The King of Me

Self-control is so sorely lacking in our society! Troubles caused by lack of self-discipline range from littering to illegitimate babies to college shootings. We must start very young in teaching our little children to master themselves. They can never call God “Master” until they can call themselves the “King of Me”.

“The Bible teaches us to discipline our children and to love them. These are not opposites. They blend together. Loving discipline will grow in the child into self-discipline. And that is a prerequisite for the life of learning we hope he will lead.” (Ruth Beechick)

It starts by learning to obey Mommy when a child is not yet even able to talk. Teach your children that they must learn to be masters of their bodies and their minds. Coming first time when mother calls, sticking with a chore, not eating candy until after mealtime, saying “please” and “thank you”, or sitting quietly in church and during family devotional are all good practice. They really can learn to do it, little by little!

I like my little ones to memorize this clever poem to remind them who is really in charge! Making a paper crown with the words “King of Me” on it is a good reminder too.

      King of Me

I said to my feet, “Keep still!”
I said to my hands, “Just stay!”
I said to my all-over-everywhere self,
“I’m in charge of you today!”
I’m ruler of my mouth,
And I’m the “King of Me”

So when I tell me it’s quiet time,
I’m quiet as can be!

                                                                                   —unknown

 

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Training A Child in the Way He Should Go

abigail_blocksI feel close to Hannah from the Bible. Hannah wanted a baby—a feeling that I fully comprehend. I don’t understand, however, how Hannah was willing to give him up (back) to the Lord when he was weaned. I can imagine that lengthy and emotional nursing relationship!

Hannah did not just mother Samuel. She trained him up in the way of the Lord. Young as he was, Samuel already “knew better” when Hannah delivered her son to the temple into Eli’s care. He had been trained to honor the Lord.

To train our children in the way he should go is a vitally important job!  You only get one chance at it, and you can’t go back and re-do it. The future depends on parents to do their job well. Here are a few gems of wisdom, gleaned from other wise mothers, that I have depended on in training my children.

Start Early and Look to the Future

water-263054_1280One evening my husband and I were eating in a restaurant when I observed the family at a table next to us. The mother and father were blessed with two darling little boys, probably one and three years old. Having raised boys, I looked at those sweet boys with tenderness. They were so precious, so teachable, so vulnerable. As they were waiting for their meal, the little ones began dabbling in their water glasses, dripping water down their sleeves and all over their clothes, place setting and chairs. I watched, appalled that the mother did or said nothing. Eventually she commented that they were getting all wet. How I yearned to tell that mother that neglect in training now at their young and teachable age would yield teenagers that had little self-control and scant respect for proper table manners to say nothing of authority, property, or law and order. It is so easy to teach a three year old how to act and so impossible to teach a thirteen year old. Start young when your gentle guidance is so effective. Young ones are so eager to please you! Teach them how!

Honor Daddy

baby-539970_1280Studies show that children imagine God as they view their own father. God planned for daddies to lead the family. Mom, you will do yourself a favor if you make sure that Daddy gets the biggest piece and constant gratitude for what he provides by working daily for the family’s upkeep. Just as Heavenly Father grants us blessings, Daddy’s diligence at work brings the needed material blessings. I have tried to make it a habit to include gratitude for our Dad in our family prayers. I wasn’t surprised to hear my children begin to follow my pattern, but I was surprised to hear them also to thank Heavenly Father for all their Mom does too! Nice payback!  If you are critical of your husband, the children will also criticize him, plus they will criticize you, too. Appreciation creates respect.

feet-266848_1280Don’t Train Your Children to Ignore You

“What?! I don’t train them to ignore me!” we may protest. But that is exactly what we parents tend to do. First, we ask our beloved child to get his pajamas on. Then we do nothing to make sure he obeys. Then, after awhile, we say it again. Then we do nothing to make sure he obeys. After a third or fourth repeat of the command to put on pajamas, we feel angry and scolding and wonder why our child just won’t obey us! But we have very effectively taught a memorable lesson which is, “I only mean what I say 1/3 or less of the time so chances are you don’t have to obey me”. In the end, our own inconsistency creates a parent-deaf child.

haflinger-320030_1280Don’t Give Your Children a “Hard Mouth”

A neighbor who works with horses taught me that you can ruin a horse with a heavy hand. If you consistently pull too hard on the reins, the horse’s very sensitive mouth will eventually harden to protect itself. Then instead of an instant response to your slightest pressure, you will have to tug and yank at the horse to get it to follow your directions. Ah, and true with children! A three year old does not need a harsh scolding when he breaks a rule. He needs a gentle nudge in the right direction. If you are too heavy handed, just as with a horse, your child will become insensitive to your discipline.

