I received some stationery and was compensated for my time. All opinions are my own.
My husband and I have been married for 25 years this summer. I am also turning 50. These are milestone moments worth celebrating. We are having a Hawaiian luau at our home with 100 friends and family members. We honeymooned in Hawaii, so it seemed appropriate. I can’t wait! I didn’t think I needed printed invitations to make our celebration special, but I was wrong.
Benefits of Stationery Invitations for Your Milestone Moments
You can invite guests offline. These days it can be quick and easy to invite people to a celebration via email or Facebook. But not everyone uses Facebook or checks email regulary. I am not Facebook friends with a number of our invitees, nor did I have their email addresses. Having printed invitations allowed me to mail them and even to hand them to guests when I saw them.
You can set the tone for the event. The second problem with inviting people without a paper invitation is that it can make the celebration seem less special. When we invite people using stationery like the invitations I ordered from Basic Invite, the occasion seems that much more appealing. I was surprised by the number of men who seemed delighted to receive the paper invitation. They commented on how nice it was, colorful it was, and how much they were looking forward to coming.
You can provide your guests with an accessible reminder. If you’ve ever struggled to find a Facebook invite or email for an event like I have, you know how nice it is to have a stationery invitation to refer to. I keep them in a hanging file folder after I’ve RSVP’d to remind me of the address and any special notes, like whether it’s a suprise party or if I should bring something.
You provide your guests with a keepsake. Your printed invitation can be kept on the refrigerator or bulletin board to remind guests of a good time to look forward to. But stationery invitations, like photo or customizable birth announcements, are keepsakes that people use to remember your milestone moments long after they’ve passed. One of our guests has known about the party for a long time but requested a printed invitation anyway.
Why Basic Invite Stationery is a Good Option for Celebrating Your Milestone Moments
I was very impressed with the weight, quality, and colors of our Basic Invite invitations. I was impressed that the company sent extras, too! I was delighted that I didn’t have to lick or moisten the envelopes. They come with a piece you pull off to reveal the adhesive. I was also happy to see that I had the option of importing all my names and addresses to be printed on the envelopes for FREE!
Basic Invite offers almost unlimited color options. I loved the pre-selected color combinations of my invitation, but every single one was customizable. If you want a custom invitation for a baby shower, you don’t have to fret about how they’ll look after placing your order. You can request a custom sample with no stress!
Get Started With Basic Invite Stationery
Check the top of this page for the latest discount from Basic Invite and place your order for your invitations or announcements. Basic Invite will make your milestone moment that much more memorable.
My husband and I will be married for 25 years this July. I consider a happy marriage to be a major factor in the success of our homeschool. I wanted to share six secrets for a successful homeschool marriage.
Marriage takes two. I would love for you to listen to the podcast or YouTube interview I did with my husband using the buttons above. I thought he had great tips to share.
We hear the importance of communication so much that it becomes meaningless. Communication in a homeschooling marriage requires time. Often we are so busy working, teaching, and parenting that we don’t have time to talk with our spouse. We have to have time set aside for this purpose instead of hoping it will happen by default. The time my husband and I have together has changed as the seasons of our family have, but currently we have the most consistent time to talk over breakfast in the morning. The kids aren’t up. Experiment until you can find a time that works much of the time.
The second key factor in good marital communication is honesty. I have been shocked by the number of couples who don’t discuss problems that are obvious — problems with money, kids, the relationship. The hope in staying silent is that the problem will disappear. It usually gets much worse. If you need to be honest about a problem and you’re afraid to talk about it, pray. Ask God to give you the courage. Ask Christian friends to pray. They don’t need details. Choose a good time. Don’t talk when the kids or something else is distracting you or when you’re tired, hungry, or particularly stressed. Then use the I feel…when…and I need. For example, if you are worried about your finances, begin by saying something like “I feel anxious when I hear you talk about changing jobs. I need more details about that possibility. Can we talk about it?” The key is not placing blame and focusing on how you feel. Read Communication: Key to Your Marriage by H. Norman Wright.
#2 Understand your spouse’s personality
I used to think my husband was just trying to drive me nuts with his occasional controlling ways. Now I understand that control is a primary need for him. When something happens in another area of his life that makes him feel out of control, he will try to exercise more control in our family. If I can get him to identify the problem and talk to me about it, the need for control usually dissipates.
Not understanding my husband’s love language caused me a lot of grief early on in our marriage. My love languages are meaningful words and gifts. My husband’s is acts of service. We both tried to give the other what we wanted with not good results. My husband doesn’t care about gifts at all and took almost everything I bought him back to the store. That wasn’t personal; he takes almost everything he buys back, too! I was hoping my husband would spend a lot of time choosing gifts for me; instead he once scribbled a gift I could purchase on a piece of notebook paper and handed it to me.
