Connecting Emotionally

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This last week has been an extremely challenging week. My son and I tend to have good days and bad days, but for some reason we have been having several bad days in a row. If you want in on the secret of why, I’m glad to tell you. Someone had sent me some links for a seminar done by Cinda Osterman. I have been struggling for quite some time trying to figure out how to be a parent that truly reflects Christ to my children, while at the same time being a firm and loving mom, and being in charge of my home. My son really struggles with needing to be in control of my home. Even though he is five, he is very determined to control the house and to parent us.

A few weeks ago after watching Cinda’s series on Vimeo, my husband and I decided to rededicate our lives and family to Christ. I decided to start getting up at 5 a.m. and doing my worship in spite of the obstacles to do so. Of course, the devil didn’t want to lose us so easily, so he is fighting us in any way that he can. My son and I are the biggest area he can attack in my life. At first he tried the kids waking up at 5 a.m. Seeing me persisting in my worship, he wasn’t happy with that and stepped it up a notch. The following Sabbath there was an announcement at church that the pastor was holding a class that was meant to improve your intimacy with God. I was not prepared to stay, but I decided to stay anyway, as I needed to take the class.

During the class I tried hard to listen and keep under control my two very energetic kids. But, I ended up leaving halfway through as it just wasn’t working. (Of course the devil wanted me to be discouraged.) I asked God what He wanted me to do, and after talking to Pastor, he said that he would find a way to make it work because he knows how much I not only want the class but need the class. (Of course the devil wasn’t happy once again.) I was learning to persist… The following Thursday my daughter got “the runs.” Not only did she get them, but it was dripping out of the side of the diaper and going through three pairs of pants from diaper leaks in two hours! I cancelled everything on my plate and gave lots of baths that day. Friday, it was just as bad. To be honest, I have no idea where it all kept coming from as she wasn’t really eating.

Sabbath morning I woke up and was planning on not going to church. As I was doing my worship (the kids were finally sleeping through my morning worship), the Cradle Roll teacher texted and asked if I was going to be there. I texted her back and said that I was thinking I didn’t want to go because of the issues with Abby for the two days before. As I wrote the text, I don’t know how to describe it — God spoke to me.

“Bitsy, You believe that I am God, right?” I was kind of surprised by the question.

“Uh, yes, Lord!”

He replied, “So you believe that I can do anything, right?”

“Uh, yeah.”

“Well you say you believe it, but you won’t act on your faith.”

I was a little confused for a minute. “But Lord, I can’t go to church; there is no shower there, and what if it’s contagious?” (Half of our congregation is older; they don’t recover so well from things like this.) “And, how am I going to sanitize a mess that is dripping down her legs and running onto the carpet, especially in the middle of church.”

So he responds. “Bitsy, you need to make a decision. You either believe I am God, and I can handle this, not to mention do anything you need — and you go to church; or, you don’t believe Me, and you sit there all day and miss out on Me showing you my power. Not to mention not allowing Me to build your faith in Me, which you are always asking me to do. So, what are you going to do?”

Talk about a slap in my face! But, He made it clear the way that I have always wanted Him to. So, I decided to go. When I did, Abby woke up and came out. “Mommy, I’m poopy!” I, in my still lacking faith, looked in her diaper. He had already answered my request! So, we went to church.

It’s hard to be like a little child, but each day I am reminded of the trust that we are supposed to have in our relationships with Christ. The trust that my children model to me helps me to understand more of what I am supposed to be like toward Christ. The issue I see is that I need to be emotionally connected to Christ in order for my children to be emotionally connected to me. How do we achieve that? I am still learning that myself. However, here are a few tips that I have found, both for becoming emotionally connected to my children and to my Heavenly Father.

1. Take time… Take time to pray, even if it doesn’t feel like it works. Believe it will. Take time to have devotions and to have quiet time focusing on God. This is totally exhausting to do as a mom of little ones, but it is a huge blessing in dealing not only with life but with marriage and parenting as well. Try to cut out the nonessentials. Make your number one priority your children. Then, pray for the strength to keep it that way. God has really impressed upon me that their relationship with us and theirs with Christ are the only things we get to take to Heaven with us. We have a huge role to play in the bringing up of our children, and if we ask, He will provide the strength to fulfill that promise.

