It’s Your Mess: Deal with It Darling

By the end of our homeschooling morning, our “classroom” usually looks like someone threw a grenade into it. I’ve tried to manage the mess by cleaning up as we go along, but there’s no better way to keep this room straight than to have the kids take responsibility for it.

Today they wanted to dye eggs as an art activity, but I told them, “If you want to do art, you have to clean up the room.” So they pulled out a broom from the hallway closet, picked up markers and colored pencils, and wiped the paint off the floor.

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My kids can get presumptuous about our househelp cleaning up after them so I have to remind them to straighten their own rooms, organize their toys, and mop their spills. They aren’t always motivated but a helpful trick is to tell them they can’t move on to the next activity until they straighten up their clutter.

Yesterday, they wanted to watch the Muppets movie. They were all plopped in front of the television enjoying themselves when I went upstairs to check on their rooms. Titus and Tiana had pulled out blankets and re-arranged furniture. They also had stuffed animals thrown around. Elijah and Edan had played with Citiblocks and constructed “trees”.

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I went back down, turned off the television and told them that their rooms had to be spotless if they wanted to continue watching the movie. They complied and got to work. After ten minutes, Elijah and Edan bounded back down the stairs. Titus and Tiana struggled to restore the girls’ room to what it looked like before they messed it up. I told them they were responsible for the disorder and had to fix it.

Elijah, Edan, and I finished the movie but Titus and Tiana never came down. I went looking for them, wondering what ever became of their commitment to put their mess away. And I found them lying on the couch in the study room, ASLEEP! They must have gotten tired trying to figure out what to do.

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Well, they resumed their clean up duties and got the job done after they woke up.

I want my kids to understand that they are responsible for their things. It’s easy to make a mess. In fact, it’s pretty fun to do so. But if my kids get into the habit of letting others inherit their mess, it’s going to have a negative effect on their character. They have to learn faithfulness in the small areas, like putting away toys or wiping up spills, so it will carry over to bigger areas in the future. If they “mess” up relationships, or make wrong decisions, they need to own up to the consequences and do what is honorable – deal with the mess and do their best to fix what they can.

The Respectable Husband/Father

With permission from my husband, Edric, I am writing this entry.

“If I want my family to respect me, I need to be respectable.” His exact quote.

He said this in reference to an activity that he believed he needed to give up. It was a hobby that was neither wrong or sinful, however he felt like it wasn’t a profitable use of his time. Furthermore, he was concerned about being a good example to our kids, especially our sons.

Since two years ago, I intentionally kept silent about my own perspective on this hobby because I didn’t want to be a nag about it or force him to change. I tried that approach and it usually ended up in some sort of marital version of world war. So I prayed about it. Finally, I accepted it as one of those unchangeable aspects of his person that I would be positive about. In fact, I asked him every once in a while, “When are you going to hang out with the guys again?”

However, he had his own epiphany about it. He discerned that he needed to spend “every centavo and hour for the cause of Christ.” Furthermore, he communicated to me that there are more meaningful ways to use his time.

Praise God! Incidences like this one are proof that God is continually at work in the lives of those whom I love. When I surrender them and trust that God will do the changing and transforming, he certainly works in ways that amaze me.

My husband has loved this pastime for many years. It was a source of conflict between us in the early part of our marriage because I thought it was juvenile and a waste of valuable time. But my attempts to convince him were futile. His arguments were more valid than mine.

First, it wasn’t anything immoral. Second, guys need “healthy” outlets for their pent up testosterone and for their stress. Third, he enjoyed hanging out with his like-minded guy friends — GOOD family guys who shared the same values and perspectives on marriage and parenting. So I stopped talking.

When he came to his own conclusions about this hobby I knew that the activity had run its course and proven to lack the draw it once had on Edric. He had changed and matured spiritually and emotionally. The pastime was no longer congruent with the greater sense of purpose that gripped him. This didn’t mean he would never revisit it. But he did not justify it the same way he used to.

Edric’s change of heart convicted me. (This is what happens when a husband/father demonstrates spiritual leadership in the home. Even though I respected him before this, I respected him even more for being an example to emulate in the area of time management.)

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Over the past year, I have been indulging in my own form of unprofitable hobby-ing. Watching TV series. I don’t even like to watch television! But a friend of ours gave us a hardrive with TV series like Elementary, Nikita, Arrow, Men Who Built America, and so on. This began after I have birth.

Some of these shows were a convenient and entertaining way for me to pass the time while breastfeeding in the evenings. I would watch several episodes in one sitting. This pushed my early sleeping hour to near midnight and sometimes later.

With the disruption in my normal sleeping habits, I woke up tired. To recuperate, I needed a few more hours to rest. As a result, early morning runs were sacrificed, bible reading became less consistent, and my homeshooling began later than usual. It was like a snowball effect. I wanted to stop but I was hooked on the story threads.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17 says, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.” (‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭3‬:‭16-17‬ NASB)

These verses tell me I can’t engage in habits that make my body unsuitable, unhealthy, and unfit for God’s work and purposes. In the Old Testament, the temple was treated as holy and sacred because God’s presence dwelt in it. 1 Corinthians makes this analogy because we are to treat our bodies the same way.

It is a deception to think that I can participate in activities that seem neutral because they don’t have a DIRECT effect on my spiritual walk. Edric and I have discovered that this is a fallacy. All our choices set us on a course toward a destiny. All our choices have spiritual implications.

The Bible tells us, “So teach us to number our days, That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.”(‭Psalms‬ ‭90‬:‭12‬ NASB)

What am I able to present to the Lord after hours and hours of watching these TV series? They did not make me wiser, not in the godly sense. If I were to be very honest, they made me tired, unhealthy, foggy headed, distracted, addicted to entertainment, more self-centered, more materialistic, less effective at teaching my kids, and a bad model of how to use my time.

So goodbye TV series watching!

I began this entry with Edric’s quote about “being respectable” because I hope it encourages husbands to be mindful of their choices, even when it comes to the area of hobbies and pastimes. The way a husband/father chooses to spend his discretionary time sets an example for his wife and children to follow. What he enjoys and takes pleasure in communicates to them what is valuable and important — what is deserving of the investment of his time, talent, and treasure. I praise God that Edric recognizes that having the respect of his family is more than a position. It is a privilege and a trust given by God to husbands/fathers.

