Before we can talk about strategies for trusting God more, we have to talk about what leads us away from trusting God in the first place.
Re-evaluate your strengths
My story is that I was called to homeschool, even though I did not want to. I knew nothing about homeschooling, including the fact that I would love it so much. Yet somehow after trying and failing, I determined that I had what it took to be a successful homeschooler. Like Paul in the New Testament, we can feel as though we are fully qualified by the world’s standards. I am a psychologist, so it stands to reason that I would know how to discipline and motivate my children, such that they would be excellent students and people. I was also an A student myself. It seems that I would be able to understand the material that I would be teaching my children. And even though I have not taken any education courses, I did teach at the university level, so certainly I would be qualified to teach K-12. To top it off, I now have more than 18 years of experience in teaching my own children and my friends’ children. I have successfully graduated two students, one of which was homeschooled all the way through high school. Both are getting A’s in college. You can see that I have ample temptation to think that I am a good homeschooler in my own strength. I don’t have to depend on God.
Even if you do not have a PhD and you haven’t been homeschooling for as long as I have, you, too, have qualifications that tempt you to rely on yourself for success in homeschooling. Consider what those are. Perhaps you were a classroom teacher before you began homeschooling. Perhaps you have done a huge amount of research on homeschooling and you feel confident that you know you are homeschooling for the right reasons and have chosen the best homeschooling approach. Perhaps you have a very supportive family and homeschooling network. You feel as though you can’t fail. Whatever your reasons for feeling qualified, those reasons can keep you from trusting God.
Here’s why that’s a problem. If your students do well, if they place in the Bible bee, if they are a top player in their sport of choice, if your student’s testing suggests that he or she is well above grade level, you can take the credit. The Bible calls that pride. Yet none of our so-called qualifications are really ours. Every advantage I have in homeschooling my children is a blessing from God. I did not create any of them myself. The same is true for you. While taking pride in our children’s successes can feel good while we are riding the high, the fall will be even harder. My children have embarrassed me on many, many occasions. The clinical psychologist has seemed unable to teach her children to use the potty on a reasonable schedule, to get overfood fears, or to make me look good in public. They have scored poorly on some aspects of achievement testing and have given evidence that’s they haven’t been taught certain key concepts. Guess why? Then there is the issue of misbehavior. If I’m going to take credit for my homeschooling because of my qualifications, I also bear full responsibility for my children’s behavior. This burden of trying to ensure that my children succeed spiritually, academically, and socially is too heavy a yoke for me. If it is also too heavy a yoke for you, I advise you to consider that your worldly qualifications for homeschooling are worthless. If you acknowledge that you are weak and unable to help your children become all that God wants for them to be, your burden will be light. Your yoke will be easy. I know I am simply not capable of training and teaching six children to their strengths, for the purposes God has for them. So many times I am at a loss when it comes to discipline, choosing curriculum, and arranging experiences that I think will prepare them for an uncertain future. I am weak, but therefore I am strong. In my weakness I can rely on God’s strength and wisdom to home educate each of my children, and you can too.
Determine what you really want
The second way we can trust God in our homeschools is to reevaluate what we really want. At first we may think what we want is for each of our children to go to college on a full-ride scholarship. Perhaps we think we want our child to win a top award in the activity of their choice. But this isn’t what we really want. We want children who trust and walk with God. We have no idea how to raise children who live this way, but God does. As a tenderhearted mama, I want everything to go smoothly for my children. Yet that path is unlikely to lead to a strong faith. I have to leave my children’s salvation and faith life in God’s hands. No matter how wonderful our Bible curriculum, our church, or our kids’ Christian friends, God is the author and perfecter of our children’s faith. What we really want isn’t children who make us look good. What we really want is His peace. If I trust in myself and my own abilities for our homeschool, I know too well my shortcomings. I’m going to be perpetually anxious about my children’s future. I know that there are things I’ve spent too much time on and things I haven’t spent enough time on. I know my character has not been above reproach. I have been lax in parenting in some areas and overly strict in others. If my children and their future is up to me, I have a lot to worry about. But if I put my children’s future and our homeschooling into God’s hands, I can be secure. I know that He will either prompt me to make a change and to do His will or He will take my wesk efforts at homeschooling and use them for good. I can not only have peace, but I can have joy in my homeschooling.
