Connect Powerfully With a Co-Journal

Ready for a fun idea that will deepen the relationships in your family?

We got the idea many years ago from an other couple. Eighteen years ago, when Matt and I were first together, I saw a cute journal on our friend’s coffee table and asked if it was hers. She explained that it was journal she and her husband kept together. In it, they would write each other love notes, share ideas, dreams, pictures, and so on.

I went out right away and got Matt and I our own co-journal, and wrote the first entry explaining how it would work. We added a fun twist by hiding it for each other to find. It was thrilling to be right in the middle of my day and suddenly stumble upon the little book.

In our co-journal, we would write about our dreams for the future or the things that scared us or made us happy or made us cry. We’d leave each other sweet love notes and tape in movie tickets from our date nights.Over time, it became a kind of record of the early days of our relationship.

When kids came along, our journaling habits gave way to dirty diapers and weekly menus and new parent to-do lists.

One day I told Jody about our co-journal, and she thought it would be a cool thing to do  with her girls. She bought each of them a journal, wrote a note in the front of each one explaining how it works, and placed them someplace for the girls to find. Then, it was their turn to write back and hide the journals for Jody to discover.

I loved that idea, so I started doing it with my kids, and they ate it up! Over the years, that have used the co-journal to talk about what they want to do in the summer. They’ve written about dreams they had. They’ve asked questions and told me how much they love me…and how mad they are at me. I’ve used it to tell them how awesome they are and to tell them funny jokes and share little stories about when I was a kid, and we have often taped in little gifts in it for each other. The co-journal has opened a new door to their hearts and has allowed me to see fresh perspectives and new sides of their personalities.

The hiding part is fun…and sometimes comical. Our son Seth’s book is smaller than the average journal and can be tricky to find. One night, I had gotten out of bed to use the bathroom. On my way back in, I thought a nice breeze might cool off the room a bit, so I turned on the ceiling fan. Imagine my surprise when something came flying off! Seth thought it was hilarious.

Watching the kids have so much fun with the co-journal even inspired a recent Mother’s Day gift. After following a little scavenger hunt, I found a beautiful journal in the mailbox. In it was a note from my sweet husband, inspiring us to begin a new journal together.

Try it in your family, or give a beautiful journal as a gift to a young couple.

Let us know it goes…

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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6 Steps to Helping Kids Overcome Lying

This week we’re talking about helping kids overcome lying, and today is the day our readers have been waiting for. It is the nuts and bolts of HOW to help your child overcome the habit of lying.

If you are jumping in today, take a moment to go back and read Confessions of Reformed Liar and 7 Myths About Lying. They lay an important mindset foundation that we have to grasp before we can successfully tackle today’s Six Steps to Helping Kids Overcome Lying.

Are you ready? Here we go!

Step #1 — Be VERY careful not to shame the child.

We can’t emphasize this one enough! Children who struggle with telling the truth will avoid shame at all costs, and if you shame a liar, you will eventually create a better liar. They’ll perfect their “skills” so that they they don’t get caught and have to face shame.

When you are confronting someone who may have been untruthful, be gentle. Remind the child that there are some things that come naturally for her (tell her what those are) and some things she has to work at (like telling the truth). Tell her that a lot of people have to work at telling the truth — she is not alone. Emphasis how much you love her and how much you think she is awesome.

Separate the child from her choices. She is a great person who simply made a mistake, and your job is to help her learn how to become a truth teller.

Be VERY aware of your facial expression and your body language.

Search your child’s face to see how she is reacting to you. If she senses shame, she will react, and if you train yourself to look for it, you will be able to shift gears and let her know that you love her and that you are committed to her success.

But that doesn’t mean ignore it. Which leads me to…

Step #2 — Address every instance of untruth

This week I have been talking about how lying can be habit forming. We have to be diligent and willing to gently address every exaggeration, tall tale, omission of the truth and possible lie.

What if you aren’t sure whether or not your child is lying? Kids who have formed a habit of lying learn to get pretty good at it. But often, you will sense that something isn’t quite right. It’s as if you can smell the lie, even though you’re not sure what it is. If you suspect something is off, address it.

