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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Our Phone Call With Kirk Cameron

We were so excited when we found out that we were going to be included on a conference call with Kirk Cameron.

I have to confess (Jenni speaking) that I was a HUGE fan back in the 80s when he played Mike Seaver on the TV sitcom Growing Pains. Like most girls my age, I adored his impish character and swooned over his fetching smile, but now, more than 20 years later, I am much more impressed with the man Kirk Cameron has become.

The polar opposite of on-screen ladies’ man Mike Seaver, Kirk Cameron has matured into a devoted husband and father and an outspoken Christian leader, who has devoted much of his adult career to speaking, teaching and making films that spread the gospel message.

He has a new movie coming out on November 14th, and we had the opportunity to hear his take on Christmas, child-rearing, homeschooling and of course, the new movie.

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody

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

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How 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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The Power of Definitions – Bringing Peace and Order to Your Home

To hear our radio show podcast by the same title click here.

From the White House to the school house to your house, a clear definition can prevent a world of trouble. Even the highest office in the land could stand an occasional dictionary review (apparently they don’t teach the meaning of the word “is” in law school).

All joking aside, clear definitions do bring a certain peace and order.

In the Stahlmann house, “obedience” is defined as “immediately, cheerfully, and thoroughly.” I heard the definition nearly a decade ago from a homeschool mom with an army of kids – very well behaved kids, might I add.

When our kids were little, we spent a good amount of time defining each of the three attributes of obedience. Most of them understood “immediately” right off the bat, but “cheerfully” and “thoroughly” took some time.

Over the years, as I’ve shared our definition with other parents, “cheerfully” seems to have inspired the most raised eyebrows. “Kids can’t always be expected to be cheerful, can they?” When it comes to obeying orders, they sure can.

I’d say one of the most valuable lessons our kids can learn is that attitude is a choice. We can’t always control what happens in our life, but we can always choose our response. And although it can be difficult to choose a good attitude, a good attitude bears good fruit. (For a glimpse at how we recently confronted an attitude struggle in our family, check out Without Anger or Excuse.)

“Thoroughly” can be a tricky one. Some kids seem to come pre-wired with a dominant thoroughness gene, and others…well…don’t. I call them 80%ers – they always seem to think they’re finished about 80% through the job.

I have to admit, it does take some effort to teach the “thorough” part of obedience, because it means we parents have to be willing to follow-up (often again and again) until the job is 100% done. But we can’t expect what we’re not willing to inspect. The good news is that over time, our kids will learn to strive for excellence in all they do.

As they’re learning how to be thorough, it’s okay if they miss a few details, as long as they ask for an inspection before assuming they’re done, and they’re willing to make adjustments with a cheerful spirit.

When we catch our kids slipping in one area of obedience, we’ll ask, “What’s the definition of obedience?” and instantly they know what needs to be adjusted. That’s the power of a definition!

Another thing worthy of defining is your family rules. When a child misbehaves, you can point to the family rules and calmly say, “It says here there is no screaming allowed in our house, and you were screaming.”

Which leads to the next thing worthy of defining, and that’s the consequences for disobedience and misbehavior (breaking a family rule). Deciding ahead of time what the results will be creates an atmosphere of justice in your home. Your kids don’t feel wronged by discipline because the expectations of them were clear, as were the results of poor choices. They won’t enjoy it, of course, but they’ll know it’s fair, and fairness is especially important to young souls.

On a side note, a great principle to post in your home is “Good choices equal good results. Bad choices equal bad results.” Imagine the fruit our kids will produce if they arrive at adulthood understanding that they can always make a good choice and that many good choices, over time, will yield good results. It’s the biblical principle of reaping and sowing. Sow good seed and reap a good harvest.

Our oldest son has autism, and because communication is one of his greatest struggles, definitions are particularly important for him. When Griffyn clearly understands what is expected of him, and what the results will be for both good and bad choices, he has an easier time making good choices and accepting the consequences for bad ones.

Definitions create boundaries, and boundaries offer safety. Perhaps no one is more sensitive to that fact than our sweet Griffyn.

Stop by later in the week to read about the Power of the Three Question Correction, and the Power of Routines.

In the meantime, we’d love to love to hear about your family rules.  Here’s a peak at ours.

