What About Socialization?

Any homeschooler out there has heard this question more times than they can count. It’s the big elephant in the room with non-homeschoolers. But it’s kind of funny because we distinctly remember our school teachers saying over and over, “You are not here to socialize!” So why on earth does everyone seem to think that if kids don’t go to a traditional school, they won’t ever have healthy relationships?

What’s the real concern here? That kids will be weird and irrelevant? That they won’t blend in with the crowd? Is that really what we want — homogenized kids?

We think what people are mostly worried about is that kids won’t be emotionally healthy if they don’t follow the traditional school plan. But let us ask you: how well has the standard American education system done in producing high volumes of emotionally healthy adults?

Are most of the adults you know good communicators? Or are they emotionally constipated? Are they deep divers (meaning, can they hold deep conversations about multiple topics)? Or are they mostly surface dwellers? Are most of the adults you know confident? Do they have a healthy self-esteem? Or are they insecure and self-conscious?

We’re not sure what it’s like where you are, but in all the places we’ve lived, it doesn’t seem like the the school system has pumped out a society of well-socialized humans.

Let’s think about this for a minute. Are we really saying that a classroom full of 20-30 kids the same age as our kids is the best model for developing excellent social skills? Who are these kids, anyway? According to a recent Nielsen survey, the average household watches more than 5 hours of TV a day. About half of all homes are split by divorce. If they’ve got teens in the home, we should note that recent statistics show that 72% of high schoolers are drinking alcohol, and 70% of kids have had sex by the age of nineteen.

If these are the stats, is this the kind of socialization we want for our kids? Proverbs 22:15 says that foolishness is bound in the heart of child. And Proverbs 13:20 warns that a companion of fools will suffer harm. You do the math!

Besides, how is a large building, full of age segregated classrooms, the best setting for preparing our kids for the adult social scene? Let’s think about this. For the most part, kids go to school with other kids from their neighborhood. Once there, they’re segregated into subsets by age, and then broken down even further into smaller factions by ability (the gifted group, the learning disabled, etc.).

How is this in any way preparing our kids to socialize in the real world? If anything, it’s creating a class system where older kids refuse to fraternize with younger kids and those who learn differently are treated like misfits.

Let’s Flip the Script

From now on, maybe homeschoolers should turn the tables on the public. When we hear that a kid goes to public or private school, perhaps we should wince a little and then gather our eyebrows together and wrinkle our nose like we just smelled poop and say, “What about socialization?”

We’re sure there are the few obscure cases of socially isolated homeschoolers who are only allowed to befriend their siblings and rarely leave their unibomber-style cabins. But in our 23 combined years of homeschooling, we haven’t met any.

Like any people group, homeschoolers have their creative people, their awkward people, their comedians, their brainiacs, their extroverts and their introverts. Sure there are weird homeschool families. There are weird public school families too and weird private school families. Bottom line — weird people exist in all cross sections of society.

But unlike their public and private school counterparts, most of the homeschoolers we know interact with kids and adults of all ages every day. And they spend a lot of time under their parent’s guidance, which means they’re usually coached through  difficult social situations.

Homeschool groups have Queen Bees and Wannabees just like regular school groups. The difference is, it’s harder for these kids to fly under the adult radar in homeschool groups.

When there’s a conflict (and there always is), parents can coach kids through healthy resolution techniques. Parents can see how their kids behave in groups and react to other kids, and they can mentor them through the rough spots. When they see their kids having a bad attitude (jealousy, self-pity, pride, arrogance), they can help their kids identify it and give them tools to work through it.

Parents of public and private schooled kids can do the same things, of course, they just can’t do it for about 6-8 hours of the waking day, Monday through Friday.

Homeschool parents also spend a lot of time around their kids’ peers and can help their kids choose the right friends, based on common interests and not just proximity.

So what about socialization? You decide.

 

 

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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Sensible Shoes – A Book Review

Last week I finished a book that so moved me and affected the way I relate to God, that I just had to share it.

Our blog is primarily for parents, but sometimes we need to take a hiatus from talking about raising the kids and speak directly to the people who are doing the raising. This book is for all the moms, grandmas, sisters, friends, old women, middle-aged women and young women who read our blog. Could men read this book? I guess so. But make no mistake, this is a girls’ book!

