Boys and Caregiving

Late summer, I was walking our dog, a Great Pyrenees, in the yard and looking for a missing toy in the grass. As we were walking a rabbit took off and my dog tried to as well, pulling me into a divot in the grass. The result was one of the worst ankle sprains of my life. I required assistance just to get back to the house. The males in my life sprang to action. My husband helped me get into the house. My oldest son helped me wrap my foot; finished cleaning the floor, an interrupted chore; and picked a flower for me. My youngest son stayed nearby offering comfort. I thought as I sat there, my ankle on fire with pain, as the only female in my house, if a female is required for caregiving to happen, I would be in trouble. I thought exploring the topic would be interesting.

When it comes to raising boys, there are few discussions about boys and the role of informal, unpaid caregiver. In popular culture when a father cares for his child without the mother present, some have called his care “babysitting.” There is a counter movement stating father’s when left alone to care for their children are parenting, not babysitting.

Both children and adults at some point in life require caregiving. Statistics show the economic value of unpaid caregivers in the billions of dollars. According to caregiver.org, out of the 43 percent of the population that provide care to a child or older adult, 14 percent are males.

In an article by the New York Times, the risk of divorce when women are diagnosed with a chronic or terminal medical condition is discussed. According to a study published in the journal Cancer, “female gender was found to be a strong predictor of partner abandonment in patients with serious medical illness.” Having a spouse for support when managing a serious medical diagnosisis an important part of improved mental health and physical health outcomes. The conclusion in the study from Cancer mentions this as well: When divorce or separation occurred, quality of care and quality of life (for women) were adversely affected.”

I believe valuing caregiving and care for the home are important to the health of my son’s future marriages. By investing in the training of my sons to run a household, care for children and adults, and complete house cleaning chores, my sons will be better prepared for marriage and parenthood.

A simple way to model these skills is to include children in daily work. In fact that’s what we do, we start with doing the work together. I’m not looking for the boys to pay attention to every detail I would, or in the way I would. I observe simply if the job is done, with increasing attention to detail as the child gets older. Yes, the boys fuss and argue, but often, with using some whimsy and playfulness, we are able to have fun together through the duration of the project. My 3-yearold has announced he hates laundry and loves to do dishes. My 6-yearold some days fights me, and other days initiates working on chores. In fact, setting the table is a specialty of his, with attention to detail and the comfort of the family.

The process of modeling these skills has provided opportunity for my husband and I to have discussions about who does chores around the house and when. This part of our lives continues to be a work in progress. Fortunately, how we handle these discussions can be helpful for our boys as well. Modeling how to have a conversation about chores, even using tools to help identify areas of improvement, can be helpful. In an article on the chore war, which includes a checklist to guide a conversation about chores, because couples who do the least arguing about housework are those who have talked about it and made choices together.”

I want my boys to be fully prepared to graduate into meaningful employment and relationships when they leave our home. I want my boys to realize the work in a home isn’t men’s work or women’s work; it’s the work that benefits everyone closest to them, benefits a wife, benefits their children, benefits their family.

“The work of making home happy does not rest upon the mother alone. Fathers have an important part to act. The husband is the house-band of the home treasures, binding by his strong, earnest, devoted affection the members of the household, mother and children, together in the strongest bonds of union,Adventist Home.

References:

https://www.caregiver.org/caregiver-statistics-demographics

https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/12/men-more-likely-to-leave-spouse-with-cancer/

Glantz, M. J., Chamberlain, M. C., Liu, Q., Hsieh, C.-C., Edwards, K. R., Van Horn, A. and Recht, L. (2009), Gender disparity in the rate of partner abandonment in patients with serious medical illness. Cancer, 115: 5237–5242. doi:10.1002/cncr.24577

https://psychcentral.com/lib/chore-war-household-tasks-and-the-two-paycheck-couple/

White, Ellen G. The adventist home counsels to Seventh-Day Adventist families as set forth in the writing of Ellen G. White. Southern Publ. Assn., 1980.