With this privilege and trust comes a responsibility to distinguish between good things, better things, and the best things so that wives and children are encouraged to do the same. Pursuing the best things is God’s will. Jesus came to give people the “abundant life.” Anything less than this is settling for a substandard experience of joy, peace, fulfillment and fruitfulness. If a husband/father wants his family to have an appetite for what is best, he must consider this…

The best things will…

…make him a more effective witness for the gospel of Christ.
…make him more like Christ.
…qualify him to say to his wife and children, “Copy this in me.”

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My New Year’s REVOLUTION

I am revolting against my fat. Two weeks ago, I resumed P90X’s Ab Ripper X and my abs felt like they were ripping. Not ripping with muscle, ripping in PAIN!

Over the holidays I just lost it with my eating. Every sweet thing was in my hand and I thought, my genetics will overcome this. What pride. What a fool.

After I gave birth, I was just 6 pounds shy of my pre-pregnancy weight. A month after, I started running and my mom was like, “Your insides are going to fall out.” Okay, so I took a break. A LOOONG BREAK.

Now I am 10 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight. Darn. I might as well be 5 months pregnant because that’s how much I weighed when I was!

Christmas came along, buffet meals, sweets, delectable treats and bam! Pounds. Flabbiness. Muffin top. Tummy. I thought, I’m burning 500 calories a day as a breastfeeding mom. Just shovel it all in. I’m a milk producing machine that needs all of this. I’m hungry. I can eat anything.

Reality check. I ate anything and everything and I wasn’t selective and healthy about my choices. Now I have to contend with 10 pounds to lose.

At my age, it’s not that easy. I am up against the law of Thermodynamics, the tendency towards atrophy. I’m going to have to work really hard to get my muscle tone back so my metabolism kicks in.

I knew I needed to get back into shape when my husband, Edric, mentioned that WE need to work out.

“What do you mean?” I asked. “It’s my butt, right? I actually have a butt now, it’s getting bigger! Is that it?”

“I don’t want to say anything. I’m trying to be Christ-like, remember?”

“But I want to know the truth. Tell me the truth! I need to lose weight. Just say it.”

Is there any husband in the world that can win this discussion? Of course not. But I really wanted Edric to tell me what he thought my problem areas were. Actually, I just wanted affirmation for what I knew to be true about my problem areas so I would have greater resolve to stop eating so much.

Finally, he admitted that I have gotten “curvier” (right. safe words) but for my health’s sake, I do need to exercise. It was a softer blow…

So the very next day we ran and did our ab workout. Hoowee. World of pain. But I’m excited. I don’t want to make excuses. It’s safe to exercise now. Catalina is almost 6 months! And I don’t want to grow older without trying my best to be fit and healthy.

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I like how Edric said it the other day. We need to be fit to fight. Fit to tackle life’s challenges – parenting, ministry, work, etc. Plus, I’m always telling women, we need to try to look our best whatever season of our lives. Now it’s time to eat those words and stop eating junk food and candy. The challenge is on!

Step 1: Run every other day and do Ab Ripper X with Edric

Step 2: Get rid of junk food and sweets in the kitchen cabinets (90% done)

Step 3: Drink a ton of water

Step 4: Eat brown rice instead of white (Been doing this)

Step 5: Get more sleep (IMPOSSIBLE, for now, but I will try.)

The first few runs were the hardest because my body was used to a sedentary lifestyle. But exercise is amazing. Once I started getting into a rhythm of waking up early to run, my body began to look for it.

It will probably take me a couple of months to lose 10 pounds if I do it the healthy way. I don’t believe in dieting. Diet has the word DIE in it which is very telling. But I do believe in being thoughtful about what I eat and finding the right fitness program for my body type.

For example, I cannot lift alot of weights. I will look like a she-hulk. My body easily bulks in a bad way. But running increases my metabolism so that I burn fat more efficiently. And doing abdominal exercises works out my biggest problem area. So it is a good combination for me to do both.

I will start out with this and then see what I can add to my routine after a few weeks. It usually takes me about two months to see significant results.

In the meantime this verse motivates me.Philippians 4:7 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!”

Men Need Men to Become Men

Boys benefit from man-building activities that encourage the development of their manhood. When I say man-building activities I mean experiences that are like “man-versus-wild” kind of stuff – camping, mountain-climbing, scouting – and sports.

When Edric was growing up, my father-in-law, Eddie (Papa to me), invested time teaching him how to fly kites, scuba dive, climb mountains, boogie board, fish, sail, repel, bike, play ball, and swim…among other things. This is how they bonded, in the context of activity. Edric has always remembered these father and son occasions with fondness. And I have appreciated the attractive masculine traits that Edric acquired because of them.

Men need a good adventure and challenge, but they also need a man who has gone before them to pass on survival skills and know-how.

Our sons had the opportunity to take on a good adventure and challenge when Papa invited Edric, Elijah and Edan to climb Mt. Batulao last Saturday. Edric and the boys were thrilled. I was jealous because I wanted to go, too. But this was an experience that Edric wanted to share with the boys – just the guys. I had the other three kids to take care of anyway.

Early Saturday morning, Elijah and Edan had their hiking shoes on and were set to go at 5 AM. They packed their energy food – peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, trail mix, hard boiled eggs with salt on the side, granola bars, and water. Elijah was in charge of carrying the water and Edric carried the food. They got to Batulao 2 hours later and met up with Papa.

Initially, as they began their climb, Edan complained about the prickly tall grass and fatigue. But he wasn’t being a soiled brat. This was no tiny mountain! It was two and a half hours up one way with 12 peaks!

Edric admitted that he was concerned as he watched the boys scale some of the steep inclines. They could’ve rolled off to their deaths! Sadly, some time ago there was a woman who fell off one of the peaks while trying to take a picture. She died!

Well, I’m glad I didn’t know about that story before they went on the climb. The protective mother in me might have tried to dissuade Edric from taking Edan. But he did great! He was the only 7 year old on the trail and he persevered. Even though he was bickering at the beginning, he thoroughly enjoyed the hike as he went along.

Edric called me at one point during their climb (amazingly, there was a Globe signal), and he gave me an update on how the kids were doing and how much fun they were all having. What I would have given to have been there! I wanted to see their expressions and be a part of this special moment in their lives. But without me around they were better off. There was no nurturing mother figure to turn to for sympathy when they got tired or tripped and skinned their knees. The boys had to stick it out, suck it in, and push themselves under the guidance of Edric and Papa.

