Am I A Thermometer or A Thermostat?

am_i_a_thermometerIs my thermostat in working order? I don’t mean the one on the wall of our home, adjusting the temperature in the rooms of our house. Rather my internal thermostat; the spiritual gauge which helps maintain the temperature of my heart and life. I’ve discovered something true. When my internal thermostat is placed at God’s proper setting, myself, my family, and my relationships remain in balance. Every once in a while it’s important to do a heart check and be sure everything is in working order.

What happens when our internal temperatures get too hot? We tend to boil over and spew a burning mess over all those around us. We make rash choices, blow up, and occasionally stop working all together. And when we get too cold? We freeze out those we love, making them feel unwanted. We refuse to think of others, giving them the cold shoulder and becoming self-centered.

Our thermostats can be hard to maintain if we are doing it on our own strength and fail to establish helpful “programs”. We need to rely on the Lord (John 15:5). We need to set boundaries for ourselves, knowing that when we hit a certain point a change needs to be made.

When we get too hot, we need to learn to take a walk, pray about the situation, breathe, and let things go. We can call a good friend and “let off some steam”, allowing us to vent and better get a handle on the problem. When we get too cold towards others, we need to work on building the relationship and showing our feelings. We need to think of their needs, listen carefully, and speak kindly. We need to love on them and let them love us in return.

As my children’s parent and educator, part of my job is to teach them about their own internal thermostat and how it works; to help them learn their limits and how to put programs into place which access the assistance God is so willing to provide. My job is to also example a properly operating system. Are my children witness to an out of control parent, or one who adjusts to the continual changes of the day? If I am failing to model gracious, purposefully redirection of the temperature in our homes, how can I expect anything different in my children.

We are not called to be thermometers; constantly being changed based on the mood of our homes. We are called to be thermostats; constantly maintaining to remain inline with God’s purpose. Having a balanced thermostat will keep our family unified and peaceful. We will begin to recognize when the temperatures get out of normal range and how to adjust, bringing us closer to Christ. May we rely on the Lord to keep our hearts aligned with His will, and may He give us strength to work accordingly.

We’d love to learn… How do you readjust your internal thermostat when it gets out of range?

“Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.”
I Timothy 4:16

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Am I Provoking My Child?

am_i_provokingLife can be challenging, especially for a child. There are so many things to learn, rules to follow, and people to obey. They have seemingly little control over their own lives and can often get frustrated when things do not go their way. One of the most frustrating trials a child can face is when their own parent provokes them. Whether we mean to or not, as parents we can push our children beyond what they are able to endure.

I find it beneficial to periodically reflect on my parenting; making sure I am not the source of my child’s frustration. At least not purposefully. Here is a list of ways I’ve found might provoke my children:

  • Constant criticism and a failure to encourage
  • Double standards and/or being a hypocrite
  • Being angry and harsh
  • Lack of affection
  • Telling them what to do or not do without giving Biblical reasons
  • Comparing them to others
  • Embarrassing them (correcting, mocking or expressing disappointment in them in front of others)
  • Lecturing them and not listening
  • Failing to be humble and asking for forgiveness
  • Micromanagement
  • Giving them a greater burden than they can bear (whether it is homeschooling work, chores, or responsibilities)

The Bible teaches that we are not to provoke our children to anger. (“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” – Ephesians 6:4) While this verse speaks directly to fathers, I am sure it must also apply to us moms.

Reflecting on my parenting and my relationship with my children, I am able to clearly see ways in which I am failing as a parent and ways in which I can improve. While I will constantly fail, I pray that I am getting better.

We’re curious… Which verses speak to you when dealing with this area of parenting?

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so they won’t become discouraged.”
~ Colossians 3:21

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Do Our Children Have Personal Property?

do_our_children_have_personal_propertyUh, oh. Here it comes. My son is eagerly recalling a memory from several years ago of playtime with his siblings, and I know exactly what is going to happen next. “Mom, whatever happened to that toy?” Just as I am about to remind them the particular item in question was meant for toddlers and they are no longer two, another of my children promptly announces I have more than likely gotten rid of it; as I am want to do. Now I ask you. Why would I keep it? They hadn’t touched it for years! It seemed reasonable to remove the item in question, at least to my way of thinking. My kids, however, consider this the perfect opportunity to remind me – yet again – that this needs to stop. Some things belong to them, and they should be included in the decision to have it given away. Well, perhaps they’re right.