I now understand that my husband doesn’t feel loved if I have no idea what’s for dinner and if I haven’t made our physical relationship a priority. He understands that if he is being critical and not complimenting me that I won’t feel loved. We compromised on gifts. I only give him very personal gifts like scrapbooks and he allows me to purchase my own gifts. I’m a lot more generous with myself than he would be, so it’s a win! Read The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman to learn more.
#4 Keep your spouse informed of what’s happening in your homeschool
Occasionally, my husband has been worried about how the kids are doing in school. Because he doesn’t teach or even help me choose curriculum, he doesn’t know if they’re doing as well as they should be. It’s important to talk with each other about challenges and successes and to get advice. My husband will be less worried when I tell him how the kids are improving in areas and he can offer me support for areas that are weaker.
My husband and I have different concerns with the kids’ education. He wants them to be very physically active and to spend little time on the computer. He also wants them to spend time with other homeschooled kids, but he doesn’t want to spend a lot of money to make that happen. It needs to be a priority for me to explain how I address his concerns while also addressing mine. He usually scores love language points after these talks by telling me what a great teacher I am.
#5 Give your spouse a break
My husband has always been willing to play with the kids when he is done working and give me a much-needed break. Even if the primary teacher can’t give respite during the week, it’s important to do that on the weekend whenever possible. My husband usually doesn’t work long hours and isn’t exhausted in the afternoon. If your husband is tired when he gets home, consider relying on him for a break after he has recuperated. Of course, if your roles are reversed or you’re both tired from working, find ways to give one another breaks to avoid resentment.
Breaks don’t just come from taking over childcare. I wouldn’t have been able to keep homeschooling six kids if my husband hadn’t been willing to stay with the kids so I could go out with friends on a fairly regular basis. We both spend time in separate hobbies and even occasionally take independent trips. These absences from one another have made our marriage stronger.
#6 Make your marriage the priority
I love homeschooling, but I love my husband more. If our marriage fails, homeschooling would be very, very difficult for me. In my podcast interview with him, my husband said something I had never considered. He said that if a huband feels like homeschooling takes all his wife’s time and there’s nothing left for him, he won’t be supportive of it. Fortunately, I don’t think my husband has felt this way or he would have said so. In fact, homeschooling has made it possible for our whole family to spend more time together.
But, there have been times when homeschooling, parenting six kids, and my writing and speaking responsibilities have left me depleted. It’s been tempting to skip time alone with my husband or the exercise that gives me the energy and confidence I need to be intimate. Fortunately, my husband has never let me get away with neglecting him for long. But not every spouse is vocal about their needs. Have a conversation with your spouse today about whether the marriage is a priority. If it isn’t, take steps to put it back in its rightful place. If you need help making intimacy a priority, read Sheet Music by Kevin Leman.
What other suggestions do you have for keeping a homeschooling marriage strong? Comment and let me know.
If you have a tween daughter, you’ve likely experienced an emotional storm or two. Anger, crying jags, or even uncontrolled giggling that makes no sense. What’s a mother to do?
I was asked to share for the parenting tweens blog party at Like Minded Musings and I’m so glad I did. I realized that there was more I could do to strengthen my relationship with my daughter, who is now 13. We’ve already had a conversation that we gleefully banned her dad from participating in. 🙂
If you have a tween girl or if you soon will, I hope you will read my post and the rest of the posts in the tweens blog party.
While you’re there, be sure to subscribe to Like Minded Musings. Lee is a lovely lady and has a heart to help Christian parents.
If you’re visiting from Like Minded Musings and you homeschool, I would love to have you listen to The Organized Homeschool Life podcast. You may enjoy this episode on Homeschooling Through the Hormones.
A few weeks ago I shared anger lies that keep us in bondage. If you haven’t read that post, I encourage you to get caught up. I believe that’s where victory with anger begins: meditating on God’s truth about our anger. This week I’m going to share 6 powerful ways to overcome anger. If you’re like most people, you will still experience anger that isn’t perfectly controlled. But you can have a huge improvement in this area like my husband and I have.
As a review, anger is a normal human emotion. It’s only sinful when we allow it to hurt us or others with our thoughts, words, or deeds. Oh, that’s all, right? For some of us, expressing anger appropriately is more of a challenge than for others. We need Holy Spirit power to have victory. Praying for change and meditating on God’s Word are the most powerful tools in overcoming anger. But there are six more ways we can seek victory over anger. I will tell you what they are in a moment, but I have to tell you a funny story about myself first.