Also, don’t overlook storytelling, especially with a kid who struggles with lying. In yesterday’s post, I explained the kind of storytelling I mean. If you catch your child trying to pass imagination off as truth, tell them him he has a great imagination, and then give him the words to try again. “That’s a great story Johnny. You are so creative. Next time you could say, ‘Mom, I thought of a really cool story. Can I share it with you?’ That way you aren’t pretending that it really happened.”

This is work on our part, but we have to be willing to faithfully (and with great love and gentleness) call them out when we suspect something is up.

The word “lie” carries an element of shame with it. So when you’re confronting this, try not to use it. Instead of saying, “Johnny, I think you’re lying.” Say something like, “Johnny, I think it might have happened differently. Try again, and I’ll help you tell the story the way it really happened.”

Step #3 — Separate the child from the behavior, and communicate love and acceptance for the child.

The goal is for your child to fully understand and believe that you are on her team; you are 100% committed to her success, and you do not think any less of her for struggling with this, just as you wouldn’t think any less of a child who struggles with learning how to read or how to ride a bike.

Let’s say something is broken and you suspect your daughter broke it. You ask her, and she denies it. You can say, “I know it’s hard to explain what really happened. It can be scary to think that mom or dad will be angry with you. But I’m going to help you, and together, we will piece together the real, actual truth and then figure out what to do next. You don’t have to be afraid because I love you all the time, and I think you are awesome when you do great things AND when you make mistakes. I love you because of who you are, not because what you do or don’t do.”

Step #4 — Help the child understand her motives.

Martha Heineman Pieper, Ph.D., author of Smart Love: The Compassionate Alternative  to Discipline that Will Make You a Better Parent and Your Child a Better Person, said, “Children distort reality in an effort to ward off an unwanted turn of events or as a way of feeling in control of themselves and the world…Helping them to understand their motivation makes them realize that they can come to parents and share their struggles.”

Helping our kids understand their own motives can also lead them to develop self-compassion. It’s not about letting them off the hook. It’s about helping them to understand what happened so they become more self aware. Once they understand the need they were trying to meet when they chose to lie, we can help them find a better way of meeting that need.

Step #5 — Praise positive effort along the way

Kids sometimes need help going back and piecing together the truth. You can start by asking, “What happened first?”

As she starts to explain the story, praise every effort of honesty. If you sense that she’s veering away from truth, gently point it out and help direct her back. You can say, “You were running through the living to room to get your brother. But then something happened that made the vase fall and break. Can you remember what it was?”

As she starts to tell what really happened, avoid the temptation to feel offended that she lied to you. Let’s face it, it’s very frustrating when someone lies. You feel like you can never trust them. But remember that for a kid who struggles with truth telling, this is super hard. So when she begins to piece together the real story, let her know that you are aware of the courage she’s showing and that you are proud of her. It will give her the courage to keep going.

Step #6 — Speak a new truth

Once the story comes out, praise your child for her hard work, and then say, “ I am so proud of you because every day you are becoming more and more of a girl who always tells the truth.”

Jody and I believe that this step is critical to the long term success of building a truth teller.

No matter how many times a day you have to confront this issue with the same child, end every single session with those words. It will take time, but eventually, she will build a new identity as a girl who always tells the truth.

Earlier this week, I shared a little about the nine month journey that I took with one of my children to help him tell the truth. During that time, I must have said those words hundreds, if not a thousand times (“Every day you are becoming more and more of a boy who always tells the truth.”). It took nine months to see real victory, but the battle was won because he began to see himself as a truth teller.

In that season of our life, there was a big temptation for our little ones to go into our bedroom, climb up on our headboard and jump on our bed. And this was a huge no, no!

One day, my son came to me with tears in his eyes and a deeply repentant look on his face.  He said, “Mommy, I have to tell you what happened because I am a boy who always tells the truth.” No one had seen him do it. He could have easily gotten away with it, but after nine months of hearing the words “you are becoming a boy who always tells the truth” spoken over him, he accepted his new identity as a truth teller. And so he confessed to climbing on my headboard and jumping on my bed.