I used to do public speaking for competition when I was in high school and college. Speaking when every word counted and I was being evaluated and compared was very distressing. I often had to run to the bathroom before a competition. I found it hard to sleep the night before competitions, too. But now that I speak without that fear, I enjoy it. I have no nervousness about it. In the same way, we as homeschoolers can rediscover our joy in homeschooling when we know that a record isn’t being kept. And even when records are being kept by law, we know that it’s God’s responsibility to help us make the grade. Which of us would not rather have God’s peace over pride in our children’s accomplishments?
Be in the Word
To trust God in our homeschools, we must be in the Word. The Bible reviews God’s work in His people’s lives. We see that God’s purposes are always accomplished, despite his people’s failings. No plan of His can be thwarted, not even by us. Make time to read scripture as frequently as you can. Read scripture while you are nursing, listen to Scripture while you are walking, read the Bible as part of your homeschooling. However you are in the Word, read it to refresh your faith in a trustworthy God. Don’t read as an obligation but to fulfill your need for trust in Him — so you can return to His peace in your homeschooling.
Review how God has helped us through the years
The fourth way we can trust God in our homeschools is to review how God has helped us through the years. The Israelites constantly reviewed God’s mercies and miracles in their lives. They told their children and their grandchildren about them and in the process were reminded that God was trustworthy for them as well. We can and should do the same in our families. Consider all the worries you have had in the past. Think about all the tough situations you have been through. If you’re like me, most of the things you worried about did not happen. Your worry was wasted time and energy. And those things that you did experience that were very difficult and painful, looking back you can see that God was sustaining you. You can see how He used what was meant for evil for your good. I do admit that we probably all have an experience or two that we don’t understand. Maybe we still don’t see God’s purpose or hand in a situation that has caused us great pain. However, when we look at God’s record in our lives, we see that there is ample reason to trust Him for those circumstances and our homeschooling too. We know that even if our daughter just doesn’t get algebra, that God has a plan for her. He has a hope and a future for her. If we are having trouble finding homeschooling friends, we can consider how he has met our needs for friendship in the past and trust Him to meet our needs in the future. If we don’t know where the money for books or activities will come from next year, we can remember how all our needs have been provided for thus far. As you consider the future, remember that God often provides for us day-to-day. He doesn’t give us a five-year plan or budget. If God has helped us thus far, that is enough.
Read about how God has helped others
A fifth way we can trust God with our homeschools is to read the stories of men and women who have trusted God in far more serious circumstances than ours. We can read about men like George Mueller who trusted God with all of the finances needed to care for 10,000 orphans. We can read about men like Nate Saint whose premature death was used by God to bring a lost people to Him. We can read about men like Ben Carson whose academic career was less than stellar at the beginning, yet God enabled him to become a surgeon who has helped people in the most serious medical circumstances. Read the answers to prayer on the Guideposts website.
Pray little prayers
The final way that I want to share with you to help you trust God in your homeschooling is to pray little prayers. We can get the idea that God only cares about the big prayers, the relative who has cancer, the family provider who is out of a job, the poor people in oppressed countries. When we believe in a God who only cares about big prayers, it’s understandable that we wouldn’t trust Him in our homeschooling. Does God care about algebra? Does he care that your son still isn’t reading? Does he care that you have no idea how you’re going to get everything done before co-op? I can tell you that he cares about each of these things and so much more, but you won’t believe me until you pray and see God’s response. I have learned that God cares about frivolous things like rain messing up my hair before I give a speech, a close parking spot when time is of the essence, finding a dress for an important occasion that’s on sale. He will answer these kinds of prayers if you pray them because He loves us. So often we forget that God is a more loving parent then we are. We care about these little requests that our children have, so how much more does God? To learn to trust God in your homeschooling and experience His piece, begin praying little prayers. Allow him to demonstrate His love for you in this.
In conclusion, reevaluate your strengths, determine what you really want, read God’s Word, review how God has helped you over the years, read about how God has helped others, and if you will pray little prayers, you can learn to trust God more in your homeschool. This is my desire and I highly commend this goal to you in the new year.
One of the many blessings of homeschooling is getting to spend quality time with your children all throughout the day, but every stay-at-home parent knows that sometimes, you just need a break.
Our daily routines can get so repetitive and seem to “drag on.” If this sounds like your current situation, you’re not alone. Keep reading for several creative tips to add more fun into this new school year. Many of these ideas will leave you feeling much more refreshed, too!