Take No Lip

It is not okay for a child to complain, pout, grumble, sulk, sass, badmouth or judge his parents when asked to do something. I used to think if my child obeyed my command, I had succeeded. I used to say such things as, “You don’t have to like it, but you have to do it.” I allowed complaining and back talk. Now I realize that the seeds of disrespect are sowed in negative words. Don’t let them have a place to thrive! Thumper was right all along: “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.

One mother solved homeschool grumbling by setting a little cup for each child on the school room table. Every complaint by the children went uncorrected, but sure as shootin’, a button clanged into their cup. At the end of school time, buttons had to be paid for by completing ten math problems. You can get creative here…washing 10 dishes…etc.  In our house, we’ve tried having teenagers pay for a sassy response with a $5 bill. It is amazing how quickly these little measures can teach us all to control our tongues. Keep it playful, but don’t allow your children to disrupt the family leadership with grumbling.

I marvel that Hannah did so much to train her child in the few short years given her! To raise up a child to bring honor to the Lord—I am certain there is no more noble and worthy work.  Sure makes home life a lot more enjoyable too!

 

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Gratitude Journal

 

Isaac_bouncingGrumpy attitudes?

Kids complaining?

You getting weary?  

Here’s a quick fix! I read my Gratitude Journal whenever I need a lift!

A Gratitude Journal can just be a document on your desktop of your computer, that you write on every Sunday, for example. Or a list on your fridge or bulletin board that you try to jot on daily. As a title I have written at the top, “What am I grateful for today?”

The point is that being thankful is “good medicine”—it helps you put your problems into perspective and moves you in the right direction of trying to focus on what is going well in your life or on simple comforts. We are used to making “to do” lists that require our energy and work to accomplish. But making a list of what we appreciate, what is pleasant for us, requires no effort on our part other than recognizing happiness. It is a very positive experience.

crocus-582980_1280To make an entry, I write the date and then number 1 to 4 on the lines below. Then I consider what I am truly grateful for and jot it down, just by keyword or phrase. I don’t read any of the other entries first, but try to use my own original thoughts at the moment and make my entries unique. I try to choose something besides the obvious (my family, my house, my car, my health, my freedom, etc.)  Children may find it more fun to draw their 4 choices, rather than write them. Moms may find that more fun too!  See my watercolor journal here!

This little exercise doesn’t take much time, but it makes a huge difference in my outlook. Reading back over a few entries—after I’ve written —I am always amazed that my gratitude is prompted by such simple things. Here are a few random examples, looking back in my Gratitude Journal:

April 4
1. A wispy cloud next to the mountain.
2. I am not ill.
3. The daffodils are blooming
4. My new grandbaby!

August 11
1. The morning is cool and the rooster is crowing.
2. There is an abundance of inspiring religious art and music in this day,
compared to the time I grew up in.
3. Louisa cleaned my bedroom for a surprise!
4. Carpeting that is so soft and such a pretty color of green

January 27
1. Time to sit and rest.
2. My laptop computer that makes life so easy
3. My wonderfully naturally curly hair
4. Fire and how it comforts me (candles)

orange-188082_1280Of course, there are days when I feel hard-pressed to come up with even just one thing to be grateful for! I know that sounds absurd to even say, living in America with so many freedoms and privileges and luxuries. This is an especially good exercise for me on those days. I have listed such simple things as “oranges” in my Gratitude Journal. When problems weigh you down, perhaps that is the only thing you can identify to appreciate!

And there are the days that you find it difficult to stop at #4. That helps too. It helps in reading back to see that life is up and down, and when you are feeling low, seeing that pattern helps you have hope and know that you’ll have “overflowing blessings” days in the future.

There’s another reason for keeping this journal. Think how well your children or grandchildren—and generations unborn—will we be able to see right down into your heart and life in a positive light through your Gratitude Journal!

Once you get in the habit, you’ll find everyone’s attitude improves when looking for things to appreciate!