Let me first say, I don’t read a whole lot of fiction. Maybe I should change that, but there are two main reasons I don’t.

#1 – I am a researcher and a learner at heart, and I have SO MANY non-fiction books waiting for me to read that it almost feels irresponsible to read a fiction book.

#2 – When I do get my hands on a good fiction book, I lose all self-control and end up reading the thing from cover to cover in one sitting, ignoring my kids and letting them eat cookies for dinner, allowing my house to fall apart around me, looking like we’ve been robbed, and ignoring all the cries of my business to-do list.

Besides, at this season in my life, I don’t have many free days on my calendar that would allow me to take an entire one to read a good fiction book, so I usually stick with non-fiction.

But something about Sensible Shoes caught my attention, and I had to pursue it. I heard the author being interviewed on Moody Radio, and although I don’t remember what she said that was so compelling, I do remember that I had to pull over to order it from Amazon, right then and there (what did we ever do before Smart Phones?).

Two days later the book arrived in my mailbox, and I began reading it. It’s the story of four very different women who all end up begrudgingly attending a women’s  study at a Christian Retreat Center. Their stories were compelling enough to suck me in pretty early on. The only trouble I had was remembering who was who, but the back cover has a handy summary of each woman that I could flip to when I wasn’t sure. By about page 50, they were real enough to me that I didn’t have to consult the cover anymore.

The author, Sharon Garlough Brown, did a beautiful job of developing characters that you can’t help but love (and sometimes dislike). The raw honesty of her portrayal makes it easy to relate to them. These are four very real people, struggling in very different ways, which are sometimes unnoticeable to the outside world, but as we read their thoughts, we can’t help but find things that resonate.

For the story alone, this is a good read. It’s a page turner. I found myself caring deeply about the people, and I felt compelled to find out what was going to happen to them.

But, unlike any fiction book I’ve ever read before, it’s also a guidebook to very personal spiritual journey for the reader. As you read about the sacred journey these four characters are taking, you can’t help but be challenged to go deeper into the heart of God yourself. The women’s group in the story meets at a Christian Retreat Center twice a month for three months, and at each session, they learn a new spiritual discipline designed to bring them into a greater intimacy with God.

As I read about their journey, I was also learning how to apply each discipline to my own life. So many times throughout the book, I had to put it down and get alone with God and His word.

If you’ve ever wanted to journal but didn’t know how or where to start, Sensible Shoes will help!

I’m now going back through it, reading the things I underlined and figuring out how to incorporate some of these new spiritual disciplines into my life and into my relationship with God.

Come back throughout this week. I’m going to review a different book each day. Until then, head over to Amazon and pick up a copy of Sensible Shoes!

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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Teach Kids How to be Proactive and Approachable

Last week we talked about teaching kids how to choose friends carefully and be a friend. Part of making new friends involves being proactive and approachable. We’ve found that there are some tangible ways that you can help kids develop these important people skills.

The Handshake

We teach our kids what we call the handshake routine. It builds confidence in them and teaches them how to step out on their own. We have a blog already written on how to do this and implement it in your own home. Check it out here.

The Interview

People always want to talk about themselves. The problem is that most people don’t know how to start the conversation. So, a common practice in our homes is to come up with interview questions. Questions that get people talking about their favorite subject — themselves!

For example

  • Where do you go to school?
  • What’s your favorite subject?
  • Do you play sports-what do you play?
  • Are you involved in any other activities – what are they?
  • Do you take family vacations-where have you gone?
  • What do you do for fun?
  • What do you want to be when you grow up?
  • Why does that interest you?

Being Hospitable

We have to teach our kids to be observant. Look around and see who is not “plugged in” to what’s going on. Then, teach them how to “pull them in” to the activity.

One of the prerequisites to going to a function when you live in the Hagaman Home is when you walk into a room, look around. See who appears to be feeling left out, awkward, uncomfortable or new to the group. Their job is to approach them, interview them and find a way to make them feel welcomed and included.

Talk to your children about being empathetic. It’s important that our kids know how to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. You can do this by asking questions. “How do think he feels being the new kid and not knowing anyone?” “Do you think it’s scary walking into a room full of kids you don’t know?” “How hurtful do you think it was when so-and-so purposely shunned her?” Not only will this help them get far in life, it will also cause them to be emotionally mature.

