Are You Making the Biggest Parenting Mistake?

Are You Making the Biggest Parenting MistakeI think the biggest parenting mistake is at the heart of all our parenting woes: we try to raise good children and forget about raising wise adults.

Now the process may look similar in motion, in either case, but the parent just trying to make good kids is going to burn out, stay frustrated and exhausted by their short-sighted goal. And parenting in a constant state of frustration drastically impacts our children.

The other parent will be able to maneuver through those same frustrations with more grace because he has long-term vision.

It would be like trying to grow corn in a day. You can plow, plant and water, but you ain’t gettin’ corn today. Or this week. That’s frustrating if that’s what you had your mind set on. And when the weeds start to grow, the short-sighted farmer will give up before the farmer who keeps his eye on the long-term harvest of sweet, golden corn.

He knows patience and steady work is key if he wants to see long-term success.

Our children are born with a sin nature and we were put in their lives to nurture them in the Lord, slowly, patiently moving them toward a Savior who saves and sanctifies.

Where there are bad habits, attitudes, conflict or pride, those are the weeds of the fertile soil we’ve been given to carefully, diligently tend. I can tend with more stamina if I garden past today.

I have to move my gaze ahead and remember the harvest: I’m raising adults.

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Why Your Children Annoy You and Homemaking is Boring

Why your children annoy you and homemaking is boring

I think often about that woman in the Bible, the woman hanging out in Proverbs 31, the model for a godly woman. She does many things, wears many hats.

But one thing she does well, one thing is her priority: her home, husband and children. Her other pursuits fall around that.

“She looks well to the ways of her home, she is not idle…” Prov. 31:27

Somewhere along the way, a few generations back, the priority of homes, children and husbands took a backseat to promised fulfillment. Women became lured by the sirens of career, accolades and accomplishment, and the daily, hard, sleeve-rolling work became more mundane and distasteful in light of the exciting, interesting activity available. Women became distracted from their families because, quite frankly, family work is lackluster.

That was disconcerting enough.

But something looms dangerously familiar, now, even in homes where for a time, women had returned as stout, home-builders. I’m seeing it over the Internet, I’m hearing it from young mothers around me: “This job is hard. Too hard, in fact, and I don’t think I’m where I’m supposed to be. And Jesus would want me to be happy, so that settles it.”

We have an old problem with a new enemy.

And it may be far more complicated than my black and white conclusion, but I think an unsuspected enemy has played a huge role in luring women, again, from embracing, Proverbs 31-style, the duties of home and family.

(Hiding from tomatoes now…)

The Internet.

Don’t go crazy on me. I love the Internet. (Actually, it’s more of a love/hate.) I run a home business from the Internet. I’ve met new, wonderful friends from the Internet. I research, learn, collect educational tools and look up recipes on the Internet. I diagnose sickness, watch spectacular documentaries and use the thesaurus on the Internet. My daughter is learning to play guitar, for free, and my son runs an art business on the Internet. I shop, compare prices, saving gas and money, print business cards and keep in touch on the Internet. The Internet has opened up possibilities never before imagined and I’m so thankful for this tool!

But it’s lure is distracting us. See, the Internet is very exciting. There are fun Pinterest ideas that at least make me feel crafty. There are articles galore and blogs that help me grow. There are fabulous pictures, funny videos and of course, a whole community on Facebook where we not only get to keep up with everything that’s going on, but we get to project our goings-on onto other people, and for the first time, for some, feel validated, important.

The Internet is addictingly f.u.n.

And this excitement does something terrible: the same thing other distractions in history have done to our fore-mothers (Days of Lives, General Hospital–yeah, those were our mom’s escapes)–it makes our children, our husbands and our daily work boring, tedious and frustrating.  This excitement is why your children annoy you and homemaking is boring.

Because frankly, I’d rather surf the Internet than clean my floors. And while I’m surfing the Internet, that child who needs me? He becomes an irritation, not a ministry. “Just a minute.”  Or worse, the irritation in my voice when he simply asked a question. Yeah, you know.

If I’m feeling down, the Internet is there to take my mind off of it. And if I feel I’m failing at child-training, I can post stuff on Facebook that looks like I’m not, and for a moment, I might believe it.

I can escape. Be entertained. Forget. Put off. Avoid work. Wave my children away. Feed a vast cavern that yearns to be filled–but only contentment in Christ can really fill.

If this hurts, you’re not alone. The Lord is dealing deeply with me about how to use this incredible tool that has potential to absolutely destroy all I hold dear. And I’m thinking of my own children, and how what plagues one generation, tends to be heightened and become so familiar we don’t recognize the damage, in the next.

