From Offense to Hatred — How to Stay Unoffended

Offense can easily spiral out of control and turn into hatred, and hatred is murder’s twin (I’ll show you what I mean in a moment). In the last blog, Jody and I talked about the process of forgiveness. Left unchecked, unforgiveness can take us down a dark road. Take a look:

Stage 1 — “Unforgiveness”

This is the first stage in the downward spiral of offense. This stage is most clearly marked by keeping a record of wrongs. So whenever you catch yourself rehearsing a conflict and feeling the anger and offense rising up, it’s a red flag.

Once you recognize the red flag, you have a choice:

  • You can admit that you’re being tempted to slip back into “unforgiveness” and then make the choice once again to walk through the process of forgiving someone that we outlined in Wednesday’s Post.
  • Or you can give your thoughts over to the offense, rehearsing the situation in your mind over and over, thinking of what you could have and should have said and spiraling deeper and deeper into bitterness.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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How Do I Forgive When I Don’t Feel Like It?

A while back, we  posted The 6 A’s of Apology and The 4 Promises of Forgiveness, and someone posed a question on our Facebook page. She asked how you forgive someone who isn’t really sorry. It’s a great question, but it assumes that forgiveness is something that the other person somehow earns.

Forgiveness really has nothing to do with the other person. On the contrary, staying offended is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. If left unchecked, unforgiveness turns to bitterness, and there is a great body of scientific evidence showing that bitterness leads to illness — both physical and psychological. According to Dr. Charles Raison, “The data that negative mental states cause heart problems is just stupendous. The data is just as established as smoking, and the the size of the effect is the same.”

The word forgive is a verb. It’s something you do, not necessarily something you feel. It’s an act of will. You decide to forgive. You choose to forgive, regardless of what the other person says or does.

Forgiveness does NOT mean that what the other person did was okay. It does not mean they were somehow correct or justified in their actions. In fact, that’s why we tell parents not to let their kids say, “It’s okay” when someone apologizes to them. Instead, we encourage them to say, “I forgive you,” because it’s not okay, but we can still forgive them.

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with ten kids between them (ages 1 to 30), including one on the autism spectrum, plus one baby grandchild. Together they host a weekly syndicated parenting radio show, write a weekly newspaper column, freelance for a variety of publications, teach parenting and homeschooling workshops and seminars, speak at conventions and conferences and coach individual families. They are passionate about encouraging and equipping families to Parent On Purpose (POP) with the end result in mind.

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Conflict is a Stewardship

If you have people in your life, we can PROMISE that at some point you WILL have conflict. And that goes for our kids too. How we handle it makes all the difference. Just as we can teach our kids to be good stewards over things like time, money, belongings and even schoolwork, we can give them tools to help them become good stewards of conflict.

A steward is a manager, someone appointed to oversee something or to look after it. Conflict is something that has to be managed carefully or else it can lead to all sorts of bad results, one of which is becoming (and staying) offended.

Offense is lethal. Being offended and staying offended is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. It causes a root of bitterness to anchor itself into the offended person’s life, destroying their peace, their health and their relationships.

But the truth is, staying unoffended is no small feat. It takes enormous work. Recently, we were teaching this topic to a group of adults, and one man asked why he should bother going to the trouble of working through this stuff. “Just walk away,” he said. But that’s not the answer.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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The Big Payoff of Reading Aloud to Kids

Out of all the different ways that we can help our kids succeed in school, the number one thing that parents can do requires nothing more than a free library card and time. We can read to them.

In 1983, the U.S. Department of Education was concerned about low academic performance scores, so they funded a Commission on Reading who spent two years combing through thousands of research reports conducted over the previous twenty-five years, and in 1985 they published their findings in a report titled Becoming a Nation of Readers. Amidst all of their digging, they discovered that reading out loud to kids is the number one most important thing we can do to help our kids become successful learners.

“The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children,” the report said. “It is a practice that should continue throughout the grades.”

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Their Name is Today – Review and Giveaway

I love the title of this book!

Their Name is Today is an awesome reminder that our kids won’t stop growing to wait for us to get our act together or get through this project or that crisis. They need our love and our focus right here and right now.

In his book Their Name is Today: Reclaiming Childhood in a Hostile World, author Johann Christoph Arnold reminds us that “as long as we have children entrusted to our care, we cannot forget that the demands they make on us must be answered in the present. Their name is today. Whatever children need in the way of guidance, security and love, they need now. Because soon enough it will be time for them to fly on their own, and then there will be no holding them back.”

