Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Teaching manners...Asking for things politely

When my children want something, I don't want them to say, "I want this," or "Get this for me."  My desire is that they ask nicely and politely, with what I consider good manners.  For my older children, who have years of experience with manners, they still forget to ask correctly.  My response when they don't ask with good manners is, "No," and then I follow it up with this: "If you would like to ask correctly I might reconsider."  This is not said firmly!  I'm not a harsh mommy!  It is said more jokingly, but in a way that they know they need to go back and ask again.

So, how do I teach manners in the early years?  With chocolate, of course!  I was just working with my three littlest children and trying to teach them how to ask politely.  Before each of them would get a piece of chocolate they would ask, "May I have a piece of chocolate, please?"  Then, they were told to wait to ask for another piece until the last piece was chewed and swallowed because my five year old reminded everyone that "we don't talk with food in our mouths," which cracked me up because he said it with a mouth full of chocolate.

See?  Teaching manners can be fun and delicious!!!  Of course, it will take many, many, many reminders in the coming years, but in the future I see myself with young adults who are respectful, kind, and very polite. At least, I hope so!

Next post...Teaching Obedience!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What do your children think about you?

Do you ever wish you could have someone interview your children, asking their thoughts on you, and secretly video tape them? Something like this was done a while back.  Mothers were asked "What kind of mother are you?," and they were in tears, mostly focusing on their failures.  When the children were asked about their mothers, not a single failure was mentioned.  Of course, this brought the mothers to tears to see that they weren't actually failing their children.

The last two weeks have been tough for me, as a mother.  Based on the numerous comments I have received from friends, either on facebook, or in-person, about my "bad day post," it is apparent that the first few weeks of school can bring out the worst in mom's and children, alike!  And, maybe it isn't just the first two weeks of school, but the struggle we have, at times, as parents.  That stinkin' lack of patience!!!  It brings out selfishness in us every.single.time!

My little three year old says some really cute things!  Yesterday she said, "Mommy, I need to work on my letters, so I will know the sounds of the applebet."  Sometimes, it's just too cute to correct!  When I put her in bed each night we go back and forth about how many songs we will sing.  She always puts the pressure on for "just one more, Mommy!  Pretty please, with a cherry on top!"  It's a rare occasion that I say no.

Each of my children have their own song that my husband and I made up for them before each were born. Last night she wanted to sing Franklin's song, and then Ari's song.  I told her she had one more choice before going to sleep.  She said, "I want to sing the KERRY song!"  I told her that I didn't have a song.  She disagreed and began singing in her high-pitched, sweet, wobbly little voice.  It began like this:

Kerry is niiiiiiiiice.
Kerry is going to sleeeeeeep.
She loves to pray for people.

Wait a second.  What?!  Wow!  I just got a glimpse into how my littlest daughter views me, her mother.  I'm not failing her!!!!  Maybe in moments, but in the BIG PICTURE...I'm not!  The fact that she views me as a woman who loves to pray for others is completely astounding to me.  I think I will have her sing to me again tonight!

Do you see, Mommy?  The bad moments are bad, but most children don't focus on the bad moments.  They focus on the love you have for them, and the life you live before them!  Go back and read that last sentence again and again and again! Sometimes they imitate our bad behaviors (those moments of that stinkin' lack of patience!), but they are, without a doubt, watching our daily lives.  If Bethany sees me as a woman who "loves to pray for people," then perhaps she will grow up to be the same!  The thought of that blesses me beyond measure!

I'm not saying that you should never focus on your failures because that is part of God changing you into the woman He wants you to be!  We always want to be better...more like Christ...right?  Don't let your perceived failures drown out the "good mom moments" you have with your children.  Let your life exude the love of Christ before your children.  They are watching...the good and the bad.  They are also learning from you...the good and the bad.

Proverbs 31:26-31
She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.  She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.  Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.  Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.  Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.  Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Bring your children to a good way

If you didn't read my post from yesterday you should stop reading now, and go back.  It was a bad day.  It really wasn't good for anyone in our house.  It stretched me.  I was overwhelmed.  I was frustrated.  I was impatient.  I was not myself.

I knew I was wrong about how I handled the day.  Along with groaning and complaining from my children, there was a lot of that going on in me, too.