I read that Teri Maxwell of Titus2.com felt guilty for becoming angry with her children when they didn’t pick up as they were told. Teri went on to say that she had found freedom from this inappropriate anger with her children. As a psychologist, I thought that her anger was a normal emotion and that she needed to cut herself some slack. Teri graciously offered to send me the audiotape “Freedom from the Spirit of Anger” by Dr. S. M. Davis of SolveFamilyProblems.com if I would listen to it. She sent it to me and I planned to listen to it when I was driving somewhere by myself. When I went to look for it, I couldn’t find it. I was embarrassed and guess what else? Angry. I was angry at myself for misplacing it and angry at my kids whom I automatically blamed, too. I did eventually find it — it was right in front of my face, really — and listened to it in the car. After listening, I was fully convinced that anger was a problem for me. I was determined to overcome anger as soon as I got home.
“The problem with that was absolutely everything made me angry.”
Within a few minutes of returning home I was in tears. I knew I had a serious problem with anger. But that was also the turning point for me. If you feel yourself being irritated, annoyed, impatient, or outright angry a lot, know that I can relate. Here’s what I recommend.
#1 Be committed to self-care.
I was exhausted, hormonal, and doing everything for everyone when my anger was the worst. Lack of sleep, no exercise, and no breaks will make you a ticking time bomb if you’re prone to anger.
Get enough sleep. I used to think that I only needed seven hours of sleep. I have to have eight and during certain parts of my menstrual cycle (sorry, guys) I need more. I don’t need a psychological study to tell me that sleep deprivation makes people irritable, do you? Do everything you can to go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time. If you don’t get all the sleep you need because a child or something else kept you up, take a nap. That’s an order!
Get exercise. Exercise is critically important for preventing outbursts as well. Exercise releases muscle tension and releases feel-good chemicals in your brain. If you exercise vigorously enough (and you should with your doctor’s clearance), you’ll be too tired to yell. Exercise enhances our self-esteem, too. The better we feel about ourselves, the less likely we are to express our anger inappropriately.
Take a break. Self care also means we take a break. I’m an extrovert. I’m recharged by being with people. But after days of being with demanding, needy little people with no break, I’m at risk of a blow up. I need a friend to watch them, a mother’s helper to play with them, or my husband to take over so I can get away for a while. This isn’t selfish. This is the most loving thing I can do for my whole family. If you never take breaks, you’ll have a hard time refraining from anger.
Self-care includes cleaning up and organizing. Much of the time when I’ve yelled at the kids to clean up, I’m really angry at myself for not being consistent in doing our chores. Pick up, put things away, and declutter because you’ll feel good. The bonus is you’re teaching your children good habits. For more on this, listen to the podcast episodes I did with FLYLady.
After self-care, it’s important to identify your fears. Why? Because fear is an anger trigger for many of us. Many of the times I was angry with my kids — when they were fighting in church, had broken something, or weren’t obeying me — the real problem was my fear. I was afraid that other people would think less of me if my kids weren’t behaving. I was afraid anything that was broken would be very expensive or time-consuming to replace. And I was afraid that I wouldnt’ be able to control my kids. Your fears may be different from mine, but if you don’t address them, you are likely to get angry a lot.
Think of Satan, our enemy, like a Navy Seal instructor. What he does is identify our fear and then uses it to try to make us angry or give up. If we want to succeed in our parenting and homeschooling (which is probably harder than being a Navy Seal!), we have to know where the enemy is likely to attack. We have to overcome our fears. It has taken me years to be much less worried about what other people think of me and my kids. God and my husband’s opinion matters most to me. Veteran parents don’t judge us for misbehaving kids because they’ve been there. If they do judge us, that’s their sin and not ours. My fear of having things broken was just silly. My kids matter so much more to me than my things. But my anger was saying otherwise. They have cost us some money and time in repairs and replacements, but it’s been a small investment that’s just the cost of parenting. I eventually realized that my fear of not being able to control my kids was self-fulfilling. The less in control I felt, the more out of control my kids became. Most kids want to please their parents. Believe that with God’s help you can be the parent your children need you to be. Despite my fears, all my kids are potty trained and know how to read. Believe that you will do whatever it takes to raise your children well and your fear will decrease. What fears are triggering your anger?
#3 Sign a kindness contract.
The third powerful way of overcoming anger is to sign a kindness contract. Agree with your family members on what isn’t an appropriate expression of anger. You’ll want to include yelling, name calling, slamming doors and the like. But you’ll also want to include passive aggressive expressions like refusing to speak or sulking. When you violate the contract, your kids and spouse (if you’re married) will have permission to say, “What did you say?” or “What did you do?” as a reminder that you’re in violation of the contract. Of course, you can also do this with other family members. A kindness contract will create accountability in your home and will help you see how often your anger is being expressed inappropriately.
