Our family life hasn’t been easy lately, as you have noticed, I’ve barely written any post in the last couple of months. But the downtime let me ponder on a lot of things like how can I effectively influence the future of my children without losing myself in the process?
Our goal last year was to be intentional towards our relationship with other people. But I guess it’s true what they say that you can’t do two things at the same time. Multi-tasking is a lie. As we immersed ourselves in improving our relationship with our family and friends, we somehow lost track of how we were shaping the lives of our own children. It felt like we spent more time dealing with other people than prioritizing our own family. Not that it’s bad but I always believe in family first.
If you have been following my blog, you would notice my heart and passion is for our children to grow up in the Christian light. I am witnessing firsthand how fast these kids grow up and slowly slip away from us. With that I meant my eldest who is now entering puberty and experiencing a lot of changes in her body. A mother can never be truly ready for these things, right? And because of these recent events, my heart beats a little faster as I worry that I only have little time left before I lose her to the world and she becomes her own person, not needing me that much anymore. When that day comes, would I be happy to see the choices she made?
The Truth vs Convenience.
Life is a never ending adjustment. Trial and error as they say but it is important to keep note on the things we need to improve. And this year, Mike and I decided to become more aware of the things we do. We asked ourselves three questions: Why are we doing what we’re doing? Who are we doing it for? Are we doing it because it is right or are we doing it out of convenience?
Most of the time, we decide on things based on convenience. The New York Times article The Tyranny of Convenience actually wrote about this beautifully: “In the developed nations of the 21st century, convenience — that is, more efficient and easier ways of doing personal tasks — has emerged as perhaps the most powerful force shaping our individual lives and our economies…Convenience seems to make our decisions for us, trumping what we like to imagine are our true preferences. (I prefer to brew my coffee, but Starbucks instant is so convenient I hardly ever do what I “prefer.”) Easy is better, easiest is best.”
I personally love everything that is easy because I want to believe that I.AM.SO.BUSY. I don’t have time to cook so I would just buy food. I don’t have the time to clean the house so I would just hire a maid. I don’t have time to see this friend so I’ll just message her on Facebook. I don’t have the time to discipline my child so I’ll just shout and get angry with her. My husband called me out on this one. He said that if I still have time to check/update my social media I.AM.NOT.SO.BUSY.
In choosing convenience we lose the fun in experience.
Truth is, in parenting, we choose convenience all the time because admit it or not, having kids can be exhausting. Constantly listening to their never ending stories can be draining, not to mention how much mess they generate in 0.1 second makes you want to lock that wardrobe and stay in Narnia forever. And when we do choose the easy way, we don’t notice the effect of convenience until it slaps us in the face.
Gadgets As Babysitters.
So convenient, right? The moment you hand a child an iPad or phone they just shut up in an instant! But do you really know what gadgets do to your children? Wait, let me rephrase that. Do you WANT to know what gadgets do to your children? Because if not, hit the [x] button right now.
Introducing our daughter to the iPad at an early age of 2 was the worst decision ever. The gadget was a gift to me but just like every other parent who discovered the convenience it can provide when it comes to kids, I gave in— installed games and YouTube. Our daughter was hooked in no time. She slept with it, ate with it, I think there was a time when she used it in the bathroom. They were inseparable! It was not until 3 years ago that we’ve become aware of its effect: she’s very impatient, she’s slow in comprehension, she values games more than studies. It was no doubt an addiction. The New York Post calls it digital heroin/electronic cocaine.
“…your kid’s brain on Minecraft looks like a brain on drugs. No wonder we have a hard time peeling kids from their screens and find our little ones agitated when their screen time is interrupted. In addition, hundreds of clinical studies show that screens increase depression, anxiety and aggression and can even lead to psychotic-like features where the video gamer loses touch with reality.” -NY Post
Finally, we decided to take the gadgets away completely. It wasn’t easy, it was a process and it took us a year to ban both of our kids in using the iPad and our phones. They are only allowed to watch TV with time limit and we choose the shows. After a week of rehab, we immediately saw the changes in our daughter’s behavior. But I’m not going to lie, sometimes we still see traces of impatience and entitlement but we choose not to give up on reversing the side effects. I am not conveying that technology is bad. If anything, it’s super helpful, but how we choose to use it defines whether it’s good or bad.