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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The Absorbent Mind

Do you have a little person in your house between the ages of birth and six years old? Do you know someone who does? Then, you need to know about the Absorbent Mind period because there are some very specific things parents can do to make the most of these very important years.

This week we’ve been talking about the Montessori education method and philosophy, and in our post on creating a Montessori Toddler Room, we touched on the Montessori concept of Sensitive Periods — the developmental stages in a child’s life.

From birth to about age six, Dr. Maria Montessori identified a crucial period in a child’s development that she called The Absorbent Mind, and she believed that what happens during this period lays the foundation for all future intellectual and psychological growth.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Are You Raising Kids Who Will Do Hard Things?

Ever have this happen in your house: your kid is beaming with excitement over their new activity/hobby/idea, only to throw in the towel once they figure out they aren’t rock stars at it and that they actually have to practice to be any good?

Why does this happen? Because it’s not in most people’s nature (especially kids) to want to do hard things. But that places us, the parents, in a pickle. Do we make them stick out or do we let them quit? We want to teach them that you have to practice to become good at something, but we don’t want to force a square peg into a round hole and make them stick it out when it’s not their “thing?” It’s quite the conundrum, isn’t it?

Every family has a different way of dealing with this, but in the Hagaman and Stahlmann houses, we have a one semester minimum for a new activity because kids need to spend some time with a thing to figure out whether or not it’s a good fit.

At the root of many of the cries to quit is an unwillingness to work hard, and we need to fight against it. But we, the parents, need to first change our own mindset.

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with ten kids between them (ages 1 to 30), including one on the autism spectrum, plus one baby grandchild. Together they host a weekly syndicated parenting radio show, write a weekly newspaper column, freelance for a variety of publications, teach parenting and homeschooling workshops and seminars, speak at conventions and conferences and coach individual families. They are passionate about encouraging and equipping families to Parent On Purpose (POP) with the end result in mind.

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Does Your Child Have This Habit?

This is an oldie, but a goodie. Originally posted in March, 2011

Recently an 11-year-old asked me a question that so impressed me, I was inspired to add new step in my family’s daily routine.

A few weeks ago, we were setting up for a big community garage sale as a fundraiser to help finance a week-long training camp for teens at the state capitol.  During set up, I spent more time chasing down the kids to help than actually working.  The fundraiser was for them, not the adults, but the adults seemed to be doing all the work, and I was irritated, to say the least.

Holding a serving spoon with a glob of nacho cheese caked to it, I turned to the nearest child to ask that it be cleaned.  Subconsciously, I expected her to comply, but it was clear the kids had their own agenda that day. They were there to socialize, and all parental orders distracted them from their real purpose.

Don’t get me wrong, these are all obedient kids. There was no real disrespect, and they all did what was asked without complaint.  It was more of a clash of expectations — we expected them to socialize in the midst of the real agenda – work – and they expected to have to do some work in the midst of their real agenda – socializing.

So there I was, searching for a teen, cheese-encrusted spoon in hand.  Anna was closest to me, and at this point, my expectations had been set. I figured she’d take the spoon, shoulders subtly slumped at the faint disappointment of having to interrupt her conversation, and run off to the sink so she could hurry back and resume the real work of socializing.

Instead, she smiled and said, “Sure!” and reached out her hand to take the spoon. She was cheerful and unrushed, and everything about her body language said, “I have no other agenda right now but to serve you.”

When she returned, she didn’t drop the spoon on the table in a rush to resume her conversation. Instead, she handed me the spoon and said, “Is there anything else you would like me to do?”

I was amazed. Had she really just asked me if she could do anything else? And with a smile, no less?  WOW! My first instinct was to kiss her sweet cheeks and tell her to go play.  Her attitude made me want to bless the socks off her.  The truth of the matter was, I still needed her help, but after she completed a few more tasks for me, I lavished her in praise and sent her on her way.

Returning to frustration, I went on a manhunt to find the other teens, but Anna’s character that day inspired a new plan for my own kids.  Just like teaching our kids to use the potty, it’s all in the training.