I want to enjoy the simplicity of my life, complete with the work I don’t like and the routine that is not Pinterest-worthy.

I want to be in tune with my children so that when they need me, I can answer with patience and readiness. I want to be ready to hear my husband when he comes home and show him I’m fully his.

I don’t want the pseudo-fulfillment of the Internet to convince me my life isn’t enough and my family is secondary.

I pray this for us all. And I challenge you older women: let’s get behind the younger mamas and cheer them on, help them stay the course and see the purpose in their prosaic lives.

(My thoughts on this subject have been newly inspired by a fabulous book, coming soon, entitled Present, by Keri Lamar. Watch for it!)

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Homeschooling Help: Education and The Skills That Matter

Homeschooling Help Education and The Skills That MatterMore money, more time and more effort toward federal education has had one result: less real, meaningful education and even failing standards by the system’s own measure. If you are thinking about homeschooling, I challenge you to dive into some research and see that it isn’t as difficult as you might think and that “school” doesn’t always equal education. Really, what have you got to lose?

And if you’re already homeschooling, congratulations! And relax. Education doesn’t always look exactly like we think it does. Remember, the classroom model isn’t very impressive. Even in research where test scores are high, experts are beginning to realize test scores have much less to do with what employers are looking for and what makes a successful person in the real world.

Here are some important think-outside-the-classroom things you should consider:

1. Refuse the notion that “earlier is better” when it comes to formal academics. There is so much research not only refuting the idea that a jump-start in formal academics benefits children, but we now know that it can actually have negative effects on their ability to learn and process information.

Children have a unique ability to process information and they need a load of tangible experiences in which to do it. Old fashion play is not just play; it’s an important, tactile form of education, preparing them for more abstract learning in the future and hindering them, if they don’t get enough of it.   Why Kids Can’t Think

2. Conversation, conversation, conversation. I’ve written over and over on this one, and it seems quite obvious, but conversation becomes more scarce as we immerse ourselves into the technological world. It takes deliberate effort to cultivate an atmosphere of extensive conversation in the home, but so much learning takes place through this one medium! Talk, listen and ask questions. Talk in the car, in the kitchen, around the table and throughout the day. Challenge thoughts and opinions by asking probing questions and even play “devil’s advocate” to help your children formulate solid reasoning and communication skills. To be able to give an answer, in and of itself, of what we believe and think and feel, is a rare but valuable asset.

3. Be convinced of the skills that matter most and hone those. Guess what the seven most desired universal job skills, according to Forbes are:

  • The art of communicating clearly and concisely
  • Creativity
  • Curiosity
  • Good writing ability
  • Getting along with others
  • Able to learn (re-engineering skills)
  • Computer skills

There’s no algebra, physics or chemistry in that list, though those skills might be helpful in specific, specialized areas, and yet most of us are far more concerned with developing those measurable facts over diving into these. We need to at least be spending as much time on what is recognized as the most important skills for success, don’t you think?

4. Give them experience. The Chinese Proverbs well states: “Tell me, and I’ll forget. Show me, and I’ll remember. Involve me, and I’ll understand.”

This is why the “play” I mentioned earlier is so important in the early years. Experience (tactile learning) creates the foundation for knowledge. But experience continues to be THE GREATEST teacher throughout life. Look for ways to let your child do things. And it can be simple. Cooking, planting a garden, making their own purchases, making phone calls, writing letters, dabbling with the computer, building a fire, changing a tire, using tools, yard maintenance, taking pictures…the list is endless.

We have found that teaching is a form of hands-on experience that is very beneficial. Even after six years of college, grammar never became so clear to me until I started teaching it. I’ve tried to remember this in our home education and have an older child teach a younger child some concept. The older child thinks it’s for the benefit of the younger, but it’s not so much.

5.  Nurture creativity and business skills. Once upon a time, we were such an entrepreneurially-minded people. But with the advent of forced, compulsory schooling, there was a mass, deliberate effort to change all that–to make a mostly docile, following society instead of risk-taking leaders. That effort literally changed the entire face of our culture. We need to resurrect some of that ingenuity again in our children instead of drugging it out of them. We need to teach our children the value of starting their own businesses, developing strategies for earning multiple streams of income, and breaking the notion that the only option in life is becoming an employee. I love Cameron Herold’s message on raising entrepreneurs.

Most kids get excited about making a dollar or two, so let them! Help them create a simple business plan (learning basic economics in the process in invaluable, something else we don’t teach enough). Let them feel, by experience, the relationship between an idea, developing the idea and turning it into a profit. They may hate it. It may solidify for them the fact that they DO want to be an employee and not deal with the challenges of owning a business. But give them the chance to know that.