When they got home, they were exhausted, bruised and cut up, but they were smiling like they just had the time of their lives. They also had a certain satisfaction in their tone when they spoke about their trek. Thanks to Papa and Edric, the boys learned to overcome their fears, weaknesses, and put in the hard work and effort necessary to achieve a goal they were proud of.

How valuable it is when fathers and grandfathers mentor their sons and set aside time to help them become men. Climbing a mountain together is not the only way to do this but it sure worked for my boys. They went up Mt. Batulao as two clueless boys but they came down as wiser, stronger, more confident young men!
 

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Teaching Children to Make Wise Choices

My kids like to use the IPads and computers for games. For about 4 months they were banned from gadgets so we could finish our homeschooling year. But after I gave birth, online educational programs and apps were a big help to keep the kids productive while I was busy with Catalina.

We stuck to certain parameters.

1. Is the game or app educational?
2. Will it help to develop an important skill?
3. Will it allow you to grow in wisdom, stature, and favor with God and men? (Luke 2:52)
4. Playing games have time limits attached to their use.

Our kids know my apple ID and password. But they don’t abuse it. They will always ask for permission before getting an app, even if it is free. And they know what their boundaries are in terms of criteria.

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About two years ago, my second son, Edan, got hooked on Plants vs Zombies. He was obsessed with it. It was the first time I became concerned about letting the kids use the iPad for fun. I felt like we had opened a Pandora’s box as a family and let in the game monster. Edan of all my other children seemed to have a greater tendency towards addiction. He was more vulnerable.

In fact he admitted to me recently that the danger of computer games for him is he thinks about them even when he isn’t playing.

Every child is different and as parents we need to know what their strengths and weaknesses are. Elijah, for example, can self regulate and say, “Okay, I don’t want to play with gadgets for a week because I don’t want to get addicted.” And he can busy himself with reading and other interests.

However, Edan is different. He has a harder time controlling his desire for gaming. So we need to help him and avoid putting him in predicaments where he can “feed” that side of him.

A few days ago he came up to me asking if he could install a certain app. It was a game. It wasn’t educational. I struggled as a mom. Edan is a good son. By God’s grace, he is obedient, too. When he asked me, I could see the DESIRE in his eyes. He wanted the game and his happiness seemed to hinge on my response.

So I gave him the opportunity to present why he liked the game, to hear him out. And then I asked him very gently and thoughtfully, “Is this game educational?”

He answered, “No.”

“Is it a business game? Will it teach you business principles?”

“No.” His shoulders hunched over and he seemed disheartened.

“Will it help you to grow in wisdom, stature, favor with God and man? (Luke 2:52)

He shook his head and started to tear.

“Do you think you should get it then?”

When I asked this, he started to cry out loud. He already knew the answer.

Oh my heart broke as a mom. I hugged him. I knew it was important to him and he wanted the game very badly. He had taken a step of faith when he asked me. And a part of me was tempted to give in and then to remove the app later
on if it really was destructive.

But I had to be consistent. I had to consider his greater good and not just his present happiness. So I said something like this…”Edan, mommy wants you to enjoy playing games. I like you to have fun. But you need to find a game that will help you to develop a skill. It can’t be for entertainment purposes only. So why don’t you find something that is educational and present it to me as an option?”

Well, he was able to find an incredible app called Paper 53. It’s a great app for artists. Edan understands balance and symmetry without having learned these concepts so I know that he can hone his artistic abilities. When he showed me the app, I heartily agreed to get it for him because it would be a profitable use of his time.

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I wanted to share this because we need to teach our older children to make wise choices, to weigh the pros and cons of a decision. When they are younger, we can pull off the “obey because I said so.” But this has to change as they grow up. We don’t want them to obey on the outside but harbor resentment and rebellion on the inside. So it helps to get them to think through their decision making process, especially when it comes to dealing with the desires of the heart.

My parents used the same approach with me when I was interested in dating someone who would have been a poor choice. They took me out to dinner and asked me the right questions. Over the course of the conversation, just like Edan, I cried, but I knew what I had to do. I was able to arrive at a discerning conclusion and I did not entertain the guys attempts to pursue a relationship with me. I was 15.

We don’t want to raise children who have an underdeveloped capacity for sound judgement. So it helps to start off with clear principles that we want to live by as a family. And then we need to teach these to our children, reinforcing these principles by our own adherence to them and our consistency in upholding them in the home. When they are in predicaments that can lead to a violation of a principle, the asking-questions-part comes in. Let them consider whether their choices or actions favor those principles or go against them so they take ownership of their decisions. It also helps when we communicate trust in their capacity to make wise choices that please God because he is present in their lives.

A plan in the heart of a man is like deep water, But a man of understanding draws it out. (Proverbs 20:5 NASB)

PARAPHRASED FOR PARENTING: “The intentions in the heart of a child are like deep waters but a parent of understanding draws them out.”

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Do Not Aim For External Obedience

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My fourth child is Tiana.
She is a charming 3 year old and she knows it. Tiana will flutter her eyelashes, twinkle those big brown eyes of hers and flash a disarming smile, and voila! you forget that she needs to be disciplined for something. But Edric and I need to make sure that she doesn’t miss this critical stage of discipleship and discipline, which is largely about obedience. We want her to learn to obey because it is for her good and protection.

Since we have a lot of kids, the challenge when it comes to discipline is consistency. Each child may need a modified or personalized approach but we want the same end result — internalized obedience. Obedience is preached, practiced, and applied in our home, so we cannot allow Tiana to be an exemption.

For example, some time ago, the kids and I were hanging out at my parent’s place. And while I was putting them down for a nap, their cousin came in to rest with them. This would have been fine had my niece calmly gone to sleep. But she was singing, humming, buzzing, and trying to get their attention. I told her that if she kept that up, she would have to take a nap by herself. Well, she did not listen, so I took the kids out of the room and let them sleep elsewhere.

My niece is a sweet girl but she is not my daughter so I can only control what I do with my own kids. I wanted my children to see that I meant what I said and I would follow through. Their cousin wailed for a while because she was upset that she could not nap with everyone else. The kids could hear her in the other room but they understood why I couldn’t let them stay together. No one would be able to sleep.

After about fifteen minutes, my own kids settled down and were hitting that point where their eyes glaze over and they fall asleep. However, Tiana was moving about on the bed and playing with her pillow. So I told her, “If you do not obey mommy and lay down quietly you will be disciplined.” She acknowledged this but didn’t take me too seriously. As a result the other kids were unable to fall asleep. They knew that Tiana wasn’t obeying me and they were waiting to see how I would handle the situation.