 

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Don’t "Un-train" Your Kids!

seaworld

This past week, we visited Sea World in San Diego and enjoyed ourselves! I couldn’t help noticing the children in the crowd—and the training their parents were unknowingly giving them—in contrast to the sea animals and the purposeful training they were carefully receiving.

When the walrus even turned his head in the right direction, the trainer responded with a big handful of fish, stroking his skin, and praising him. It was obvious that if the trainer ignored good behavior, or approached wrong behavior with a slap or criticism, the walrus would quickly “un-train”. It took constant positive reinforcement to keep the animals willing to do the trainer’s bidding.

walrus-74080_1280Children are not walruses, of course, but as I observed the crowd, I saw parents interacting with their children and it was very instructive. I saw children behaving wonderfully well, but they were given no positive reinforcement or attention at all. Misbehaving children were given plenty of negative attention, scolding and occasionally a spank. Some misbehaving kids were actually bought off with treats or souvenirs to shut them up and keep them happy. It is amazing with this kind of parenting that we don’t “un-train” our children and numb them from ever trying to please us, or respect any kind of authority!

Soothing words, kind treatment, genuine quiet praise, focused attention, sincere appreciation for cooperative behavior, rewards skillfully given to those who are really trying to control themselves and behave—this is what truly works in the long run.

Both with walruses and kids!

 

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Picking Away at Happiness

heart-668592_1280Such is the nature of kids: if there is a little hole in something, they pick away at it and the hole grows bigger by the day.

I had a tiny hole in the fabric on my living room sofa. It was on the arm of the couch where someone had snagged their jewelry perhaps, and made an eensy tear in the fabric. It was when my house was busy with my 7 kids, and although I reminded them not to put their finger in it until I could repair it, it got bigger day by day. Soon a little wisp of stuffing was coming out and day-by-day that hole increased unbeknownst to me until I suddenly noticed that the couch arm looked deflated. The little ones had found it just right for their finger to poke in and pull out a bit of stuffing. Day-by-day, it had eroded.

I guess we aren’t so very different when we grow up. We marry because another person makes our happiness complete. We feel such joy in being with them, and the promise of the future is great! Then we discover a little hole in the fabric of their character or in their mannerisms. Instead of leaving it alone, sometimes we foolishly pick away at it. We mention it, make it the brunt of a joke maybe, and take mental note of it rather than forgiving or brushing it off. Every so often, we poke our finger in it and pick away at our happiness.

fabric-316777_1280I think it is a dimension of maleness to want to be strong and capable and protective of women. Boys exhibit this too, as they grow up. The hallmark of puberty for boys seems to be an awareness of their muscles and wanting to lift weights or excel in sports as a way to practice that strength. Although everyone enjoys sincere praise, men seem to particularly need to be admired and respected. We do our husbands great damage when we pick away at them, exposing their flaws and repeating their mistakes to others. What we don’t seem to realize is that we are undermining our own happiness! Just as my couch arm gradually deflated, we may discover to our great dismay that our own happiness in marriage has gradually eroded and the fault is our own. We “poke our finger in the hole” of our husband’s idiosyncrasies or flaws and do immense damage to their self-image, their feelings of love for us and respect for themselves.

I am not innocent . . . that’s why I know to write about it! It seems we women can sometimes be pros at noticing mistakes but we may be a little too quick to expose them. There is great charity in lovingly dismissing another’s small weaknesses.

To myself, I would say: “Today, be kind. Overlook other’s flaws and shortcomings. Do all you can to build up others, to see the best in them, especially amongst your own beloved family members.”

rabbit-344311_1280A few authorities on the subject;

Thumper’s mother (Mrs. Rabbit): “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

I Thessalonians 5:11: “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another . . . “

 

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The Girl I Used to Be

emilyabigailplaying

       

        The Girl I Used to Be

She came tonight as I sat alone,
The girl I used to be.
And she gazed at me with her earnest eye
And questioned reproachfully,

“Have you forgotten the many plans
And hopes that I had for you?”
“The great career, the splendid fame,
All the wonderful things to do?”

“Where is the mansion of stately height
With all of its gardens rare?”
“The silken robes that I dreamed for you
And the shining jewels in your hair?”

And as she spoke, I was very sad
For I wanted her pleased with me . . .
This slender girl from the shadowy past,
The girl that I used to be.

So gently rising, I took her hand,
And guided her up the stairs
Where peacefully sleeping, my babies lay
So innocent, sweet, and fair.