It is so hard to reprioritize, but over the last several months God has helped me to see the most important priority is my children, and to be quite honest, I have had to pray that He will change my heart and help me to enjoy being with my children. (They have been so challenging that I am ashamed to admit I have wanted to be done with parenting.) As I have prayed daily for the last three weeks, and have been focusing on Him, He is giving me His grace to change; and I, in spite of our challenges, am starting to enjoy the precious moments with my kids. In fact I am taking time daily to spend time with them and emotionally connect. As I spend this time emotionally connecting with them, I am also finding that the problems we are having are getting easier. He truly fixes all things if we are patient and willing to submit to Him.

2. Pray over each of your children… If Daddy can also do this, it is a special blessing. Pray to claim promises for them. Every night before they go to sleep, I go in to tuck the kids into bed. I am so tired when it comes to bedtime, that we do worship and they get into bed. I put my hand on my child, and I pray individually with them. I claim Jer. 29:11, and if there is something they are particularly strugging with, I claim promises that help with that. Since I started that three weeks ago, the kids will not go to sleep without it, and they both have a hard time being patient and waiting their turn. There is comfort in knowing someone is praying for you.

3. Focus on little things… Focus on the little things that are done right, that the kids need encouragement in, or that they might need a little extra help in. There is a reason that God says the little things are important. This is because the big things are built up of little things. Notice the little things that your kids do to try to please you. Take the time to teach them the little things that are so often overlooked. When they see that you are happy with the little things they do, then they will realize that in their work and their play, their desire will be to help us and please us.

4. Be thankful... We have started a blessing book, and each morning and evening with worship we all say three things we’re thankful for. It’s amazing the happiness that it has brought into our house. I read a quote and I wish I had written it down, but I didn’t. Anyway, it says by counting the blessings the Lord has bestowed on us, we are building faith in Him. I want my children to have a firm foundation of faith in the Lord.

5. Take His word at face value and believe what He says… Sometimes it seems so challenging yet way too simple. Being children of God is a real challenge. Each day we have to wake up and truly believe that He has our back. Because of how things may look or how badly things go that day, it’s often hard to understand how He has our back. However, He promises that He does, and we must trust Him in spite of our feelings. If we ask He will show us what we need to learn from each situation, and sometimes He even tells us about the prevention of things we may not have been aware of.

6. Be vulnerable… This is the hardest part for us as humans, each day struggling to go through without having to be vulnerable…without having to reveal the challenges, struggles, and pain we are experiencing…without showing our children what our hearts are actually dealing with and the fact that most of the time we are feeling the same way they are, but we just won’t admit it. As I have started to show them how I handle the struggles I am dealing with, they are learning and open and asking about the struggles they are having. They are asking me how to handle things, and are interested in being led by me. They are beginning to understand that on the outside we look like adults, but sometimes on the inside we really feel the same way we did as little kids. It helps them to see we really do care. Remembering that we are all in this battle together helps a lot. And, I am starting to allow my children to respectfully say, “Mommy, do you need to have some time with Jesus?” That helps me to know that I am not being Christlike and I need to surrender to Him.

As we press forward this next few weeks, my prayer is that God will open our eyes and help us to see the things we need to cut out and the things we need to add, and help us to see things we can implement in faith to connect more emotionally to our Lord and Savior and to our families and all of our relationships.

Where Do Babies Come From?!?

You know the question is coming sooner or later. So, when is the best time to handle it — sooner or later? And how?!?

This is an area that comes up on the SDA Homeschool Families group page on Facebook from time to time. Over the last several years, many members have responded with advice, as well as with a wonderful collection of resources. These have been compiled to share with you. Some of the resources also have comments by the people who suggested them.*

Keep in mind that, like any sensitive topic, sex education methods and opinions are varied. If you’re looking for input on when and how to address this with your kids, we invite you to peruse the following advice and resources, prayerfully seek God’s guidance in selecting the best responses for your family, and then share the knowledge about the wonder of continued creation and loving expression with your children.