Whenever I tell that story, I usually get this question: “Did you discipline him for jumping on the bed?” And the answer is yes. Of course I did. I would have done that boy no service by letting it go. He knew it was a major rule in our house, and he knew he broke the rule. Facing the consequence gave him confidence that he could tell the truth, endure the repercussions with bravery and still be okay.

I told him how very proud of him I was for being courageous and being an excellent truth teller. I was tender and full of love, especially as I helped him face the consequence of jumping on the bed, and afterwards, I told him that I forgive him and said that I love him and that I think he’s a brave boy.

As difficult as this process may be for the child, rest assured that they will always feel a tremendous relief when the truth is told, especially when they see that there is no condemnation in your eyes.

It can be very upsetting when someone lies to you. You feel betrayed and manipulated, and it can make you really angry. Your initial reaction might be, “How could you lie to me like that? How can I ever trust you?” But remember, the person who struggles with this needs to feel freedom from condemnation in this process. They need to know that you are on their side and will help them without judgement.

Be Patient

Be patient in this one. Give this process a year. You may be doing it multiple times a day, everyday, for months on end. Don’t lose heart. Go into it know that it is going to take time. Avoid any form of condemnation, and present yourself as a coach and mentor whose only goal is to help empower your child to become a truth teller, and in time, you will succeed!

We know this is a challenging topic for so many parents. Please feel free to contact us with any questions and to leave comments below.

 

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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7 Myths About Lying

Lying is a complex issue, but at the core, it is deception and manipulation. In this post, I will confront seven myths about lying and compare each one with an opposing truth. I will also pose a question for each one that you can ask yourself — a kind of lying litmus test.

Lying is our focus this week because in all of our travels and conversations with parents, we have found that it’s one of the biggest issues parents confront — and one that typically leaves them feeling exasperated and sometimes hopeless.

Earlier this week, I shared the Confessions of a Reformed Liar, and in it I talked about how when left unchecked, lying can become a habit and a hard one to break. Tomorrow, we will offer six steps for overcoming lying, and we will also talk about this issue on our weekly radio show (see below for details).

Myth #1 — Some levels of lying are okay

There are all different kinds of lying, and some are worse than others, we tell ourselves. There are (to name a few)

  • slight exaggerations
  • little white lies
  • tall tales
  • bold face lies
  • pathological lies

Is it really a big a deal if you tell your kids to say you’re not home because you don’t want to talk to someone? Is it okay to lie about a child’s age to get a cheaper price? Some would say these are just little white lies, and they are okay.

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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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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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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Why is Art Important?

Isn’t art just something fun that we let our kids do to keep themselves busy and ward off the dreaded boredom?

Not so much.

Life Lesson: It’s Okay to Make Mistakes

In my own life I have struggled with allowing myself to make mistakes. Often times, I was afraid to begin a DIY project for fear I would mess it up. I could feel the struggle inside. “Just go ahead and try your idea – Oh, you’d better not, you’ll mess the whole thing up and waste all your time and materials.”

But my daughter, on the other hand, has no problem trying something new, mainly because of her art training. During high school she attended a local visual and performing arts program. One day, she came home and told me how her beautiful 3D creation had plummeted to the floor. Her instructor demanded that she, “make it work.” He told her that mistakes and accidents happened to make art more interesting and it could very well be the best 3D art she’d ever create. Well, as it ended up, her project turned out amazing. He was right!

That experience taught her that it’s okay to step out and make mistakes (and not just in art). She also learned that there’s more than one answer to every problem. And to be honest, I learned through her lesson too.

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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Living in the Growth Zone

Want to help your kids reach their potential in all areas? Encourage them to live in the Growth Zone.

A couple of years ago I read a book called Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers From Everybody Else by Geoff Colvin, and it introduced me to a concept that has been fruitful in my home (and Jody’s too!).

There are three basic zones where we can choose to live: the Comfort Zone, the Growth Zone and the Incompetence Zone. Most of us choose the first for obvious reasons – it’s familiar, it’s automated, it’s habitual, it’s quick, it’s easy…it’s comfortable. The Comfort Zone is simply doing what we are good at, what we like, what we always do.