I looked over at Tiana who was sitting up on her side of the bed, fiddling with the zipper on a memory foam pillow. She was not lying down. Honestly, I did not want to spank her. I was seated comfortably across the room looking up recipes on my Ipad. But I knew that if I didn’t deal with the situation, she would think, “I can get away with this sort of thing.” And there was the matter of her brothers looking on to see my next move. They knew that if they were in her shoes, they would have been disciplined.

So I picked her up, took her into the bathroom and explained to her that she did not obey. As a result, she would be getting a spanking. Edric and I don’t spank our kids a lot. We can count the number of times each of our children has been spanked. But when we do spank, our kids know that it is for disobedience. It is a rule that is clear to our children.

Tiana got a spanking. Afterwards, we talked about it and she said sorry for not obeying. She also laid down quietly like I had asked her to previously.

I love my kids and I don’t like to spank them. But because I love them, I want them to understand what it means to obey and submit to authority. It is for their greater good. Some people may not agree with using spanking as a form of discipline. In our home, however, we have used it in the context of a good relationship with our kids. It is not done in anger. It is primarily used to correct disobedience, especially while they are between the ages of 1 and 6. We also use other forms of discipline like withdrawal of privileges and natural logical consequences.

Harold Sala wrote, “You can discipline without love, but can you really love without discipline? ​Discipline is an integral part of love. Although discipline is actually a very old concept, there are many, today, who consider any form of discipline to be punishment. There is a vast difference between the two. Centuries ago, the writer of Scripture declared that discipline is the result of real parental love, just as God’s discipline for His children is the result of His love and concern for our lives.”

“My son do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights” (Proverbs 3:11-12).

It’s interesting that discipline makes our children feel more secure because they know their boundaries. When parameters are set, our kids are aware of what we expect from them and what they need to work on in their character. They don’t have to guess or figure out what is right from wrong as they go along. As parents we tell them what is right based on God’s word and then make them accountable and responsible for choosing to do what we tell them to.

Tiana is still young so we have a lot to work on with her. As for her three older brothers, we are trying to ingrain in them the higher motivation for obedience — the desire and will to love the Lord and please him. After all, we aren’t after mere external compliance but the peace of knowing that our children will follow God’s word even when we aren’t watching them.

Someone asked me very recently, “How do you make your children obey?” I had a problem with that question. First, my goal is not to MAKE them obey. I want them to embrace obedience as God’s plan for their lives– for blessing, protection, and an abundant life. During the early years, we teach our kids that obedience is doing what we say, but eventually we teach them that obedience is doing what we say with a cheerful attitude. It is about the heart.

Second, obedience is something I want my kids to see modeled by Edric and I. God has established a chain of command in the home. Edric is the head and I am under his authority. If I don’t submit to Edric or if I do so with a bad attitude, I distort my children’s concept of obedience to authority. Furthermore, my authority over them is established only if I exemplify what I ask of them. If I ask them to obey me but they see me contradicting, disrespecting and undermining Edric’s authority then I can’t expect them to understand obedience from the heart.

If we have to keep MAKING our children obey there may be something wrong with our approach to discipline.
We may be focusing too much on the behavior and punishment instead of discipling the hearts of our kids. Discipline is necessary but we need to reinforce character instruction, highlight the blessings of obedience, and remind our children that when they obey us they are ultimately pleasing God. Furthermore, if our children aren’t obeying us we need to look at our own example. Do we obey the authorities in our lives with a cheerful attitude, especially our husbands? :)

Broke-a-lin

“Broke-a-lin” was the name Edan gave Elijah’s broken violin. Elijah was practicing on his violin when it slipped out of his hands and fell onto the tiled floor of our living room. It snapped in half and is now irreparable.

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The kids huddled over it for a while trying to put the pieces back together. Tiana kept saying, “Oh no.” Elijah was frustrated with himself and didn’t know what to do. Titus was eager to see how he could fix it. And Edan laughed and called it a “broke-a-lin.”

I was on the couch when it happened, trying to catch up on some news while holding Catalina. Of course I was not pleased. Elijah needs a new violin which means we have to go out and pay for another one.

I wasn’t mad at him just frustrated (secretly) that he was careless. At the same time I knew it was an accident so I didn’t get upset. I didn’t want to embarrass him.

Things get broken especially when you have lots of kids. If I were to react to every single one of these incidents, I would be stressed out often. Thankfully, I grew up in a home where my own parents didn’t put a premium on material things. They were good stewards and used money wisely but if my siblings or I accidentally broke or mishandled things around the house, we were readily forgiven. We weren’t yelled at or punished. We might have had to suffer the consequence of our carelessness but my parents didn’t get angry or lose their temper.

With our kids, Edric and I are the same way. When the kids break vases, glasses, toys, gadgets, etc, we don’t go ballistic. However, we will bring in the stewardship angle.

After hearing about Elijah’s violin accident, Edric sat down with Elijah. He asked him, “What if we just had one violin and that’s all we could afford and it was entrusted into your care?” He wanted to make sure that Elijah understood that he needed to take care of his belongings. Just because we can afford to go out and buy another violin doesn’t mean we should make light of the incident like it was inconsequential. How will our kids learn to be more careful and aware of their actions? So I was glad that Edric talked with Elijah just to make sure he took it seriously. Elijah apologized and asked for forgiveness for not being a good steward. He also confessed to me that he was prideful at first and thought it was just an accident so it was not his fault. But he owned up to it after talking with his dad and I was pleased to see him admit that he was responsible for what happened.

I actually mentioned to Edric that perhaps Elijah should help pay for the violin. He should pay a fractional amount from the money he has earned from his stock reports so he feels the “sting” of having to replace the violin.

Edric and I will buy him a new one but he is old enough to learn to find remedies for his mistakes. Even if it was an accident, he was responsible for that violin and now he can be responsible for getting himself a new one too. I believe in the passage “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

If children get to work for something they really want, they are likely to ascribe greater value to it. Otherwise, they have no concept of reality. They receive and take without realizing that everything they are given is a cost to someone, be it monetary or otherwise. Furthermore, they need to learn to take ownership for their mistakes instead of growing up with a mentality that they get bailed out by mommy and daddy every time.

Edric and I love our kids and we extend grace to them when they make mistakes but some of these mistakes are also great opportunities to teach them character lessons. I don’t expect a 3 year old to get why he would have to help pay for something he broke. But Elijah is a 10 year old who has the capacity to understand stewardship and he is earning some money now.
So this sort of character training would work for him, especially since he is becoming a young man.

