Sitting at her small table in the basement Eloise was thankful for the silence. Ted had agreed to focus on the kids and food for the day while she took time to pray and seek God’s guidance for the next school year for each of her kids. She had been homeschooling for the past several years, but was realizing that it was becoming much more difficult as the kids entered junior high and high school. Tonight, Bryan, their 16 year old, would be in charge so that she and Ted could go out to dinner and talk through her plans for the school year.
“Lord,” she prayed. “Help me to put together a plan for each child. Help me to not only focus on the school part of the year, but also help me to focus on behaviors, friendships, and character development. Help me to focus on their strengths. Help me to pay close attention to how you would want them to develop and not forget that they also need to build relationship with you.”
On her computer she had three documents open with each of the kids’ names on top. She also had the categories that she wanted to focus on.
STRENGTHS began one column. PLACES TO GROW began another.
Earlier in the week Eloise had taken time to spend a couple of hours with each of the kids separately. She had taken each one to their favorite restaurant for lunch and talk time. Conversations were similar for each of the kids. There was talk about the things they had enjoyed during the school year along with things they would like to try during the coming year. Naturally sports, music, and drama came up with. They talked about co-op and distance learning, classes they enjoyed and ones they didn’t like, and what they thought they might be interested in for future careers. They talked about how God had created them unique with a gifting. It was an opportunity for each child to dream about the future while giving Eloise some data to plan the school year.
Now it was time for Eloise to put together a plan. What was realistic for each child? How much time would she have to be on the road with each child transporting them to activities? What would be good balance for family life at home?
Eloise decided to start with their 14 year old son who struggled the most with fitting in. In the past, she would have started with her firstborn. After all, as a family, they would have less time to influence him. But Eloise wasn’t so sure that’s where she and Ted should be spending the most energy. Bryan was getting lots of opportunity with the freedom of driving. Stephen seemed to need more attention right now. Stephen was her most determined child…determined to do things his way…and get his friends to do things his way…and upset the family when things didn’t go his way.
She was excited about her new tactic. In the past she would have focused on her kids’ weaknesses, especially Stephen’s. This was the kid who always pushed her patience. She had spent so much time correcting him, scolding him, and grounding him, that she was determined to follow the nugget she had learned in Daughters of Sarah.
Whatever we pay attention to growsJ!
She was beginning to see it happen!
During the last month, she was seeing a glimmer of hope with Stephen. One day she noticed him help his younger sister reach something she wanted from the top of her closet. Typically he would have gotten it for her and then would have proceeded to do something to upset her, like dump it on the floor or start taking it apart. Eloise just happened to be walking through the hallway at the time and interrupted the scene. Just as Stephen was getting the item down, Eloise entered the room. “Stephen, thank you for helping your sister reach that! I really appreciate how you look out for her! You are such a good big brother!” And with that she gave him a hug.
With each new incident, Eloise was trying to see the “good” in her son and it was paying dividends. Just by commenting on his “good works” she was watching him try harder to do the right thing. Even the other kids were starting to “commend” Stephen for his positive actions. Wow! What a different tone was emerging in their home.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
When we have those “difficult” children who always seem to be stirring up dissention, it is easier to correct and scold the bad rather than encourage them when they are doing something good. Rather than wait to speak when they do something wrong. Try only commenting when they do something right!
Dare you to “catch” you tween or teen doing something right and make sure to offer positive feedback! Pay attention…the “good” will grow!
“Let go…and let God”,