As we sat at dinner last night, my oldest two were trying to get the others quiet because "mom has had a bad day."  Franklin prayed before dinner last night and said, "Thank you, God, for a good day."  Lauren and I both laughed, Franklin looked up and smiled, bowed his head again, and said, "Well, it wasn't such a good day.  Maybe you could make tomorrow better?"  We laughed again.

This was the most important part of our day.  It was pivotal.  It may be pivotal in my children's lives.  It was time to "make things right."  I knew my attitude was wrong throughout the day.  It was time to talk.  Through tears, I told my children that I was sorry for my behavior, my attitude, and my lack of patience.  I asked for their forgiveness.  One by one, they each came to me with tears streaming down their faces and hugged me, and said, "I forgive you, Mom.  I love you."

Dear Mom,
Do not let pride keep you from asking forgiveness from your children.  Do not let pride keep you from admitting when you are wrong.  You set such a wonderful example of a godly life, and your children learn so much from that example.  You soften their hearts when you admit your mistakes.  Your children know you are not perfect.  You don't need to pretend.  But, when you mess up...make it right!  It is the perfect opportunity to train their hearts.  They are watching you!!!  God is using you!  Bring tears to their eyes!

May your day be filled with love, grace, forgiveness, truth, giggles, hugs, cuddles, and fun!

Monday, August 18, 2014

An Exasperated Mom

Day 1, week 2 of another school year...
Breakfast*say goodbye to daddy*I start reading History to the older 5*lil'6 says, "Mommy, Ligon is pottying on the floor!"*Stop History*Clean up pee*start History*lil 5 says, "Mommy, Ligon is making a mess!"*stop history*check on Ligon who has chocolate on his hands and face and wonder where he got it, and what surfaces he managed to make messy*clean Ligon*find opened Ovaltine*hear arguing in the kitchen*go find out what is going on and get things back on track*start history...again*continue to bring attention of 3 & 4 back to History instead of la-la land*assign short writing assignment*go start laundry*Ligon, in a hurry, and walking funny, says, "Mommy, I need to go potty!*found lump of poo in underwear*accidentally dumped poo on floor*Ligon steps in poo*begin cleaning poo while Lig finishes on the toilet*clean up Lig*go settle another argument*answer a bazillion questions because no one seems to remember anything they have been taught since beginning school however many years ago, and have no confidence in doing anything independently*settle another argument*do more laundry*answer more questions*work on kindergarten with lil5*clean up more potty*I still hate potty training*work on Phonics and Science with 3 & 4*answer more questions*do more laundry*settle another argument*clean up more potty*eat Swedish Fish*and it is finally time for lunch.

What?!  The day is only half over?!  I'm done!  I need a personal holiday!  I need a shower!  I need more coffee!

 I need...grace...and patience...and wisdom...and discernment...and a loving heart...and forgiveness.  

The constant interruptions, and fighting, and complaining, and messes, and questions have caused me to feel utterly, and completely overwhelmed, stretched beyond my limit, and exasperated!  My responses and feelings are what get me in trouble.  Am I filled with patience and grace with my children?  My answer is a resounding, "NO!!!"  I have been impatient and frustrated.  Yes, there are issues in my children's hearts, but I have been no shining example to them today.  It's another day of grace-filled, difficult lessons in this mommy's heart.

So, why would I write about the yuck in my life?  I want to document this day for further use!  Someday, my children will be grown up, and will no longer live in my home.  Someday, my children will graduate from high school, and I will have a tremendous sense of victory that I was their teacher for all these years.  I want to remember that not all days were easy and fun, and that there were moments of total desperation.  I want other moms to know that they are not alone.  There are some really tough days.  

I have moments when I think...Could I put them in school?  Why am I trying to do all of this?  This is too much for one, cleaning, tons of laundry, teaching...never a break...not even while taking a shower!  Life would be so much easier if they were in school.  Those are just moments.  The fact is I love having my children home with me.  I wouldn't have a million questions to answer throughout the day, or arguments to break up, but I also wouldn't have the sweet moments either.  It would make me sad not to see them all day, and then make them do homework when they get home, and miss out on time with them.  And that's just the beginning!  There are so many teachable moments throughout the day that I would not get to have anymore.

If you're like me, and experiencing a very bad, no good, frustrating, exasperating kind of day...reevaluate your schedule, determine whose hearts are at fault...yours or your childrens, or both...think about why you are doing this, pray, and exude grace.  Tomorrow is a new day!