In a home where six people live, work, run a business, homeschool, play and sleep, space can be an issue. From time to time, it’s essential to downsize and streamline our belongings; removing items we haven’t used in ages and perhaps making room for new resources to further our family adventures. I don’t think anyone in my family would dispute these facts. No, it’s the manner in which we minimize which is in question. I have to admit, they have a point.

It made sense when the children were little that I be the one to sift through our belongings, donating what could bless others and organizing what was essential. However, the older our children get, the more it becomes evident I need to step aside and allow my children to make some of these decisions for themselves. And there are some valid reasons why.

I am a minimalist. I like the bare essentials. If I haven’t used something in a while, if the piece is not functional, or if I am just plain, old tired of it; it goes. While this might seem like a good thing – and it can be – it can also work against me. I don’t know how many times I’ve gotten rid of something only to regret it six months later and curse my incessant need to minimize. Perhaps, just maybe, when it comes to my children’s things I might not be the best judge of what should stay and what should go.

My children need to learn this skill themselves. At some point, my kids need to learn the fine art of organization and minimizing. They might never pair-down to the extent I would, but neither can they rely on me to always do this for them. By purposefully setting aside time to do this as a family, they learn this skill for themselves and they have no fear something will be taken which has meaning to them.

My children have an emotional attachment. I see a bracelet my child has never worn. They see a well-loved, handmade gift from a friend. I see a doctor kit made for three-year-olds. They see a world of possibility, and childhood memories. Sometimes I don’t know which items my children have formed attachments to, and I would hate to give something away which I can never replace and has great meaning to them.

If I say it belongs to them, I need to mean what I say. How would I feel if a particular item suddenly went missing only to find it was given away without my permission? I would be hurt. My children are no different! Once something belongs to my children – whether bought or given – it belongs to them. Not me. I need to respect their right to keep that item or even get rid of it. It’s theirs. Personal property needs to be acknowledged.

It is essential to downsize from time to time. But these days re-organizing our home has become a group effort. Together we tackle our respective spaces and determine what absolutely must stay. I’m constantly amazed. You’d be surprised how motivated these children can be, cleaning better than I would have anticipated and often removing more than I would have dared. Items of value are stored with great care, and generosity is shown as they determine who would benefit from items they no longer need. Better yet, I don’t have to face accusations and our home is organized much faster than had I done this on my own. It’s an all-round win!

I’m curious, how do you tackle this tricky parenting choice?

“The earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it.”
~ Psalm 24:1

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“I’m Bored!”

im_boredThere used to be an old saying, “If you’re bored, it’s because you are boring!” I find myself constantly quoting this to my children whenever I hear complaints of this nature. Personally, I find it very hard to validate any claims of boredom. There are far too many things in life to do, see, experience, and accomplish for me to be bored. So when my children show signs of this malady beginning to take hold, it’s time to jump into action.

Often “boredom” is merely another way for children to express an inner restlessness. Thus, we have devised a whole list of “boredom busters” which we frequently employ when the bug decides to bite.

Boredom Busters

  • Bubbles- Believe it or not, we don’t keep these out all the time. They are kept just for such occasions and for special events.
  • Play Dough- Same concept, we keep these for those times when the kids just need something different to do.
  • Art Attack- I have special boxes of art supplies just for moments of boredom. They are filled with foam shapes, stickers, self-inking stamps, and other fun items they don’t use when doing their normal art projects.
  • Paper Dolls- We have various sets of paper dolls (and some magnetic ones) which we pull out, helping to entertain us all.
  • Glow In the Dark Sticks- You might think these only work at night, but not so! We have been known to pull them out in the middle of the day, lock ourselves in a bathroom, and spend an hour having some fun.
  • Board Games- Hey, they aren’t called that for nothin’! We have been known to dump all the pieces out and mix them up, creating completely new games.
  • Flip Side- This is a fun activity my kids like, where they lay on their backs and imagine the world upside down. What would it be like to walk on the ceiling?
  • Balloons- I keep a bag (or two) of balloons on hand at all times. It takes only a few moments and the kids have a room full of balloons to play with. This never fails to keep them entertained.
  • Face Paint- After Halloween, I make sure to pick up several face painting kids for very inexpensive. We pull these out every so often and practice painting each other’s faces.
  • Camping- We have a child’s size camping tent we pop out, this offers hours of fun with very little work involved.