(I asked Elijah if it was okay with him that I share this and he said, “Yes, so people can learn from my mistakes.” Praise God for his heart! I love this boy!)

Strawberry Yoghurt

While I struggled with my miserable cold two nights ago, trying to rest in the room alone, a commotion in the kitchen woke me up. With a raised and agitated tone, Titus said, “I don’t want that!” This wasn’t the sound of my usually sweet and happy Titus.

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I would have preferred to remain in my rested state and ignore the situation. But I could not willfully do so. Titus had lost his temper. There was an issue that needed to be dealt with. Intervention was in order. So I got up and called him out of the kitchen to talk about what happened.

Apparently, he wanted a strawberry yoghurt drink that ended up in the hands of Edan. He was offered an orange flavored one by our househelp, Joan, which upset him. Edan, on the other hand, was apathetically sipping the last few drops of the coveted drink. Titus looked on with quiet anger, convinced that he had been done a great injustice.

Taking Titus aside, I tried to understand where he was coming from. But my attempt to have a dialogue with him as his two older brothers curiously stood on the sidelines and his youngest sister called out, “Titus is going to get a spanking!” was counterproductive. So I brought Titus to my bedroom.

He thought he was going to get a spanking but my intent was to get to the root of the issue. This was not something that could be solved with a spanking. There was a much deeper problem here. Titus’ spirit was not right. There was hardness and frustration.

He stood in front of me while I sat across from him. We engaged in a conversation that involved me explaining to him why his attitude was wrong, why shouting was not okay, and how he needed to learn to share. His part was to acknowledge and respond in repentance. Did it work? Maybe a little. But I could sense that his compliance was external. It was void of real conviction.

So I called him to my side, hugged him really tightly and said, “Titus, I love you no matter what.” I assured him that I was after his greater good. His countenance softened and he started to tear. All my lecturing had not produced this sort of heart-felt response. It was not until I took him in my arms and held him that I could sense a motivation to change his attitude.

With my arms around him, I went on, “Because I love you, I want to teach you to do what pleases God.” Appealing to his own love for Christ, I reminded him that getting angry and being selfish were wrong behaviors because Jesus didn’t want him to do those things. I asked him what he thought would make Jesus happy and he acknowledged that he had to learn “to share, to say sorry, and that he shouldn’t get angry.” When I was convinced that he sincerely meant this, I let him go back to the kitchen to say sorry to those whom he had hurt.

He walked up to Edan and Joan to ask for forgiveness. There was humility in his tone and disposition, and he bounced back to his smiley, cheerful self. I affirmed him for doing what was right and I peacefully went back to my bedroom to go back to sleep. Strawberry yoghurt training case closed.

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Training is such a challenge. First, it takes commitment. Second, it must be personalized. Third, it must be purposeful — the pursuit of Christlikeness. Fourth, it must be cradled by love.

Sometimes, I am tempted to short cut the training part and make behavior the priority. But fruitful discipline and training must seek to restore our children’s hearts to us and to the Lord. It must heal what is broken inside them and be redemptive, effecting much more than behavioral change.

If we want real fruit in our children, we must consider these heart questions: Do our children know that we love them? Are they absolutely convinced that we want what is best for them? Do they love Jesus? Do they know that he loves them?

1 Corinthians 13:8 says that love never fails. When I think of that statement, I think of how it can be applied to training our children. Love does not fail to motivate or inspire change. When our children are convinced that they are loved and accepted, flaws and all, they respond to our teaching. More importantly, when they love Jesus with all that they are, they desire to please him and live for him.

It’s like Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”(John 14:15 NASB)

Titus painted this earlier on in the day for me. I thought it was a great reminder that our children give us their hearts to handle with care. What are their hearts telling us about their spiritual condition? What are we doing about it?

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Dealing with the Resistance

Given the “break” we have had from homeschooling because of no househelp, I have been trying to get my kids back into the habit of studying. Since they have gotten used to having the liberty to dictate their personal schedules instead of sitting down in the mornings for their usual studies, I find myself having to deal with complaining and negativity. And these are attitudes that I absolutely do not allow my children to get away with.

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Today was one of those days when my second son, Edan, put up a resistance. He slumped over his science notebook and started writing in chicken scratch. This is very uncharacteristic of him. As a very diligent child, he will more often than not assess his goals for the day, tackle them one by one, asking for help when needed but finishing it all by noon. Instead, he was holding the pencil begrudgingly, like he was being tortured, and his demeanor was a picture of negativity.

Recognizing that his heart wasn’t right, I asked him to step out of the room and pray about his attitude. When he was ready, he could come back in and resume his work. I wasn’t about to struggle through the morning with him. When he left, I focused on Elijah, Titus and Tiana, trusting that at some point, he would “crack.”

Well, he took longer than expected. In fact, my eldest son, Elijah, who has gone through the same process of taking time away to think through his attitude, commented, “What’s wrong with him? He is being defiant.” Several times, he checked the door out of concern to see if Edan was coming back. I responded with, “Don’t worry about him. Just focus on what you need to get done. God will speak to him.”

In thirty minutes, Edan snuck back in but not to do work. He sprawled himself out on the sofa like I was not serious about what I had said. “I am sorry but you can only come in here if you are going to do your work. If you are going to lounge around like that, you have to go back into the other room.” He walked out and started to cry – a wailing sort of cry that had anger mixed into it.

I know Edan. He tends to be quiet but he can be just as strong-willed and bullheaded as his other siblings. They all need training and discipline to learn submission to authority, respect, and other important character traits that are necessary for life success so I have to be lovingly tough when necessary to help them grow in these areas.

I knew this was a resistance. He was putting up a “fight.” At any point he could have said sorry and gone right back to what he had to do. But he was trying to escape responsibility.

After a while, he tried to make his constructive exile a little more comfortable, so he picked up a book to read. He also called out, “I am hungry.” My, my.

I went into the room he was in and spoke with him. “I want you to know that you will be in here all day if necessary until you realize that you have to fulfill your responsibilities. That means that you don’t get to eat, read, play, or do anything until you change your attitude.”

He looked at me and started to wail again. Of course he was upset. But it was his choice to draw out his “suffering.” I don’t always have to use spanking as a form of discipline when withdrawal of privileges or natural logical consequences will work just fine. In this case, Edan had to realize that he was free to choose but not free to escape the consequences of his choices. So I let him cry in the room and process his attitude. In the meantime, I went back to teaching my three other kids.