10 Fun Additions To Your Homeschool Schedule
Math & Science
One way to make math more exciting for your students is by using different types of media as teaching tools. Incorporate games, fun videos, and catchy math songs into your curriculum and your child will become more motivated to learn.
For science, get some fresh air and go on a nature walk in the great outdoors. Plan out activities beforehand, such as identifying different types of plants or bird watching. Another fun way to learn about the environment, and get some exercise, is to take a trip to the nearest zoo.
Engage the senses by taking your child to a kid’s museum, inviting a music teacher over in the afternoons, or practicing cooking skills prior to lunch. Music lessons are ideal because they allow you to take a much-needed break at least once or twice a week.
First let’s define mental toughness. For our purposes mental toughness is being able to cope with and adapt to the challenges of life. We already know from the Bible that we will have trouble. So we are preparing our children for the inevitable. We want our kids to be strong in the Lord. We don’t want them to crumble at the first sign of adversity. I say that we can encourage mental toughness because I don’t believe this is a formal subject for which a curriculum or even a lecture is appropriate. Instead we have to encourage it as we live.How can we do that?
Allow children to experience natural consequences
I believe the first way we can encourage mental toughness in our children is to allow them to experience the natural consequences of their actions. As tenderhearted mothers, we often cringe at the potential for our children to suffer. We don’t want them to know the pain of their choices and would prefer to give them second and third and fourth chances. The problem, of course, is that children will never learn to make better choices if we shield them from the natural consequences.
I have an example for you. On multiple occasions my children have signed up to participate in things by their own choice. Later on, this same child of mine has decided that they didn’t feel like continuing to participate or participating on a certain day. They weren’t concerned that their teammates and coach or activity organizer was depending on them. The natural consequence is that I refused to shield them from was having to do something that they no longer wanted to do. Of course, as I allowed my kids to experience this type of natural consequence, I was also teaching them Christian character. They learn loyalty and faithfulness and commitment.
Anytime our children make a choice, there will be consequences, both positive and negative. It’s important that we refuse to protect them from the negative consequences unless they are truly destructive. You will have to pray and use your parental discernment about which natural consequences your child should have to endure. Our decision should always be loving and never abusive. But always keep in mind that the difficult consequences your children face will make them stronger.
Encourage children to take responsibility
The second way we can encourage mental toughness in our children is by insisting they take personal responsibility. A refusal to take responsibility for our own choices and mistakes goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. We shouldn’t panic if our child has a propensity to shift blame to others, because it is the human condition. However, we should not allow our children to shift blame without rebuke. Even when someone else’s choice or the circumstances were a contributor, our children need to take responsibility for their part in a bad situation. Did your child participate in the appearance of evil? Did your child stand by as someone else did something wrong?
Encouraging your child to take personal responsibility is an easy thing to do when it comes to team sports. If your child has the habit of blaming other players, the coach, or the conditions for their errors, ask your child to own up to their mistakes. At the same time, it’s important to teach children that admitting to mistakes does not mean they are unloved or without value. Some children believe that if they admit to doing wrong, it means they are worthless. In fact, some adults believe this as well and it explains why many people refuse to apologize. Instead, remind your child that everyone makes mistakes. And not just mistakes, but sinful choices. God has already offered us the solution for this. Our sins do not keep us out of fellowship with him or out of fellowship with one another if we admit them and ask for forgiveness. This is likely a lesson that will need to be repeated multiple times.
Teach children to feel the fear and do it anyway
The third way we can encourage mental toughness is to teach our kids to feel the fear and do it anyway. Anxiety is very uncomfortable. It makes sense that we as parents don’t want our kids to feel uncomfortable. This is particularly the case if we have our own anxieties. But keeping our kids from feeling the fear and doing it anyway will make the fear grow bigger. You may want to listen to the episode I did on anxious homeschoolers.
Anxiety that isn’t challenged will spread to more and more situations. You may think that it is better not to have your child do the public speaking assignments for your co-op. But soon your child will be balking at other assignments that tap into his social anxiety. You will be doing your child a great service to encourage your child to feel the fear and do it anyway.
In order to do that, we have to give our kids the tools they need to cope with anxiety. Those tools will likely include meditation on Scripture that relates to trusting God, taking deep breaths, relaxation training, and mental imagery in which your child practices relaxation. Our kids need to know that avoiding anxiety will make it worse.