 

ADVICE AND PERSONAL EXPERIENCES

Timing

  • Start young. If you don’t broach the subject until they are teen or pre-teen someone else will have already told them. The Bible is a great teacher, too. Show them the consequences of not following God’s will.
  • Dr. Sears has good advice. I don’t remember all we used, but I do know it’s so important calling every body part the real name and to start using it when your kids are young; it is easier on you and them.
  • Here is what I have done with my son. First, PRAY!!! I couple years ago I was at a loss as to when to start talking about this to him. I knew it would be up to me due to my husband’s background. I decided that the following school year would be good time to start (my son would be going into fifth grade), but God had other plans. Several times He put the thought into my mind, but it wasn’t until my son said something at the zoo did God give me the wake up call and made me realize He meant NOW!!! So, I spent several days going over the basics of God’s plan for marriage, Satan’s attempt to destroy it, the illness that come from immoral activity, and the type of talk that slanders a pure and holy thing — and provided defense mechanisms, should such talk happen in his presence.
  • My boy was young when he first started asking where babies come from, like about five or six. He was also a very specific questioner — wanting as much info as I’d give him. I pretty much gave him all the “academic” basics at that age. He knew what body parts were called, and what went where to make a baby. I also found some simplistic books with illustrations of people and sperm and eggs, etc. The beauty of this approach for us was that he was too young to be in that “oooooo, gross” phase that so many kids hit by about age 10 or 11. It all seemed a little bizarre to him, but his brain was not remotely “sexualized” yet, so it was just information — much like you’d learn about any body system. It also gave the opportunity very young to start planting seeds of morality and our expectations for when this all should happen. Of course, then you have to be prepared for the occasional, “Oh, look! Those squirrels are getting married!” out in public, but that was a small price to pay. Here’s the other benefit in my mind for early information. He trusted me back then to tell the truth. Now he is 12, nearly 13. Changes are beginning in his body, he is hearing terminology from his friends, and his curiosity is becoming more “aware.” Where does he go with his questions? To me! (I was widowed when he was young.) Granted, I have delved into topics with a 12-year-old boy that I never thought I would, but I feel blessed that he is comfortable gaining info from me rather than from his friend’s older brother or some kid on the playground. Also, because we don’t have to stumble over what-goes-where and the resulting uncomfortableness now, we can spend more time talking about the risks of having a girlfriend/boyfriend too early, and a host of other tricky topics that will hopefully prep his brain with reasoning for the day when the hormones totally kick in.

Approach

  • We just read Genesis 38 for family worship last night. I was not expecting it, and i think it is good wording to start the discussion.
  • You know, it came up in science class and that is exactly how I handled it — very practically. I made it not a subject that was taboo, funny or embarrassing to discuss in any way. (This was after praying about it first). And, praise the Lord, my daughter is now 13 and thinks that kids who do talk about it and giggle are immature and silly. She doesn’t understand what the big deal is. She also went through Passport 2 Purity a few years after we discussed it. It was good, but had some parts my daughter and I felt were unnecessary and inappropriate for the target age group.
  • I had a little conversation with my five-year-old about the topic. What I realized was, at that age they are quite satisfied to know that boys and girls are different because God made them that way. The major question is truly where the child comes from. I answered simply that he, my five-year-old, came from my belly. How did he get in there? God put him and formed him there from a single cell. That was enough. There were no questions ever since. I think it is important not to make a big deal out of it and answer questions straight forward without unnecessary details. If a child wants to know more and thinks about it, he will ask again. It is important for a child to feel comfortable to ask anything he/she wants to know, and for a parent to be sincere and not afraid of the topic. The key is, I think, not to give more information a child asks for because what he asks is what he is ready for.
  • For the time being I suggest asserting your expertise in this area [in reference to a child who has obtained misinformation from another child]. You have had a baby and little friend has not. There are a lot of pretend stories about this, but you know what’s true, and if he has questions he should ask you because you know all the true stuff and you can help him not be tricked (no one likes being tricked). Then be general… When my son asked how the baby got out, I told him God made a hole for that and it’s at the bottom where the two other out holes are, and when the time comes the hole opens and the baby comes out. I couldn’t show him because God wants us to keep all the holes clean and private.
  • I’d probably just talk honestly with your child about their specific questions and see where it goes. I don’t remember what triggered it, but in the last year or so my girls realized that people have babies outside marriage and asked a similar question. I was just honest about it and said something along the lines of “we’ve talked about how when people are married they can cuddle in a special way and sometimes the mommy gets pregnant. Sometime people decide to do those things even when they aren’t married. That’s not what God wants, but it happens.” We talked some about the Bible verses about marriage, and such.
  • Both my husband and I are physicians (pediatrician and family doc), so our children (eldest is five) know the anatomical names. We answer their questions as openly and honestly as they’re capable of understanding, and we only answer their questions, i.e., we don’t use their one question to give them a lecture on the ins and outs of human reproduction. We always reinforce that they can always ask us anything and try to foster a relationship that encourages open communication. The ongoing relationship and communication that is formed now will be a stronghold in the times when others typically have difficulties.

