I grew up on a dairy farm in Southeast Missouri. Most of my friends and classmates were farm kids as well, although a few were "city kids". That meant they lived in the small town of about 90 people. It was common knowledge that farm kids had to work, but city kids didn't, and we often complained about that fact. Farm kids had to get up at 5 AM and milk cows before they went to school. After school we had to milk the cows again, before we could eat and do our homework. In those days rural sports and other kinds of activities were nonexistent. Quite literally we had to work for our family to eat.
We live in a different world today. Our children don't have to work for our family to eat. But the work ethic that comes from this is still an important part of life. A big part of how we see ourselves, comes from how we work and earn a living. The same is true for children. If they work, they feel better about themselves. Ironically in order to make life easier for us, we tend to do their work for them. If only they could see into the future, or if we could see into their future, we would recognize how we are hobbling them. Starting at a young age children naturally want to work, to be involved in the activities around the home. It jhelps them feel useful and builds true self-esteem.
So start young; give children jobs that need to be done. They will develop a work ethic that carries over into their school and vocation throughout life.
Every day I get to see students with similar abilities who enjoy different levels of success. The difference is usually a work ethic. Even students with serious learning disabilities can be very successful, if they possess the kind of work ethic required to make that happen. We have several students who demonstrate this right now at Epiphany. No matter where your child is now in their work ethic, it can improve. A very few children actually work too hard and worry that it's not enough. That's a different problem for a different blog. Talk to me if you have that situation. For most of us, we need to resolve now to gradually build our children's work ethic. Thanks for reading.
Blessings on your parenting,
You may not have heard the term before, but therapists are beginning to diagnose kids with the condition of high arrogance, low self-esteem. Even if you've never heard the term before, you can imagine how it looks. You probably know people who fit this category.
How did we get to this point as a society? We wanted to promote self-esteem in our children. We began to complement them for anything and everything. Instead of telling our kids we love them we told them they were the best cowboy in the world. Even a very young cowboy begins to suspect that he may not be the best one in the world. After all he knows nothing about roping or branding. And very soon he begins to realize that he has not been told the complete truth. At that point we have a little cowboy who acts like he's the best in the world but deep down has serious self-doubt. We have created high arrogance, low self-esteem. The obvious antidote is a healthy helping of positive truth. Please understand, I'm not advocating being critical, but I am advocating telling the truth.
Dr. Tim Elmore suggests six ways we can combat high arrogance, low self-esteem as we raise our children. Here are six things we can foster in our kids.
Know yourself. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Be honest about that. I'm glad my parents did not encourage me to go on American Idol. Of course we didn't even have a television back then.
Develop your gift. We all have gifts and can use them to overcome our weaknesses. Be honest about weaknesses, but don't lament them. Learn to overcome them with your strengths.
Find your passion. What really gets you excited? If you can go to school for that thing and get a job doing that thing, you will have great joy in life.
Value people. People are not a means to an end, they are the end. Our greatest joys come through helping others and living a life that goes beyond ourselves.
Learn perseverance. Things happen so quickly today, and we can do so much with so little, that we are easily frustrated. Perseverance is one of the biggest indictors of success.
Pursue excellence. Of course you cannot be excellent in everything, but pick something. Pursue that thing (preferably one in which you have a strength and passion) and try to become really good at it.
Parents, we need to talk to our children about these things. Begin at young age. Continue it with gentle persistence. Unless we're really obnoxious, they will eventually listen.
Blessings on your parenting,
In this blog I want to warn you about the consequences of another mistake that is so easy for us parents to make. We don't want to see our children hurt in any way. We want to protect them from anything and everything. As result, we tend to remove the natural consequences of their mistakes. In this process, we think we're loving them, but instead were hurting them in the long run.
Usually this consequence removal takes one of two forms. We either make excuses for their behavior and thereby remove its negative outcomes, or we actually step in and pay the consequences for them. When we do this, we remove the immediate problem but create longer-term issues. Because it appears we have solved the situation with this "strategy", both we and our children become addicted to this pattern. We do it because it's the easy way out.
There are rather obvious exceptions to this. The natural consequence of running out into the street without looking could be getting struck by a car. As parents we can't allow that to happen. But in anything other than life and death situations we can allow the real life situations to play out for our children. For example, when my own children received poor grades in school, I told them I would rather have them fail a grade and learn the lessons of natural consequence than to "save" them out by doing the work for them. I would rather have my child repeat a grade than for me to step in and pretend they were ready for the new grade by doing work for them.
We need to start that pattern early. Otherwise, what are we going to do when they get a traffic ticket? Are we going to pay the fine for them? Are we going to take the driver's training online six hour course for them? And what happens when they decide to drop out of school? This happened to one of our children who quickly learned how hard it is to make a living at minimum wage jobs. His grades were remarkably higher when he returned to school the next semester.
As harsh as it sounds, it's more loving to tell a child "I know you can solve this problem" than it is to step in and demonstrate by your actions that you believe he or she cannot.
I'm not pretending this is easy. Believe me, when our youngest was working at minimum-wage jobs having dropped out of school, it was painful, for him and for us. Still, it was one of the most valuable lessons he's ever learned. So take some time and think about the situations in which your child finds himself or herself. How can he or she learn from those situations and solve them?
Make this a matter or prayer. Ask God for the strength and trust His provision for your child. 2 Corinthians 9:12 says, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness". When we are weak, He is strong.
Blessings on your parenting,
Each week I'm writing about a mistake we parents can avoid, and this week's mistake is one that is very difficult for all of us, inconsistency.
Even though it's very difficult for us, it's one thing our children crave. It gives them security and boundaries in their life. Regardless of whether we tend to be a strict parent or a lenient one, we can all be a consistent parent.
Have you ever heard yourself say, "I'm telling you for the third time" or "I'm not going to tell you again"? When I heard those words come out of my mouth, I knew it was a bad sign. It tells me I have not done what I said it was going to do. Likewise making exaggerated threats undermine our authority. Have you ever said something like, "If you do that, I'll ground you for the rest of the year"? Our children know that's a threat, it will not be carried out, and we're being inconsistent. And then there's my personal big failing -- making a rule but not checking up on it. All of these are signs of the same problem. Why are we consistently inconsistent?
Again I'm going to Dr. Tim Elmore as the source. He lists these reasons why we're inconsistent.
First, and perhaps most frequently, we're not sure what to do. We haven't thought it through sufficiently, or we don't have the moral compass or confidence to make a good decision.
Second, parents are not on the same page. Children learn at a very young age how to work one parent against another. We may not want to ascribe such manipulative motives to our children, but we're in for a rude awakening if that's the case.
Third, we are so busy with the demands of our family and work. This causes us to make quick decisions in the heat of the moment without considering the long range effects.
So what's the solution? Dr. Elmore suggests the following goals for us as parents.
Clarity. As hard as it is, we must take the time to think through a rule, directive, or procedure. State it in clear concise language and ensure that our children understand it.
Transparency. When we model transparency our children will seek to emulate it. This is closely related to honesty and the opposite of manipulation.
Boundaries. What are the right number and the specifics of our children's boundaries? Thinking this through together with our spouse or even other significant people in our children's lives will give them the security that they crave.
Consistency is not easy. Practicing the three things above as suggested by Dr. Elmore will help us move in that direction.
Blessings on your parenting,