#4 Assess your risk throughout the day.
The fourth powerful way of overcoming anger is to assess your risk throughout the day. If we have a problem with anger, it’s usually something that seems to come out of nowhere. But if we are introspective at all, we will recognize the risk and can prevent it. Here’s what I mean. When you get up in the morning, ask yourself if you have any risk factors for getting angry. Did you sleep poorly? Does one of your kids seem unwell physically or emotionally? That may tap into fears of feeling out of control or having to take time to take them to the doctor. At lunch time, ask yourself if you’ve had a lot of hassles that could contribute to anger. Did Junior lose his shoes again? Were you late getting somewhere which tapped into fears of looking bad to others? At dinner time, ask yourself how your energy is. Have you had some exercise? Have you had a break? Do you have any worries that could trigger anger?
By staying aware of how you’re feeling, you can prevent the enemy from taking advantage of your weakness. Instead you can take appropriate action.
#5 Take action when you’re at risk.
The fifth powerful way of overcoming anger is to take appropriate action when you are at risk or are already feeling angry.
The first action to take is to leave. Obviously, you have to make sure your children are safe. Some safe ways of leaving are to go outside with the kids, put young children in a crib or infant seat or ask an older child or your spouse to supervise while you go to your room or for a walk. Let the kids watch a movie or play a video game so you can have some time. Don’t drive when angry because you’ll be distracted. But do walk away.
The second action to take is to breathe. Once you have gotten away from people, take a deep breath. Let it out slowly. As you do, notice what you’re thinking. Much of the time we are awfulizing. We are telling ourselves that things are terrible, out of control, won’t get any better, driving us insane, and on and on. No wonder you’re feeling angry! Often our thoughts are related to the fears that we have.
After breathing, believe. What is the truth of the matter? Are things really that bad? What would God say about your circumstances? Is what’s upsetting you really too big for Him? What would your friend say? Take a moment to pray that you’ll believe the truth about your situation. If you can, talk to a friend or your spouse about what you’re feeling.
Go back to the situation only after you feel better. If you have to go back to the situation before you’re ready, communicate to others that you’re stressed and need their support. Say something like, “Mommy’s having a hard day. Can you give me a hug to make me feel better?” If possible, engage in an activity that relaxes you. Order pizza for dinner. You can do this!
#6 Respond to setbacks.
As much as I believe in the steps I’ve just shared, the truth is you’re going to mess up. You’ll yell or sulk or slam a door. The last step is to respond to setbacks. This may be the most important step of all. When we lose our cool, we can believe the lie that we are hopeless, that not even God can help us. We’re horrible mothers. We ought to send our kids to school and just give up. But that isn’t the truth. We gain victory by once again apologizing and asking for forgiveness. We gain victory by determining what went wrong and how we can do better next time. We gain victory for forgiving ourselves. That’s been hard for me. I feel like I should be better than what I’ve been in this area. But I’m human. It’s a weakness for me. By God’s grace I have come so far in gaining victory over anger. I know you can do it, too.
Which of these tips do you think will be most helpful to you? Let’s chat about it on Facebook.
Anger is one of the most discouraging problems for parents. It creates fear, guilt, and even hopelessness. If it’s your struggle, confronting the lies you believe about anger is the first step in overcoming a problem with anger.
I’ll begin with a bonus lie: psychologists don’t struggle with parental anger. Not true. It was one of my biggest battles early on in my homeschooling. Unfortunately, I’m not one of those moms who can claim she no longer gets angry at her kids. But I can say that the improvement has been significant. I have yelled, been overly harsh, and even split my knuckle open after I smacked the counter in anger. I have said things I wish I could take back, made my kids cry, and have felt like an all-around awful parent as a result of my anger.
Right now I hope you aren’t regretting that you’re going to be getting advice from me on this issue! I do believe that every mistake I’ve made helps me to help you. I hope you agree. If you do, let’s get started.
First, anger is a normal human emotion. The feeling itself isn’t a sin, but the way we express it often is. Anger always begins in the mind with our thoughts. If our thoughts aren’t true and we act on them, anger will be a besetting sin — one that exercises power over us. So let’s examine what I think are the most common lies we believe and act on.
#1 They made me angry.
You probably recognize this one from your kids. “He made me mad, so I hit him.” You might have responded with, “We don’t hit, even if we’re angry.” But we have to address the lie, too. No one can make us angry. No matter how horrible junior behaves. No matter how awful the treatment, how big the disappointment, how outrageous the behavior.