Science and Nature

  • Depending on the age of your kids, you might think of this more as a “biology” talk. It provides the info they need, and takes some mental pressure off yourself.
  • Farm animals! LOL. Seriously, though, this totally comes up organically since we have goats and chickens. It provides a natural progression of their own questions as they are ready to know.
  • Cats and dogs. Experiences from nature.
  • Nature. Accidentally getting a rooster a couple years ago brought up questions, so we talk of it in terms of mating. But, the oldest knows people call it “sex,” and it was a gift God intended for married people. I agree with keeping it more about biology until they get older.
  • Basic anatomy. I picked up the coloring book used for college students testing for their med-school entrance — just because it’s a cool book and my toddler was into naming bones — and he loved looking at pictures and asking questions.

Caution

  • I remember being so traumatized by books people tried to share with me. So, I just answered my kids’ questions straightforwardly as they asked them, not offering more than I felt was necessary, but also not holding back or acting like it was any different discussion than what was for lunch. They thank me for it now. No regrets. Just know that whatever book you use and whatever graphics it contains will be forever emblazoned on their little brains. Some things are best left to the imagination. Building any strangeness or weird mystery around it can have serious repercussions later, especially for generations that crave authenticity.
  • I would tread very very carefully with this subject. Both my girls, ages four and seven, know nothing at all, except that it is God that creates life and gives a mommy and daddy a baby. The baby grows inside the mommy and then comes out of her when it’s big enough to survive in the world. I was tainted at a very young age by asking this question…probably around four, and my mom took me to the library and got a book meant for kids — but honestly I still remember the images very clearly in my mind, and it was way too much. It went into detail with drawings of how a man gets a woman pregnant, talking about private parts, sperm, eggs, etc. What a child [incorrectly] learns now about this beautiful plan of God could corrupt their young minds and set the stage for problems down the road. One of the best ways to explain all of this is through the plant kingdom: the parts of a flower (female and male) and how pollination works. This is obviously for an older child, but it’s a beautiful, simplistic way to explain it in very gentle non-graphic terms. We just studied plants for homeschooling and how they reproduce, and I myself had no idea that plants have male and female parts and how the whole process works! Quite amazing, and when the times comes I will use this to explain in more detail how it all “works.”

Added Thought

  • The most important piece of advice I gave my fourth-grade son was this: “You can ALWAYS come to me with questions. But, because this is such an important topic, and not everyone is comfortable with discussing it or being around such discussion, please ask those questions at home, and during school hours.” I assured him that no question is too dirty, or too old, or too sensitive to be asked. And, he has asked!!! Pray!!! Pray!!! Pray!!!

RESOURCES

Books

Videos and Other Resources

Hopefully these resources and advice from other parents will be useful to you. We will be placing it in the Files section of the SDA Homeschool Families group on Facebook, and may continue to add resources and advice as they appear in the group.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth,’” Genesis 1:27,28 ESV.

*The comments and resources were gathered from about 30 members of the SDA Families Homeschool group. We’d like to especially thank member Jenn Cook, who did an initial resource compilation, adding a lengthy list of books and sources for the benefit of the group and blog readers. 