To know more about the effects of screens to children, read It’s ‘digital heroin’: How screens turn kids into psychotic junkies and why YouTube is a scary place Something is wrong on the internet.
Too Much Freedom.
I have this guilty pleasure of allowing my children (mostly my daughter because she can already take care of herself) spend plentiful amount of time in other houses i.e. a week at the grandparents’ or an entire afternoon of play date at the neighbor’s. Let’s be honest, there are days where moms like me enjoy the convenience of not having the kids around so we can finish the chores easily and spend some time reading or catching up on our favorite TV shows. And if you are a homeschooling family, this will ring some bells!
Although the opportunity seemed to be favorable, I was being convicted by my selfish intentions. I have seen how my daughter started to draw away from us: she chooses to be with other people more than her own mother, she treats her brother unkindly and favors her friends more than him, and she started to lose interest in arts. There was really a great disconnect for a while just because it is convenient for me to send her away.
We realized that there needed to be balance in our parenting. We cannot keep them forever and become an obstacle to their thriving but at the same sense, they need to honor our family rules. Our daughter still gets to see her grandparents and friends but now with limitations.
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin
To be able to finish chores at home, I do everything by myself. I carry the burden then in one snap I just lose it like the Tyrannosaurus Rex in Jurassic World. As my husband would always say to people who complain about other people, YOU DESERVE WHAT YOU TOLERATE. Do you know that children, just like their adult counterparts, are capable human beings? The problem is that we downsize everything for them because it is way more convenient for an adult to do things for them. We were made to believe that kids can only do little things thus parents become easily worn-out.
As Charlotte Mason, a classical English educator, suggested that a child is already a person and we must educate the whole person not just the mind defining education as an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.
“Education is an atmosphere” doesn’t mean that we should create an artificial environment for children, but that we use the opportunities in the environment he already lives in to educate him. Children learn from real things in the real world.
“Education is a discipline” means that we train a child to have good habits and self-control.
“Education is a life” means that education should apply to body, soul and spirit. The mind needs ideas of all kinds, so the child’s curriculum should be varied and generous with many subjects included.
Teaching can be frustrating especially if the kids can’t get it right away. I used to be annoyed every time my daughter would ask me to tie her hair or cut a circle but I realized that if I choose to do what’s convenient for me, which is doing it for her rather than showing her how to do it, how will she ever learn? So I decided to change. I decided to sit with my kids when they ask for help, carefully instruct them, involve them in everything I do if they show interest in it and most importantly, I have learned to give them time to digest everything and practice on their own.
Instead of seeing them as nuisance, I see them now as people who can do greater things.
Discipline is more than a habit. It is something that should be embedded in our soul as if we can’t live without it. Most of the time, it is us, the parents, who needs to make discipline a lifestyle. Do you notice how good we are in making rules but never really apply it? When you go to the mall you tell your kids that you are not going there to buy toys (because you just bought them one last week) but the minute they cry and make a scene, you give in right away breaking your own rule.
It took me a while as well to practice follow through with my kids. Sometimes when they work around the rules and find my weak spot, I just give in and later find myself making one rule after another. As Kevin Leman said in his book Have a New Kid by Friday, B does not happen until A is completed.
Some of you might think that I am such a strict mom but really, I would rather be strict now while my kids are still young than start later where it will much harder for me to get their attention. Close, close, close then open, release them to the world without worrying.
Don’t be afraid that your kids will not listen to you whether they’re 2 or 5 or 9. That’s the lie the devil wants you to believe. The easy way out is to assume that kids are stubborn but if you try, you will be surprised how malleable they really are. They believe everything they hear and see (be careful!). Luckily for homeschoolers like us, we have somehow filtered the noise from the outside making it more effective for us to sway them to the truth rather than convenience.
After all, the Bible has promised us…
Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.
Children are a heritage from the Lord,
offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their opponents in court.
I hope I encouraged you today to be more intentional to your children by choosing to live by the truth than whatever is convenient for you. It may look hard but the reward is worth it!
~~~Any thoughts? How can I pray for you? Let’s engage and drop by the comment section below!~~~