Tag Archives: respect

Consistency & Boundaries, Guest Post

CONSISTENCY & BOUNDARIES:

Two Absolute Necessities For Guiding Your Child’s Behavior

by Eileen von Seckendorff

Amy asked me if I would be willing to share some of my own experiences and observations on the subject of discipline. It should be noted emphatically that I am not an expert in child rearing or in child psychology and as a parent I am constantly reminded of how much more I need to learn and grow. I also know there are no guarantees. I’ve seen “good” kids go bad and kids whose parents gave up on them turn out amazingly well. That said, I believe that children who grow up in a loving and consistent home stand a much better chance of having a successful and happy life. That’s not to say that there won’t be trials, hard times, and bad choices at times, but hopefully they will have the tools they need to persevere, evaluate their options, and make better choices in the future.

When I was growing up there was a complete lack of consistency in our home. I don’t blame my parents at all. They did the best they could raising ten kids in their situation and I don’t think I could’ve accomplished half as much as they did if I had been in their shoes. The fact remained, you never knew what to expect. The same infraction could be a huge deal or not, depending on the climate in the home on any given day. Not knowing the consequences or even the severity of an action ahead of time added a huge fear factor to us as kids. That fear led to panic which led to lying which led to all sorts of problems which could have been avoided.

If that wasn’t confusing enough, the rules we did have did not necessarily apply to everyone equally. For instance, let’s say my little sister did something we weren’t allowed to do and I got blamed for it (which NEVER happened). Even if I could prove my little sister did it, I was told that I was still responsible because I was the older sister. That may make sense to a Mom, but to me the message was clear; I was responsible for my own actions and hers and she wasn’t responsible for anything. Not only was that not fair, it could easily have led to bitterness and resentment between us and caused countless other problems.

It has been said that when a child does something wrong, their actions usually fall into one of three categories: Disobedience, Disrespect, or Irresponsibility and there are three easy solutions. If they are disobedient, they need to obey. If they are disrespectful, they need to show respect, and if they are irresponsible, they need to assume the responsibility. My husband and I have really taken this to heart and have had this at the core of our home discipline.

  1. If a child was told to clean their room and they didn’t, that’s disobedience. I would tell them they had to obey and then I would sit in their room while they cleaned it. Did that kill my afternoon plans? Maybe, but they eventually learned that our rules are not multiple choice and that next time it would just be faster and easier to clean it on their own. (When they were really small, I did not expect them to clean their own rooms by themselves, but I did expect them to help Mommy while I cleaned it.)  
  2. If a child was mean or rude to someone, that’s disrespect. I would have them apologize and be nice to that person. 
  3. If a child spilled a drink, that’s not disobedience or disrespect (unless they were throwing it at someone), it’s irresponsibility. I would tell them accidents happen, give them a hug, and have them clean it up (or help me clean it up if they were little). This is a biggie. If they know they’re going to have to clean up all their own messes, the number of messes will decrease dramatically.

If your children are anything like I was as a kid, their infractions will involve a combination of the above. For instance, I knew I wasn’t supposed to play with my older sister’s record player. I also knew if I did, someone might hear me and I would be busted, but I was so fascinated with it I just couldn’t leave it alone. My solution? Put a record on it, put the needle down, and manually spin it as fast as I could to see if I could still hear it making music. I could! I was so excited
…until my sister found her record all scratched up and told Mom.

  1. I disobeyed. I needed to say I was sorry, and recognize that I did not have the right to play with other people’s things without permission.
  2. When confronted, I got sassy about it. That’s disrespectful. I needed to be reminded that I shouldn’t speak to my mother that way, and told to apologize for it. (If I refused, that would’ve been disobedience again).
  3. I damaged my sister’s record. That’s irresponsibility. If I didn’t have the money to pay to replace the album, then I should’ve been given some work to do around the house to make the money so I could assume the responsibility and pay her back. Odds are, if I’d had to pay for the album, I would’ve been less likely to do that kind of damage again.