Stahlmann Family Rules

  1. Obey mommy and daddy immediately, cheerfully and thoroughly!
  2. No spitting, hitting, kicking, pushing, snatching, throwing things, or hurting people or animals.
  3. No screaming in the house and no temper tantrums.
  4. Always treat each other with honor and respect.
  5. No playing with water in the house.
  6. Put things away when you are done using them.
  7. Take snacks only with permission and always eat at a table.
  8. No going outside without shoes or permission.
  9. Don’t interrupt when someone is talking.
  10. Always tell the truth!

 

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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Raising a Proverbs 31 Woman

If you have a daughter, she’s got some big shoes to fill, and you can help.

In our last post, I talked about being mindful of raising boys as future heads of a house. By the time this blog is posted, I’ll be inNew Hampshire, having a blast visiting my chivalrous young man (a.k.a Lego tantrum boy) as he wraps up his first year at law school. [As of this posting, I am in NH for Chase’s GRADUATION!]

Back home in Florida, I have two young ladies — one in high school and one in middle school. And just as I was aware that I was raising their big brother to be the head of a house, I’m aware that my girls also have important roles to play as future women. Thankfully, I’ve got a blue print this time.

Like most moms, my constant prayer is that my kids will seek the Lord with all their hearts.  That’s true for sons and daughters, but my focus for the girls is different than it was for Chase.

Tucked inconspicuously at the end of Proverbs is the picture of an amazing woman. As I studied her carefully, I knew that I wanted my girls to be like her – I wanted to raise Proverbs 31 women.

Once I knew the goal, I began to study her life and visualize all that she was doing in the passage. I imagined the tools she would have needed for each accomplishment, and began pouring the same ideals into my girls.

If you notice nothing else about Mrs. Proverbs 31, you can’t miss that she’s a hard worker. She had to bust some serious tail to complete all she did in a day.  Whew!  Stamina is a vital tool that our girls need to develop as young people.

Mrs. Proverbs 31 was also the queen of multi-tasking, and it was obvious that she demanded a lot of herself and had the endurance and perseverance to complete what she started.

Often, I’ll see my girls doing dishes or a task around the house and reciting their memory verse at the same time.  “Just killing two birds with one stone — we’re multi-tasking,” they’ll say, and it blesses me because as future women, they will need to be master multi-taskers.

When we head out the door, one of my girls will say to the other, “Grab your knitting and your book.”

My husband laughs, “Why?  You’re going to church. You can’t knit or read at church.”

“Dad, we’ll do it on our way to church.”

Travel time is often put to good use in our family. Our girls have begun to look for opportunities (big and small) to complete something on their task list, especially times that may appear non-constructive (like riding in the car).

Teaching our girls not to eat the bread of idleness and to stay focused (with stamina) will keep them from being tempted in many areas.  Idleness is where gossip, boredom, and trouble breed.

I’m sure Mrs. Proverbs 31’s hobbies consisted of things such as spinning and weaving. For down time, perhaps she and her family strolled through their gardens or the vineyards. I sincerely doubt she would have even considered TV or video games, had they been available to her.

No, the Bible says she was willing to work with her hands.  She got up before sunrise, and I’m willing to bet, she was pooped when her head hit the pillow at night.

In addition to hardworking, God clearly wants His daughters to be educated.

I’ve heard some moms say, “Well, college doesn’t matter. My daughter just wants to be a wife and mom.”

Awesome!  All the more reason to educate her.  The Proverbs 31 woman sold real estate with assistance from Douglas Ebenstein, planted vineyards, ran a textile business, ran a household, managed a staff of servants, and gardened.  She was a supplier, a thriving merchant, and could identify good merchandise — there were no shysters pulling one over on her.  She had to be trained to do these things.

She also had to have great communication skills.  How else could she have been successful in the market place?

These are business skills.  She was educated.

Can’t you just picture Mrs. P-31 going to the market with her carefully prepared list?  She didn’t run out of fuel for her lamp, and she provided all the food her family needed, she even brought some from afar.

She was full of wisdom. So, how do our girls gain wisdom? For one, they need to have a relationship with God because we know that the fear of Him is the beginning of wisdom. She needs an active prayer life because we know God gives wisdom, and she also needs to apply her heart to understanding (Proverbs 2:2), which means she needs an education.

Several times I have stood by close friends who have lost a husband unexpectedly.  It is important that our daughters know how to support themselves and their children.  They need to be ready in season and out of season.