No one, not even Satan, can make us angry. The only person who can bring about your sinful anger is you. Why? Because you’re the one who interprets what someone else does. Two days after my first baby was born, my mother-in-law told me I looked like I had another one in there. I did not get angry — even with the emotion of anger. I could have told myself that she was joking. I could have told myself that I did in fact look like I had another one in there. Both thoughts would have helped keep me from getting angry. I could have had thoughts that provoked me to anger, however. “She is trying to humiliate me,” for example. What I actually thought was, “She has Alzheimer’s. She doesn’t remember that it isn’t appropriate to say that. She loves me. I love her.”
People don’t make us angry. Our thoughts do.
#2 I can’t control my anger.
This lie is related to the first. Other people provoke me and I can’t help it. I relate so much to what Terri Maxwell said about this. She noted that she could be yelling at the kids one minute and sweetly answering the phone the next. If we couldn’t control our anger, we would be yelling at everyone — our friends, slow cart pushers at the grocery store, and even our pastor. But we don’t. We save our sinful expressions of anger for the people we love most.
Why is that? Because the people we love most tap into our greatest fears and frustrate our deepest desires. We don’t trust people outside of our home to forgive us our angry fits, but we do trust that we’ll be forgiven by our spouse and kids. Just because that’s usually true doesn’t mean we should continue to sin against our family with our anger.
The lie that we can’t control our anger stems from the lie that we can’t control our thoughts. Perhaps like anger, an initial thought cannot be controlled. With my mother-in-law I might have had an initial thought that she embarrassed me. But I wouldn’t have to hold on to that thought and add to it. The biggest lie in thinking that leads us to anger is that we know what someone else is thinking.My child is trying to make me miserable. He doesn’t care. They think I’m a slave. We do not know what our kids are thinking. Our kids don’t even know what they’re thinking. It’s pointless to ask why a child did something wrong because they honestly don’t know. Do you know why you do things you know you shouldn’t do?
2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Obviously, we can control our thoughts. Colossians 3:8 reads, “But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” Obviously, we can control our anger, too. Jesus is our example who gives us the power to control our anger. The New Living Translation of Isaiah 53:7 reads, “He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word.”
#3 I have righteous anger.
This lie is usually justified by pointing to Jesus’ example in getting angry and overturning the temple merchants’ tables. The problem with this argument that we have righteous anger is that it must only be about how God is being dishonored. If we are honest, we will admit that our anger is about us. We have been kept from getting something we want; we’ve been humbled; we are feeling guilty; we are afraid. James 1:20 says that our anger does not bring about the righteousness of God. Even if we did have righteous anger, God frankly doesn’t need it. He has done a very good job of handling people who dishonor Him from the beginning.
We sometimes mean by righteous anger that we are justified in being angry or that anyone would be angry under the circumstances. That belief doesn’t mesh well with Matthew 5:22: But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”
Our anger is most likely not righteous anger.
#4 Anger is the only thing that works.
When I was practicing as a psychologist, I heard this a lot. I still do. The only way I can get my kids to obey me is to yell, to get angry. Reb Bradley who did an interview with me for the Homeschool Sanity show said in essence that if that’s the only way you can get your children to obey, it’s because that’s what you’ve trained them to do. Kids know they don’t have to listen to you because there will be no consequence UNTIL you blow your top.
A quiet voice can work to discipline your child. So can consequences, positive and negative. But you have to use them consistently. For most parents, anger seems easier. I will explain in an upcoming episode how to make discipline easier so you don’t have to get angry.
#5 Venting is a good thing.
When I first began practicing, I believed this lie. We worked with patients who suffered abuse. We encouraged them to vent their anger. We had them scream and rip up old phone books or punch pillows. There is some wisdom in asking patients to stop denying their feelings. But the research and experience tell me that venting is not effective long-term. Patients who had a great venting session weren’t any better in the days that followed. In the hospital, venting didn’t hurt anyone. But in our homes, venting can hurt the people we love. In our selfish desire to get everything off our chest, we may leave family members unable to get our hurtful words out of their heads.
Don’t think that venting to other people about your family members is the thing to do. Have you ever had the experience of retelling what your spouse or child did that made you mad and you find yourself getting angry all over again? Venting this way not only keeps you angry but can tarnish other’s view of your family members. There is absolutely a way to ask for prayer and advice without venting or dishonoring your family members.
There is also a way of expressing our needs and feelings in a positive way. I’ll share more about how to do that in part 2 on anger. But I’ll leave you with this Scripture that should have taught me venting isn’t a good thing. Proverbs 29:11 says, “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.”
#6 Anger is no big deal.