Teach children how to control their thoughts
Related to encouraging our kids to confront their fears is the truth that we are capable of controlling our thoughts. As parents, we want to discuss with our children the importance of taking thoughts captive. Many thoughts will come to us briefly that are not within our control. But once we have the thought, we are capable of controlling it. The Bible tells us to take every thought captive and to bring it into obedience to Christ. We can do this or we wouldn’t be given this directive. We can also renew our minds. I encourage you to read about my post on the topic.
We do not have to accept the thoughts we have that are lies. Sometimes writing those thoughts down enables us to combat them with the truth more easily. The mental battle our children will have when dealing with challenging circumstances is the most important one. When our child believes a lie about her circumstances she is likely to respond with a negative emotion, which will in turn affect her behavior. Mental toughness is developed by being a disciplined thinker. For more on controlling thinking, read about black-and-white thinking in your homeschool.
The fifth important way we can encourage mental toughness in our children is to model it. If we refuse to accept the natural consequences of our choices, if we refuse to accept personal responsibility for our behavior, if we refuse to feel the fear and do it anyway, and if we persist in thinking and meditating on lies, our children will not develop the mental toughness that will be such an asset to them in the future. We must work on our own mental toughness in this regard. Furthermore, we have to be talking with our children about the challenges we are dealing with. Talk with them about the situation with as much detail as is appropriate for your children’s ages, and then talk about the strategies you are using to cope. Modeling is incredibly powerful. So many people will share examples of their parents’ mental toughness once they are adults and are reminiscing on their lives. We want them to have plenty of examples of mental toughness to hold onto.
Provide your children with mental toughness role models
Along with modeling, we want to give our children access to other role models. This suggestion is one that we can easily incorporate into our formal homeschooling. I love exposing my children to missionary biographies and Christian historical biographies that demonstrate mental toughness. Reading about men and women who suffer unjustly, rely on their God, and bravely serve despite trying times will instill a desire for mental toughness and a framework for pursuing it for our kids. I love YWAM biographies for this purpose, but books about Esther Kim, Samuel Morris, and Winston Churchill are more of my favorites for giving kids mental toughness role models.
To conclude, I want to give you a picture of the importance of mental toughness. You’ve likely heard the story of the person who wanted to help a butterfly that was struggling to emerge from its chrysalis. The person removed the chrysalis and the butterfly died. The struggle to emerge from the chrysalis is what provides the butterfly with the strength to live. In the same way, we do not want to prematurely remove the struggle from our children’s lives. Our kids are going to be dealing with difficult circumstances, challenging people, and injustice in the future. Like arrows in our quiver, we want them to be sharp enough to wage battle against the enemy in the years to come.
How do you encourage mental toughness in your kids?
Homeschooling can be hard, but it shouldn’t be striving. Psalm 46:10 says, “Cease striving and know that I am God.” Striving isn’t a word we commonly use. I looked up the definition and was surprised by it. Striving may be defined as making great efforts to achieve or obtain something. Cease striving? That sounds downright unAmerican. Tommy Hilfiger said, “The road to success is not easy to navigate, but with hard work, drive and passion, it’s possible to achieve the American dream.”
Why should we cease striving then? The Bible dictionary defintion of striving wasn’t much help, except that it defines it as struggle. God would have us work hard, but He wouldn’t have us struggle in our own strength. Habakkuk 1:11 describes the Babylonians as people whose own strength is their god. I have so often been just like them.
Here are signs that you are homeschooling in your own strength, that you’re striving.
There’s no joy
Homeschooling is a burden for you. You resent it. You look forward to it being finished for the day and possibly for good. You’re irritated by your children’s slowness to learn, to work, or your family’s lack of appreciation. It’s not exciting. It’s just really hard. You wish you could make time for other things you enjoy doing or you wish you could find the passion for it you used to have.
You worry that you’re not doing enough, that you’re not using the right curriculum, that your children are behind, that your children will have low test scores, that you’ll be evaluated and fall short, that your family won’t be able to pay the bills, that your children won’t get into college or find a job to support them. Sometimes you have trouble sleeping. Your fear leads you to compare yourself to other homeschoolers and you find you never measure up.
The fear and the work are wearing you out. You’re doing so much for so many and nothing seems to go as planned for school, your family, your life. You think the answer is to work harder. You must be lazy or your family is or both. So you will try again with a new approach, a new curriculum, or a new schedule. You will lay down the law with yourself and the kids. But even as you think about trying again, you feel exhausted.
