Positive Family Relationships
"Love is patient; love is kind. Love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on it's own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bear all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails...."
I Corinthians 13:4-8
Bonding starts in the womb. Half way through your pregnancy, your baby can hear your voice and those around you. Babies will turn their heads toward their mother's voice after they are born. Isn't that amazingly sweet? I started reading to my babies when they were in the womb. After they were born, they could recognize the book I was reading. It comforted them. Have your husband talk to the baby to give him/her comfort.
After they are born, I loved holding them and rocking them as I read, fed, or sang songs to them. But this is also a great time for family to be involved. I let all the boys be involved in the baby's life. They take turns holding, feeding, and singing to the baby. I make it a big deal that they are "big brothers", and that their new little brother will be looking up to them.
Do you use a swing a lot? A playpen? An exer-saucer? Don't get me wrong. I have all of these things, and more! But I try not to let it take the place a great bonding time. They are only young and teachable once. Use the time wisely! As time goes on, I use these toys for special times to teach the baby playtime, but not when they are newborn. At the newborn stage, I am busy getting the baby on a daily schedule that fits our family. And tending to their tender needs.
* I take being a mom seriously. I do not rely on others to take care of the baby's special needs. The boys all love to hold and play with the baby. But it is my responsibility to do the work. I let the others help because it makes them feel like a part of the baby's life. But, I do not make them have chores that have to do with taking care of a little one. That is mine or my husband's responsibility. Bathing, reading, feeding, homework, putting to bed,etc...
There are many ways to bond with your child as they grow older. As toddlers, we play a lot together. I love to play! I also love to take them places. The zoo, museum, parks, etc... Since I do not homeschool, I have plenty of time during the day to devote to their needs.
For school-aged children, I find every chance I get to make it a special bonding time. In the morning while they eat breakfast I will go over Bible verses, school assignments, events of the day with them. We have meaningful conversations. After school, I make them a snack, ask about their day, and help with homework. Then I go outside and play with them, taking turns. I'll push one in a swing while singing songs. Later, I'll play catch with another boy and talk about their day. Then, I'll play basketball with another boy. It may seem like a lot to do, but this is what is important to me. I could be reading a book while they play, sunbathing, or talking on the phone. But I choose to be involved with their lives. I make plenty of time for myself by organizing my time before they wake, at nap time, and after they are asleep. I do not feel deprived at all. (*Check out my Health- Personal section for more of what I do for myself). I think taking the time to help with homework makes a great bonding time. As long as your have some one on one time throughout the day, your child will not feel deprived. Your heart will not either!
My husband and I also try to have special dates with each child. We have done "star of the week." When they have shown excellent behavior and work all week, we let them choose a "date" on the weekend, a special dinner, special "star" plate to eat on at dinner, a small gift. The gift can be as simple as gum to the toy they have been wanting. We usually keep this very inexpensive for everything. And we do not always do this method. If it's their birthday, we make the week or weekend special for them. While many choose not to make a big deal out of birthdays, we do. We want our children to know that we are more than blessed for them to be a part of our family. We are very excited that they were born and God gave us such a wonderful child to raise for His glory! *In everything we do we give thanks to God and give God the glory!* I have a plaque that I have in my living room, "If you praise your children, they will blossom", with a picture of flowers growing. Positive parenting is the key to the success of the child's self-esteem and heart! Doesn't it make you feel special when your husband makes a big deal out of you? I know I love it! I want to repay the same respect to my children.
My husband and I also do everything with the kids! Yes, I mean just about everything. While my husband and I believe in date nights and make a point to have those, just as important is family time! Even when the kids were younger and my husband did a lot of kayaking hours from home, we took the boys with us. Yes, that was us at the camp with all of the baby toys! When we want to go to any event, we would take the boys. In the early years we were urged to get babysitters or were told that it was too hard to take little ones to do everything. I wish I had listened to my heart, because I now see a lot of wasted time I could have had with them. So, with the little ones we have now, we take them everywhere! Summertime is my favorite time of year!! I get to have all of my boys all the time! I organize trips and fun things to do with them. Our favorite things to do during the summer is: go to a museum, go to the zoo, go to a waterpark, go to the sprinkler park, go to the library, go shopping (Like Barnes and Nobles, outlet stores, new places, etc...), story time at bookstores or library, go to the drive-in, go downtown Memphis to eat, vacation to visit family (My whole family lives in another state), and try new restaurants to go out to eat.
We love to have family time at home. First of all, I would like to say how much family time you can have if you just take the tv out of your home. Well, kind of. We do not have ours out completely. We watch tv, but only at special times. We will have a show on tv that we like to watch. And we like to have family movie night. We make popcorn. Sometimes we do something special like get pizza, drinks, candy, and ice cream. This is a family time where everyone is together in the same room. Other than tv watching , there are so many other things you can do! We love to have family game night on the weekend. Our favorite games are :any Cranium games, monopoly, dominos, card games, and any active game like twister and charades.