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV)

Just like everything else we’ve trained in our kids, it takes persistent, hard work.  The truth is, we have to start by training ourselves.  Building a new character trait in a child starts with the parents making a decision, setting a plan, and then disciplining themselves to work the plan consistently. But it’s worth the payoff.

Here’s the plan we’ve been using:

  • We started by explaining that anytime a request is made or instruction is given, they are to return when they’re done and ask, “Is there anything else you would like me to do?”  That question is really what completes their task.
  • Then came role-playing. Whenever we role-play, we start small.  So in this case, it was “Bring me a tissue” or “Bring me a glass of water.” If they returned without asking the new question, we asked, “Is your task really complete?”
  • Just like any other habit, as we enforce it with every little task, it will soon become second nature to them.

It’s easy to focus on making sure they do their homework and keep their room clean, but it’s those subtle issues of character and attitude that can slip under our radar, and yet in life, these are the principle things.  God is faithful to point them out when we’re paying attention, and our reward for diligence is a respectful and cheerful child who blesses the people around him.

Occasionally we might even garner a few heart-warming compliments.  At the yard sale, it was my pleasure to pour out praises on Anna’s mom.  She deserved as much recognition as Anna.

At the end of the day, the work of character training pays large dividends.

Jody Hagaman

Jody Hagaman and her husband Tony have three kids, ages 18 to 30 and one precious baby grandchild. Jody’s story of how her son asked to be homeschooled has inspired
tens of thousands of families around the nation. A true homeschooling success story, that son is now an attorney in New Hampshire and is the New England Regional Director of The Concord Coalition, a bipartisan
organization dedicated to advocating responsible fiscal policy.

As a community leader, Jody has served on the board of directors of many local non-profit organizations. Her work experience as a corrections officer on a crisis intervention team inspired her to make a difference in the lives of the next generation.

She and Jenni co-host a weekly radio show, write a syndicated weekly column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about living on purpose with excellence and raising kids with the end result in mind.

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How are You Preparing Your Child For the Real World?

Facebook users, we have an AWESOME new group that’s all about preparing our kids for the real world. We want your voice and opinions and ideas, and we’d love for you to ask questions of the community and brainstorm with them.

This community is growing so quickly! We’ve added almost 500 people in the first few hours of it’s existence. Log into Facebook, join the group and invite your friends!

Here’s some info about the group:

This is a community for people who want to share ideas, ask questions and offer information that will help build the kind of skills kids need to succeed in the real world.

The goal of this community is simply to work together in raising kids who have REAL WORLD life skills — the stuff they probably won’t get in school (how to balance a checkbook, buy a house, grow a garden, learn about alternative energy, patent a product and bring it to market, harness social media for a purpose, etc.).

We’re here to talk about HOW and WHY to raise:

  • entrepreneurs
  • good communicators
  • civic-minded people
  • effective activists
  • debt-free, financially wise stewards of our planet
  • world changers
  • people who can manage their own thoughts, emotions and choices well
  • emotionally healthy people

We’re here to brainstorm together, offer ideas, ask questions and share information about:

  • how to help our kids start a business
  • how to teach our kids about our free market system
  • how to raise kids who will know how to cast an informed vote
  • how to help find their passion
  • how to nurture their passion
  • how to teach our kids to advocate effectively for what they believe in
  • how help kids negotiate well
  • how to teach kids good conflict management
  • you get the idea!

Did you join yet? Do it now, and share this post. See you on Facebook!

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with ten kids between them (ages 1 to 30), including one on the autism spectrum, plus one baby grandchild. Together they host a weekly syndicated parenting radio show, write a weekly newspaper column, freelance for a variety of publications, teach parenting and homeschooling workshops and seminars, speak at conventions and conferences and coach individual families. They are passionate about encouraging and equipping families to Parent On Purpose (POP) with the end result in mind.

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How to Raise Thankful Kids: The Art of Appreciation

This begins with a tale of two kids. Let’s call one kid Tom and the other Joe. Tom belongs to a Boy Scout troop that meets once a week, and he loves being a part of the troop. Every week he is fully engaged in the project or activity, raises his hand to ask questions, and beams with pride over even his smallest accomplishments. At the end of every meeting, as Tom is saying goodbye to his troop leader, he says, “Thank you so much! I had so much fun, and I learned something new. Can’t wait until next week.” Tom’s gratitude is palpable, and it validates all the hours that the leaders pour into the meetings.