Being Fun

A simple smile goes a long way. Have them constantly do an inventory of their facial expressions. No one wants to be around a Stick-In-The-Mud or a Negative Nellie. I had one of these in my house. I had the girl who would always poo-pooed everyone else’s movie choices or game ideas. We had to work hard at changing that. We prayed, found the root and weeded it out. Now, she’s the FUN GIRL! Everyone wants to be around her because she’s the life of the party.

So, what are some things you do to help you kids be proactive and approachable?

 

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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What It Takes To Be a Friend

Yesterday, I talked about teaching our kids to be careful who they call a friend. In the midst of a discussion about this with my oldest daughter, it got me thinking about what it takes to be a true friend.

Being conscientious of what it takes to be a good friend causes a person to look for those same traits in the people they call friends. But when it comes to kids, it also takes regular conversation about the subject to keep it fresh in their minds.

Role playing is a practical way to walk through real life scenarios. It helps kids see possible outcomes and ways to navigate various situations. In Lexi’s case, we brainstormed ways to respond to a similar situation as the one I shared yesterday without being taken advantage of.

What does it take to be a good friend?

Build Trust

  • By being reliable. Do what you say you’re going to do. Be where say you’re going to be. Let your yes be yes and you no be no.

  • Be consistent. Be the same to everyone everyday.

  • Be just. Defend what’s right and stand up against what’s wrong no matter who is involved.

  • Tell the truth.

  • Don’t gossip.

  • Don’t show favoritism in a group.

  • Don’t let your friends be left out.

Show Honor & Respect

  • Put others first. Let them go first in line. Offer a helping hand. Listen more than you talk, and show genuine interest in what they say.

  • Don’t push others down to elevate yourself.

  • Don’t be sarcastic. Check our blog on the difference between sarcasm and facetiousness. http://63.141.231.92/?s=sarcasm

Loyalty

  • Stand up for what’s right.

  • Be willing to work through conflict and not give up on a friendship.

Acceptance

  • Embrace differences without compromising morals. Your friends don’t have dress the way you do and like all the same things you like. Give each other space to be unique.

  • You don’t always have to agree with your friends, but always respect their opinion.

  • Learn how to enjoy different personality types.

Stop back in on Monday. I’m going to talk about teaching kids to be proactive and approachable as they seek out new friendships.

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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Be Careful Who You Call Friend

How do we teach our kids to wise about friendships without being skeptical? How do we teach them to be generous without being a sucker? I recently tackled these questions with my oldest daughter.

Lexi attends a visual and performing arts high school part time. Just before lunch each day, she drives herself in to school.

There are a couple girls she hangs out with when she first arrives because the rest of the students are still eating lunch. One day, one of the girls called Lexi and said she was “starving”.  She asked if Lexi would stop by McDonald’s on her way in to grab her a bite to eat. Lexi, being sympathetic to her plight, could not refuse the starving, sad voice on the other end of the phone. But then, as soon as Lexi agreed to get her food, the “starving” girl cranked up the manipulation.

“Great! Get me a 10 piece McNugget, a large fry and a Cafe Mocha. I’ll pay you back.”

Lexi went through the drive-thru and used her debit card. Unbeknownst to her it caused her account to become overdrawn. Immediately, I received a notification (her account is connected to mine), and needless to say, this mom was not a happy camper.

When Lexi got home from school that day, we had a nice chat.

She’s at an age where she should be wise and know when to trust and when to be leery. But it’s a delicate balancing act, because she also needs to be generous. I want all of my kids to have giving hearts, but I don’t want them to get ripped off.

When she got home, I sat her down for the McDonald’s talk. I didn’t want her to feel stupid or shameful, so I started with some questions.

“Lexi, did it occur to you that this girl was already at school with a bunch of other kids who had food? There was plenty of food available to her, but she hadn’t asked anyone there for something to help solve her hunger crisis?”

I could see from the expression on her face that this thought had not occurred to her.

“Did you have the slightest ‘check’ when her food order was almost $12? She certainly wasn’t ordering off the dollar menu. I’m thinking if she was THAT hungry a dollar menu item would have been just fine.”

This also had not occurred to her.