Bottom line: If there are no consequences for bad behavior, there’s no incentive to avoid it.

I’ve also found that there are some times when apologizing alone for disobedience is not enough. Kids need to learn that their actions have consequences (whether it’s a time out, or a loss of privileges, or a grounding, or a spanking ~ whatever you choose). They also need to know that it doesn’t just apply to kids, that adults can get punished too. (i.e, If I get a traffic ticket, it’s going to cost me money … even if I’m sorry.) Once they realize that consequences are something that follow you throughout your whole life, their perspective will change.

I think the most important part of all of this is that you take your time in deciding the consequences. Never decide on or impose punishment when you’re angry, and be consistent in enforcing the rules. My kids have known since their first driving lessons that if they get a traffic ticket, they will have to pay the fine and they will lose driving privileges for a time (how much time will depend on how far over the speed limit they were traveling). They know what to expect and are not fearful of Mom or Dad “losing it” and grounding them ‘til they’re 70.

I think the second most important part of this is being approachable. I’ve always told my children that they can communicate anything to us (they can even tell us we’re bad parents), as long as they do it respectfully (no “I hate you!”s, or lashing out angrily). If we tell them to do something, they know they should never answer with “but…”, because that sounds argumentative. I’ve told them to always say yes sir or yes ma’am first (so we know they’re willing to obey) and then they can ask their questions or bring up their objections for discussion. Along with that, we need to clearly communicate not only what the rules are, but why they’re important. That may seem obvious to you and me, but it’s not always obvious to kids. There are plenty of kids out there who think that their parents are just mean (because they do not understand why they’re being punished) and that if they just ran away from home, they wouldn’t have to deal with stupid rules any more. I can think of countless stories of teenagers who’ve had it with their parents telling them where to go and what to do all the time … so they left home and joined the Army. They eventually learned why discipline and hard work were important, but they learned it the hard way. Help your kids to understand why the rules are important and that your actions are done out of love and concern for who they are now and who they grow up to be.

That’s pretty much all I have to share. Are these good principles? Yes. Is it easy to be calm, consistent, and disciplined as a parent? No. Will I mess up? Daily, but when I do I admit it to the kids. It’s important for them to see that we all struggle to do the right thing and that we all fail at times. With lots of prayer, and guidance from the Lord, I find the strength to get back up and try again and I try to teach them to do the same.

I hope you’ve found something helpful in all of this and I wish all the best for you and your family.

Eileen

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Post from the Past: The Worst Advice

When I find myself thrown into a conversation with someone who is really struggling, my first goal is to say nothing that can harm them. The worst advice I could give them would be to encourage them to act in a way that will only make their situation worse. Oftentimes, though, this is the advice they expect to hear. It is the advice that our culture would naturally give. For instance, if your best friend is struggling in her marriage, she may expect you to “support” her by advising her to “put him in his place.” She may want you to validate the choices that she has been making because her husband deserves to be treated like a child. He is, after all, making her miserable and turning her into a sour person. When, really, the correct advice would be the opposite. Your best friend can’t expect to be able to change her husband. The only person she can change is herself. The more she tries to force her husband to change, the worse her situation will become.

God doesn’t put people into situations in which there are no right choices. There is always a right choice, even if that choice goes against our worldly reasoning. He doesn’t put wives into situations in which they cannot serve Him fully because their husbands won’t behave properly. Another person cannot come between her and God’s will for her life. Only she can do that. Instead of waiting for her husband to come ‘round, or instead of constantly nagging her husband and telling him what horrible decisions he makes or how badly he treats her, she should focus her energy on making each right choice in her life as she comes to it. What is the godly thing to do in this moment? She should do it. Five minutes later…what is the godly choice now? She should choose it. Advise her to treat her husband with the respect that his office demands, serving God and others in the meantime.

