned the right to be heard, I then need to make sure I am listening to their concerns. When I respond, my answers should be given gently and with humility. Once I have said my piece, I need to let the Lord lead them and remain quiet.

When being given advice, I need to make sure that I respectfully and humbly listen to the person speaking; whether or not their advice was asked for. Their intentions are usually well meaning, being rude would only create distance and hinder further communication. I should pray about the advice offered and see where the Lord leads; picking my battles carefully, only defending my position when necessary.

When it comes to homeschooling, questions and advice abound. It helps to know when to speak, how to speak, and when to remain silent. I pray that I learn to speak with wisdom and patience, knowing when it is best to remain quiet.

Do you find it hard to take well meaning advice? Do you struggle to answer confrontational questions with grace? How do you handle difficult conversations?