It seems quite a few others experience the same dilemma. There are entire websites, articles, and blogs dedicated to eradicating the boredom bug. Wow! Thankfully, our kiddos are very good at keeping themselves entertained. However, it doesn’t hurt to have a plan of action, in case the boredom bug hits.

My last resort, if none of the above seems to entice? “Hey, there’s always chores!” For some reason, this always seems to work….

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
~ I Thessalonians 5:18

Your Turn!: What is your favorite way to battle boredom?

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Helping Our Children Manage Change

helping_our_children_manage_changeEvery once in a while, our family goes through major changes. It doesn’t happen often and we try to keep changes to a minimum, but, on occasion, something needs to give. There have been times I have had to change our homeschooling methods or curriculum. We have changed our church, our homeschooling group, our set of friends, and, at one point, almost moved out-of-state!

Our kids, like most others, do not always handle change well. They become anxious, moody, fearful, sad, obstinate, or clingy when life goes out of balance. It is our responsibility to help our children overcome their fear and accept this new area of their lives. While each child needs to be comforted in their own way, there are a few tried-and-true helps for everyone:

We try to make ourselves available to them. No matter the change, I want to make sure they are with me through it all. Our children are encouraged to share input and thoughts; they know we are doing this together.

We talk about the changes we are going through. I am honest about my fears, anxiety, and excitement. This helps them to know they are not alone and we are going through this as a team.

We let them know they are free to talk about their worries. My kids need to know I am here to listen to their concerns and there is nothing they can’t tell me.

We help them prepare for what is ahead. We discuss expectations, encourage one another, and prepare as best as we able for the coming changes.

We try to keep everything else normal. I try not to overwhelm them with too many changes at once. (e.g. If we are changing curriculum, we keep everything else about our day normal.) This keeps life a little more stable and gives them less to worry about.

We try to keep a positive attitude about the situation. It helps my kids when I get excited about the change and I show them how much they have to look forward to.

We try to make sure they are keeping healthy. This may sound funny, but it is vital. Kids get anxious about change, which can make them sick. It helps if I keep my kids on a regular diet; making sure they get exercise and plenty of rest.

Change can be a good thing. For children, it can also be scary. How we handle change, and make ourselves available to our family is vital. May the Lord help us embrace whatever change He is bringing our way, giving Him all glory and honor through the transition.

If you’re struggling with last-minute changes in your routine, – Don’t you just love when that happens? – it might be the Lord asking you to be Open to Change. Or, perhaps, curriculum isn’t working according to plan and you need a complete overhaul? May THIS article encourage you to take a breath, seek the Lord in all things, and give Him glory through the madness.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
~ Jeremiah 29:11

Your Turn!: How does your family handle life changing situations?

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Instituting a “No Admittance” Policy

Instituting_a_No_Admittance_PolicySeveral years back, my husband voiced a concern regarding our children and fellowship with visiting friends. It seemed fitting our girls should entertain only other young ladies in their private space and the same with our son. We immediately got on board and encouraged this concept with our children.

While this might seem a silly position to take a stand over, we think it has several important underlying points. Our children are being taught to guard themselves from impropriety. I want my daughters to understand it is improper for a young lady to entertain a young man without anyone else present or without proper guardians. The same goes for my son. Our children are being made to understand the importance of not giving the appearance of evil. They cannot be unjustly accused of wrong doing if they are not allowing a compromising situation to arise.

We introduced the idea of “No Admittance” when our children were very little, helping to make the transition easier. If they became familiar with the rules at a young age, there would be less debate over the issue as they mature.

While at first it was a challenge for them to remember, it quickly became a household habit. Our girls were free to have any visiting young ladies into their room, but if a boy was over the playing stayed in the family room. If an object needed to be retrieved, only our children were allowed to obtain it. As our son grew, he too was encouraged to follow the same rules. He has his guy friends play in his room, but young ladies are not allowed to be in his room with them.

As an added precaution we have also implemented an open door policy. When friends are over, we keep all rooms where fellowship takes place open. This ensures parents can monitor conversation and appropriate behavior, even amongst those of the same-sex. We never want to take for granted our children are safe and on guard against issues.

Visiting friends are made aware of the concept and reassured this is for their children’s safety, as much as our own. Just as we do not wish to put our children in a compromising situation, we do not wish their child to be a party to any wrongdoing.