Educate them–live life with them, let them explore, experience and expand their ideas. These things will transpose to invaluable assets no matter what they end up doing in life.

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3 of My Favorite Things–Entrepreneur Love, Handmade Gifts

I have lots of favorites. But today I wanted to share 3 of them with you!

I found Erin, at This One’s Mine Design on Etsy a year or so ago, and fell in love with her beautiful pottery as well as the friendly customer service to match. Her pieces are breath-taking, especially in person.

Recently, I ordered these beautiful essential oil diffuser necklaces and I. love. them.

And, Erin wants to offer Generation Cedar readers 20% off orders over $10! Just enter the code, GENCED20 when you shop with This One’s Mine Designs.

 

My daughter, Alexa, has opened her Etsy shop, Alexa Quinn Crafts, and is starting to fill it with adorable stone coasters. This one’s my favorite: (4/$15.00)

coaster-11

And my son, Ashton has created a new addition to his site: whimsy notecards. I am LOVING having these to send out for a quick note. (6/$9.99)

So if you’re in the mood to support an entrepreneur, take a look!

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Helping Our Kids Think Smart About College & the Future: Why Waiting Tables is a Good Option

 

Helping Our Kids Think Smart About College & the Future Why Waiting Tables is a Good Option

My husband and I met waiting tables in our college days. That’s what all the college kids do, you know, until they get a degree and get a high-paying job so they can pay off the degree. (Only 27% of college grads have a job related to their major and 38% of grads work in a field that doesn’t require a college degree. Washington Post)

I’ve told my husband for years that being a server is a decent way to earn a living. Here’s why I think so:

  • Less Hours. Waiters/Servers can make a full time income working part time hours. It’s common to make around $20/hour (more at high-end establishments) including the small hourly wage.
  • Flexibility. Employees are not usually hemmed in by a typical work-day schedule, and it is also easier to take off work if needed.

This is the biggest advantage, to me, for entrepreneurs or those who have other career goals. It allows more hours and flexibility to build a business or do investing.

  • Lessons. Frankly, serving is good for us. It makes us more patient and humble. Those aren’t bad traits to acquire as a by-product of your work.
  • Fun. For people-people, waiting tables can be lots of fun. Also, the uncertainty of your daily wage is actually an exciting challenge for some.
  • Financial Gain. The best part of this plan is the financial benefit compared to the typical, average college experience.

The disclaimer: I’m not villainizing college, especially for those who have a plan and college is the only route to accomplish it. But the percentage is high for those who simply go, with no premeditated intention, because that’s what they’ve been told they’re supposed to do. I’m simply opposed to the mass, social peer pressure of college accompanied by the silver-bullet facade.

Watch this:

If a high school graduate begins waiting tables at the age of 18, making an average of $18/hour, working approximately 3 days a week for 5 hours (very low numbers), at the end of 4 years he stands to earn $56,160. That does not account for any investing he may do which could potentially double or triple that number.

His (average) counterpart who chooses college will end his 4 years owing an average of $35,200 (CNN), not including housing. If he lives on campus or away from home, his expenses increase by $24,000, at the least. One survey revealed that half the students believe it will take them 9 years to pay back their student loans.

Meanwhile, if the first graduate waiting tables is tired of waiting tables, he has had 4 years to think and a lot of experience to give him insight on what he might want to do more permanently. And what’s more, he has money to move forward, invest, or start a business—or go to college.

I’m just sayin’, plan A makes sense to me.

Addition:

How fun to find this video after I wrote the post. Not only do I love the message, and it sort of reiterates what I’m trying to say here, but I love Matt Walsh and if you look beside him, it’s our Heidi St. John! (Still looking for the clip to hear her speak.)

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What I Need When Motherhood Makes Me Whine

This article is so important.  You know I’m a busy mom. And I think a lot of busy moms read here. And I can testify, it’s so easy to get lop-sided about our job, and begin to live with a victim mentality. (Admit it: you’ve thought at least once in your life, “These people want to eat. Again?!”)

I fear too, with all the Internet articles circling around, that it’s easier than ever to begrudge our job as mothers.

Our lives are easier now than ever in history. We have electricity and modern conveniences our great-grandmothers would be gobsmacked over.

And while we need to be able to give ourselves grace and share our burdens with one another, that sharing needs to be accompanied by words of strength and encouragement, and practical strategies for coping when motherhood feels too hard, not by a license to wallow in pity.

I’m talking to myself.

So do yourself a HUGE favor and go read I Signed Up For This. I mean I cannot tell you how great it is. Then tell me what you thought.

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