family life

don’t miss the gift in your child

It’s not my title. It’s Carol’s.

I haven’t personally met Carol. She was the keynote speaker at last weekend’s homeschool conference. Nothing like a homeschool conference to kickstart a renewed joy for your children.

Besides inducing ab-strengthening belly laughs for an hour, she encouraged us to see the gift that we have living life right alongside us.

Though most of us start this home educating journey with happy intentions to benefit our children, when we get enough time around our kiddos we quickly become disillusioned with the negative energy…the continuous barrage of “mom, she hit me”, “mom, she took my toy”, “mom, she won’t give it back”, “mom”, “mom”, “mom”….until, like Carol says, we feel we’re watching “The Birds” by Alfred Hitchock, listening to the frightening chanting of ‘mom, mom, mom, mom’. And similarily, we are frightened, and sometimes feel like we’re losing our minds.

Definitely losing our minds.

How do we lose value in our children? We see them from one perspective, the negative perspective. The one that is their incomplete self. Their imperfect self.

Carol likes to think we have flawed expectations. Mwahaha.

What? Flawed?

You mean my five year old can’t be tantrum-free?

What about that teenager that wants to be alone, and SHOWS it, cause she doesn’t want to be around her siblings all day long. She should just suck it up, right?

The funny kid who doesn’t know that there’s a time and a place for funny, and it ain’t at the end of a frustrating day. She should know when to be quiet right?

The kiddo that hones your arguing skills until you realize that you are in fact arguing with your child. You know, that kid that you’re already saving for law school? Can’t she just be told to be quiet and leave it alone once and for all?

Apparently not.

We home educating moms can grow even more complacent because we’re with our kiddos 24/7. At least schooled moms can have their afternoon “milk and cookie” reunions, do groceries without the kiddos, and exercise without voices.

We get stuck in maintenance. Constant teaching, correcting, rebuking, training, whatever you call it, it’s responding to negative energy.

When we look at it all from a slightly different perspective, we can see that most of our kids try to please us most of the time.

They really do want our approval, our acceptance.

But if we have very honed expectations of our kiddos, they quickly disappoint us, and they know it; and they will eventually feel disappointed that they can’t please us, and they will give up trying.

Sometimes we just want our kids to have gifts that present us well, so maybe we should write our lists, and our kids should fulfill them. Like writing that family play, in Latin, or winning that geography or spelling bee, cause every homeschooler wins spelling bees, right? How about building that family log cabin from scratch? (PS If my offspring can more than weild a hammer, I will be impressed!)

If our kids see that they’re disappointments in our eyes, then what? Carol reminded me that we can’t let that pattern continue, because the view we have of your child is reflected in their eyes. I call it mirroring. Whatever you might call it, our kids might not be able to verbalize what they’re seeing, but they absorb the bad feelings they’re getting from us. What he sees, he will get.

Carol told us to pitch our “Ozzie & Harriet” family.

I didn’t personally watch that show growing up, but I do recall The Cosby Show.  Don’t recall Clare Huxtabel losing her marbles or screaming at the top of her lungs…though she did a little eye rolling, and a little commanding. In a half hour or less, all family problems were settled.

Let go of expectations, for your expectations can become premeditated resentments.

Pitch “Dick & Jane” while you’re at it.

Don’t keep repeating the same thing if it isn’t working. If you’re trying to correct something, and your approach isn’t working, don’t keep doing it.

Instead of seeing the frustration in your kiddo, see how God might use that character trait. Let them know you can’t wait to see how their penchant for shyness will become their strength; usually the shy are tenderhearted. Maybe their penchant for arguing really will enable them in above average logic skills, and not just a healthy income after they pass the bar.

Look all the way to the end, to the completion of who they will become. See them in their completed state. And until they get to the place, treat them like they will.

You’re with your kids 24/7, true. But don’t miss the gift in your children!

Thanks Carol Barnier!

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