TV CHALLENGE! If you turn off your tv you will see how much more time and fun you have with your family! I took a challenge years ago and found out what it is really like! Now, I love tv. It's my wind down time after the kids go to bed. I love movies! But I challenge you to do this: For one week, do not turn on the tv. Record any shows that you really do not want to miss, and watch them later. Maybe that will relieve some of that stress.(Confession: The first time I did this, I could not record my shows I loved. I had nightmares all week about not having a tv!! I know that is so crazy! So crazy addicted, I think!) But, the great thing that came out of this was great bonding time with the little ones while the older boys are at school. I took this opportunity to play more with them. We read more books, danced to more music, colored more pictures, baked more goodies, went to more parks, libraries, and museums, and played outside longer. When the older boys got home from school, they didn't veg-out in front of the tv. We all rode our bikes around the block every night, we had more meaningful conversations with them, family game night started, homework was done faster, kids were not as sleepy, and so much more I cannot even tell all! So, pick a date on your calendar and TURN YOUR TV OFF!! I promise you will love me for it!
Our culture has always said that boys should be tough. They shouldn't cry or show emotion or they would be considered a "wimp." I say that is completely false! Boys and girls should be taught empathy the same. Empathy is learned. And it is best modeled by the parents. When they get hurt, do you show them sympathy because they are crying or tell them "oh, your fine, quit crying!"? When someone hurts their feelings do you talk to them about how they feel or do you tell them to "be strong and get over it"? Do you show empathy toward those around you?
I am not the kind of mom who is over protective. I don't run over to my kids every time they fall down or get hurt. But, if it is something serious, I hug them and comfort them. It builds their self-esteem. They learn that I care about them and how they feel. When something happens to one of their brothers, I do the same for them. But, I also involve the other boys to show sympathy towards the one that is hurt. For example, if we are all outside and they are riding their bikes, one boy has a bad wreck and is hurt. I do not let all the boys keep playing and ignore the one that is hurting. We all show sympathy~ hug, kiss, ask if there is anything we can do for them. By doing this, I have seen that they do this on their own when I am not around. We never make the child feel like his problems are a burden to us. If they are having problems at school or with a friend, we talk to them. Even if we do not think we have the time to talk to them about it. We make time for them! Children are more important than things, and they should feel that way. And more than that, they should feel in their hearts that their mom and dad feel that way about them!
When I find out a friend is hurting or someone is in need, I talk to the boys about how I feel for them. Never complain about someone's issues. That will only make them feel like the other person's problems are just burdens on them. We should always take our friends problems as our own and try to help. Maybe it is just by prayer, something we have, or just a little of our time. When we care for others, they care for others, too! When we volunteer at the homeless shelter, we talk about how we can help them and share Jesus with them. Never do we allow them to speak negatively about the homeless or anyone else less fortunate. Such as, saying they are like that because they choose to be. We did have one child who just didn't understand why they "just don't get a job." We had to explain further and show the how we empathize with everyone. Everyone is different with different needs than our own.
Trickle-Down Effect~ We have noticed that by teaching our oldest child to show empathy, he in return shows it to his brothers. The Trickle-Down Effect. This effect goes for every circumstance in parenting and for siblings. When they see their brothers behave a certain way, then they think it is okay to behave a certain way. if they belittle someone, the younger one will do the same. If they are allowed to backtalk, the little one will do the same. If they are allowed to be irresponsible, the younger will think he can be, too.
Overall, we teach our children unconditional love, acceptance, and security at home.
How do you communicate with your children? Do you communicate with your children? I mean have meaningful, heart-felt talks. Heart-felt talks are a big deal in our home. We sit down one-on-one with each child, most daily. We especially make ourselves available when we can tell they just need to talk. We give them personal space, and do not let the others interrupt. We want them to know they are special and that our "talks" are important to us. Because we have been open about letting them speak frankly with us, we have learned so much more about them! If they are willing to come to us, tell us secrets, and confide in us, then we should show them mercy. Sometimes we are able to show mercy. Other times, they know there needs to be a consequence. Either way, if we do it with showing love, they know they can depend on us. God gives us love, forgiveness, and mercy when we come to him. We show the boys the same respect.
My husband and I do not "text" on our cell phones. We decided long ago how quickly email can make communication not so personal anymore. So, we do not email each other if we want to talk. We also decided that we would not let little text messages become our way of communication either. You may think we are living like Amish, but we aren't. We just decided one-on-one, personal communication is better. We have been told that their children communicate better through text. But honestly, wouldn't you rather them be able to feel more open to have talks with you in person? Closeness of eye to eye contact and time for heart-felt emotion and hugs?