Then there’s Joe. For the most part, Joe has a pretty good life. He’s got two parents who love him and love each other, and he has a fairly good relationship with his siblings. Joe’s parents work hard to give him as much as they can. He takes music lessons, has lots of toys, and gets to take annual family vacations. But for Joe, it always seems like life never gives him enough. When a group of friends invite him to a movie, he argues about which movie to see. If someone offers him a cookie, he wants to know why he can’t have two. If his parents take him to an amusement park, he pouts when they won’t buy him a souvenir.

Now let us ask you, the reader — which boy would you want living in your house?

Being thankful is really an art in the sense that gratitude brings beauty, and it adds significance to people and circumstances. A grateful heart is at peace. It values people over things and finds joy in nearly every situation.

On the flip side, an ungrateful heart feels self-entitled and is perpetually disappointed.

Some kids are born with an extra helping of appreciation, and others have to work at it, but the bottom line is this: as parents, we need to intentionally cultivate an attitude of gratitude in our kids.

It Starts with Us

You’ve probably heard the saying that more is caught than taught. Most people would probably say that they do a fairly good job of modeling gratitude by regularly saying please and thank you. And they would probably be right.

But just in case you need a little reminder, be sure to thank everyone! Thank the drive-thru people, the cashier, the people who hold doors open for you, and the coach of your child’s baseball team every time there’s a practice.

Smile at every one of their faces and look into every pair of eyes! Then turn to your kids, and have them thank those people too. Kids learn what they live, and in no time flat, you’ll have little gratitude machines.

But let’s take it even a step further. When it comes to appreciation, let’s go after excellence! Instead of simply thanking your waitress, say something specific about her service that you especially appreciated.

Occasionally, out of the blue, have the kids make thank you cards and maybe even small homemade gifts. Put them all in a cute basket and include a $10 gift card to Starbucks, and give it to your pastor as a token of gratitude for all he does for the church, your family and the community. Every Friday, park your car instead of waiting in the pick up line at your child’s school. Go in and ask what you can do to help them clean up for the week, and let them know that you appreciate the work they’re doing for your child.

And how about showing our kids that same level of gratitude. Aren’t we so grateful that these young people are in our lives? When they do something special, are we pouring out appreciation? Let’s lavish them in genuine gratitude for who they are and what they do. Then they’ll know firsthand how good it feels to be appreciated.

The Greater Role of Gratefulness

Ultimately, gratitude is the antithesis of selfishness. When we teach our children to value and appreciate people, we teach them empathy, compassion and a general regard for humanity. We remind them that they are part of a community, and they have responsibility in that community.

Lessons of appreciation help our kids become aware of other people’s time and money and effort, and they teach our kids to focus on what they have and not what they lack, which ultimately helps fight against entitlement. When kids are grateful for every breath they take, they are not likely to also feel like the world owes them something.

Living Gratitude

About 11 years ago (Jenni speaking), I took my preschool daughter to a mommy and me class, and I overheard a conversation between a mom and a little girl that I’ll never forget. I could tell by their clothing and accessories and the car they drove that this family was wealthy. As they were working together on a craft project, the mom was saying, “You are so lucky to get to go to a class like this! You have lots of friends and a wonderful teacher here to help you. You get to make pretty projects and play with toys. You are so lucky.”

I was deeply impressed by this mom’s deliberate attempt to cultivate a heart of gratitude in her young daughter. And I realized then that so much of this training happens in conversation with our kids, as we draw their attention to the many blessings in their lives.

If you’re looking for a fun way to raise the bar of appreciation in your home, consider starting a Family Book. Just get a Composition Journal and leave it somewhere central. As things happen (holidays, vacations, visitors, parties, etc.) encourage family members to write down things that they’re grateful for while they’re actually feeling thankful. They can also write down fun memories and funny things that family members said. Then, you could pull out the book once in a while and read through it together. It will be a reminder of all that you have to be grateful for, and when it’s full, you’ll have a treasured family keepsake.

 

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with ten kids between them (ages 1 to 30), including one on the autism spectrum, plus one baby grandchild. Together they host a weekly syndicated parenting radio show, write a weekly newspaper column, freelance for a variety of publications, teach parenting and homeschooling workshops and seminars, speak at conventions and conferences and coach individual families. They are passionate about encouraging and equipping families to Parent On Purpose (POP) with the end result in mind.

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