Then, of course, we had to have the conversation about always checking your bank balance and not overdrawing the account. We have since put a system in place to prevent that from ever happening again.

Her responses were all very innocent. It had never occurred to her that this girl’s goal was to take advantage of her. To this day, the girl has never paid her back and now avoids Lexi like the plague.

Lexi just hadn’t thought to question her “friend’s” motives. She didn’t for one second entertain the possibility that this girl wouldn’t pay her back.

This was a tough one. First I had to check my own emotions about the situation. I was angry that this girl had taken advantage of my daughter, but I was even more concerned that Lexi had no clue she had been taken advantage of.

I sent Lexi back to school armed with ammo to confront the situation.

I role played with her different ways to approach this girl and ask for repayment, which was extremely difficult for Lexi, who typically runs screaming from confrontation. That in itself was a growth opportunity for her.

The obvious take away for Lexi from this situation was to be careful who she calls a friend (and trusts), but it also opened an important conversation about friendship in general. Check back tomorrow. We’re going to talk about what it takes to be a friend.

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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The Difference Between Honor and Respect

Hang with us long enough, and you’ll find out that we put a lot of emphasis on definitions. Healthy communication is the bedrock of healthy relationships, and healthy relationships are the foundation of a truly successful life. Clear definitions are powerful communication tools.

Today, we’re going to talk about teaching our kids the difference between honor and respect.

Honor

Our definition: “Positioning others above yourself; showing awe and awareness of the sacredness of God’s creation.”

Philippians 2:3,4 says, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”

Honor is about placing other people’s needs before our own. It’s about letting people go before us. It’s about assuming that other people know more than we do. It’s about choosing to lower ourselves to elevate others.

Make not mistake here — we’re not suggesting you become a doormat and let people abuse you and wipe their mud on you. Think of it as being a step ladder, bowing down willingly to help others reach their next level.

If honor means lifting someone up, then dishonor is putting a person beneath you:

  • Cutting in front of someone in line

  • Interrupting someone who is talking

  • Being a “know it all”

  • Road rage

  • One-upping each other

  • Always trying to beat someone in a game

  • Being a sore loser or an arrogant winner

Dishonor could look like one child pushing another out of the way saying, “Just let me do it,” when she’s frustrated with teaching her sibling a new computer skill.

Honoring siblings and friends prepares a child for adult life and gives them an opportunity to practice stewarding people.

Honoring the people we know, and the ones we don’t, needs to be high on our list of family values. Some ways to instill it in our kids is to teach them to hold doors for other people (including and especially their siblings) and to let people go before them in a food line. But remember, we have to set the example and enforce the behavior in all situations. It’s repetition that turns a behavior into a habit.

Respect

If honor is all about position, then respect is all about attention.

There are two kinds of respect — respect for people and respect for things.

Our definition: “(with regard to people) Giving a person the attention he or she deserves. (with regard to things) Carefully and thoughtfully showing proper courtesy for other people’s belongings.”

We show respect to people when we give the person the attention he or she deserves.

We respect those in authority by saluting them, which is a special kind of attention, and by being attentive to and adhering to the rules and requirements of the authority figure. Our kids respect our authority when they pay attention to the family rules, listen to our wisdom and carefully weigh our advice.

We respect teachers and mentors buy listening to them (which is giving them our attention) and being engaged in what they are saying. We respect experts by carefully considering their advice or insight.

This is how the concept plays out with siblings: if one sibling is teaching another how to knit, the teacher in that situation should command respect, and the child being taught should give her sibling her full attention without interrupting or arguing.

If your family is on vacation and is taking a museum tour, you show respect to the tour guide (in that case an expert) by being quiet and giving him your complete attention.

We can reinforce this concept by having our kids always approach people in higher positions, look them in the eye, shake their hand and thank them. For example, at the end of the museum tour, have each child approach the guide, shake his hand and thank him for his time.

Live By Example

Parents dishonor their kids by positioning things and processes above them.

By processes we mean your agenda. For example, you’re trying to get out the door, and your daughter is asking twenty questions; that’s an interruption of process. In that case, the focus might have to be on the process, but you can still honor her by letting her know that her questions are very important, and you will gladly answer them once you are in the car.

But when mom is hyper focused on reorganizing her closet and little Jessie comes in to show her the drawing she made, it would be dishonoring to ignore Jessie and place the importance of the process above the importance of Jessie.