Instituting a “No Admittance” policy at a young age will prayerfully teach our children important life lessons and prevent indiscretions. May the Lord continually give us wisdom when it comes to safeguarding our children.

“Abstain from all appearance of evil.”
~1 Thessalonians. 5:22

Your Turn!: What areas of safety has the Lord brought to your attention?

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The Difference Between Being Good and Behaving

The_Difference_Between_Being_Good_and_BehavingGrowing up, my brother and I were always taught to “be good”. This seemed rational to my way of thinking. It made life easier on my mother, it got me in less trouble, and it earned respect from adults. It wasn’t until I started attending school however, “being good” took on a whole new meaning.

Being good somehow became associated with being a snob or being too good for other people to hang around with. I soon became labeled as the “goodie two shoes” who never used bad language, never wore inappropriate clothing, and had to “ask mommy for permission”. It created quite a dilemma in my young mind. Wasn’t I supposed to be good? Weren’t these kids taught to be good as well?

In time, I gained a few friends. They would later confess they always thought me a snob, until they realized I was just a little shy and didn’t do things like everyone else. We remained friends for the remainder of my schooling.

On occasion I still wonder… Aren’t most children raised to be “good” people? Honestly, I don’t think so.

I think most children these days are taught to behave, not to be good. These are two different things entirely! When we behave, we are acting according to how the situation demands. When we are good, we are doing what is right.

As a parent, I don’t want my children to behave. Yes, you read that correctly! Their behavior should have nothing to do with what society commands or expects, but rather should stem from a moral compass which demands righteousness.

Being good goes far beyond behaving, it is an attitude of the heart. It is a drawing nearer to God. His goodness works in us, shines through us, and goes before us. It is an inner beauty that expresses itself in outward action. When we are good, we will listen to our parents. When we are good, we will respect others and show kindness. When we are good, we will do everything to the best of our ability. When we are good, we will do the right thing.

When we teach our children to simply “behave”, we are failing to teach them the most important lesson of all. Guard your heart. It isn’t just about the outward appearances, but who you are as a person. Being “good” shouldn’t be an act, it should be who you are. At the core of my children’s being, I want them to not only be a “goodie two shoes”, but to wear those shoes with confidence, knowing that they are doing the right thing.

“Do good to your servant according to your word, Lord. Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust your commands. Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word. You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees.”
~ Psalm 119:65-68

Your Turn!: Speaking of shoes, in a round about way… What are your favorite pair?

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My Kids Are Mad at Me

My Kids Are Mad at MeI like being liked, doesn’t everyone? The people I want to like me most are my family. So when my kids are having an off day and decide I’m a convenient target, an entire slew of emotions come into play. How did we get here, and why are my kids mad at me?

Just like us, kids have hard days. It can be all too easy to take on personal guilt when these feelings in them bother us. There is a series of emotions and steps my mind seems to run through every time this happens. Perhaps some of these resonate with you, too?

Getting Over the Hurt – My heart is immediately saddened. The kids are mad because I’m parenting them? My mind can’t seem to compute how they could be upset when I want them to brush their teeth, make their beds, study their schoolwork… The hurt turns to a moment of guilt, wondering if I’m asking too much or doing something wrong.

Seeing Past the Red – Then the hurt turns to anger. I know I’m doing my job and they are making it hard; very hard. My pride kicks in, hating the disrespect being shown and the sharp replies I am receiving when I’m doing my best to remain calm and collected.

Learning to Pray – It’s in the midst of the anger, however, I am filled with the overwhelming need to pray. I don’t want to speak out in anger – while it might be righteous indignation, my reaction affects everything – hurting my children and doing further damage. I’m learning to ask the Lord to speak to their hearts, softening them to His will and obedience. I seek His will in my response and calmness for my heart.

Extending Understanding – While my children shouldn’t have acted out, and consequences will need to be given, the Lord is helping me see through my children’s eyes. Perhaps they have had a busy morning and feel overwhelmed. Maybe they were already frustrated and I’ve unintentionally poked at them. Their actions are not justified, but it’s good to know why this happened so we can move forward and work on removing this barrier in the future.

Holding Firm – Once my children have calmed down, they inevitably feel sorry for their actions. It might take a while, but it always comes around. It would be all too easy to write off their consequences and call it a day; everything is good now. That would be a mistake on my part. While I appreciate their repentance, my children also need to learn justice. It hurts to follow through, but it is necessary and important.