Texting~ That is probably a sore subject for some. We will not give our children cell phones until they NEED them. They do not need to spend their time needlessly texting their friends. And most of the time they are not talking about appropriate subjects. Too much gossip and slander is happening. There is no need to let them be in that kind of situation. We would rather them use their time wisely, and texting is not one of them. Honestly, they don't have time to sit and text.
We have learned over the years that positive speech toward children builds self-esteem. Negative speech damages their self esteem. Researchers say that it takes 20 positive comments to make up for the one negative comment you made toward that child. Stop and think about how easy it is to say quick negative remarks. There are the obvious, and then there are the little ones. Big ones: "You are so stupid", "You will never amount to anything!", "You are so lazy!", " You will never be good enough". " You will never be smart enough.". The little ones are: "Why can't you be just like your brother?", "You never listen!", " You never do your chores(or do your chores good enough)", "Why are you being so awful?", "You are driving me crazy!". I have been guilty of saying things to them. I think we all have. But if we realize what we are doing is so damaging, then I think we should stop. I can still remember the negative comments made to me when I was little. And it really did hurt my self-esteem. And since I heard so much negativity, I have been more aware of what I say to the boys. And when I do mess up, I immediately get on their level, eye-to-eye, and ask forgiveness. Then do little things all day to make up for it. Another thing we may not notice is how we speak about them to others. Do you tell good or funny stories? Or do you tell the bad things they do. Now, I admit I will confide in friends about what I am dealing with to help them if they are in the same situation. That's not what I am talking about. I do tell silly stories about them. But nothing demeaning or embarrassing. They will even pick up on things that you are telling grandparents. If you are asking someone for advice and confiding in what to do, be sure they do not hear you talking about them. Little ears can hear very, very well. Please, don't think I am judgmental about this issue. I know all of us fail in many areas. Thats why God's grace is sufficient for thee!
Try to make family dinner time important in your family. Eat dinner together at least 5 times a week, if not every. Even if its a very simple meal. We eat dinner 7 times a week together. We make it a point to make the food and sit down at the same time. Even it's a peanut butter sandwich. They boys have always done it like this and now they do it without thinking. We use this time to talk to each other about our day. For a dinner with more time: coordinate the dishes, glasses, napkins. Light candles, turn off TV or radio, do not answer the phone, plan ahead and use crockpot. Study spelling words or Bible verses at this time. We have a small napkin holder that can hold index cards. We write the week's spelling words and Bible verses on these cards, and take time to study. Make it a rule that no one gets up from the table until everyone has eaten. If you finish early, use this time to spark conversation. Make it a rule that you have to say thank you to whoever prepared the meal before you get up from the table. Here are our family rules:
Dinner Table Rules:
1. Come to the table dressed appropriate: shirt and pants.
2. Come to the table with clean hands and face.
3. Pray before eating.
4. Do not say anything bad about what is served. Try one bite of everything.
5. Use table manners- do not talk with mouth full, napkin in lap, use utensils.
6. Only get seconds after everyone has made their plates.
7. Do not get up until everyone is done eating.
8. Have only good conversations at the table; encouraging, thoughtful, pleasant. Ephesians 4:29 ..." so that it will give grace to those who hear."
9. Tell the cook thank you for the meal before getting up.
10. When everyone is finished, do all chores before leaving the kitchen. Be helpful to others.
"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins."
1 Peter 4:8(NIV)
" Let no unwholesome talk come from your mouths...be kind and compassionate."
I. The Power of Encouragement
A. Pay attention to his interests:
4. dirt biking
B. Be on the look out and admire his qualities:
1. good at sports
4. Great manners
C. Make encouraging notes:
*Have you searched for the good in (child's name) today?
D. Is their Love Cup full today?
E. Our Words:
1. Be specific
2. Be prepared
3. Be creative
4. Be resourceful
* Colossians 3:12-15 * Philippains 4:8
1. "You did great on your school work today"
2. "I love how great you are at dirtbiking. I can tell God has given you a special gift."
3. "Your hugs are special, can I have one right now?"
4. "I have fun playing games with you. Will you play one with me right now?"
5. "I'm so glad you are part of this family!"
II. Great Expectations
** You read Esther. ** Kids read Jeremiah 29:11-13 and Psalm 139:14-16
A. Positive qualities and attributes
~ Mental- Thinks about the future
~ Physical- very active; great agility and coordination
~ Spiritual- does well in Sunday School, saved, reads Bible and devotionals
~ Social- very polite and friendly
B. Pray that God will bless specific plans for (Child's name)
1.Mental- more focused to learn at school
2.Physical- exercises more daily
3.Spiritual- grow in Christ
4.Social- show Christ-like attitude with friends