Parents disrespect kids when they fail to give them the attention they deserve. When our kids are speaking, we should look them in the eye and focus on what they’re saying. If one of our kids is a mini-expert in a particular subject, we should acknowledge it and give weight to their advice and opinion when it comes to that subject. That’s modeling respect.

When it comes to respecting things, we absolutely should teach our kids to be good stewards of their belongs and the household belongings, and we definitely want to teach them to be good stewards of other people’s things, but when we put so much attention on taking care of our home or our yard that we don’t pay attention to the kids, we are disrespecting them. And we appear to value our things more than we value their feelings, we are dishonoring our kids.

So the question is, how can we honor and respect our kids AND teach them to be honoring and respectful at the same time?

Let’s say, your teen boy comes in the house with his backpack slung over his shoulder. As he walks through the kitchen, there’s a bowl on the counter. He spins around to talk to his brother and knocks the bowl on the floor, shattering it. It’s part of a set that you love, and you are upset.

  1. Stop and ask yourself what you are feeling. You might detect anger.

  2. Next, ask yourself why are feeling that way. In this case, it’s because you feel there’s an injustice. You work hard for your family. Your husband works hard to provide, and your son’s carelessness has caused a loss.

  3. Remind yourself that your child is more important than the bowl.

  4. Call your child over for discussion. REMEMBER — because your child is important, you MUST use this as a teaching and correcting opportunity. This is a teachable moment, and when we care about our kids, we don’t let these pass us by.

Questions for your child:

  1. What just happened?

  2. How did it happen?

  3. How do you think I feel about the bowl breaking?

  4. What could you have done differently to avoid that?

 You can do the same thing when a sibling disrespects another sibling’s belongings or process. But again, we have to teach our kids that the person is more important than the thing or process.

These kind of conversations let our kids know that we do value them, and they are more important than our things or what we’re doing, but it also teaches them to be honoring and respectful of people and things.

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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Is Tattling Bad?

I think every parent has asked this question at one time or another. We want our kids to feel comfortable telling us when they have a problem, and we want them to come to us for help, but somehow we also feel like there’s something inherently wrong with tattling. So the question is, “Is tattling bad?”

When we talk about tattling, most people think of it as telling on someone. “He hit me!” But we want to be able to help when there’s a problem, so how can our kids tell us what’s happening without being a tattletale?

It’s really an issue of motive. If the child’s goal is to get the other person in trouble, it’s tattling. If the child’s motive is to get help, it’s telling.

The child’s first step should be to talk directly to the other child. Love covers a multitude of sins, and out of a love for one another, our kids should want to help each other stay out of trouble. If one kid sees another one breaking a rule, instead of running to an adult to get the kid in trouble, the first child should warn the other kid to prevent them from making a mistake. If the offending child corrects his behavior, there’s no need to tell an adult.

The exception to this is if there’s danger involved. If one child is doing something potentially dangerous, the other kid should get help right away.

If one child does something that upsets or even hurts another kid, the offended person should first vocalize her feelings. “Ouch! You hurt me.” The offender should immediately apologize and take any necessary corrective steps. If that doesn’t happen, the child who has been hurt should find an adult and get help.

Tattling vs. Telling

Just as the motive of tattling is to get someone in trouble, the motive of telling is to get help, and that’s exactly how it should be phrased.

There’s a big difference between, “He hurt me!” and “Mom, Johnny hurt me. I tried to talk to him, but he wouldn’t listen. I need your help.”

“I need your help!” are Power Words

“I need your help” are the power words here. If your daughter is at a playdate and her friend refuses to share, she should first try to talk directly to her friend. But if her friend still won’t share, she should be empowered to go to the child’s mom and say, “Mrs. Smith, Jane won’t share with me. I need your help.”

Again, the difference between tattling and asking for help is in the goal. If the goal is to get the other person in trouble, you’re tattling. Don’t allow tattling. Instead, let your kids know that you are there if they need your help. That goes back to teaching them to advocate for themselves. “Mommy, I need your help.”

How to Teach Tattling vs. Telling

Role Playing

Role playing is key to teaching this concept, especially with younger kids. On the way to a playdate, spend the entire car trip talking about potential situations and role playing different ways your kids can handle them. Kids  need us to give them the words and the tone to use in sticky situations.