I told her that these are my only gems,
And precious they are to me;
That silken robe is my motherhood
Of costly simplicity.

And my mansion of stately height is love,
And the only career I know,
Is serving each day in these sheltered walls
For the dear ones who come and go.

And as I spoke to my shadowy guest,
She smiled through her tears at me;
And I saw the woman I am now,
Pleased I’m the girl I used to be.

                       —Author Unknown

 

 

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It’s Up to Us, Mom!

emily_blanket

Emily makes a quilt for her future family

I wish I could say that we have arrived at the modern age and now we can breathe easier and relax a bit and turn over the instruction and entertainment of our children to some electronic device or nanny or government program or Sunday school class or something. But the fact is, it is still up to parents to raise the world’s next generation of human beings. And unless your husband is independently wealthy and available all day long, then it is mostly in mother’s hands. And how fine will the next generation be? How polite, articulate, kind, intelligent, sensitive and ammondec2009spiritual will they turn out?

It’s up to us, Mom!

In times past, all the work had to be done by the family members, and in so doing, side-by-side, they created lasting bonds and parents taught their children through modeling good behavior. When everyone works together in the fields to grow the family’s sustenance; the lessons of persistence, dependability, hard work, even-temper, and other virtues are built right in. It isn’t quite so easy these days to pass along our values.

One day I was talking with a spunky elderly lady who had just found out that her husband was terminally ill. She used a term I had never heard before, saying, “I guess I will have to pull up my socks and be a woman”. (I suppose in the olden days only little girls wore turned down socks.) That term stuck in my head, and recently, I had a little talk with myself over my “tiredness” and I said, “It is time to pull up your socks and be a woman and do this job of child-raising!”

gunnysack_racesThe job is ours. We can use resources to help us, but ultimately we cannot transfer our responsibility to the school or the daycare or the scouts or the neighborhood or the community recreation department or the television/computer games. It is you and me, Mom. The joy will be ours if the job is done well, and the heartache will be ours if we are too tired to nurture and train our child. If you have a husband who is a good father and helps in this process, you are blessed indeed. Even without that support, we just do all we can, as mothers, and it will make a difference!

We can get parenting help from living in these modern times, if we choose wisely. A dishwasher is a marvelous time saver! I fear, however, that instead of sighing relief when the dishwasher goes on, and scooping up our kids to read a story or do a project together, that we are perhaps just jamming more work, hobbies, or entertainment into that freed-up time. Labor-saving devices can truly enrich our lives by making us more available to our kids—if we give our energy to our kids instead of dishwashing. But, we must make that choice!

“I believe our problems, almost every one, arise out of the homes of the people. If there is to be reformation, if there is to be a change, if there is to be a return to old and sacred values, it must begin in the home. It is here that truth is learned, that integrity is cultivated, that self-discipline is instilled, and that love is nurtured.” —G. B. H.

Work with your kids today!

 

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Don’t Ask Twice

 

balls-712026_1280When my kids were younger, going to the grocery store with them could be such a struggle! Each of them in turn was bedazzled by some treat or toy that they caught a glimpse of and the begging would begin: “Can we buy those cookies?” . . . “I want ice cream!” . . . “We don’t have any juice, Mom!” . . . “We need a big ball!”.

It is hard enough to grocery shop on a budget surrounded by convenience foods, heavy advertising, coupons and more, but add begging kids and it put me over the top! I found myself aggravated and just making a blanket “no” to any and every thing they asked! That’s when I decided to adopt a “don’t ask twice” policy.

I taught my children that they could ask me one time for what they wanted, enabling them to express their desire or getting me to “look” at what they thought was so exciting. But not twice!

Asking once is fine, but if they were to ask twice, the answer was an automatic “no”. No discussion, no questions answered, just an automatic “no”. This took a while to teach them. I had to remind them, “please don’t ask twice or I can’t say yes”. I overheard the older ones tutoring the little ones: “Don’t ask twice or she’ll say no!”

But then—oh—what peace we had!

I was able to do my shopping and think clearly and make good decisions without being bombarded with pleading for this or that. I was able to reasonably consider and occasionally grant their desires. And it was extra fun to hear them squeal with delight when I steered my cart back to the aisle of their desire and asked them what color of a ball they’d like!

Enjoy!

 

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