If she truly submits to the will of her husband, and can treat him respectfully in love and without sarcasm, he will probably come ‘round eventually. If not, well, people have suffered worse for the cause of Christ. This life is merely temporary anyway, and every situation will come to an end eventually. I heard a pastor quote yesterday, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” It’s been tried, and it doesn’t work. Wives cannot force their husbands to change. They can merely do what is good and right on a consistent basis, and hope that their husbands “may without the word be won by the conversation [lifestyle] of the wives.” 1 Peter 3:1

Post from the Past: Why do people hate homeschoolers?

This is probably my most popular post of all time:

Today, you can read many blogs and articles that discuss the issue of homeschooling in today’s world. And that’s natural; homeschooling is becoming the norm in many Christian circles (speaking from my own experience). The idea is hitting home with thousands of people across the nation as they consider their alternatives. Homeschoolers are out there. They need help. They need encouragement. But once in a while, they need a good kick in the pants.

People hate us.

I met a lot of strangers over the summer. One day, I conversed with a very personable woman at my son’s swimming lessons. We had been chatting for several minutes, when she asked my son what grade he would be going into. He responded with, “I’m in second already.” It was the middle of July. She looked at me kind of funny, so I said, “We homeschool, and he’s doing a few subjects over the summer.” She didn’t say anything at all. In fact, she immediately turned her entire body from me and started talking to the person sitting on the other side of her. She didn’t speak to me or look at me again for the rest of the week.

Why?

Why do some people treat homeschoolers that way? If we had been born into some other era, homeschooling would be normal. But in today’s world, it’s looked upon with disgust and mistrust. As I was writing yesterday’s post about the ability to conduct good conversations, I mentioned conversing about the topic of homeschooling. I began to honestly ask myself, “What causes people to respond to us with hatred?” I could give the obvious answers: we are the minority, people are afraid of things that are “different” or things they don’t understand, we live in an age that believes that the public education system is one of the crowning achievements of our society, some people are uncomfortable with the thought of families separating themselves for God, etc. All of those things are true, and there’s nothing we can do about them. We aren’t wrong to homeschool, so we do it anyway, and that’s that. It doesn’t matter what other people think. But people have another reason to hate us, you know. One that does matter. One that is our fault.

If you take the time to research, you can find a lifetime supply of “homeschooling-how-to” articles or “why-you-should-homeschool” articles. More and more, however, your search will also turn up very defensive material. You will find things like:

“The parents of public-schooled children are just jealous because homeschooled children perform better on tests.”

“Some families aren’t thrifty enough to live on a one-income budget, so they sacrifice their children instead of their stuff.”

“Many moms can’t stand to be around their children all day because they are just selfish.”

“Parents today have become too lazy to discipline and teach their own children because they know the school system will do it for them.”

And you know what? Those statements do apply to some people. But we’re missing a key point here. Here’s why they hate us:

Because we think we are better than them.

They stereotype us because we stereotype them. It seems that “we” are always flaunting our superiority over “them.” You know, we aren’t better people. Our sin is so disgusting in the sight of God as to make our righteousness indistingishable. We don’t deserve God’s love and grace anymore than anyone else on the face of the planet. God doesn’t love you more than he loves any other person.

It seems the more we try to obey God, the more “together” our lives are, the more we look down our noses at other people. Just one example (of many) from my own life: There have been a couple of long periods of time that I went without darkening the door of a church building. The strangest thing though: as soon as I started going back to church, I started looking around at all of the other people in my life and judging them for being out of church. Could my memory of my own sins be any shorter? Every time I make a positive change in my life, I struggle with this. I am not better than anyone else. I am not better than anyone else.

It helps me to remember my sins, how I’ve lived in the past, how I would live if I didn’t know Him, how I fail every day (even though I know better – even though I know how much it hurts God). Shouldn’t that make me worse than the rest, instead of better, since I am fully aware of how much my sin hurts Him? It’s a good thing God loves us all equally. In addition to lots of personal contemplation, I pray for humility all the time. It seems my prayers can’t keep up with my arrogance however, because I am always facing this issue.