Say, “So, Sally, what would you do if Jane refuses to share with you today?”

Remind her that the first step is to confront her friend directly. Help her practice using the right words and the right tone. “Jane, I’m so glad that you invited me here today. I’d like to play with the baby doll too. Would you please share with me?”

Then ask her what she’ll do if Jane refuses. Remind her NOT to say, “I’m telling your mom!” Instead, coach Sally to quietly get up and walk out of the room and go find Jane’s mom.

When she finds her say, ““Mrs. Smith, Jane won’t share with me. I need your help.”

 Conversation

On a regular basis, have conversations about what the word “motive” means. Talk about the motive behind tattling and the motive behind telling.

Play “games” in the car or when you’re making dinner or folding laundry where you give them a scenario and have them decided whether it’s an example of tattling or telling.

If you’ve got readers in your house, spend a craft day making a cute sign that says “Tattling = Getting Someone In Trouble. Telling = Getting Help.” Put the sign up in a common area to remind kids about the difference.

Then, when you catch your kids tattling, ask them, “What’s your motive? Did you remind your brother that he’s not supposed to go outside without shoes on before coming to tell me? Are you trying to get him in trouble?”

On the flip side, when you catch your kids telling, praise them. “Good job! You came to me to get help and not to get your brother in trouble. You were telling and not tattling.”

Talk about what constitutes a dangerous situation and remind kids that they have to get help whenever there’s danger involved. Give them examples of things that would require immediate help (playing with fire, jumping off high places, etc.) and things that don’t require immediate help (leaving soap on the dishes, making a mess, etc.).

If we take a proactive approach, our kids will become great at checking their motives, and they’ll probably begin to teach their friends the difference tattling and telling. Remember, the choices we make as parents can affect a whole community!

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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Are You Offended? Part 3: From Offense to Hatred — How to Stay Unoffended

Offense can easily turn into hatred, and hatred is murder’s twin. I’ll show you what I mean in a minute, but first, let’s look at a few things the Bible has to say about hatred. They’re pretty startling, and they give us good reason to be diligent about not letting our offense spiral out of control into hatred.

I John 4:20 says, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”

Continuing to hate someone means you don’t love God, and it also could mean that your very salvation is in question. “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.” (1 John 2:9)

1 John 3:15 goes on to say, “Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.”

This is serious stuff, but remember, Satan was once described as the most subtle of all creatures. In Genesis 3:1 we read the account of Eve being tempted by the serpent (see Revelations 12:9, Revelation 20:2 for the connection between the serpent and Satan): “Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the women, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?”

Satan is subtle, and he’s been around since people were created, observing them and tempting them. He understands people very well, and just as he tempted Eve through the power of suggestion, he injects thoughts into our minds to keep us offended and to lead us to hatred because he knows it’s an easy way to get us to offend God.

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 yesterday’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.

Stage 2 — Resentment

Resentment is the product of meditating on the offense, rolling it around in your mind and chewing on it until the offense takes a firm hold in your spirit.

Obviously, it’s harder to release it in this stage, but it’s not impossible. If you catch yourself here, just go back to forgiveness again.

Stage 3 — Revenge

If you stay in resentment long enough, eventually you will begin to want revenge. Sometimes it’s as basic as wanting to “put the person in their place,” but it can also be more elaborate. Regardless of what it looks like, Stage 3 of offense says, “you need to pay for what you did to me.”

Stage 4 — Hatred

You can be sure that you’re in full blown hatred mode when you can’t be in the same room with the person who offended you. When the very thought of the person repulses you, it’s hatred all right.

Stage 5 — Violence

Matthew 5:21, 22 says, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment. But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.”

The Greek word for “angry” in this verse means “enraged with”. It makes sense that being enraged with someone puts you in the same category as murderers because hatred leads to an elimination mindset.

Basically, it goes like this — the hatred takes over and declares, “You WILL feel my pain! You WILL hear my cry! And I WILL eliminate you!”

Stage 6 — Elimination

Elimination doesn’t have to be physical murder. Although in extreme cases, it can go there. But it can also look the kind of verbal abuse that’s aimed at silencing someone. It can be an assassination of a person’s character to other people. It can be an attempt at isolating them from people and things. Elimination can look like dehumanization, demoralization and estrangement.