In some areas, the Comfort Zone is both appropriate and efficient. Think of morning and evening routines. We want our kids to wake up, start the day with prayer, make their beds, tidy their rooms, brush their teeth, get dressed, and get to the breakfast table on time. Routines help make this process quick, smooth, and comfortable. As it should be! The same holds true for the bedtime routine.

But when it comes to schoolwork, life skills, exercise, and specialized skills, we want our children to blossom and flourish. We want them to strive for excellence and mastery, and this process is inevitably and necessarily uncomfortable.

Think about developing muscles. It takes consistency (working out even when you don’t feel like it), discomfort and endurance.

The Music Example

My husband is a musician, and he teaches guitar part time. When a new student comes, he tells them that their success hinges not on the time they spend in the lesson but on the time they spend practicing at home. The more they practice, the better they will play. But here’s the catch – practicing guitar can be painful for a new student (the strings literally hurt their fingers), and it can be boring. Until they learn enough basics to begin playing something recognizable, chords and scales can be a drag. But unless they are willing to drill these basics over and over, pushing through the discomfort and the boredom, it never gets easier, and it’s never fun.

But the key to mastery in every area is pushing through the difficult part to reach success. My husband has been a musician for more than two decades, but he still practices an hour every day (sometimes two or three) and learns new theories, seeks out new sounds and sets new goals.

Guitar practice is a great example of how the zones work. Often my husband’s younger students have the most difficulty practicing. They don’t have the inner motivation to get through the discomfort, so it falls on their parents’ shoulders to enforce practice time. Typically, his teenage students have a clear goal, and they’re more willing to persevere.

Incentive

It helps to have incentives. If our kids can’t find an intrinsic reason for growing, we can offer extrinsic rewards. Some parents shy away from rewards, thinking that it’s just bribery, but if presented well, rewards can go a long to helping kids learn to develop their own inner reasons for pushing through to success.

Just as consequences teach that bad choices equal bad results, rewards teach that good choices equal good results!

 

In our house, kids get points for things like housework, and at the end of the week, points can translate into cash. That’s not to say they can choose to abandon their duties if they don’t feel like working. In fact, not doing your chores with excellence can lead to discipline in our family, but if they work hard, without being told and achieve a level of excellence, our kids will be rewarded.

Leaving the Comfort Zone

With or without rewards, growth always begins by leaving the Comfort Zone. For music practice, it means setting aside time (typically an interruption in a person’s schedule is uncomfortable) and drilling the basics over and over (often painful to the fingers and usually boring). Then, at the lesson the student has to display what they have learned so the instructor can inspect how well they are doing and what needs adjusting. This can also be somewhat uncomfortable for the student.

But when a student is willing to endure these discomforts and is willing do it again and again, he will grow. Consistent practice of foundational skills over time is operating in the Growth Zone.

Pushing Into the Growth Zone

Now, once a student masters a set of skills, he has to begin learning new ones or else he becomes comfortable and stops growing. This seems like common sense, right? But in life, we see it happen all the time. How many times have we, as grown adults, worked hard at something only to reach a comfortable place and then stop? Think about weight loss. Anyone who has ever battled the bulge can probably relate to a time when they worked hard (leaving their Comfort Zone) for a season, only to slip back into old, more comfortable ways once they’ve achieved a small measure of success.

So continuing to push into the Growth Zone requires consistent evaluation and increasing challenge.

The Incompetent Zone

But there is also a point where we can push too far. As a teacher, my husband has, on occasion, over estimated the ability of a student and given him a task that’s too difficult. In that case, the student is pushed into the Incompetence Zone, and just as he can’t grow in the Comfort Zone, he can’t grow where he is still incompetent.

Let’s look at another area where this concept can help our kids grow and succeed. One of my main goals as a parent is to raise children who are capable of running a household with excellence by the time they leave my home.

Growing Life Skills

I want my kids to be able to budget money and save, plan and prepare healthy meals, maintain a beautiful home that offers a place of rest and rejuvenation, and be good stewards of their things (cars, tools, appliances, etc.). All of this takes training.