If you see yourself in any of those descriptions, there’s a good chance that at least some of the time you are striving. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to recover your joy, your peace, and your energy by ceasing to strive? It IS possible. I’ve experienced it. Here’s how.
How to cease striving
First, determine who your God is.
As I began my homeschooling journey, God was the author of it. It was His idea for me and my family. But after a while, He became little more than an undependable teacher’s helper. When things were bad, I would ask Him to pitch in, but I didn’t expect Him to follow through. In my view, He was even sometimes spiteful — a God who didn’t care if I suffered because it was good for me, a God who didn’t really love me enough to care about my challenges. There is a powerful quiz in the book Sidetracked in the Wilderness by Michael Wells that can help you determine if your view of God is a problem. Find it in the show notes at homeschoolsanity.com/strive
The truth is God is the source of our homeschooling success. If we aren’t abiding in Him, we will lose our joy, our peace, and our energy. He is the only reason I have produced any fruit in my homeschooling. He wants me to succeed because homeschooling was His idea for us. He loves me deeply; He loves my husband; He loves my children. He never wants to see me suffer needlessly as I have in trying to homeschool in my own strength. He isn’t a lame teacher’s helper. He is THE teacher, the principal, the school counselor, the board president, the librarian, the school cook, even the janitor. He definitely cleans up the messes we make. He is our creator and His power is so great that He raised Jesus from the dead and transformed us through the Holy Spirit living in us.
Second, determine who you are.
My inaccurate view of God led me to have a false view of myself. I thought I was the beginning and end of my homeschool. When my child earned a scholarship, that was me. When my child was reprimanded by another adult, that was also me. I was the god of my homeschool. Being god is very discouraging, terrifying, and exhausting because we weren’t created for this role. Even keeping up the appearance that we are the gods of our homeschools is overwhelming.
I don’t know how I’ve borne the fruit of our homeschool–the wonderful blessings I see and that I’ve been praised for–because I didn’t grow it. I don’t have that ability. I’m a self-centered, disorganized, slothful woman in my flesh. I know this is true and it terrifies me when I’ve put myself in the role of god in my homeschool. The truth for you and me is that apart from God we can do nothing in homeschooling or in life.
Finally, abide humbly with your God
Shortly after reading Sidetracked in the Wilderness, I saw a baby being changed at the tennis club where I play. The woman who works in the nursery absolutely adores children. The baby watched his caregiver in complete peace and trust as she changed him. I realized that this is what God wants as He seeks to change me. But I have been screaming, trying to roll away, and trying to change myself. I have been striving.
When we have an accurate view of God, we trust Him to make our homeschools bear fruit. The baby didn’t worry that the woman in the nursery didn’t know what she was doing. We can have complete confidence in God, regardless of our problems. A student who can’t read, a rebellious child, and more month than money are all small things to our great God.
Abiding in Him means that we trust Him to not only solve the problems that invariably arise in our homeschools. It also means that we trust Him to change us. I am not a self-centered, impatient, lazy mother because Jesus lives in me and through me. When I spend more time online than I should, I repent, knowing that my behavior is not who I am. It’s a small blip on the screen of my story that is quickly edited.
Abiding in Him means that I stay close to Him throughout the day, like an employee in training. I don’t imagine that I know what to do. I don’t! Even after 19 years of homeschooling. Instead I call on Him for help and wisdom all day long. I seek to learn from Him by reading His Word and praying and worshiping, not as a duty, but because it is my lifeline. I begin my day by writing to God and sharing what is on my heart and listening for what is on His.
I despise the pride that provokes me to stop abiding in Him. As I experience discouragement, fear, and fatigue, I invariably discover a root of pride. I was hoping to look good, for God to obey my commands, for God to bless my efforts in doing things He hasn’t called me to do.
I have had a homeschool problem with a child of mine recently. I have prayed about it, of course, but more than this, I have been striving. I have applied my education, experience, and my flesh to the problem. But it has persisted. As I’ve taken a fresh look at it through the lens of humbly abiding, I realized that the main reason I see it as a problem is because of my pride. My child has been refusing to do something that would make me look good. My child isn’t concerned about it. Most likely my reliance on myself has made the problem worse. No matter how it works out, I will trust God to manage it. I no longer feel defeated, afraid, or worn out by the situation. I am homeschooling where strivings cease.
