Our kids have chores they are required to do everyday. It doesn’t change unless they are sick, we have a field trip or circumstances come up we can’t control. Otherwise they have been trained or are in the process of being trained to perform the task. We try to make sure we walk beside them until we feel they are ready to attempt it on their own. Our kids also have required subjects they need to complete in the manner we have discussed with them. Required work is often met with attitudes and an attempt to get out of their work. No one, not even adults like to be told what to do. It is human nature to try to fight the system.
There are times during the year when their attitude really comes through. Usually around a birthday or six months after their birthday. All four of our kids turned another year older. We are in the middle of another shift. All four kids have developed another level of what they are capable to do. Maddie is able to begin a load of laundry from start to finish. The twins have the capability to wash, dry and put the dishes away. Timmy has the ability to fold wash cloths, rags and to help put them away. He hangs with an older sibling or myself and hands them to us to put away if he can’t reach the shelf. He also follows the sibling around who is responsible for dusting the living room.
The responsibilities our kids have take more time, which cuts into their playing time. Titus told me one day, mom did you know dishes take a long time. I started laughing and said, yup. The reality is for a job to be done well it takes time. The kids often comment how quickly I can get a task done. I laugh and talked to them about how I do dishes. I wash dishes, I don’t stop to pop bubbles, play with the spray nozzle or swish the water with the wash rag. Now, I realize, especially in Titus’ mind he is wondering how the spray nozzle works. I know how his brain works and I know the wheels that are turning and the questions he is forming as he is working. There is a combination of wonder and awe going on during the task. I can appreciate his wonder, but I also appreciate his desire to be done with the task. He is learning the important lesson of focusing on a task and completing it well.
All four kids are stretching and growing their endurance. They are being mentored and trained to take responsibility and within their responsibility to choose joy. It’s easy to find temporary happiness in what they love to do, but it is even harder for them to chose joy in the things they despise. The problem with allowing them to stay in their grumbling and complaining is the attitude oozes over into every other aspect of life they don’t want to do.
I am training joyful problem solvers who see the benefit of doing the hard thing first, to make their life easier down the road.When Mark and I appreciate their passions and talents we give them the gift of freedom to put their energies into developing skills needed to pursue careers that does not feel like they have worked a day in their life. Unless they learn to do the hard work they don’t like they will be a pain in some employers bottom or they will be needy and chase clients away if they own their business.
We are in the middle of developing life long character. Making it about their behavior, not the person they are. Helping them to separate their behavior from who they are helps them to see they made a mistake they are not the mistake (you can read more here this training). Allowing them to jump up quicker to keep going and problem solve solutions.
This time in our lives is frustrating on the parent side. It can make one wonder if homeschooling is worth it or to throw in the towel. When you step back and see the bigger picture of what is going on, it is easier to come up with a game plan and to put the tough mommy hat on.
I have also found it helpful to sit our kids down and explain to them what I am seeing, why I think it is happening and explain to them both the positive and negative consequences of it stopping or continuing. We are putting a big emphasis on their responsibility to change their behavior. Even more importantly they are responsible for the joy or bitterness in their heart. God will help us remove it, but we have to be willing, we have to surrender to him in order to joyful go forward.
Our kids have experienced the peace of purging our home. We have worked hard for our kids to trust us, even in the hard and painful things we ask of them. We have also worked hard to inspire our kids, not simply ask them to change. That is hypocrisy and they can spot it on the other side of the world. I must show them the way.
Sass is frustrating and if we the parents allow it, it can damage our relationship with our kids. We must remain the calm adult loving them through a confusing, hard, hurtful world. When we realistically look at what is going on and bring them into the conversation, they feel valued, heard and know we have their best interests in mind.
Parenting is certainly not for the faint of heart, but it is the best adventure I have ever had. Christ in me will give me the ability and the Holy Spirit will give me wisdom. I’m not lost in the dark, God’s got me and he’ll continue to show us the way.