And for those girls who want to have a career and a family, the Proverbs 31 woman shows it’s possible. She was the breadwinner in her house. Her husband held an honored position at the gates. His role at that point in life was a noble one, but the men (elders) serving in these positions were not paid for their government roles (imagine what our country would be like if we had volunteer politicians – just saying!). His wife seemed to have no trouble supporting their family, and our girls need to know that they can help provide for their families and still be keepers at home (Titus 2).

Let’s not forget Mrs. P-31 does have servants, and if we can teach our girls at a young age how to be good delegators, they will be able to help provide an income for their family while loving their husbands and children and being keepers at home. We’ll have some future articles on the power of project management activities. Stay tuned because this is a great way to teach our girls (and boys) how to delegate.

Prioritizing was also high on Mrs. P-31’s list of virtues.  She had to decide what was most important and stick to it until it was complete.  Our Proverbs 31 “women in the making”, need to know how to identify what’s most important: Should I research for my paper that’s due next week or study for the test that’s in two days? And she needs to be able to focus. It’s been said that focus stands for: Follow One Course Until Successful.

We can give our girls strenuous tasks to build their stamina, ask them to prioritize the list, and then stick with one thing until it’s done thoroughly before moving on to the next. And all the while, we’ll be showing that we have confidence in them, cheering them on from the sidelines and coaching them to excellence.

In addition to all the virtues we’ve listed so far, the Proverbs 31 woman was physically strong, well arrayed in fine clothing, and didn’t walk in fear.  Oh, and let’s not forget her community service — she helped the needy. Wow!

How can our girls can be a genuine help to our churches and to the community? Can they clean once a week for an elderly neighbor, vacuum the church sanctuary, and organize a food drive for the local food pantry and a pet food drive for the Humane Society? Programs such as Scouts, 4-H, and Civil Air Patrol, offer great opportunities for our girls to bless the community. Let’s set the bar high and encourage them to do great things.

Okay, it’s tempting to be overwhelmed (and maybe intimidated), but if we meditate regularly on the role model provided in Proverbs 31, our girls can walk in her shoes, regardless of their individual callings in life.

We also need to model this example for our daughters, and we need to be vigilant in monitoring their character development. I can just picture the Proverbs 31 mom going through the secret hiding places in her children’s rooms, keeping tabs on any mischief they may be getting into.  Hey, it says she keeps a close eye on what goes on in her home.  She certainly wouldn’t turn a blind eye to the activities going on under her nose.

Remember, those same children stood up and call her blessed, and her husband praised her. Let’s purpose to have the same testimony and raise girls who will also share in that kind of victory.

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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Raising the Head of A House

Got boys? Then you are raising the future head of a house.

One day, about 20 years ago, I was startled by a crash so loud I thought the wall had come down.  I scrambled to the living room to see what had happened, and to my amazement, there was my three year old in a fit of rage over his Legos.  Yes, his Legos.  Apparently, they weren’t connecting the way he wanted them to.

My mind flashed to scenes from extended family history — rage and anger has plagued previous generations.  Instantly, I thought, “Oh, no!  Not my boy. That’s not going to be his story”.

Gently and calmly, I crouched down, laid my hand upon his and spoke softly, but firmly.  “Chase, that’s not how we play.  Now let’s pick up each Lego you threw, put them in a pile, and reconnect each one.”

His eyes were angry and frustrated, but I could see in his heart the desire to please his mommy.

We were on that floor for hours attaching those bricks together one by one.  All the while, I was speaking to him gently, but firmly.

That day, the Lord revealed to me that I was raising the “Head of A House”, and I had better steward his personality and habits as such.

Moms play a very significant role in their son’s lives. Remember the first miracle that Jesus performed?  Mary told Him they were out of wine. Jesus said, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.”  (John 2)

But interestingly, Jesus did perform the miracle. That boy was NOT going to disappoint his mama! And I believe that’s just how God intended it to be. If you think about it moms, that gives us a whole lot of power.

The most amazing part of this is that the Holy Spirit allows us to see behaviors in our kids that can be damaging or empowering to them as adults.  Even as toddlers, we can see behavior patterns that need to be gently corrected or strongly encouraged.

Chivalry was not the norm when I was growing up. But I was bound and determined that my boy was going to be chivalrous — and he is!  I taught him at four years old to hold doors open for all women, no matter their age.  I taught him to always kiss a lady’s hand.