One of my favorite resources for dealing with anger is Dr. Davis’s Freedom from the Spirit of Anger. In this video. Dr. Davis describes a father who only loses his temper every couple months. Dr. Davis said that for his family that was like living next to a volcano that only erupts every couple of months. Anger is a serious problem that can lead to divorce, emotional problems in children, and even death. Anger may increase the risk of heart attack.
Freedom from the Spirit of Anger DVD
By Dr. S.M. DavisThe most destructive force in family life today is the anger of one or both parents. But rebellion in youth seldom goes away until parents deal, not just with anger, but with their spirit of anger. MANY PEOPLE WITH A SPIRIT OF ANGER DO NOT REALIZE THEY HAVE IT. James and John had such an intensive spirit of anger that they wanted to call down fire from heaven and destroy an entire village full of people. Yet they were deceived so that they didn’t know that their spirits were putting off such a spirit of anger.A spirit of anger is also very contagious. Proverbs 22:24-25 explains how fathers or preachers who are blind to their own angry spirits develop followers with the same spirit. Here is an explanation of why ALL of man’s anger is wrong. Here also are 10 STEPS TO FOLLOW TO GET FREEDOM FROM THE SPIRIT OF ANGER. One father testified, “All my life I had a problem with anger. I finally dealt with it when I heard the Spirit of Anger’ message. Three weeks later my wife pointed out to me that my little boy no longer had a problem with stuttering!” “Freedom from the Spirit of Anger”is the second of 5 Sermons in the “Anger Series.”
Anger leads first and foremost to anger. Angry parents tend to have angry kids. Anger from one spouse leads to anger in the other. Proverbs 22:24 says, “With an angry man do not go.” Angry people are dangerous. Short of that, they’re no fun to be around. God takes anger very seriously. Psalm 37:8-9 says, “Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.” Anger can lead to a multitude of evils. We want to overcome sinful anger through the power of the Holy Spirit.
One step to take now is to download a free printable of the truth about anger. You can meditate on these truths and accompanying Scripture each day to help you stop believing this lies about anger. This resource is made available free of charge to subscribers to Psychowith6. Click the image below to claim yours.
Which of these anger lies has been the biggest problem for you? Let’s chat about it on Facebook.
What is the number one question I am asked by homeschoolers? You may think that it has something to do with socialization because that’s what non-homeschoolers love to ask us about. You may think it has something to do with mental health because I’m a psychologist. But you would be wrong.
To tell you the #1 question, I want to tell you a story about one of my dear homeschooling friends. She had just begun homeschooling when I met her and she was very discouraged. She told me she had spent hours preparing a lesson plan for her kids. Her daughter was doing just fine. Her son, the eldest, however, was not. I’m paraphrasing, but she said,
“I have a plan. but my son isn’t going along with my plan.”
I laughed really hard, but not because I didn’t feel for her. In fact, I had been there myself. So many homeschool moms get discouraged when their child isn’t cooperative, enthusiastic, or diligent when it comes to homeschooling. In fact, many moms tell me they are considering putting their kids in school because one or more of their kids isn’t loving school.
What did I tell my friend? What do I tell homeschool moms who have a similar question about reluctant students? There are two issues I address: One is personality and the other is parenting.
The Strong-Willed Personality
Let’s start with personality. What many homeschoolers don’t consider is the strong will that is required to homeschool. Even in today’s mainstream homeschooling culture, the choice to homeschool often requires a strong will. Preferences of extended family members may have to be rejected in order to homeschool. You are probably making an education choice that differs from your friends. The choice to stand alone and take your own path requires a strong will. Thus, we should not be surprised when one or more strong-willed parents has a son or daughter who is also strong willed. But what do I mean by the term ‘strong will’? These are individuals who are confident, ambitious, and determined to go their own way. They are often passionate about what they believe in. A wonderful example of a strong-willed person from the Bible is the apostle Paul. Strong-willed individuals usually believe they are right. Paul confronted Peter, certain that he was right about a doctrinal issue and Peter was wrong. Your strong-willed students will be happy to tell you why they are right about a homeschool or family issue. If we are strong willed ourselves, we may have high hopes (like my friend) that all our children will gleefully follow our plan. After all, we know we are right too, don’t we? Working with strong-willed children can be challenging and exhausting. But the truth is, our strong-willed children are leaders of the future. Once they have grasped the gospel and made a commitment to Jesus Christ, very little will dissuade them.
If you are dealing with a strong-willed child, you may be irritated by seeing traits that you yourself possess or that your spouse possesses. Work on seeing your child’s strong will as a blessing from God that He can use for His purposes. The Bible says that our children will make us proud when they face their enemies. Then, recognize how to work with a strong-willed personality. The temptation is to try to out will the strong-willed child. This is a recipe for disaster. A strong-willed child often needs to be reasoned with. “Because I said so” may gain your child’s obedience, but it will not gain your child’s heart. Explain your reasons for choosing a particular curriculum, a particular activity, or having a particular rule. If, as you are explaining, you realize that your argument is weak, say so and your strong-willed child’s respect for you will grow greatly.