This list of stages is a tool for discernment. Do a self-check and figure out where you are. Remember that God can work in all of it. So matter where you find yourself on the list, make the choice to go back to forgiveness, and ask God to come in and help.

Hatred might feel temporarily good to the flesh, but the consequences are not worth it.

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 Offended? Part 2: How to Forgive Even When You Don’t Feel Like It

This whole series really started when we posted The 6 A’s Apology. After the follow up post on The 4 Promises of Forgiveness, 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. Mark 11:25 says, “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” That verse doesn’t say to forgive after the person offers a genuine apology. It says that if you want your prayers heard, you need to forgive anyone that you have anything against.

Matthew 6:14, 15 says that if you don’t, your Father won’t forgive you. That’s a pretty steep admonition right there.

But here’s how you can do it. First of all, recognize that the word forgive is a verb. It’s something you do, not necessary 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. In fact, that’s why we tell parents not to let their kids say, “It’s okay” when someone apologizes to them. It’s not okay, and forgiving the person does mean the person was right.

Forgiveness means you are choosing to take the other person off your hook and put them on God’s hook. You’re saying that you are not going to seek revenge, you’re going to make them pay or show them how it feels. Instead, you are release the person into God’s hands and letting Him deal with the consequences.

Here’s how it looks. First, out loud, make the CHOICE to forgive the person. Say, “I choose to forgive _______ for _________. I am releasing __________ in Your hands, God, and asking that you handle this in the best way for both of us.”

Then ask God to give you His perspective on the situation and to see the person through His eyes.

Ask God to help you completely and totally forgive this person and to take away the feelings of anger and hurt.

Then speak a blessing over the person. “I bless ________ in the name of Jesus, and I ask God that you give her the desires of her heart, that you protect her and prosper her and her loved ones.”

That’s it. Then just wash, rinse and repeat every time you think of it. Take heart, it can take a long time and many rounds of intentionally releasing the person before you actually feel like forgiving them. But the very choice to do it will be blessed. God will honor your decision, and He will be faithful to give you peace as long as you continue to forgive.

We’ll talk more about that tomorrow and we’ll give you practical steps to staying unoffended, as we walk through the progression from offense to hatred.

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 Offended? Part 1: Steps to a Healthy Conflict

So, we’re a little late with this post, but with good reason. Our kids got called to be extras on the set of Dolphin Tale 2! Sorry, we don’t have any pictures; cameras were strictly forbidden. It was a really cool experience for them, but a bit on the long and boring side for the parents (just keeping it real!).

So today, we want to talk about staying unoffended. Originally, we wanted to cover the steps of a healthy confrontation, along with how to forgive even when the person doesn’t “deserve” it and the progression from offense to hatred. But when we started fleshing it all out, it was clearly too much for one post. Come back tomorrow for a discussion on how to forgive, and then stop by on Tuesday for a post on the progression from offense to hatred. For today, we’re going to focus on the conflict part of being offended.

Here’s the thing… 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.

Relationships are worth caring for and preserving, even when that looks like very hard work. In fact, we could safely argue that they are THE single most important thing in life to care for and preserve.

But relationships always involve people, and people are always problematic because we’ve all got that pesky sin nature. Parents know this better than anyone. We don’t have to teach our kids how to misbehave, do we? Nope. That comes naturally. But we do have to work our butts off to teach them how to behave, and it’s stinkin’ hard work!

So that means that in any relationship, given enough time, conflict is inevitable when a sin nature meets another sin nature. Actually, avoiding it can have devastating consequences. So can mishandling it. The end result of the Bust Boosters is a visible firming and enhancing of the size which can also help with sagging by strengthening and lifting the tissues. But when conflict is done well, it has the potential to strengthen a relationship.

Steps to Healthy Conflict

The first step in a healthy conflict seems obvious, but I see people missing it almost everyday. Step 1 is to recognize and openly admit that you’re offended.

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I often hear people talking about something that happened, and it’s clear they’re offended. When I try to gently point it out, they say, “I’m not offended. I’m just really hurt. And who can blame me? What that person did to me was so wrong.”