We Teach Life, Not Just School

I am a big proponent of using life to teach academic skills. It takes some creativity sometimes to incorporate school into our lives, and our lives into school time, but it’s possible and hugely beneficial! So many times we hear from our children (and have said it ourselves) that they do not understand how what they are learning will apply to them in the real world, how it will benefit them in their adult life. Let’s show them… Make it real for them!

I believe in allowing our children to explore their passions, to explore their interests, to try and fail, but to get up and try again. These are essential life skills. We should teach our children how to make wise decisions, to know when to persevere and when to move on to something new, to honour their commitments, and to be responsible for their choices. I believe these things are just as, if not more than, important as book learning.

Sometimes this means we do weird things. We make strange mistakes, we fill the calendar, we step out of our comfort zones.

Our school board is hosting a science fair in March. TLC decided last year that he wanted a snake; actually, he’d wanted a snake for years, but last year he convinced his father to allow a snake to live at his house (our lease forbids it from living here). Waffles, as the snake is called, has been a fabulous experience for TLC. He’s had to learn how to care for it, feed it, clean its habitat, and buy food. This has increased his sense of responsibility and money management. It’s also been a source of science projects. He had to research how to care for a snake before he was allowed to get one. He had to save up the money for it and buy it himself. He has to buy the food for it and know what to feed it. Waffles will be his exhibit and project for the upcoming science fair, and one of the rewards for doing it will be that Waffles can come live at our house the week before the fair.

He gets a reward because the science fair is far out of his comfort zone. That’s okay, because one of the responsibilities of parenting and teaching our children is to push them out of their comfort zones. It’s hard for TLC to be outside of his comfort zone, and one of the signs of his maturity is that he is starting to recognize where the comfort zone boundary lies. Now he will learn that he can safely, successfully, and enjoyably step past that boundary. In order to achieve his goals and dreams, he’s going to need to be past those boundaries. It will not benefit him if I allow him to hide, to remain in the box. None of his dreams are in a box; he has huge dreams! He’s never lived his life in a box, and I refuse to allow him to build one around himself now.

Let’s teach our children — not only to read, write and do arithmetic, but to step outside the box, to explore past their comfort zones, and to persevere when things are hard in order to achieve their goals!!

Organizing Our Days — Worth Their Weight in Gold

Today I am going to share what we do for our chore cards! It’s been a process we’ve been developing with our children over the last year, but my husband made this comment the other day, when I referred one of our children to their chore cards and he bounded off to do so: “Those things have been worth their weight in gold around here lately.” I was so tickled that he noticed, and it encouraged me to share! I thought if my husband’s observant eye saw a positive difference in our home, it was worth sharing with others. If you’re looking to make chores a valuable part of your child’s schooling, as well as mostly enjoyable and more efficient, I hope this post aids you in such a quest!

Tackling chores as a homeschooling family with young children can be challenging. Like, what should I assign them? How often? Do I need to supervise? How do I teach them, and when their chore skills are waning, how do I reinforce their best efforts again? How do I keep them on task?! I will not attempt to solve all these challenges of doing chores at home with children, but I will share what’s been a positive experience as we’ve worked through these challenges in real time.

It’s been several years since we tossed the chore chart in our home and I have never regretted it! It did not work for us even after moving the chart from the children’s bedrooms to the main living and back again. We didn’t put all the magnets up for each chore ’til that night some days, and often pieces went missing. It was too much of a chore keeping track of 90 pieces…

So, we simplified. We started by assigning one chore per child for the entire school year, plus their personal belongings and hygiene. This was revolutionary! Now as my children have gotten older, we’ve added to that, but I focused on teaching them to do one thing and to do it well. At first it was easy to keep track because they were each responsible for their own things and one other chore. If they wanted to keep their toys, they needed to put them away and take care of them. Chore assignments went as follows:

  • JR (age 6) DISHES: This chore required my oldest to set and clear the table, and help put away clean dishes out of the dishwasher, as well as collect dirty cups from around the house.
  • P (age 4) ENTRIES: This chore entailed keeping the boot trays and shoe cubbies organized and picked up, and delivering items to the appropriate rooms that often collected in the front and back doorway. We have a low rack for children’s coats. Hanging coats on the low rack was great fine motor for my 4-year-old at the time!
  • J (age 2) TOWELS: My littlest sat with me while I folded laundry daily, and I handed all towels to her to fold as well as put away in a bottom drawer in either the kitchen for kitchen towels or the bathroom for bathroom towels, and she usually identified correctly where each towel was to be used.

