In this blog I want to use another image to describe truths in our lives. This week it's the GPS versus the compass. Each is an important tool and each has a place in our world. The compass has been around for a long time. Chinese military leaders used it a thousand years ago to take armies where they needed to be. The GPS on the other hand has only been used recently. It's almost completely replaced the need for a map or compass in urban or populated areas. The only time now that we need a compass is in a remote area where there are no roads for our map app to follow.
In our lives the GPS is similar to our rules. Laws made by our federal, state, and local governments guide our actions. At work we have an employee manual. At school we have a parent and student handbook. Most of the time these rules tell us what is right. Occasionally though, we have new situations in which there are no clear rules. These are the compass situations, the ones in which we follow our values like a compass.
In fact, that's one reason we believe so strongly in teaching Christian morals and values. When the rules are not clear, our values show us what's right. We are blessed to live in a country that rarely violates our Christian values, or requires us to do so. We have a constitutional right to religious liberty that is guaranteed, although it has recently been threatened more than in the past. I'm hopeful that we'll sort all that out and continue to guarantee religious freedoms. On a side note, please pray for people around the world who are being persecuted for their religious beliefs.
Back to values education; take time with your children to make sure they know your values and why you have these values. They really do want to know and understand. Listen to their concerns about value conflicts they see in the world of social media and social relationships. They will have friends with different values. Help them deal with these issues. They are young enough to listen for now. Take advantage of this time. It won't last forever. If they see you model these values, they will most likely accept them and follow them over the course of their lives as well.
Blessings on your parenting,
As I mentioned last week, I have a goal of writing articles on how we can work together to develop children who grow up to be adults who love the Lord and function as good citizens, workers, spouses, and eventually parents. I am going to use the writings of Dr. Tim Elmore again, specifically his book, Habitudes. In this book he describes life lessons in terms of images from transportation.
The first image is that of a windshield and rear view mirror. These two allow drivers to see forward and backward while driving, both very useful. I recall learning to drive and how cool it was to see back where I'd been. But I soon learned, fortunately not the hard way, that most of my time needed to be looking forward, not backward. Looking in the mirror was just a quick glance, not a gaze.
In the same way we live our lives better when we look forward and don't try to live in the past. We all know friends who are still living out their high school or college years. This is disappointing and prevents them from being as successful as possible in the present and future. It stunts their growth.
As parents we have to careful not to stunt the growth of our children by looking back with them to days when they were younger and more dependent upon us. Do you continue to pick up after them long past the age when they could be doing it themselves? Careful. I've heard too many parents say, "It's just easier to do it myself". Yes, it is, but in the long run you and your child will benefit, if you take the extra time to teach him how to do it and make him responsible. Do you continue to "help" him with homework even though other classmates are doing the work on their own? Careful. I've heard a few parents refer to the work as "our" work. Even though it's hard to see the lower grades now, you and your child will both be thankful when he learns to be responsible. I'd much rather have my child repeat a grade than to learn dependence as a way of life. The beginning of the school year is the best time to make that transition.
Look forward. Move forward. Don't look gaze in the rear view mirror to a time long ago when our children were dependent upon us. They actually want to become independent. Don't stunt their growth. Remember they have to be adults by the time they are 18. Plan for them to get from where they are now to fully independent in the remaining years.
Yes, it can be hard to let them go, but they will thank you later.
Blessings on your parenting,
About once per week I try to write some words of wisdom, which I hope will be of benefit to you. Since my own children are adults with their own kids, I've been down this road. I fully understand how much more difficult it is to implement my advice than to give it, so please don't think I'm trying to pretend that I did all the things I advise.
This year I'm going to use another book by one of my favorite authors, Dr. Tim Elmore. His book, Habitudes, uses images to describe a concept in growth and development. I'll try to provide a summary, although I really hope you will read the whole book.
But first I'd like for you to think of an image that I have often described. Regardless of your child's age, subtract that age from 18. The result is the number of years you have to get him or her ready for independence. By that time he makes his own meals, phone calls, doctor appointments, purchases, has a job, etc. How can you help your child become more independent during the school year? Maybe it means you won't walk him as far into the building. Maybe it means you'll let him put his own supplies away. Maybe it means you can back off a bit on checking up the work. That may sound scary, but it will happen someday. Now is the time to begin working in that direction however gradually. If you've been doing more for your child than other parents of children his age, ask yourself what is your exit strategy. How can you help him move from dependence to independence? For most of us parents, this move is more difficult for us than it is for our children.
You are welcome to contact me about any policy you don't understand or ask any question to clarify something. Email is my preferred method of communication, but if you have something that just can't wait, here's my mobile number, (281) 793-2949. If there is someone else better able to answer your question, I'll direct you to that person. If you have a complaint, obviously I'd prefer that you've spoken to the person directly before contacting me. I really want to know all students and parents on a first name basis.
Blessings on the school year,