Homeschoolers in general seem arrogant to me. Am I wrong? I’m sorry if I’m wrong. However, if there’s anyone out there who’s like me and needs help with this issue on a daily basis, here’s what I think we should do: Stop worrying about how other people live. Stop comparing yourself to them to make yourself feel better. Compare yourself to Christ, see how short you fall, repent every day, always do your best, and love everybody. A humble, righteous lifestyle speaks for itself, as does homeschooling. Maybe if we can change our arrogant attitudes, the fog of rage would dissipate from the eyes of onlookers, and they would be able to see us clearly.

You say you are training your children up to be witnesses? You be the witness. They will have a good example to follow. Love and respect people; it’s a great place to start.

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Matthew 22:37-39

The Worst Advice

When I find myself thrown into a conversation with someone who is really struggling, my first goal is to say nothing that can harm them. The worst advice I could give them would be to encourage them to act in a way that will only make their situation worse. Oftentimes, though, this is the advice they expect to hear. It is the advice that our culture would naturally give. For instance, if your best friend is struggling in her marriage, she may expect you to “support” her by advising her to “put him in his place.” She may want you to validate the choices that she has been making because her husband deserves to be treated like a child. He is, after all, making her miserable and turning her into a sour person. When, really, the correct advice would be the opposite. Your best friend can’t expect to be able to change her husband. The only person she can change is herself. The more she tries to force her husband to change, the worse her situation will become.

God doesn’t put people into situations in which there are no right choices. There is always a right choice, even if that choice goes against our worldly reasoning. He doesn’t put wives into situations in which they cannot serve Him fully because their husbands won’t behave properly. Another person cannot come between her and God’s will for her life. Only she can do that. Instead of waiting for her husband to come ‘round, or instead of constantly nagging her husband and telling him what horrible decisions he makes or how badly he treats her, she should focus her energy on making each right choice in her life as she comes to it. What is the godly thing to do in this moment? She should do it. Five minutes later…what is the godly choice now? She should choose it. Advise her to treat her husband with the respect that his office demands, serving God and others in the meantime.

If she truly submits to the will of her husband, and can treat him respectfully in love and without sarcasm, he will probably come ‘round eventually. If not, well, people have suffered worse for the cause of Christ. This life is merely temporary anyway, and every situation will come to an end eventually. I heard a pastor quote yesterday, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” It’s been tried, and it doesn’t work. Wives cannot force their husbands to change. They can merely do what is good and right on a consistent basis, and hope that their husbands “may without the word be won by the conversation [lifestyle] of the wives.” 1 Peter 3:1

Why do people hate homeschoolers?

Today, you can read many blogs and articles that discuss the issue of homeschooling in today’s world. And that’s natural; homeschooling is becoming the norm in many Christian circles (speaking from my own experience). The idea is hitting home with thousands of people across the nation as they consider their alternatives. Homeschoolers are out there. They need help. They need encouragement. But once in a while, they need a good kick in the pants.

People hate us.

I met a lot of strangers over the summer. One day, I conversed with a very personable woman at my son’s swimming lessons. We had been chatting for several minutes, when she asked my son what grade he would be going into. He responded with, “I’m in second already.” It was the middle of July. She looked at me kind of funny, so I said, “We homeschool, and he’s doing a few subjects over the summer.” She didn’t say anything at all. In fact, she immediately turned her entire body from me and started talking to the person sitting on the other side of her. She didn’t speak to me or look at me again for the rest of the week.

Why?

Why do some people treat homeschoolers that way? If we had been born into some other era, homeschooling would be normal. But in today’s world, it’s looked upon with disgust and mistrust. As I was writing yesterday’s post about the ability to conduct good conversations, I mentioned conversing about the topic of homeschooling. I began to honestly ask myself, “What causes people to respond to us with hatred?” I could give the obvious answers: we are the minority, people are afraid of things that are “different” or things they don’t understand, we live in an age that believes that the public education system is one of the crowning achievements of our society, some people are uncomfortable with the thought of families separating themselves for God, etc. All of those things are true, and there’s nothing we can do about them. We aren’t wrong to homeschool, so we do it anyway, and that’s that. It doesn’t matter what other people think. But people have another reason to hate us, you know. One that does matter. One that is our fault.