Well, what do you know, in fifteen minutes Edan opened the door and approached me. “I am sorry, ” he said with all sincerity. He gave me a big hug and I embraced him tightly.

“I forgive you. Mommy loves you so much.”

I held him for a while longer and asked if he prayed about his attitude. “I also said sorry to God,” was his reply. He was smiling, happy, and a transformed person. He finished what he had to without a complaining spirit.

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Personally, I have experienced how much more effective it is to let my kids acknowledge their wrong and make a personal choice to repent and correct their emotions rather than force them to do their homeschool work when their hearts aren’t ready.

Learning is a privileged experience for those who are eager and willing to be taught. And I want my kids to realize this. My job is not to force them to learn or work hard. I may encourage and motivate them, but my greater job is to cultivate in them a heart that is teachable and responsive to instruction, a heart that desires to please God. And this is a supernatural task. I can’t do it on my own power. By inviting the Holy Spirit to speak to them when they put up a resistance, I am acknowledging my own limitations and dependence on him to work in their hearts. If I were to push them to learn I can imagine that it would only make me angry in a counterproductive way (to say the least).

The more kids I have and the more of them I have to homeschool, the more I realize that only the Lord can convict them of sin and only he can bring about lasting change in them. My part is to remain committed to help them grow spiritually — more in love with God and more like Christ — and to be Christ-like myself (which is often the harder challenge!).

Proverbs 13:1 A wise son accepts his father’s discipline, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.

Proverbs 19:18 Discipline your son while there is hope, And do not desire his death.

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10-Year Parenting Anniversary

Parenting has hit a 10-year anniversary for Edric and I, with our eldest, Elijah, turning 10 today. We are still in the trenches of parenting without the horizon of our children’s adulthood yet in sight. But, Elijah often pushes the boundaries of the parenting frontier for us as the eldest. He brings on new challenges, new doubts, and he surprises us with his ever-maturing perspective on life.

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Elijah, like all my other children, is an incredible gift to Edric and I. We have enjoyed his personality — his passion, intensity, zest, deep love for the Lord, and his insights. He is an intellectual child, a fast learner – a sponge, really. If he had a superpower it would be his capacity to read or listen to content and comprehend it right away. And with a voracious appetite for reading, he’s like an unstoppable force at times. I can’t keep up with the stock knowledge, facts, and information he has stored in that brain of his.

I remember asking him once, “Do you really learn anything from what I teach you or do you learn more from what you read?” He told me, “Honestly, I learn more from what I read but I still like to learn from you. But what I really like about you teaching me is that we can be together.” I felt both useless and special at the same time. As a homeschooling mom, that’s sort of a good thing. Independent learning in a child is a blessing when you have several kids to teach!

More than academic input, what he really needs from Edric and me is consistent discipleship. Like any child with intelligence (I think all children are gifted with unique abilities), he could become a Megamind without a moral compass. Therefore, he most definitely still needs guidance and mentoring.

Our parenting style with him has had to change over the years. The biblical goals remain the same, but we have to implore different strategies with Elijah. He has taken “training course 101”: obedience and respect. He knows what it means to obey and respect us, and, more often than not, he does. There may be occasions when he says things that can be rephrased in a more courteous way, but it doesn’t happen often. For the most part, he has internalized both character traits. The last time he received a spanking was years ago. He gets why it is important and necessary to obey and respect those in authority. Ultimately his obedience is to the Lord. So if he has a problem with that, he is accountable to him, too.

 

Elijah's first official photoshoot

Elijah’s first official photoshoot

Elijah as a 1 year old

Elijah as a 1 year old

Elijah today...checking on his stocks portfolio

Elijah today…checking on his stocks portfolio

At this stage in his young life he needs help with identifying character weaknesses and how to combat these with spiritual means. For example, when there is a mismatch between what his brain can imagine and what his motor skills are able to do, it leads to emotional chaos. He will groan, become self-deprecating, negative, and upset beyond reason. I used to try to lecture him and mouth out bible verses to convict him to change, but these did not help. This would, of course, aggravate me, which only made matters worse for our relationship. So I learned to turn him over to the Lord. When he would act up, I would ask him to quietly excuse himself and take a moment to pray and process his feelings.

Early last year, he finally recognized his heart issue as pride and admitted this to me. During a week of prayer and fasting held January 2013 for our church, he made a list of things to pray for and one of them was, “Be controlled by the Holy Spirit.”

When he starts to be angry with himself, he will voluntarily step out of a room and be alone for a while to pray. He will return about five to ten minutes later ready to resume the task that he was in the middle of. I asked him what he does when he isolates himself and he said, “I pray that God will help me not to be irritated, to remain focused.” This has been his most effective coping method yet.

As for me, I give him spiritual space to let the Lord speak to him. From past experience, I know that telling him what to do and saying things like, “You need to stop that and change your attitude,” works 1% of the time, if at all. I can still do this with the younger kids because they are in “training course 101” but Elijah is growing up. He needs to internalize certain spiritual truths on his own.

When he goes off and brings his frustrations before the Lord, he returns ready and able. I offer him a hug, an encouraging word, a back rub, and I pray for him instead. If he comes back smiling, all credit goes to the Lord’s work in his heart. After all, these instances are beyond my control. I can enforce consequences and get angry so that he will listen out of fear, but I’m looking for a different kind of fruit in him — a compelling desire to please God more than Edric or myself.

If there is anything that 10 years of parenting have taught me it is this: There is a spiritual tug of war for the hearts of our children. The reality of Satan’s attempts to turn them towards ungodliness and use their weaknesses to his advantage is so apparent. Even if my kids are homeschooled and seem to live in an environment where they are, for the most part, protected from negative peer, media, and worldly influences, the battle is most certainly within. Satan is a master infiltrator, intent on destroying every seed of faith that is planted in the hearts of our kids, and snuffing out the love they have for Christ.

I encounter this reality often, not only with Elijah, but with my other kids. Most of the time, they will do as they are told, but there isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t have to deal with one of the following in at least one of my children – selfish attitudes, hardness of heart, manipulation, laziness, wrong thinking, etc.

There is no such thing as a cocoon or bubble that can really shelter my kids from evil or their own carnality. And I really don’t think that parenting or homeschooling needs to be about paranoid over-protectiveness. I don’t homeschool for those reasons, though an undeniable benefit is that our kids aren’t subject to the same sort of undesirable influences that most children who go to school are. (Not all schools, okay?)