Change of Plans

I was not really a good candidate for being a homeschooling mom. When I went to school, my grades were mostly D’s and C’s, with some F’s. I failed the fourth grade. I didn’t like school. I went because there was no choice. School to me was boring and I didn’t like it. I wasn’t at the very bottom, but next to it. In high school I thought about dropping out, but was a least smart enough to realize that having a high school diploma would be a good thing to have, so I stayed. As an adult, my mother decided that I possibly had dyslexia, and later I was diagnosed with it. When I graduated from high school (I was smart enough to finish), I didn’t want to go to college or have anything more to with school. So, how did I become a homeschooler and help others get started?

Free as lambs…

When my oldest daughter was about five, someone shared with me the book, Better Late Than Early, by Raymond and Dorothy Moore. Also, we knew that Ellen White talked about children being “free as lambs” until they are older (seven or eight). We were already thinking of later schooling. Starting when she was about four, Heather (the oldest) would ask how to write her name and other things, and I showed her. It took only a few minutes of my time, and she’d write it. So, we decided when she was six to keep her home and homeschool. We only thought about a year at a time. We listened to some tapes (old days), by a lady whose name I don’t remember, that made the point of “teaching all the subjects with the Bible.”

When we started, there were not all the curriculum options that there are today. For that I am very thankful. I knew about Abeka and Rod and Staff, and that was about it. We did Math-It for math, then Saxon, which was just coming out. For phonics and reading we used the Bible. Since English has so many exceptions to rules, this is not hard to do. Sometimes we’d talk about the rules, then all the exceptions, and just move on. After they could read (and teaching reading from the Bible, after they read it, they could pick any book — including Ellen White and encyclopedias — and read it), to help them get understanding, I used the more advanced Moore-McGuffey readers that had questions at the end of the stories.

I guess it was more of a relaxed or unschooling way. As the kids got older, we did use more textbooks, as much because they wanted it as that it gave us guidance for what they needed to know.

I have two that had/have dyslexia, and we did vision therapy. They had a hard time learning to read, but the therapy helped tremendously.

A couple of verses helped me stay focused:  “Teach them diligently to your children when you rise up, sit down, walk in the way,” Deuteronomy 6:7. And, “All thy children shall be taught of the Lord and great shall be their peace,” Isaiah 54:13.

 

 

The Work Aspect of the Moore Formula

The Moore Formula is based on creating a balance in the homeschool family between studying, work (manual labor), and service. As the child grows, the percentages of each change. Moore recommends to do as much work as study per day, with service additionally lasting an hour or so. A young child of nine or ten may only study an hour, with service being helping someone in the home or a close neighbor. As the child ages, study may increase to three or four hours for high school, followed by the same in work (home chores, self-employment, or family business), and service consisting of volunteering outside the home on a regular basis.

For some parents the work aspect of the Moore Formula can become a bit confusing. Today, I hope to clarify some questions and also bring in what Ellen White says we, as parents, need to teach our children about work.

As soon as a child can walk, he can begin doing “work.” This can be picking up toys or emptying out the bathroom waste basket. By teaching them early, children learn that they have a place in the family to contribute to the family’s good. There are no free rides for anyone. As they age, their work can include a home business in addition to home chores, in which they learn many practical life application skills. Working in a business (whether their own or a parent’s) can help teach math skills, planning, social skills as they talk with others, manners, patience, and even cause/effect. Running a business helps a child build self-confidence, self-control, and problem-solving. Self-employment helps boost creativity. Work teaches responsibility.

Ellen White wrote that education is more than just the studying of books. Children are to learn to be masters of labor, to use their mental faculties to make work more proficient and useful. God placed Adam and Eve in the garden to dress and care for it. Labor was to provide a safeguard against temptation. Mrs. White also wrote that fathers are to train their sons as they bring them alongside them in their work. Mothers are to teach the girls of the family to handle their share of the family’s burdens. Education is to develop habits of industry, self-control, self-reliance, money management, and business acumen. (By the way, she also states that education should teach children courtesy and kindness to others, which is what service to others teaches.)

By using the Moore Formula, the child learns a truer purpose in education. It is not just learning the “3 R’s,” but learning useful life skills to be successful in the community and fulfill God’s purpose for their life.