The second approach to use with a strong-willed child is to give him or her control. This does not mean that we allow our child to dictate and it certainly doesn’t mean that we allow our child to be disrespectful. But we must give a strong-willed child as much latitude in decision-making for their lives as possible. For example, you may prefer that your child does math at precisely 10 AM. A better approach with a strong-willed child is to give him or her a list of chores and subjects to complete for the day. This allows your child to determine the best time to complete the work. Some of your children would much prefer to get up early and finish math ahead of time. Others will choose to complete it at the very last minute. The common thread is that your strong-willed child is in control. The older the child, you might give them a weekly to-do list, a monthly to do list, or even a quarterly to-do list.
When it comes to family rules, a strong-willed child wants to know that you respect him. Part of that respect means that you do not assume the worst choices on their part. Give your child responsibility and independence until such time as this child disappoints you. Even when mistakes are made, be careful to give your strong-willed child another opportunity.
Parenting the Strong-Willed Child
This leads me to the second part of my answer to parents who have a child who isn’t rubber-stamping their homeschool plans. That is parenting. More and more often I speak with parents who choose a passive parenting style or child-led home. I see kids telling their parents no, whining with good results, and even kicking them! You might think that my argument against passive parenting is at odds with what I just said about strong-willed children. But it does not. Imagine if you were a brand-new medical resident. You walked into the operating room for the first time and stood next to the surgeon who was supervising you. You asked the surgeon quite a number of times if you could participate in the surgery. You just wanted to hold the scalpel. You just wanted to make a cut or two. Imagine the surgeon growing weary of your requests and handing you the scalpel. Imagine he leaves the room, telling you that you would be doing the surgery alone. This is much like what happens in many homes today. Children ask for things that they simply aren’t prepared for or things that aren’t good for them. After much nagging, parents give in and abdicate their parental role. Like a new medical resident holding a scalpel, our children are terrified when this happens. These children will act out in more and more outrageous ways in an effort to get the parents to behave like parents. It’s as though they’re asking, “What do I have to do to get you to give me some boundaries?”
Children need boundaries and they require discipline in order to feel loved. The Bible says that he who loves his child is careful to discipline him. Children are very sensitive to the fact that if their parent does not discipline, they do not love him. I have talked with teens personally and professionally who have said this word-for-word. Does discipline have to be physical? Absolutely not. Does discipline have to be harsh? Absolutely not. But there must be consequences for misbehavior.
Let’s talk about what this means with respect to homeschool. Let’s say you have a strong-willed child who consistently says she doesn’t want to do school. Perhaps you have gotten worn down by this behavior. You imagined that your children would love homeschooling. You just knew that that fun curriculum you bought, the new class, or the computer program you bought would do the trick. Your children would stop complaining about school and they would bounce out of bed every morning, ready to take on learning. When that doesn’t happen you begin to get discouraged and also to question yourself. You wonder what is wrong with you and consider that you just aren’t cut out for homeschooling. The real issue is this. It is normal for children to push boundaries. This is what children do.
I have an adorable dog. She is a Coton de Tulare and she is so much fun to have around. She has a great life. However, given an open gate or front door, our sweet dog will escape every single time. This behavior does not mean that she does not love our family. It does not mean that we are doing something wrong in caring for her. It means she’s a dog and she is going to always seek more freedom. I can stretch this analogy even further by telling you that she is constantly challenging the rules that we have for her as well. If your children are challenging you, complaining, or otherwise resisting your homeschooling and parenting efforts, congratulations! You have normal kids. The question then becomes not what’s wrong with your children but what is your response?
There are two foolish choices to make when kids are challenging us. The first is to be passive. I could just surrender and allow my dog to run loose every time she gets out. The result will certainly be her death as she is not wise to the ways of cars. In a very real way, when we stop enforcing rules with our kids, the consequence will be death. I know examples of people who did not have any discipline and become either actively or passively suicidal. Passive parenting is dangerous. Your children can complain and they can question you, but they cannot be allowed to take over the surgery. Children must complete chores. Children must get an education. If your child doesn’t like a curriculum or a class, this does not mean that you cannot require them to complete it. You are well within your rights to do so. If you send your children to school, do you believe that your children can opt out of assignments or classes they don’t like? There will be consequences for those decisions in school. Good, healthy parenting simply means that we provide consequences for choices. Consequences are not only negative. Consequences are also positive. If your child finishes work early, she can have more free time. That’s a positive consequence. A negative consequence is not having free time if work is completed late.