Homeschooling lets me be present and available to better understand, help and disciple my kids for the purpose of spiritual fitness because I have more time with them. How can I do this if I am not around to identify what’s wrong in the first place? What if I can only see what’s happening on a surface level because my interactions with them are minimal and reduced to a few hours each day? How will I pass on the love for the Lord if I can’t model or encourage it often enough?

I already feel that the number of years that have been given to me for a season of parenting are too short. Celebrating Elijah’s tenth birthday was a reminder once again that I don’t have forever to prepare and equip my kids for the harder battles that they must face. His real battles are not completing a composition assignment that he doesn’t want to do, or getting annoyed because he can’t finish a 20-sided origami polyhedron with a single sheet of paper better than he thought he could. (Both of these have the potential to make him emotionally ballistic.) The greater battle is between his two natures.

On the one hand, he desires to please God, to love him, and be an obedient and loving son to Edric and I. He wants to do his best in everything that he does for God’s glory. But on the other hand, he knows that he can be an emotional yo-yo, ruled by his feelings, and unresponsive to correction and teaching when his heart is overcome by pride and irritation. I praise God that he is learning to yield to the Holy Spirit as his best weapon for the war within. But it has taken a good long while for him to come to this point of awareness.

There are no quick fixes to our children’s character and even our own. There is no fast-forward button that can be pressed for immediate transformation. God allows us all to go through a refining process where we become more aware of our helplessness apart from his grace so that we can live with power through it.

When homeschooling moms fret about uncompleted daily assignments, unfinished workbooks, unmet academic goals, I want to say, “Have you considered the possibility that you are focusing on a minor battle when there is a greater war at hand?” But, how can I say this without sounding like a crazy person?

The reality is, if the enemy can get us to be impatient, annoyed and stressed out by the little things he can make us…

a. act in ways that nullify the positive influence we want to have on our children

b. doubt our decision to homeschool because we begin to focus on our inadequacies or our child’s

c. pressure our children to learn when their hearts aren’t ready so that the joy of learning is taken away

d. seek to motivate them externally when what we really want is internal motivation

e. give the evil one victory because he has successfully channeled our efforts and energy away from discipleship.

The greater battle is not giving them the intellectual capacity to cope in the world. That is certainly part of our responsibility but it isn’t the most important thing. We need to prepare them for the spiritual war – the real world – where the foundations of their faith, their convictions and values will be tested and tried. Will they stand? Will they falter? Will they recover?

As Elijah moves towards young adulthood, his struggles will also grow. It has given me hope to witness his strategy for self-correction – learning to pray and surrender himself to the Lord. But that is not the guarantee I have for my fears. What allays my fears is knowing that God is a gracious, ever-present, and faithful father. He loves Elijah and all our children more perfectly than Edric or I ever could. If we can teach Elijah to keep walking with the Lord, if we can parent him in such a way that his heart is continually turned towards the Lord, if we can encourage him to keep studying God’s word and grow in wisdom, and if we do our part to model a love for the Lord contagiously and pass this on to him, then I believe that God will surely do the more difficult part of causing Elijah to become the man he wants him to be — spiritually fit and able to be a light and testimony for Him.

May these verses encourage you as they have me…

The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he knows how weak we are; he remembers that we are only dust…But the love of the Lord remains forever with those who fear him. His salvation extends to the children’s children of those who are faithful to his covenant, of those who obey his commandments! Psalm 103:13-14, 17-18

When They Don’t Get Their Candy

From time to time parents ask me how to discipline a child who is misbehaving. They want to know if spanking is the solution. Some wonder about time-outs. Others propose dialoguing with their child and reasoning with them.

I really am no expert. My kids are still a work in progress but I do want to share a truth that has helped Edric and I to understand the why behind disciplining our kids. All children have a fundamental problem. It’s called sin.

No matter how cute or angelic they may seem as little babies, children will disobey or misbehave at some point. Some are more obvious in their defiance, others may be subtle and quiet about it. As parents, we have to realize that our children were born with fallen natures — a propensity for rebellion against God and his ordained authorities (for example, mom and dad.) According to the book of Proverbs, folly is bound up in the heart of a child.

John Rosemond, most well-read parenting expert in America, says that the earlier a parent realizes that their sweet darling is born with the capacity for wrong and evil, the better they will understand their role as parents in shaping the character of their children and disciplining them. I have softened the language a bit because he outrightly says that kids were born bad. His point, however, is that children need discipline and training. There is no shortcut to raising well-behaved children.

Although a psychologist himself, Rosemond threw away the mumbo-jumbo theories that surfaced in the 1960s which revolutionized the way parents began to raise their children. He calls it “the big wet blanket of psychobabble that has smothered parenting common sense.” He believes that disregarding the traditional approaches to raising children was a big mistake and we are seeing the detrimental affects today.

According to Rosemond, “Fifty years ago, it was unheard of for a child who had reached aged three to hit his parents; today, it is not unusual to find children five and six years of age who are hitting their parents (usually their northers) on a regular basis. Biting is another example of culture wide disciplinary decay…Fifty years ago, children were mischievous, but the rare child was belligerently defiant; today, the once-rare insolent child is everywhere. Fifty years ago, tantrums had stopped by age three. Today, it’s not at all unusual for children still to be having major emotional meltdowns well into their elementary school years.”

Over the weekend, I was asked to counsel a 10 year old child who hardly looked at me in the eye. I couldn’t get through to her. She remained hard and cold towards me. A 10 year old! I couldn’t help her because she refused to be helped. She rejected my attempts at reaching out to her. I actually found it very disrespectful and insolent. But a part of me also felt very sad. How do children get to that point? The best I could do was pray for her. According to the woman who was with her it was a wonder that she didn’t kick me while I was praying.

Personally, I believe that when parents move away from biblical parenting, we tend to get lost in all the popular theories that are circulating in the world today and become ineffective at raising our children. We don’t have a clear goal or a clear roadmap.

Two years ago, I struggled with parenting my third son, Titus. He was a very curious child but at times this curiosity would make him dismantle toys, tear up his books, break household items, write on walls and objects that he shouldn’t write on, and get himself into predicaments that were precarious.

There were many occasions when this deeply aggravated me and it put a strain on our relationship, but these things were not really the challenging part. It was his attitude. He was determined to get his way and would defy authority figures when he was told “No.”

