Summer is here and I am relieved to have made it through our first year homeschooling. Whew! It was definitely a roller coaster of a year!
A jerky start, with a slow uphill climb as we settled into a routine, followed by a period of time where WHOOSH things flew along smoothly. Then the holidays hit, we had ups and downs, and turn-arounds! I re-evaluated our plans, re-organized and tried to regroup. We got going again with just a few bumps in the new road until… clackity clack we were coasting home to summer!
We have been spending some time at our local amusement park this summer, can you tell? It is our first time as a family, going to the crazy world of lines, rides, people, people, people! It may be busy, but it has been fun. The people watching is amazing. The lines could be shorter. The germs… well, I try not to think about the germs D picks up when he licks his hands after holding onto all those ride bars, seat buckles & handrails.
I am trying to use the experience not only for pure fun, but for little lessons in responsibility, obedience, and frugality (packing a lunch vs. buying lunch there, drinking water instead of soda). A healthy dose of cooperation and giving in for the benefit of other’s pleasure is also included in the ticket price!
I really hope the summer will bring with it an improved sense of selflessness, of putting other people first, of understanding when to stand up for what you need, and when to sit back while others get what they want. Sometimes my daughter doesn’t get to go on the coaster she wants to ride, because her little brother is just too little. And he doesn’t get every ice cream cone or slurpee he wants because it is just too expensive!
I think if we can learn this lesson it will help the flow of our homeschool days. My daughter needs to learn to sit back while I teach her brother, while still asking questions when she has a problem. My son will need to learn how to not have Mommy’s full attention, and to wait patiently without interrupting when I help his sister. It’s a big lesson to learn, but much more fun to compromise at an amusement park than a school room don’t you think?!
As moms, we are programmed to sacrifice the desires of ourselves for the well-being of our children. We put our children first from before they are born, sacrificing coffee, soda, adult beverages and junk food for the health of our unborn child. We set aside sleep for years, money for longer, give up menu choices, personal time, and privacy, all for the happiness of our children. We give up careers to stay home, quiet time to homeschool. We put ourselves last (at least many mothers seem to) often at the risk of our own health. We shuttle the kids around to their sports and activities, but schedule no time or activities for ourselves. WHY? Because God made us that way, that’s why!
God made us to be sacrificial creatures, to humble ourselves before Him and others. Sacrifices are in the Bible from the beginning, and often are a source of conflict when not done in the proper spirit. Even so, we see the ultimate example of sacrifice by watching Christ. Our Savior put us first, going so far as to DIE for us on the cross.
So following that logic, shouldn’t we sacrifice everything for our children, in a spirit of unconditional love? Perhaps, but by always putting the needs of our children first, aren’t we teaching them that they are #1 to us? That their needs trump ours? That a well-timed whine or tantrum will get results?
Or, by sacrificing the needs of the parent to accommodate the needs of the child, are we teaching them to live sacrificially, like Christ? I think we need to look a little deeper to see the next example Christ gave us.
On the night in which he was betrayed, Christ prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:39 Jesus knew what was coming and He didn’t want to die! But in the end, Jesus walked the path laid out for Him by his Father, trusting that God, the Father, knew more than He, the son, did about the eternal plan.
I believe THIS is what we need to be teaching our children: not as I (the child) wills, but as you (the parent) wills! Trusting that the parents know more than the children, that indeed, “Father Knows Best!” Somewhere in the last several decades, this concept has been warped and twisted into being old-fashioned. And it is! It is so old-fashioned, that Jesus himself followed its rule!
- We teach a life of self-sacrifice for the well-being of the group by NOT allowing the children to rule the roost, but to be put in their humble, obedient place.
- We instill a sense of realism and balance by NOT giving in to the child’s every desire, but allowing them be disappointed once in a while.
- We show that we are in control of the situation and that they need to succumb by NOT allowing them to make every decision, but by making good choices for them.
Earlier this week we were at a science museum all day. It was a very kid-oriented day with lots of friends and fun. After a long day, we left at closing time and needed to eat. I made the mistake of asking where they wanted to eat. “Sonic! McDonald’s! Wendy’s!” was the backseat response. Well, we have been on the go for weeks and have eaten way too much fast food lately, so I was trying to get them to agree to Italian or even just a good ol’ diner. Some place where I could get a salad and some vegetables in their tummies. So I made a few suggestions of the restaurants we saw, when I was treated to a huge tantrum from the 4 year old. I snapped! I said, “No more input from either of you. Your diet is my responsibility, and I will make the choice. I am tired of fast food, we will not eat it tonight.” So we went to a sit-down restaurant, ordered salads, fruit, vegies, chicken and pasta. Everyone was happy. (And it cost about the same as a fast food meal!)
By taking away the responsibility of choice, kids are able to be kids. I think we give them too much pressure to choose correctly before they are able. Parents need to learn to take back the wheel, drive the bus and make the choices that matter FOR our children. They are not prepared to do that yet, nor should we ask that of them. It means taking a stand, and asking them to sit. To obey and succumb, no questions asked.
It is a lot of pressure to make the move and take back control of our households. I feel like I fail at it daily. But I think that if we do, the children will naturally fall back into their place as children, they will obey and go with the flow. We need to change the attitude of entitlement into one of obedience.
We trust our Heavenly Father to lead the way for us, sacrificing ourselves to His desires for our lives. We should also teach our children to sacrifice themselves to us, so we can lead the way for them.
Proverbs 4:10 – 12 says it best:
“Listen, my son, accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many. I guide you in the way of wisdom, and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble.”
We allow our children the freedom to run without stumbling, by choosing and leading them along the path we deem to be best. I encourage you to teach your children to be humble, obedient and put others first. Please pray for us as we try to do the same!