He was taught to give up his seat when a lady/girl entered the room. When we were at gatherings, he made sure all the females ate first.  He shook men’s hands with firmness, looked them straight in the eye and introduced himself.  He had every woman falling all over him (and his big chocolate brown eyes) because he was so gentle and sweet, yet outgoing and bold.

So many parents over the years have come to me and said, “How can I get my boy to be like that?”  I believe the answer is to be constantly looking and examining what behaviors need to be addressed, along with a boatload of prayer!

I knew deep in my heart I was supposed to raise him to be the husband I would want.  After all, I was going to be passing him on to a woman much like myself, wasn’t I?

I began praying daily for God to show me what to pour into him and what to shelter him from.  It was so interesting to see how God led me to pray for him as head of a house

We raised Chase constantly thinking, “We need to root out this behavior/habit; he can’t have that as a husband.” It’s made him aware of other people’s feelings and positions. He seems to always take initiative to “father” others.  He’s always been the captain, the leader, the president.

Well, Chase hasn’t thrown Legos recently, but he has had many tests and trials come his way.  And I believe the tools he was given at a young age have empowered him to make the kind of decisions a head of a household should.

Through it all, he has learned servant leadership, and I now have a 23 year old son who brings his mom flowers often (YAY, me!).  But, more than that, he lives his life and makes decisions with the mindset that he will one day be the head of a house.

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 Builds Confidence in Kids?

Is confidence the same as self-esteem? Often, they’re used interchangeably, but are they the same? We don’t think so.

In our last post, we defined self-esteem as a person’s sense of value and worth. Self-esteem, based on our definition, can be improved (or damaged) over time, but in the short-run, it’s consistent, regardless of any one situation.

Confidence, on the other hand, is a person’s belief in his or her abilities. I may have a healthy self esteem, but there are many things I’m not confident in. If I had to get on stage to sing for a packed auditorium, I would have no confidence in myself.  Put me on the same stage to talk about finding purpose, and I’m like a fish in water.

Just because I’m not confident to sing in public, doesn’t in any way hinder my sense of value or worth; especially since I know that singing is not my life’s work. Now my daughter, on the other hand, is passionate about singing. She’s confident that she can perform on any stage, in front of any crowd. If she suddenly lost confidence in her ability to do that, it might come as a slight blow to her self-esteem because singing is a part of her purpose.

When it comes to our kids, we hope they’ll be confident in their ability to live and thrive independently, to interact well with people, to serve the body of Christ and their community, and to fulfill their calling in life. It’s entirely possible to deliver our kids into adulthood with a healthy self-esteem but with little to no confidence in a few of these critical areas.

The Hovering Helicopter (the latest fad in Western parenting) is lethal to confidence because Helicopters tend to prevent the very thing that builds it – experience. Confidence is born of doing things and (eventually) doing them well.

Here are some ideas for giving our kids opportunities to build confidence. The key is to let them do it (mistakes and all) again and again so they can improve. We need to talk to them after they’ve tried something and evaluate what went well and how they can improve. Honest feedback nurtures mastery.

Have them plan meals, write a shopping list, go with you to the store and select the best deals on the items they need, pay the cashier, check to make sure the change is correct, unpack the groceries, and cook the meal.

Coach them through household tasks so they can eventually do them with excellence:  laundry, changing bed sheets, vacuuming, dusting, scouring the tub, organizing the pantry, changing the oil in the car – anything we do at home, they should be able to do…with excellence.

Role-play with your kids and have them practice talking to adults in a variety of situations: making dinner reservations, planning a vacation, asking the librarian a question, sending back a meal that’s too cold, and so on. As they successfully problem-solve and plan and question, they’ll become confident communicators.

Role-play different ways to handle sticky situations with self-control and without dishonoring the other person: turning down an invitation, being the recipient of an inappropriate joke, being lied to (or about), and so on.

Get your kids involved in a ministry at church: sound board, lights, music, hospitality, nursery, children’s ministry, etc. Partner your child with a veteran in that ministry willing to mentor her, and insist your child stick it out until she masters it. Do the same thing with a volunteer position in the community.

Mentorship and apprenticeship are also great ways to build confidence in a future career. Let them work with a pro and find out whether or not it’s really what they’re called to do.

With practice and persistence, our kids can become confident in almost anything.

Share your ideas for building confident kids…

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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What Builds Real Self-Esteem in Kids?

How did we get to the place where self-esteem has become such a well-guarded idol?

