Family Values: The wind that guides our ship

It’s April now, and we are finishing up our second year as a home-schooling family.  The short version, “It’s been a deeply satisfying, productive and successful year…for each of us.”  We’ve loved so many things about this experience.  We live in a community that has an outstanding network of homeschooling resources.  We’ve integrated ourselves into this network and found a variety of support.  From the “MMM” (Monday, Meals, Motion) Homeschooling Group to the field trips (we participated in 15 different field trips this year) to homeschooling gymnastic classes and more – we’ve learned so much and it has been so much fun!

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But as we wind down, (although I love that homeschooling never really comes to a close – there is always something new to learn) I find myself in a state of evaluation: evaluating my curriculum, my children’s progress, myself as a teacher and home-manager, and our family values.  And that last one – evaluating our family values – is what drives all the others.  Our family’s values are the wind in our sails – giving us the force that guides all of our decisions and gives us our direction.

At present, our family values are:

1) Work daily to raise grateful kids in an entitlement world

2) Work to raise good Christians (serving God and man)

3) Instill in our children the “love of doing right”

4) Striving for excellence in a world that’s content with “good enough”

5) Being a blessing to our community – not a burden

Each day my husband and I are thinking about these values in one way or another.  It’s in my thought as we home-school, when we clean the chicken coops, when the house is a mess and things are a little crazy, when my kids are playing outside, when we have our family dinners, when we play “tickle monster” and run through the house, or when we slow down our day and read books and say prayers before bed.  These values are our compass when we talk about current events.

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So as I continue to think through my home-schooling curriculum, my children’s progress, my work as a teacher and home-manager, I keep these values in mind.  They aid my husband and me in making the best possible decisions for our family.

What are some of your values that you hold dear and that guide you in calm or stormy times?

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Cutting the Cord on TV

One year ago, I grounded my kids for bad behavior.  We were at my cousin’s home and they began running around the house like wild hooligans!  First, I was embarrassed.  Then I found it disrespectful considering my cousins were doing me a favor by babysitting my 4 month old.  Usually my kids are obedient and responsive when it comes to discipline, but this time, they threw care to the wind.

When we got in the car (but before we headed home) I calmly and quietly turned around.  Looking them in the eye, I explained to them that I expected more.  “When we’re in someone else’s home, I expect you to be respectful, polite, obedient – just like we behave in our own home.”  (In our family, we often speak about how good behavior has “benefits” while bad behavior has “consequences”.)  So, I told them there would be a consequence for their actions.

Like most kids, my kids LOVE TV.  So while still in the car and thinking quickly on my feet (although admittingly coming up with a punishment QUICKLY is never a good idea), I said, “As your consequence, I’m going to take away TV time for a whole week.”  As that came out of my mouth, I heard from the hooligans, “What?  No, Mom!” and in my own head, the words came, “Woman, are you crazy?  That will teach you to speak before you think.  A week without TV?  So now you’re on duty to entertain them.  Yea…smart move, Mom!”  Gulping, I stuck to my guns and said a little prayer.

Long story short, we fared that first week much better than I anticipated.  With no TV, there was actually less arguing about what to watch and whose turn it was to pick the show.  That in and of itself was a huge blessing.  Less for me to manage.  I was also impressed that they actually LIKED playing together…A LOT!  They began to use their imagination (from books we’d read) to create characters and plots, even the brown box in the living room became their “hide-out” and endless hours of play.

After that glorious week of no TV – I gave them a reward: ANOTHER week of no TV!  (Snicker, snicker).  I was actually having fun watching them take leadership roles in their imagination play, learn to be flexible with each other and growing their relationship.  And truth be told, I think they were some what excited to have an excuse not to turn on the tube: Mom’s new rule.  Yup – the gift of parenthood: you get to make your own rules!

So it’s been 15 months since that heavenly “grounding episode” and we’ve adopted this new rule: No TV during the week.  Only on the weekends and with that – only 2 hours on Saturday and Sunday.  This gives them time to watch a movie or two from the library.  But on sunny days – sometimes that TV never gets switched on during the weekends.  As my oldest recently said, “Mom, TV is really boring compared to what you can do with your imagination.”

Moral of the story:  “Groundings” and “quick thinking” do have a long term advantage…for the whole family!