Friday, November 16, 2007

Filling the Cup

I sat down to write; I ended up reading. Following my nose, following the Holy Spirit; searching, revisiting.

Asking questions:

How does one stop drill-sergeant parenting and direct with love and encouragement?

(I found a beautiful picture here. Scroll down to the article Ann Voskamp's article "Just Guide Gently: A Pucker-Free Pattern.")

As kids become preteens and teens, how does one exercise authority without being a control freak? How do you help them choose rightly vs. forcing them to do the right thing?

Recommended by Ann V., this lengthy but very insightful article is worth the time. It's not just for homeschooling parents--but all homeschoolers should read it. This pastor humbly addresses some of the pitfalls his family fell into along the way--not of homeschooling per se, but of the thinking that often accompanies it:

If we think we have total control over how our children respond to our training, we will relate to them not so much as people, but more as animals. Dogs are behavior-driven and can be trained to respond to a stimulus exactly the same way, time after time. Children however are people and as they mature they will eventually decide if they will continue to respond as trained. If we do not understand this we will fail to develop the relationship they deserve as our children, and as our younger brothers and sisters in Christ – which, incidentally, will give us greater influence over their adolescent hearts.

For years Bev and I studied the process of parenting. We read multitudes of books, watched hours of videos, and listened to many tapes. We wanted to do whatever it took to get results with our children. Nothing is wrong, of course, with growing in knowledge of biblical child training – in fact, it’s good. However, we majored on the “process,” and as we gleaned new techniques we would stir them into the parenting mix, subjecting our children to it. We did have great affection in our home, but we had the wrong idea of what it meant to have influential heart relationships. We loved our kids, but who they were as people was inconsequential to our process.

My own recipe called for great amounts of parental control, daily doses of Scripture indoctrination, plenty of edifying music, modest apparel, and safe entertainment, all combined in the oversized mixing bowl of sheltering, and cooked in the oven of homeschooling. The timer was set and I knew that when they reached their 18th birthday, "DING" the timer would go off I would have a perfect angel food kid. I was certain of it. I had yet to learn that fruitful parenting is more about people than process.

At homeschool conventions across the country I have seen in parents a tendency to treat children as non-persons. I cannot count the times I have stood at my booth in the exhibit hall and been approached by a mom or dad, accompanied by one of their older teenage children. The parents ask me about a problem they are having with one of their children, and as they talk, I realize that the child to whom they refer is the one standing there with them. It is as though these parents are oblivious that their young adult has feelings. As I look into the eyes of that embarrassed young person I often see a detached or despairing look that hints they can’t wait to get out of the home. Other parents who approach me may not have a teen present to embarrass, but they will ask me for a method to change their problem-teenager at home. In the last few years I have tried to explain to these parents that fruitful interaction is not about what they do to their young people, but who they are with them. It’s about having a real faith in God, and expressing it in a real relationship with a real person.

My cup is full. Much to think on this weekend.

1 comment:

Margie Fawcett said...

Thanks Jeanne,
I needed that encouragement!