At the time, these three areas covered most of our daily chores, and the children helped me with other things as they needed to be addressed. As their skills progressed, they each moved on to greater responsibilities, and we spent time learning new chores in the summer as we transitioned to each new “school year.”

I’m all about streamlining the tasks I have to do day-in and day-out at home. The positive reinforcement we’ve experienced through developing this consistent habit of familiar chores has convinced me to continue attacking chores in this way!

Today my children are 4, 6, and 8, so their abilities have increased significantly over the past years. I wanted a system to remind them of their chores, but to also keep things simple and in line with my chart tossing commitment. I scoured Pinterest and YouTube and came to an idea similar to Chore Cards, established by the Maxwell family. I wanted to further simplify their chore system, so I stuck with my previous joy of one new chore per school year and made permanent chore cards for morning with evening reminders on the reverse.

These chore cards my oldest helped me laminate, and they hang on a lanyard either around their neck or on the door knob to their bedroom. They initially wear them around their necks while carrying out their chores in the morning so they can refer to them if need be. A month or so into the school year, they hang on their doorknobs full time because they’ve memorized their new responsibilities, but I can always refer them back to them if they seem to be steering off course during our morning chore time.

I tell you so far it has been the solution to efficiency in this area of our schooling. My children love the emoji stickers on my iPad, as they often get to text Daddy when he’s away on long shifts, so I used the emojis to add pictures to the chores for my non-readers. Plus, pictures just make to-do lists more fun!

The refining process for gold requires high heat. Training our children to execute the daily responsibilities in their little lives will cause heat and friction at times, but the process will be worth it if you keep the goal in mind. Raising up children who radiate the character of responsible, reliable, and helpful youth will be worth all the hours of patient dedication on your part. Blessings to you as you continue in training your children in the school of daily life!

❤️Allison

Kindness

“That in all the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of his grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus,” Ephesians 2:7.

What is the difference between being nice and being kind?

Let’s compare kindness with being nice.

Nice has the connotation of being agreeable, friendly, having manners, and being polite. A lot of it is based on how we want others to see us for what we do.

Kindness is based on doing something because of the love in your heart, and needs no recognition. While being kind will be nice, it comes from a different motivation.

Kindness is an attribute of God, but is not found consistently in humans. Kindness is found throughout the Bible, but the word “nice” is not found in the KJV. The human imitation of God’s kindness does not come naturally. None of us are kind. Only as a fruit of the Holy Spirit can we be truly kind.

Kindness will be gentle and mild. It will also treat those that disagree with you (or are even being mean to you) in a Christlike manner with love and respect.

Kindness is how we are on the inside, our character, because of the Holy Spirit’s working in our lives, and will cause us to be sensitive to the physical, emotional, or spiritual needs of others.

Kindness is the way love behaves. It is love in action. A person is kind because of God’s love living in them. They will be kind even if the other person does not deserve it.

In our culture today we talk about random acts of kindness. Kindness is not a random act. That would be a nice act. It is not wrong to do these things, but if you’re not nice or kind at other times, have you really changed anything? But, if you are kind to all, like buying someone’s lunch or coffee, and all the time, are you really making a difference in the world?

As we seek to instill in our children the character traits we want to see in them (and us), let us be careful that we have them examine why they do something nice.

In summary, you could say that it encompasses the fruit of the Spirit, because it is patient, gentle, has goodness (doing good/nice deeds), meek, and temperate, while being done with love, joy,and peace.