Hurt is just another word for offended. In fact, one of the dictionary definitions for offend is “to hurt or cause pain.” So, why are people so uncomfortable with admitting that they’re offended? Maybe it’s because that would imply that they have a responsibility. But for some reason, when we’re in the midst of an offense, we think only the offender should have responsibility.

Matthew 18: 15-17 says, “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.”

So, according to this plan, when someone sins against you (a.k.a when someone offends you), it’s YOUR responsibility to go to that person! When it comes to raising kids, it’s so important that we don’t just tell them these things but that we model them. Our kids need to see what it looks like to be offended and to confront the person in a biblically sound way.

Gently…

Now, we have to be careful here. Going to the person and telling him his fault does not mean flying off the handle and telling the person off. Proverbs 29:11 says, “A fool gives full vent to his rage.”

Galatians 6:1 tell us, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” When we approach the person who offended us, we have to be gentle, or else we could be in danger of falling into sin.

Actually, I’ve found that it works best if you’ve already forgiven the person before you confront them. I know a lot of people will say, “How can I forgive someone who hasn’t even apologized?” Check back tomorrow. We’re going to do a post on how to forgive, but in the meantime, let’s just agree to go to the person gently.

Notice that that Matthew 18 tells us to go TO the person. If it’s possible, we need to confront the person face to face, but if that’s not possible, at least to do it voice to voice. Don’t email or text the person. Gentleness comes through tone and facial expressions and body language, none of which can be well conveyed in writing.

Counsel v. Gossip

Notice that in the Matthew 18 plan, you’re not talking to anyone else until after you’ve spoken directly to the person who offended you. Gossip can lead to bad habits and can cause other people to pick up offenses. Then, after you’ve already worked it out, the people you’ve told are still offended, and they don’t have the grace to carry the offense.

If you’ve gone to the person gently, following some version of the plan below, and there’s no resolution, then you need to seek wise counsel and gather two or three witnesses. Choose mature people who can be objective and will help you resolve the conflict, not escalate it.

The Goal — Restoration

The goal of conflict should always be complete restoration — restoration of the relationship and restoration of the individuals involved in the conflict. Placing blame or proving that you’re right and the other person is wrong is never the goal of conflict.

When conflict is stewarded well, the outcome should be peace, freedom and a greater intimacy between the people involved.

So when you approach the person, use “I” statements: “I felt hurt by what you said. I was frustrated.” Instead of, “You hurt my feelings. You frustrated me.”

Summary of the Confrontation

  1. Sit down face to face.

  2. Explain that you want to tell them what’s bothering you and that you’d like a chance to explain yourself without being interrupted. Assure them that they’ll have a turn to explain their side, and you will also listen without interrupting. You may even want to offer the other person a chance to go first if they seem eager to talk. You never know; they might already feel convicted and want to own up and apologize.

  3. When you’re talking, use “I” statements.

  4. When you’re done. Ask the person to repeat back what they heard you say. In a conflict, every person needs to feel understood. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with each other, only that you need to try to fully understand what the person is saying.

  5. Continue speaking until you feel the listener has fully understood what you said.

  6. Once you know the other person has understood, switch roles — you listen without interrupting while the other person talks.

  7. When they’re done, repeat back what you heard them say. Like this: “So what I’m hearing you say is that you feel ____________.”

When It Doesn’t Work

If you’ve followed this outline, and there’s no resolution, get two or three witnesses. These people are mediators, not a posse to back you up. The goal is still restoration, not revenge.

If there’s still no resolution, take it to a leader or authority figure: your pastor, a manager if it’s a co-worker, etc. And if, after all of that, you still can’t resolve it, Matthew 18 gives you permission to walk away from the relationship. That doesn’t mean that you walk away angry or offended or full of hatred (we’re going to talk about how to stay unoffended in Tuesday’s post), but that you simply create healthy boundaries.

The Bible says to treat them as heathens or tax collectors. We’re supposed to love all people, but that doesn’t mean that we invite them into our daily lives. We have no problem creating boundaries for people whose morals don’t match ours (heathens and tax collectors). We can still pray for them and even be a blessing to them in their times of need, but we’re not going to the movies with them or inviting them to our kid’s birthday party. That’s how we need to handle the people after a failed Matthew 18 process.

Check back tomorrow. We’re going to share some practical steps to forgiving, regardless of how the other person behaves.

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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