This fresh approach to walking with God has honestly changed my life in more than just homeschooling. It has impacted my business and relationships. I’m not burdening myself with trying to produce more and more products on a ridiculous timeline to feed my pride. I’m not fretting about mistakes I make in my business because I’m afraid of looking foolish in front of you. I am a fool and I don’t know how I haven’t made even more mistakes except for the grace of God. I’m finding myself able to let others’ negative behaviors go because I know they come from their own failure to humbly abide and I know I can’t manage them in my own strength. For years now I have tried to determine exactly what to say and do in response to difficult people. Replaying conversations and thinking of what I should have said and what I should say in the future has taken up so much of my time, energy, and joy. I recently admitted to the Lord that I couldn’t manage these people. I had no idea what to say or do, so God would have to do it. Immediately, the tension and unhappiness I have had for so long lifted. I know God will manage it. If I am to say or do anything in the future, He will prompt me then, not now.
I used to understand how to abide and not strive. I wrote the book So You’re Not Wonder Woman about the changes God made in my weight, home, and relationships. What’s sad is that I later thought the book wasn’t good because I don’t give a step-by-step plan for changing your life. I don’t have one! I don’t know how God changed me, but I am so thankful He did. I’m so thankful that He forgives me and brings me back when I have been busy relying on the god of my own strength.
When I began homeschooling, I immediately discovered that disciplining my children was central to my homeschooling success. If I couldn’t get them to obey me, I couldn’t teach them. Even though I’m a psychologist, I spent a lot of time reading about how to discipline. I’ve learned a lot over the years and I want to share some principles with you that can save you time as a new homeschooler.
You may have read that there are three basic approaches to parenting. There is the authoritative approach. This is the most balanced, healthy style. You’re the authority in your child’s life, but you extend plenty of grace. You enjoy your children and they love you as well as respect you. There is also the authoritarian approach. This style takes authority and commands very seriously. Swift obedience is valued above relationship. Demands for obedience are often accompanied by anger and harsh punishments for failure to comply. This approach can lead to children who obey outwardly but inwardly burn with resentment. The authoritarian approach puts parental demands above the child’s needs. Finally, there is the passive approach. The passive approach also puts the parent’s needs ahead of the child’s. In this style, the parent does not demand obedience or respect because discipline is too much work. The parent doesn’t provide consequences for misbehavior. The child feels unloved and is ill equipped to function in a society with other authority figures.
I doubt that you would put yourself squarely in either of the latter two categories. Instead, most of us see ourselves as authoritative parents. However, when we are under stress, tired, or overwhelmed, we will tend to revert to one of the less functional parenting approaches or both.
How We Can Use a Functional Parenting Approach Even Under Stress
The key to being a positive parent even when we’re hangry, wiped out, or PMSing is to plan ahead. We need to know our triggers and have a response ready.
Which misbehaviors get to you the most? Is it acting out in a public place? Is it not picking up after you’ve asked? Is it fighting? Make note of these.
Then consider which situations lead you to revert to an authoritarian or passive style. Is it when you’re short on sleep? When you’ve had no time away from the kids? When you’re running late? You’ll also want to make note of these situations.
First, decide with your spouse (if you’re married) what your family rules are. It’s a good idea to have your rules posted and to review them with your children regularly. Next, decide which consequences you will use for violations of these rules. Consider these.
Spanking. This is most effective for outright defiance or blatant disrespect in young children. However, avoid physical punishment if you are prone to anger OR if you have a child prone to anger. There are other forms of discipline that are more effective in this case.
Scary persona. Giving your child the eagle eye or using a certain tone of voice is enough to correct misbehavior with some children in some situations.
Privilege levels. You can keep track of the level of privileges your child is using a cork board and a pin, for example. This system requires an understood and achievable means for a child to return to higher privilege level. Using this approach with multiple children can be challenging.
Refuse requests. As described in How to Have a New Kid by Friday by Kevin Leman, refuse to comply with your child’s next request after misbehavior. For example, “You may not have a snack.” “Why?” “Because you wouldn’t come inside when I called you.” The advantage of this approach is it requires no pre-planning and can be very effective.
Guided obedience. When young children refuse or are slow to pick up toys or go up to bed, guide them with your hands (without anger) until they are complying on their own. Thank them for obeying, even though you are providing the guidance.
Time out. Putting a child in a place where there is no opportunity for reinforcement (no access to toys, books, or interaction with others) for one minute for each year of their age is an effective strategy for many children. The same can be done with a toy that isn’t being used properly or is being fought over.