Edric and I had to assess our parenting style, our methods and our goals because it was getting a bit overwhelming trying to deal with Titus. To keep it simple, we went back to a few core things. First, we established our authority. We didn’t let Titus manipulate us and we didn’t give in to his whining or sulking when he was between the ages of 2 and 3 — the height of it. So he stopped using that tactic. Second, we focused on instilling obedience. We were clear about rules and we disciplined him for breaking them. Third, Edric shared the gospel with Titus so he could begin a relationship with Jesus Christ. This brought about a transformation of his heart. A spiritual tenderness began to develop in him so that obedience became more about pleasing God instead of mere compliance. Fourth, we continue to disciple him, discipline him, and address his heart issues. We pay close attention to areas of weakness and strength. Fifth, we communicate unconditional love and acceptance. Sixth, we do no shout, compare, or belittle him when he does frustrating things because this will negate our training and teaching efforts. Seventh, we affirm him and build him up. We have chosen to appreciate the way God made him and celebrate his uniqueness. He truly is special (just like all our kids). When I see him make right choices, I commend him for it and call it out.

He is only 4 years old, but I can honestly say that his tendency is more towards obedience than it is towards misbehaving. And the reason is we have followed biblical parenting. God’s word keeps parenting simple for us. We set the goal of teaching our kids to love God and we disciple them accordingly.

Last night, during our family devotion, Edric taught the kids 1 Peter 5:7 “Be on the alert! Your enemy, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion…”

Each of the kids shared their insights on the verse and it was the cutest thing when Titus was explaining what the verse meant to him. He said, “I will be aware if there is candy and I should not eat a lot of it.”

Of all my kids, he likes candy the most. And it’s hard for him to resist the urge to put another piece of candy into his mouth when it’s in front of him. This is his temptation. He told us during the devotion, that he would not give in to the devil when he wants to eat more if mommy says thats enough.

Before bedtime, I was reading to the kids when Titus disappeared for a bit then reappeared with a bag of chocolate chips. He asked me if he could eat them and I said, “No.” He asked me why and I told him it was too late to eat sweets and he could have some the next morning. He responded with, “Okay, mom.” Out of curiosity, I asked Elijah to spy on Titus after he left the room. Elijah came back and reported to me that Titus walked right back to the kitchen and returned the bag of chips without taking anything from it. This incident delighted me because it was an example of how God is at work in Titus’ heart.

One of the spiritual fruits we want to see in our children is that they fall deep in love with Jesus and choose to keep loving him. If they love him, they will obey. So when we get overwhelmed or confused by the parenting mumbo jumbo that is out there, we look towards that goal and ask ourselves, are our children headed in that direction? If they are, then praise God. If not, what should we change?

A few days ago, as I was leaving the house to do an errand, Titus called out to me, “Bye, mom! I love you, mom! I love you a lot but I love Jesus more!” It was the sweetest thing.

My prayer is that Edric and I can keep encouraging his love for the Lord. He still misbehaves once in a while despite his profession of love for God. But that is why we have to keep discipling him. I really believe that the real antidote to misbehaving children is not so much a question of how do I discipline but how do I disciple my child so that they will love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength.

If you have a child who is misbehaving or seemingly uncontrollable, perhaps you and your spouse can ask the following questions: What is the goal of our parenting? What is the game plan going to be as we parent our child towards that goal? What are his areas of weakness and strength? Are we aligned about our role as parents, that we are his authority and need to establish that? Are we clear about our rules and following through with discipline when these rules are broken? Do we need to spend more time with him so he knows, beyond a doubt, that we love him and enjoy being with him? Do we need to stop wrong behavior or attitudes that he may be copying in us? Are we focusing on character in our parenting? Are we praying regularly for him? Does he know Jesus? If he does, is there evidence of spiritual fruit because of his relationship with Jesus?

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Natural Logical Consequences

When my kids do something foolish or make wrong choices, I often feel the temptation to “fix” the situation by bailing them out of their consequences. But after reading about natural logical consequences as a form of discipline, I realized that this can be an effective method to teach and train my kids in areas where they need to improve.

Elijah, my eldest, has a brilliant mind but he can be absent-minded. He has improved significantly, but every now and then he becomes forgetful. Recently, he finished making 40 origami cranes for his lola to decorate her Christmas tree.

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Yesterday, I asked him to bring the box that contained his origami in the car because we would be giving the box to Edric’s sister when we saw her for lunch. He was carrying the box on his lap in the car. (So far, so good) But before lunch, we were going to worship at our church, CCF. He brought the box down and was carrying it up the stairs to the elevator. He knew that we wouldn’t be seeing Edric’s sister, Danie, until later on, but he didn’t make the connection and absent-mindedly carried the box with him. Half-way up the stairs, he said something like this, “Mom, I brought the box,” looking at me to offer some kind of solution. I did not. I did not volunteer to run back to the car for him to return the box. And he whined, “But, I am not allowed to bring toys to Sunday School.”

My response was matter of fact. “Well, that’s too bad. You have to figure out what to do with that box and take care of it. You brought it down so you have to take care of it.”

I felt a little bit heartless as I said this. But he is a 9-year old boy who needs to understand that absent-mindedness can be costly. In his annoyance, he replied, “I’m just going to throw these away and do another set.” And, he got all pouty in the face.

“No, you will not. Deal with your mistake and change your attitude.” And I kept climbing the stairs. I let him mutter to himself and be frustrated. It wasn’t going to dissuade me from making him responsible for his box.

At the end of the worship service, I heard his happy voice calling out to me. “Mommy!” He was back to his jolly Elijah-self. I hugged him and asked, “My, what changed, Elijah? What did you learn?”

He explained to me how he had learned his lesson about being aware and responsible, and that he was convicted to change his attitude. I smiled. He smiled, too. “You know why I allowed you to be burdened by that box, right? Because I wanted you to realize that being aware is important.When you are forgetful or not focused, there are consequences.” Elijah was gracious in his response. He understood.

Experience is often the best teacher! As Elijah grows into a young adult, he needs to take responsibility for his actions. He knows that Edric and I love him unconditionally. And because we love him, we are committed to training and teaching him. Someday his decisions will have greater weight. My hope is that the measure of discomfort he experiences now because of his “small” mistakes will translate to wisdom in the future.

Here he was later on in the morning of the same day, ushering with his brother, Edan. That is the face of one who has learned his lesson well. :)

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