I will never forget the first time I went grocery shopping for my new apartment. I was out on my own, and I had to make all of my own meals. Eating out for every meal wasn’t in the budget, and I didn’t have the dining hall to fall back on, as I did in college. Nor did I have roommates who would pick up my slack, as I did when a bunch of us moved off campus.

Walking up and down the aisles on that first shopping trip, I grew more and more perplexed. Hmmm…what should I get, I thought? Milk! People buy milk at the grocery store. It’s a staple, right? Oh, and bread! That’s important.

I went on to collect a strange hodgepodge of things in my shopping cart that I thought I’d need. But after a day or two, I realized that I didn’t have much to make actual meals, and I was pretty sure I couldn’t survive forever on cereal and pasta.

It took years for me to learn how to make a menu, use recipes, and build up a stock supply of spices and other ingredients. Cooking is both a science and an art, and I had to learn the building blocks to be able to eventually do it well.  Truth be told, I don’t enjoy cooking (thank you God for giving me a husband who does!), but I can do it, and I can do well when I have to.

Still, it was an uphill battle, as was learning how to clean efficiently, budget, balance a checkbook, save money, and so on. I decided that I didn’t want my kids to struggle as young adults the way I struggled. I wanted them to leave my home as fully competent adults.

Finding the Growth Zone

When we start teaching our kids life skills, it’s easy to allow them to either live in their Comfort Zone or to push them into their Incompetence Zone. I remember trying to teach my older daughter how to sweep. She was seven at the time, and I soon realized that no matter how hard she tried, the broom was too cumbersome for her little body, and she was not going to do it with excellence until she was taller. At that point, she was an incompetent sweeper.

My fourth child is now nine, and sweeping is not on his task list, but after almost a year of consistent training, he does an excellent job of washing the dishes, wiping down the counters, folding and putting his clothes away, changing his bed sheets and keeping  the living and dining room tidy throughout the day.

When he started, it was messy and uncomfortable (both for him and for me). He would wash and rinse the dishes, and then, dripping wet from chest to waist, he would come find me and ask for an inspection. There was water all over the counter and the floor, and there was still some food and soap on the dishes, which meant I needed to do some retraining, and he needed to try again. Dishes took a LONG time to get through in the beginning, and I made sure he did it all by himself, including drying up the water mess, changing his clothes and hanging the wet ones out to dry and then being responsible for putting the clothes in the hamper when they dried.

Once a chore is mastered, it’s time to either have that child train up his replacement (a younger sibling) or add a new level of responsibility (perhaps learning how to plan and cook the meal). Otherwise, they will slip into the Comfort Zone and the growing will stop.

Growing in Academics

Perhaps your daughter has great math grades and her homework has become a breeze. She might be operating in the Comfort Zone, and that means she’s no longer growing. I’ve heard this story many times – a child gets great grades for a time, but eventually they start to slip, and parents are left baffled. What happened to my honors student, they ask?

Chances are they grew comfortable, and began to find excitement and stimulation somewhere else. But by encouraging them into the Growth Zone, we can help our kids find lasting success.

So take our math whiz who now breezes through her nightly homework. It might be time to hop online and pick up some supplemental math workbooks or find games that will challenge her skills. Help her set a goal and choose a reward for completing the goal. Maybe you can contact her teacher and see if there are any students in the class who might enjoy a peer tutor (learn more about one on one tutoring at home). If so, your child could reinforce her own skills by teaching them to someone else, plus it will build a strong work ethic and sense of civic responsibility.

In the summer and on long breaks, you can help your kids get ahead in math or master those times tables. You can assign them to a read a great novel or pick up a book of fun science experiments and challenge them to finish all the experiments before the end of the break. You can download a song of the 50 States and offer a date with mom when they can recite all the states and capitals, or pick up a field guide of trees and challenge them to identify every species they can find on your block.