I have appreciated this quote from Ellen White: “To love as Christ loved means to manifest unselfishness, at all times and in all places, by kind words and pleasant looks,” MS 17,1899.

Forgive and Forget

In the late fall of​ 2014, our family was ousted from our home in the most undignified manner.

We’d been living there for a little over a year, renting from a couple my family had known since I was a half-pint. It had seemed like a dream come true when we’d been approached about renting from them; they wanted someone they knew who would care for their home, and so the rent we paid was not what one would expect from that large of a home that backed to open space and a reservoir to boot! Paradise!

When we’d first moved in, I’d asked how long they were thinking to rent to us. The answer was five or six years or until they retired and moved back to Colorado. And so, we settled blissfully into our new home for an extended stay.

Until October 6 when I received an email. They were selling the house.

Initially he indicated that he wanted us to put a sign in the front yard to sell it himself. I vetoed that, indicating that there was no way we were going to allow people off the street to come in and see the house without an insured and bonded real estate agent. He relented.

Fast forward not quite two months (I’m leaving out 75% of the sordid details) and we were fleeing the house from the imminent sale that had initially seemed like an answer to prayer: a single man was buying and willing to continue to rent it to us. That man became erratic and threatening, and after a particularly bad encounter we’d found another house and signed a lease within 48 hours.

There are so many other things that happened. I could outline them all, but let me just summarize by saying that the friendship that had lasted almost four decades between our families is in rubbles. I was saddened by their decision to sell, but understood and wasn’t angry. But, over the course of that month, things came to light that cut me to my core. When I addressed them in an email, there was only justification and obfuscation.

Whatever.

Here’s what I’m grappling with right now, and that’s forgiveness.

In the early 1990s I grappled with this very same thing and thought that I’d really become quite accomplished at the whole maneuver!

I was dating a guy and his mother had pulled a really dastardly deed that had hurt my feelings beyond belief. I relished telling the story of what she’d done. Everyone I told empathized and agreed that I’d been done wrong. Every time I told the story, I’d feel that familiar rush of righteous anger, the unjustness of it all.

Of course, I would finish the story with, “…and of course I forgive her! I really do!”

Forgive and forget, right?

Until one day I was gob smacked (or perhaps God-smacked) by the thought that while I might not ever forget it, there was no way I could claim to forgive until I stopped telling the story. Reliving the details of the wrong and the dredging up the emotions of the hurt. Claiming to forgive, but airing her wrongs to a new audience time and again.

That day I had the heretofore unthought thought that forgiveness wasn’t just saying the words, it was no longer telling the story.

It revolutionized my life in the area of forgiveness! I got quite good at it! I just stopped myself from reliving, retelling wrongs!

Except my husband. That was a different blog post. {grins}

And now today. Three years after we were chased from our home. One Sabbath not so long ago I was standing in the children’s welcome area with a friend who I had just grabbed in a hug…

…and into my line of sight walked the wife of the couple who’d sold the house out from under us.

Sigh.

Forgiveness.

The last three years, we’d lived in a home that we ended up loving! If not the house itself, then definitely the neighborhood and neighbors made up for it in spades! We made friends, I got involved with a non-profit (running the finances) that gives us free eggs and access to riding horses whenever I want!

I told myself that I forgave this couple! I told family that I forgave them!

And then they showed up at church. They live almost 13 hours away from Colorado. There are only about a dozen churches in the Denver area to attend.

No, I had to come face to face with the fact that I hadn’t forgiven. I still have raw emotion about the whole thing.

I’ve stopped telling the story, by and large. Writing it out above was the first time I’ve thought of it in quite a while. I thought I’d forgiven.

I don’t know how long it will be before they visit again. I wonder to myself if they’re thinking about it. About us. About me. I wonder if they’re talking about it. I wonder if he’s composing an email to send. I wish he would. Forgiveness is so much easier if the other party, the wounding party, asks forgiveness. Acknowledges the wrong and opens that door. But that’s not likely.

And so here I sit. Mulling. Stewing. Wishing it were different. Not yet ready to do anything myself. Seems there’s much more for me to learn.