From this background, we can see the benefits of adding work to our school day. I think one important aspect of this work is it is to be manual, rather than cerebral. Children have spent some time already doing brain work. Now they need to move their bodies. As I said earlier, work can begin as soon as a child walks by doing simple chores. A child of five can set the table and even help mother with preparing meals. My children even helped with dishes at this age by rinsing. They were washing by the time they were eight, with me standing beside them.

As a child reaches adolescence, self-employment can be sought, using their God-given talents. Moore also suggests that children this age be given an officer position in the family business. If a parent will put this type of responsibility on a child (with parental guidance), they will not see the child fail or suffer burn-out from doing too much. Instead, the child will develop self-confidence and amazing social skills as they practice life application.

In the teen years, the child can take more responsibility with self-employment as they take over covering some of their own expenses of life. They learn financial stewardship and responsibility. Psychologically, teens begin to pull away from their parents in a search for autotomy. This is a natural and essential stage of development. Teens by this time need to be practicing more decision-making, even suffering the consequences of mistakes. The parents can be there as a safeguard, but still allow the teen to feel the results of a bad choice.

The Moore Formula may sound as it would include a lot of work to implement. Instead, it allows the family to work together in God’s purpose while the child learns the needed life skills to become the person God meant him to be. Study, work, and service — three aspects of life we all can use to develop Christ-like character, no matter our ages.

The S Word


Musings of a Retired Homeschool Mom

I currently work at a retail store as a cashier, where I try to be friendly and chit-chat with my customers. One day a woman came through my line buying items for her church, which I noticed was the same church a homeschooling friend of mine attended. I asked the customer if she knew my friend. She cheerfully affirmed that she did indeed know “Melinda,” and asked how I knew her. I told her we were in the same homeschool group together for several years.

Immediately the customer’s attitude changed. She proceeded to tell me how she came from a family of teachers, and how she thought that children who are homeschooled are being shortchanged by it. I told her I homeschooled all three of my children from the beginning all the way through high school. They all excelled academically, and I went into detail about how two had finished college and the third was going to chiropractic school. When that didn’t fit her image of homeschoolers, she told me that they may do well academically, but they are missing out on the socialization opportunities that they would get by attending school. Silently I thought, “Seriously? This is 2016. Are we really still throwing around the S word?”

The socialization question is one that I have heard over and over again over the years, and it doesn’t seem to go away. What is socialization anyway? Dictionary.com gives two definitions: “1. a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position; and 2. the act or process of making socialistic: the socialization of industry.” The first is really the one that applies to everyone’s concerns about homeschoolers.

Going by the first definition, socialization can be achieved in the traditional school setting, but what kind of socialization is being accomplished? From firsthand experience as a public schooled student for 12 years, I experienced, and in some cases due to peer pressure, participated in much of the following: bullying; cliquishness; foul language; and exposure to smoking, drugs, sex, and alcohol. There was also sexual harassment of students by teachers, coaches, and administrators. The socialization that I received at this small rural school district is one of the main reasons I decided to homeschool my own children.

Living your everyday lives as a homeschooling family is the best possible form of socialization. You interact with others at church, at homeschool group meetings, at the grocery store, the post office, and any other normal day-to-day activity that you do.

Compare that to the traditional school situation. Children now start preschool at three to four years old, and are in school for 14 to15 years before even thinking about going to college. School days are starting earlier and dismissing later, and school years are getting longer as well. The vast majority of a child’s time is spent inside a brick building, sitting at a desk, interacting mostly with peers, rather than truly living in the real world and experiencing a wide variety of interactions through daily life.

Add to that the measures schools are taking to provide an environment safe from active shooter situations, terrorist attacks, and other real or imagined threats. The small school that I once attended cannot even be entered these days without pushing a button by the door so someone inside the office can approve your entry into the building. Another nearby school has installed iron fencing around the entrance — sort of like a prison, but without the razor wire.

So, don’t let anyone intimidate you with questions about the “S” word. The type of socialization they are worried that your child will miss out on is not socialization at all. It is institutionalization, which is something else altogether. (See definition 2 above.)

As the conversation ended with my customer, I told her I had homeschooled for 25 years and was spending my “retirement” working as a cashier. The eavesdropping customer next in line condescendingly said to me, “Well, some of us got an education so we wouldn’t have to do that.” Hmm, I wonder where she was socialized?