Tying Strings – We could leave it at repentance – it’s not a bad place to stop – but I want more. I need to rebuild the relationship which might be torn or bruised. A hug might be the answer, working together on a project, reading a story, watching a movie, talking during a walk, and more. At times this is harder than others, but worth the effort.

More than being liked, I want to be righteous. This means I need to set a good example for my children in moments of hurt and anger. It also means I need to stand firm in building their character.

When my children are mad, I need to remove myself from the picture, take a step back, evaluate what is going on beneath the surface, and ask the Lord for wisdom. This is not a personal affront, but a personal attack upon my child. The question is will I help or cause more hurt?

“As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.”
~ Psalm 103:13

Your Turn!: What is your favorite way to “tie strings” with your children?

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Redeeming the Time

Redeeming the TimeThe last time my wife asked me to guest-post, I wrote a brief description of homeschooling from a father’s perspective (well, from this father’s perspective, in any case). This time I was asked to write about the importance of fathers in the homeschool process, and I’m primarily addressing men here. Because it’s such a vast subject encompassing so many aspects, I’ve chosen to begin on one particular aspect: Time         

…For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away.
– James 4:14

The older you get, the more you realize how short life really is, and you realize how little time you have to do all the things you’d like to do. Let me say right now that if you spend all of your time trying to fulfill some “bucket list” you’ll probably miss out on the important relationships that really matter. No man on his death-bed has regrets about never having had a chance to sky dive. What a dying man inevitably regrets is all the time wasted on useless things while neglecting his family. If there’s only one point I can get across to husbands and fathers is that you need to be attending to your relationship with your family. If that means you miss a football game or time on the golf course, so be it. Better to miss a few meaningless pursuits than to come home one day and find that your children have grown and are gone, and you missed out on the whole thing.

Work – Let’s face it, guys need to work. Given the state of the economy, a man’s got to do whatever it takes to make ends meet. This may eat up most of his time, and the family just needs to understand that dad can’t always be around. My only advice to dads is that they only work as much as necessary to properly provide for their families. I won’t define “properly” here, because everyone’s circumstances are different. Suffice it to say that you shouldn’t be working more than is necessary if it means you’re neglecting your family to make a few extra bucks for that new car you’ve been wanting. Like I mentioned earlier, no man will look back on his life and regret not getting a new car. He will, however, regret not spending more time making his kids laugh. It’s the little moments we take for granted.

Labor not to be rich: cease from your own wisdom… for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward the heaven.”
– Proverbs 23:4-5

Education – So what does all of that have to do with education? It’s constantly being repeated that homeschooling is about using every opportunity to teach some lesson. This means that, as a father, your involvement in your child’s education includes every moment you spend with them, which is why I wanted to focus on the importance of time spent with your children. If you’re not spending any time with your kids, then you’re likely imparting no knowledge to them. And take note that education isn’t all about academics. It’s about teaching your kids about truth, beauty, wisdom, justice, goodness, order, and about the God who provides a rational ground for making these things intelligible in a coherent, correspondent world view.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
– Proverbs 1:7

Teaching your kids to cook, ride a bike, or play an instrument are all educational experiences. It should also be noted that the classical understanding of why we receive an education is not to get a degree so that we can go out and get a high-paying job. Rather, we educate ourselves so that we might glorify God as we live a moral, intellectually robust, winsome lives, while helping others. I’m not suggesting that a job isn’t important as well, but only observing that no certificate of degree has any value if it doesn’t correspond to having actually gained some wisdom. The world isn’t short on idiots with degrees.

Training – We’ve all heard about the social ills due to fatherless homes, so I won’t touch on that except to say that most of it is due to a lack of discipline. I won’t pretend to have this down perfectly, but dads need to be teaching their children (especially if they have a headstrong son, which I do) that their behavior has consequences. It’s better to spank your child’s bottom and teach him this lesson while he’s young, rather than him learning this lesson the hard way when he’s an adult, at which point the consequences might be permanent and more severe. Fathers who fail to teach their children the harsh reality of consequences are doing their children a great disservice.

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.”
– Galatians 6:7

With respect to headstrong boys, let me say that a man’s nature is to be the dominant sex, and so a headstrong boy will have a difficult time taking instruction from a woman, even if it’s his mother. He’ll rebel and protest and refuse her instruction, often to the point of disrespect. If you have such a son, you’d better be ready to discipline this child and communicate very clearly to him that you will not tolerate his treating your wife this way. You wouldn’t let another man treat your wife poorly; don’t let your own little man treat your wife poorly. You’ll also be doing his future wife a favor if you teach him now to have respect for women, so love and cherish your wife and show your son how to be a loving husband.