Put fighting children in close quarters. Insist that siblings who are fighting stay in a small room (like a bathroom) until they can stop quarreling. Insisting that the squabblers wear a single large shirt, hug, or hold hands until they stop serves the same purpose.
Fines. If you give your children an allowance or earnings for chores, you can discipline misbehavior with a fine. Keeping track of your child’s money on an app on your phone makes it easy to fine wherever you are.
Confinement. A young child who doesn’t like to be restricted can be seated in your lap with his back to you. Firmly hold his right arm with your left hand and vice versa for a minute for each year of age. Do not speak to your child after explaining what the misbehavior was, but require him to remain in your lap.
Make note of which approach you will be using. The simpler the better.
The final step in avoiding an unhealthy parenting style is to prevent the situations that lead you to adopt them. If you know lack of sleep is a problem, make sleep a priority. If your sleep deficit is unavoidable, avoid other stressors that will put you over the edge. Get a nap. Tell your children that you’re especially tired and need their help and definitely ask another adult to help you. Eliminate activities that contribute to stress and plan ahead so you can be at your best. Lay out shoes the night before and leave earlier than you need to for actiities. Review the rules with your children before you go to public places. For example, “If you beg for something in the store, we will leave immediately.” Then follow through.
Improving your parenting approach is a lifetime activity. Give yourself lots of grace for making mistakes! Pray, read Scripture, and talk to other parents about their struggles. You’ll find you’re in good company. But any effort you make to improve your parenting approach will pay off in improving your homeschool.
Which parenting approach do you revert to when you’re stressed? What misbehaviors are most likely to lead to that? What discipline strategy would you like to try going forward? Comment and let me know.
What does the Bible say about being a homeschooling mother? I’m surprised how much of an example we have in the Proverbs 31 woman. Let’s pick up where we left off after part 1, which you can read here.
Verse 17 says that she sets about her work vigorously.
There it is again, her excellent work ethic. But we read that she also manages to keep her arms strong. My grandmother, in baking goods for an area bakery, had to have strong arms from kneading dough. No doubt she kept fit working in the garden as well. Today we have so many modern servants that it’s harder to stay strong by doing our everyday work. That’s why we have to be intentional about getting the exercise we need. Exercise in the form of walking, jogging, or any of a number of aerobic classes can keep our heart strong and our weight down. But we also need to keep our strength up. Strength training helps to prevent osteoporosis, keeps us looking fit and younger, and allows us to continue caring for our grandchildren well into our 70s. For more on how we can be strong moms, read my guest post on The Musings of Mum.
Verse 18 says that she sees her trading is profitable.
She is managing her business and also household expenses. We too want to be certain that we are good stewards of everything God has given to us.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
The verse continues with what I believe is the most misunderstood aspect of the Proverbs 31 woman. The verse says that her lamp does not go out at night. Real women like us can read these verses and think that in order to be a Proverbs 31 homeschooling mom, we must get up at dawn and stay up past midnight. Instead, I believe we learn here that keeping lamps lit requires proper planning.
Matthew 25 recounts the parable of the ten virgins.
“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise.3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them.4 The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps.5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps.8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’9 “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
The Proverbs 31 woman has planned ahead and has enough oil to keep her lamps burning. The lesson we can take from this is that we do not want to be caught unprepared. If we plan ahead, we don’t have to discover the night before the Christmas pageant at church that none of the stores in our area have black pants in our boys’ size. Planning ahead saves our time, our money, and our sanity. Being prepared and not burning the candle at both ends is what I believe this verse is about. I do not believe that God would suggest we skimp on sleep when Jesus Himself slept whenever He felt the need. The Proverbs 31 woman’s lamp is also lit because she is prepared for the Lord’s return. We can keep the lamp of our hearts burning as we wait for Him as well.
In verse 19, we find a Proverbs 31 woman spinning again. It reads, “In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.”
What stands out to me from this verse is the emphasis on her hand. It is tempting as homeschooling moms to want to delegate as much as possible. I’m all for delegation! But there are some tasks that we ought to take responsibility for ourselves. I believe training our children the faith is one of those. I believe that teaching our children how to live in an increasingly unChristian culture is also our responsibility. We can have pastors and youth leaders and Christian teachers come alongside us to help, but our hands have to be in the business of training our children.
The next verse says that she opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.