If you take the time to research, you can find a lifetime supply of “homeschooling-how-to” articles or “why-you-should-homeschool” articles. More and more, however, your search will also turn up very defensive material. You will find things like:

“The parents of public-schooled children are just jealous because homeschooled children perform better on tests.”

“Some families aren’t thrifty enough to live on a one-income budget, so they sacrifice their children instead of their stuff.”

“Many moms can’t stand to be around their children all day because they are just selfish.”

“Parents today have become too lazy to discipline and teach their own children because they know the school system will do it for them.”

And you know what? Those statements do apply to some people. But we’re missing a key point here. Here’s why they hate us:

Because we think we are better than them.

They stereotype us because we stereotype them. It seems that “we” are always flaunting our superiority over “them.” You know, we aren’t better people. Our sin is so disgusting in the sight of God as to make our righteousness indistingishable. We don’t deserve God’s love and grace anymore than anyone else on the face of the planet. God doesn’t love you more than he loves any other person.

It seems the more we try to obey God, the more “together” our lives are, the more we look down our noses at other people. Just one example (of many) from my own life: There have been a couple of long periods of time that I went without darkening the door of a church building. The strangest thing though: as soon as I started going back to church, I started looking around at all of the other people in my life and judging them for being out of church. Could my memory of my own sins be any shorter? Every time I make a positive change in my life, I struggle with this. I am not better than anyone else. I am not better than anyone else.

It helps me to remember my sins, how I’ve lived in the past, how I would live if I didn’t know Him, how I fail every day (even though I know better – even though I know how much it hurts God). Shouldn’t that make me worse than the rest, instead of better, since I am fully aware of how much my sin hurts Him? It’s a good thing God loves us all equally. In addition to lots of personal contemplation, I pray for humility all the time. It seems my prayers can’t keep up with my arrogance however, because I am always facing this issue.

Homeschoolers in general seem arrogant to me. Am I wrong? I’m sorry if I’m wrong. However, if there’s anyone out there who’s like me and needs help with this issue on a daily basis, here’s what I think we should do: Stop worrying about how other people live. Stop comparing yourself to them to make yourself feel better. Compare yourself to Christ, see how short you fall, repent every day, always do your best, and love everybody. A humble, righteous lifestyle speaks for itself, as does homeschooling. Maybe if we can change our arrogant attitudes, the fog of rage would dissipate from the eyes of onlookers, and they would be able to see us clearly.

You say you are training your children up to be witnesses? You be the witness. They will have a good example to follow. Love and respect people; it’s a great place to start.

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 

Matthew 22:37-39

Doing Virtuous Business by Theodore Roosevelt Malloch

Recently, I read Doing Virtuous Business by Theodore Roosevelt Malloch. On page 10, Mr. Malloch suggests that virtue is the root of business success, and throughout the rest of the book, he gives many examples to support this idea. He encourages employers to realize that people are spiritual beings (pg. 20) and to treat them as such. The book is filled with all kinds of practical applications and examples of virtue in business, and how those virtues contributed to the growth and success of known companies.

I truly enjoyed reading this book; the author shares his well-worded wisdom on nearly every page. He has a lot to say about treating people as equals, and not merely as a means to an end. In fact, on page 60 he states that, “You honor God by respecting his image, which is the human person.” Later, he shares something that all of us could stand to live by: “…the object of compassion is this person, here and now – the one whom you come across and whose need calls out to you (pg. 100).” I had a few complaints, but all in all, I’m very glad to have read it. I believe it should be read by every businessman.

If you want to find out more, check out the product page for this book. Or you can preview it here.

Note: In  exchange for an honest review, the publisher provided a complimentary copy of this book through BookSneeze®.