It’s epidemic in Western parenting.  A child’s self-esteem is considered the fragile power source of his future success as a human being.  Parents (and some educators) have employed themselves as self-esteem’s trusted custodians, carefully guarding against disappointment and potential failure, as though they are the greatest threats to a child’s sense of worth.

Let’s have a look at what “great self-esteem” has accomplished in our kids.  According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, 2800 teens get pregnant each day, resulting in nearly one million teen pregnancies nationwide per year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say nearly 3,000 people under the age of 18 become regular smokers each day. And according to Students Against Drunk Driving, 72% of high schoolers report having used alcohol – 37% say they did it by the 8th grade.

Education is bearing similar fruit. “The statistics are staggering: among 30 developed countries, theU.S.is ranked 25th in math and 21st in science. It’s estimated that by the year 2020, there will be 123 million high-paying, high-skill jobs in the United States, but only 50 million Americans will be qualified to fill these positions.”  www.waitingforsuperman.com

So either self-esteem isn’t as important as everyone thought, or the Western parenting model isn’t building real self-esteem. I’d say it’s the latter. People do need to know that they are valuable and their life is worth something, but the question is, how do we help our kids get there?

What makes a person feel worthy? I can tell you one thing that doesn’t – flattery. And isn’t that what we’re doing when we tell our children that every single thing they do is fabulous? Every picture is a masterpiece. Every note played or sung is magnificent. Every performance is stellar. Our kids are smart, and deep down, they know it isn’t true. Now, what does that do self-esteem?

Schools have jumped on the flattery band wagon too. Nearly every child gets an award, and almost every student is “honored” as Student of the Month. A few years ago, I went to my nephew’s baseball game, and I was amazed that the whole “three strikes and you’re out” rule has struck out. Now, kids get to swing as many times as it takes to hit the ball — wouldn’t want to hurt their self-esteem, you know.

Psalms 12:3 says, “The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips.”  And Proverbs20:19warns, “meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.”

Our kid’s want to know that we value them and that they’re worth something, but that’s not the message we send when we play lineman, aggressively fighting off all threats of failure and disappointment.

We tell them we value them by spending time with them and listening to their stories and offering honest, heart-felt answers to their questions. We tell them we value them when we take an interest in discovering who God created them to be, and giving them open and honest feedback so that they can find the lane they were created to run in and then run in it with excellence.

Our daughters (Skyler and Sydney) are best friends (that worked out well, huh?), and recently they choreographed a dance together to perform at the county fair. When they had all the moves down, they performed it for us in Jody’s living room. We couldn’t help but think they were so cute, but we also knew that their dance wasn’t performance worthy.

“Did you guys have fun doing that?” we asked. “You sure looked cute! And we’re so happy that you enjoyed it. We could tell you were having a blast. But we don’t think you should perform it at the fair. You both have so many talents, and perhaps if you had lessons you’d be ready to enter a contest, but for now, you should focus on your strengths.”

If our daughters were passionate about dance (or even just strongly interested), we’d encourage it – scouting out local dance performances, signing them up for classes, and encouraging them to enter dance contests.

We call this “running in your own lane.” And when we care enough to help our kids figure what their lane is, we are sending a message that they are valuable to us.

Once they figure out what they love and what peaks their interest, they have a sense of worth because they can live with purpose. They’ll know God has a plan for them, and they’ll even have a clue about what the plan is. All of that adds up to self-worth.

In case you were concerned about our little dancing queens, they had a happy ending at the county fair.  Between the two of them, they raked in a stack of blue ribbons, won a good amount of prize money, won best of show for two items, sang beautifully before a live audience, and did a stellar demonstration on how to spin art yarn. Their recognition came from hard work and talent. They had earned it, and the reward felt good.

As for dance, they’re both currently enrolled in a ballroom dancing class. So maybe they can try next year…maybe.

We can help boost our kid’s self esteem by encouraging and equipping them to work hard and enjoy true rewards. Few things feed self-esteem like a sense of integrity, and to that end, we can coach them to define their own values and hold them accountable to live by them. As we disciple our kids and help them discover the plans God has for them, and then challenge them be the very best they can be, we can help improve their sense of worth. These are the markers of real self-esteem.

Dare I say flattery has the opposite effect? What are your thoughts…

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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Roller Coaster Victory

Who knew a trip to the amusement park would hold a secret to victorious living?