A lie many passive parents believe is that there is simply nothing they can do to enforce their rules. Young children who are living in your home, eating your food, and requiring your transportation have no power to run your home unless you give it to them. I am absolutely not suggesting that passive parents switch gears and move to the opposite end of the parenting spectrum.
Let’s talk about that opposite end of the spectrum now. That is the authoritarian parenting approach. Many strong-willed parents use an authoritarian approach with strong-willed children. This approach is unlikely to go well. The authoritarian parent will often point to a passive child who complies with all of her demands as evidence that the strong-willed child ought to be doing likewise. The real danger is the parent can begin to think of the strong-willed child as evil or unlovable. They wonder if there is something characterologically wrong with the child. The child knows that this is the parent’s perspective and it’s devastating.
Authoritarian parenting is rules first, relationship last. Authoritarian parenting is like passive parenting in that both approaches are focused on the parent. The passive parent is focused on her own time, energy, and self-esteem and just gives up so as not to have to feel tired and discouraged anymore. The authoritarian parent is also focused on self. Compliance of the child makes the authoritarian parent feel good about herself and more powerful, something which is very important to her. But self-focused parenting, parenting that is not focused on love for the child first, is likely to breed anger, depression, and more conflict. The authoritarian parent is often overly concerned about what other parents think of their child. Fear that their child will not make them look good drives authoritarian parents to use ever greater punishments for what is perceived lack of compliance. Oftentimes what would have been dealt with using a reasonable consequence becomes a child acting out even more because of anger over the unjust consequence that was given.
How Would I Answer Your Question?
Do you wonder if I really say all this when parents ask me about their child’s behavior in homeschooling? No, I don’t. Instead, I ask questions about what is happening. I say things like, “I wonder if you…” and then suggest an alternate approach. I do believe there is hope for parents whose children refuse to rubberstamp their homeschooling plan. I believe that it begins with prayer. Even with people I know personally, I’m not in their home every day observing their behavior. I don’t know exactly what’s happening. That’s certainly true with you. I don’t know what the root of your problem is. Your child may have a physical, emotional, or educational challenge that complicates matters. Because I don’t know all of the details and the day to day, I have to send you to the best counselor I know. His name is Jesus. He doesn’t charge any fees but He does insist on complete honesty. He wants to lay bare your heart and show you where there has been fear and anger. But he doesn’t want to know this to shame you or to discourage you. Instead, he wants to show you a new way of relating to your child. Jesus modeled for us how to teach. And if you think your student is bad, read about His students! Ask God to show you how to relate to your child differently. Ask Him to show you if you have a strong will or if you’re relating to your child’s strong will as though it is a parent’s or spouse’s.
Ask Him to show you if you’re a passive parent. If you handed your child the scalpel and walked out of the operating room, confess it. Commit to being an authoritative parent–one who is firm but loving and flexible. Never allow your child to tell you that they will not do something. Never allow your child to disrespect you. You may wonder how your child can express themselves without being disrespectful. One of the best techniques I read about early on in my parenting is something called the wise appeal. If I tell my child that I want them to clean the bathroom and they are playing a game at the time, my child can say, “Mom, I know you want me to clean the bathroom, but would it be okay if I finished my game first?” The wise appeal acknowledges and respects the request that the parent has made but allows the child to make a respectful argument about when to comply with that request. If your children are not used to the wise appeal, you will have to remind them many times. This is child training. If your child says, “I don’t want to do math” or otherwise whines and complains, remind them to use the wise appeal. You may have to give them an example of what to say.
In the same way, ask the Lord if you have been an authoritarian parent. Consider how you have viewed God. So often authoritarian parents believe that we have an authoritarian God. In this view, God is much more concerned about performance than He is about our relationship with Him. This just isn’t the case. You may need time to heal your own hurts from childhood or your experience with your church in order to feel that you can be more grace-based as a parent. If you have been an authoritarian parent you may want to ask for your children’s forgiveness. Admit that you have been too concerned about appearances. That you wanted to look like the amazing homeschooler whose children jumped at their every command. This will be especially powerful for your strong-willed child to hear. Take time to listen to your child without interrupting if you have been guilty of authoritarian parenting. You may want to detox your home by doing some child-led learning for a time. You will get to know the heart of your child and isn’t that the greatest blessing of homeschooling?
There is so much more that I could say on this topic but I will end by saying that I believe there is hope for you, your child, and your homeschool. Sending your child to school will not change these issues. Humbly and prayerfully parenting your strong-willed child can.
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