Growing Kids Means Growing Parents

Most kids won’t push themselves into a Growth Zone; they have to be coached. Let’s face it, human nature does not gravitate toward discomfort. We, the parents, have to also remember this means growing for us as well. It’s not comfortable to consistently remind (and sometimes demand) our kids to practice an instrument or sport or do extra academic work. It’s often inconvenient to stop what we’re doing to inspect a child’s work and re-teach a skill and then inspect it again. But we can not expect what we’re not willing to inspect. And without allowing our kids to work at something again and again, we won’t help them master a task.

However, if we can work diligently with our kids to examine their school work, special skills, life skills and health and wellness, we can help them set big (but attainable) goals and then hold them accountable to consistently working. In the end, they will achieve well-rounded success.

 

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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A Three Cord Strand

When it comes to friendship, there is a prevailing myth that three is a crowd – an assumption that with three, two will team up and overpower one. That’s not a biblical message. In fact, we should actually encourage our kids to seek out groups of three.

The Bible says a threefold cord is not quickly broken. So the idea that three is a crowd an anti-biblical message. We need to understand that every idea is either a Christ message or an anti-Christ message – anointed or not anointed. God said we are either for Him or against Him. There is no in between.

When it comes to groups of three, think of it this way: God is a triune being. We are created in His image as a body, a soul, and a spirit. Three is not a crowd. In fact, there is protection and accountability in three. Even if two have a wrong idea, the third may disagree and bring discussion before a bad choice is made. We have seen first hand, in the lives of our own children, that three kids who are living for God are more powerful (and have more fun – in case that counts!) than two.

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 You Define Forgiveness?

Johnny hits his little brother Tommy.  You tell Johnny it’s wrong and that he needs to apologize.

Understanding his mistake, Johnny says, “I’ m sorry I hit you, Tommy. It was wrong. Will you please forgive me?”

Tommy replies, “I forgive you.”

But what does that mean? What does forgiveness really look like?

Forgiveness means, “I will not talk badly about you.”

Proverbs 10:18 says, “Whoever hides hatred has lying lips, and whoever spreads slander is a fool.”

We can teach our kids to pray, “ Lord, thank you for forgiving me. Thank you for speaking life over me and believing the best in me.  Help me to speak life over others, even when I have been hurt. “

Forgiveness means, “I will not think badly about you.”

Second Corinthians 10:5 says, “casting down arguements and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” (NKJV)

Let’s face it, when someone hurts us, it’s not easy to think good thoughts about the person. But that’s exactly what God chooses to do with us. Psalm 139 tells us that God’s thoughts toward us are precious, and there are more of them than we can even count.  This is how God wants us to think about other people, even the ones who have hurt us.

We can teach our kids how to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. Teach them to pray whenever a hurt or angry thought comes to mind: “Lord, help me to think good thoughts about this person. Every time a bad thought comes, help me immediately speak out a blessing upon that person.”

Forgiveness means, “I will love you as I love myself.”

Mark 12:31 says, “ ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

We can teach our kids to go to the Lord and pray, “Teach me to love this person as you do.  Show me how to pray for him.  Help me to pray for him just as I would pray for myself.”

Forgiveness means, “I will not bring up the incident again.”

Our Heavenly Father has separated our sin from us as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). He has blotted out our transgressions and will remember them no more (Hebrews 8:12).

Micah 7:19 says, “He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquites. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” (NKJV)

We can teach our kids to pray, “Lord, help me forget this incident,  just as you have forgiven my sins.  Remind me that you cast my sin into the depths of the ocean, and teach me to also cast this memory into the depths of the sea and remember this hurt no more.”

Mark 11:25 reminds us, “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”

I have a very dear friend who has a beautiful habit that I have also made a habit in my home.  She lays in bed at night and prays, “Lord, clean out my heart and make it pure.  Cleanse me of any thoughts, words or deeds that have been sinful today.  Bring to remembrance anything I need to repent of at this moment.  Reveal to me any offenses deep in my heart. Make me clean.”

Holding on to an offensive, gives the enemy a foothold in our lives, and as we disciple our kids, we can teach them how to truly forgive and allow the Holy Spirit to flow freely through their cleansed hearts.

 

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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