We brought our son’s friend to Busch Gardens for the day, and when we got there, the two of them made a beeline for the biggest roller coaster they were tall enough to ride. It had never occurred to us that Sam’s little friend might have a problem. She comes from a family of big coaster enthusiasts. Her mom and I have even talked about the joy of doing an amusement park with coaster-friendly people. But the look on her face at the end of the ride made it clear she did not share her family’s amusement park tenacity. It turns out she was too little to ride the big coasters the last time they went. So no one in her family could guess that she wouldn’t love it.

Sam was so sad. He had been looking forward to spending this day with his best bud, and he couldn’t wait to experience all of his favorite rides with her. But after that first one, she couldn’t face the Scorpion – Sam’s absolute favorite coaster. So she stayed behind with one of the older teens and waved from the ground at our sad boy, who wasn’t sure how approach the rest of the day.

I felt the weight of Sam’s disappointment, but the look on his friend’s face was familiar — I knew exactly what she was feeling. When I was 11 years old, I went to Rye Playland with some friends, and just like Nawal, I was the roller coaster rookie that day. As soon as we arrived, we too headed for the biggest coaster. A hint of butterflies in my belly were more about excitement than fear. It hadn’t really occurred to me that I might not like the experience.

I still remember that first drop. I was totally unprepared for the intense feeling of losing my stomach, and my instincts led me to hold my breath and squeeze my belly tight – the worst thing you can do on a roller coaster. I don’t remember anything else about that day, but it was years before I got on another coaster. Then one day, at Six Flags Great Adventure, someone taught me the secret: at the top of a hill, just before the drop, take the deepest breath your lungs can hold, and let it all out in a giant scream on your way down. Coincidentally, my roller coaster victory happened on a ride called the American Scream Machine.

Knowing I had the secret that could transform her day, I didn’t want to see Nawal delay her victory for years like I had. If only I could find a tiny glimmer of courage in her little heart, I knew I could coach her through the Scorpion and turn a defeat into a triumph, saving the day for both her and Sam. So after a few successful rounds on River Rapids, I pulled her aside and squatted down for a serious girl-to-girl talk.

“Nawal, I know what happened on Gwazi. You went down the big hill, and it felt really bad, right?”

Her big brown eyes stared back at me, and slowly, she moved her head up and down.

“That happened to me once too. But then someone taught me a special trick, and from then on, the bad feeling never happened again. I could teach it to you, and if you do exactly what I show you, you’ll never be afraid of another roller coaster.”

I searched her sweet little face for that glimmer of courage, and even though her eyebrows were squeezed together in the middle and pulled up in distress, I sensed that she wanted victory.

“Nawal, if you come with me, I’ll sit right next to you, and I’ll show you exactly what to do, and it will be more fun than you could ever imagine. Do you think you could try?”

She was scared. It was written in her feet, crossed nervously (one on top of the other), and in her hands twisting together, and in her bottom lip, tucked awkwardly under a few of her front teeth. She sighed, processing my proposal, and then tentatively, she nodded and slipped her hand slowly into mine.

Sitting beside me in the car, the bar came down over her head and locked into place, and I began to describe exactly how it would go down, turn by turn.

“First we’re going to climb up this hill, and this is the time to relax and wave to the people down below. But when we reach the top, make sure you take the biggest, deepest breath your lungs can possibly hold, and then…as soon as we begin to drop…let it out in the loudest scream your voice can make.”  I could tell she liked the idea of being allowed to scream as loud as she wanted, but the upside-down part was still freaking her out.  “As soon as the drop is over, we’ll be in the loop before you even know it. It won’t feel at all scary – it will just be super fun!”

The ride happened exactly as I had said it would, and when we pulled in, every part of Nawal expressed triumph. She had faced her fear, followed my directions to the letter, and come out victorious. The ride was exciting, of course, but for Sam’s little friend, the greatest thrill came from knowing that she had chosen courage, and it paid off. The reward for bravery was confidence. She threw off the weight of fear and skipped through the rest of her day, knowing there was no roller coaster she couldn’t tackle – well, of those she’s tall enough to ride, that is.

On the way home, I thought about Nawal’s victory, and God showed me something. The Holy Spirit is our coach, and when He asks us to take His hand and face our fear, He promises to stay right by our side, directing us every step of the way. All we need to do is choose courage, and follow His lead. The victory for us will be just as sweet as Nawal’s roller coaster joy!

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” –2 Timothy 1:7

 

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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