Leadership – Some people are natural leaders. They don’t even have to try, and yet people will look to such people to lead them. My wife is such a person. She doesn’t have to ask anyone to follow her. Other women just seem to do so. Men, on the other hand, are called to be the leaders of their home, whether or not they have any natural leadership abilities. I happen not to be a natural leader, so this role of leader isn’t easy for me. Suffice it to say, men are called to provide for and protect their families. That’s not the difficult part. What is difficult is being the spiritual leader, and here’s where most of us, including myself, come up short. Rather than wasting time lamenting this situation, let’s just say that we need to step up to the plate and begin praying with our families and leading them in devotions. We need to be the one to set the godly example. We need to be the one to encourage them when it’s time to go to church. Most importantly on this point, we need to lead by example, not by force. People can only follow you if you’re out in front. If you’re pushing them from behind, you’re driving them, not leading them. Your family is not cattle. Don’t treat them as such.

Finally, much of this may not seem related to homeschooling, but again, every aspect of your relationship with your family is a lesson taught to your children. Your wife already carries most of the academic teaching, so use what little time off you have from work to spend with your families and be the man God calls you to be, one of those roles being that of teacher to your children.

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words, which I command you this day, shall be in your heart: And you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
– Deuteronomy 6:5-7

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Don’t Talk About Me! (Discussing Our Children With Others)

Don't Talk About Me!It’s amazing how our children cannot hear us when we’re standing right next to them, talking in their ear. But, somehow, through a noisy room, their ears perk up when mom mentions their name. They give us that look, and we know what it means. “Is this good or bad?” Perhaps, it might even be, “Please, don’t talk about me.”

Truth be told, we all have hard days. Whether it be a struggle with parenting or a homeschooling concern we’re dealing with, some days are just plain difficult. Maybe it isn’t just days. It might be weeks or months. When we finally have an opportunity to fellowship with friends, we let it all out. It felt so good to get that off our chest. It felt good to us. But what about those little ears listening across the room?

Understanding the Boundaries of Family – Are there things we’d prefer not be discussed outside the family? Maybe my husband only wants certain issues shared with him, and we can tackle these concerns together. Before I go to the “village”, I need to understand what is permissible to share and what is best left at home.

Understanding My Children’s Boundaries – If we enjoy our privacy, shouldn’t we afford our children a little of their own? I don’t wish to damage the relationship I have with my kids by over-sharing struggles they are currently working through. Openly discussing a learning disability with anyone and everyone might put a damper on that or cause them shame. I want to be selective about when and with whom I share.

Being in Prayer – Am I looking for help or an outlet for my frustration? Before I open my mouth, I need to pray about what’s going to come out of it.

Being Selective – There is such a thing as TMI. I can get help with a learning disability or character development without explaining every detail of my child’s issues. I want to leave them with some dignity. It might be enough to simply explain we’re dealing with lying, and ask for prayer.

On this note… Being a blogger, and having a minor presence on social media, I should also point out our need for being selective online. My kids read my blog – crazy, I know – they see what I post and how I address each issue. Generally, I don’t discuss matters which are personal to them and never that which would cause them shame. This goes for ALL medium.

Being Gentle & Kind – How I speak will determine how people see my children, and my parenting. Will I leave them with the understanding we’re not perfect, but genuinely seeking the Lord’s will, or an angry mama who can’t stand her kids? I might be frustrated now, but ten minutes from now regret the words I spoke. Gentleness will prevent harsh words.

Being Positive – This isn’t an opportunity to trash talk the kids. (Even if you’re positive they’re being ridiculous.) If we need help, I definitely should speak with a councilor or close friend. However, this isn’t time to complain. It’s time to get answers and be honest with where we might need improvement.

May the mediations of my heart be pleasing to the Lord, and the words of my mouth be edifying to the hearer. May I speak from a humble heart and listen with the intent to grow. And may my children learn God’s love towards others by how I love them.

I need to remember little eyes are watching. If I’m not careful, our children will pick up bad habits and begin to repeat my mistakes. And, really, what parent wants to hear their child trash talk them?

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
~ Ephesians 4:29

Your Turn!: Here’s a question… Do you feel comfortable sharing photos of your children online?

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