This verse convicts me because much of the charitable work I do is outside my children’s awareness. We want to make sure our children know and participate in giving directly to needy people. The responsibility of offering hospitality is also hinted at here. If we do not make the sacrifice of honoring and serving guests in our home, we are missing an opportunity that would bless us and most certainly would bless our children.
When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
In verse 21 review we read once again that the Proverbs 31 woman is prepared. She’s not only prepared for the challenges she expects, but those she doesn’t necessarily expect. We don’t want to be caught unprepared for difficulties whether those are financial or otherwise. We want to be ready. A homeschooling mom I know had two hours to remove belongings before a fire consumed her apartment building. In an emergency like that, would you be able to retrieve your most valued possessions? If not, this preparation is something we want to do to become more like the Proverbs 31 woman.
Verse 22 says she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
Here’s how I read that: She looks good. Making an effort to look good brings honor to her husband. This does not mean we have to wear expensive designer clothes. But it could mean that we make an effort to look as good for our spouse as we would for church or an important meeting. The side benefit of this is the better we look, the better we tend to feel. I used to wear sweatpants, my hair in a ponytail, and no makeup. Makeup isn’t the issue, so don’t let that hold you up. I feel better wearing some makeup; other women don’t. The key is to feel good about how you look. The more confident we feel, the more attractive we will be to our mate.
Verse 23 tells us her husband is respected.
At that time, and even still today, his respectability was somewhat dependent upon his wife’s character.
Verse 24 tells us that the Proverbs 31 woman has another business.
This business may be where she got the funds to start her vineyard. It can be intimidating to think about a woman who has multiple irons in the fire, but I find it exciting. This woman is held up as a model for godly women. If you have the desire to do something other than homeschool, I believe God honors that desire. We each have different capacities, depending on our families and our giftings. It seems to me that the Proverbs 31 woman was so earnest in her work and care for her family that she didn’t have time to compare herself to anyone else. Had her business gotten in the way of caring for her family, no doubt she would have made some changes.
She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
Verse 25 tells us once again that she is confident about the future.
Verse 26 tells us that when she speaks, she speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She doesn’t say idle words. They are words meant to build up. They are words of wisdom that she believes are vital to her children and most likely other women she mentors. This verse is also very convicting to me because my words are often careless. They are often not words that build up and they are sometimes foolish. As we seek to teach our children, let us ask ourselves if what we are teaching is wise and will build them up for their walk with the Lord.
Verse 27 says she watches over the affairs of her household.
Have you ever been guilty, as I have, of not watching over the affairs of your household? Have you discovered like I once did that work that was marked complete in the student planner wasn’t actually done? Have you gone so long without checking on chores that you’re horrified to see the state of your child’s room or the bathroom that is your child’s responsibility? Maybe it’s just me. Watching over the affairs of our household is what will give our husbands confidence in us. My husband, in particular, gets upset when the kids’ bathroom is a mess. I have been more intentional about checking the state of the bathroom daily. I’m also checking my children’s work weekly.
Verse 28 says her children arise and call her blessed.
Some of us homeschooling moms feel a pang of longing when we hear those words because our children are arising and complaining and quarreling instead. My belief is that the Proverbs 31 woman demands respect and gratitude from her children. It is something that I demand from mine. I feel no guilt over telling my children the sacrifice I have made to homeschool them. But even so, most children have to mature before they recognize how blessed they have been to have a devoted homeschooling mother. Hang in there, mom. The blessing is coming.
I love verses 30 and 31. In verse 30 we read that a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Our faith, our trust in God, and our obedience to Him are a crowning glory. In our culture, we don’t typically receive the honor described here.
The next verse says that her works are honored at the city gate.
Our culture honors money, beauty, and prestige more than a faithful wife and mother. Even though we may suffer the negative remarks of those who don’t believe in homeschooling, I believe we will one day be honored for our work. I believe that homeschooling is an incredibly powerful way that God uses to raise up godly men and women for the next generation. I also believe that the city gate in which we will be honored is a heavenly one. What we suffer now in our hard work and our trials isn’t worth comparing to the glory we will experience one day.
To conclude our study, I believe that we are Proverbs 31 homeschooling moms if we believe we are. Begin each day considering what you did the day before that is consistent with your identity as this godly woman. Consider how you will earnestly take on your work as a Proverbs 31 homeschooling mom today. Know that we can do nothing apart from Him. But in His strength, we can be more than we ever imagined.
Which of these characteristics of a Proverbs 31 homeschool mom are you already making progress on?