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Clean your own closet

By Cassie of Cassie’s Corner

CassiesCornerButtonSo often we find ourselves as parents scolding our children for behavior that we see as wrong, unruly, or down right disobedient. Sadly, we discipline our children for simply being a child. I recently had a conversation with my daughter regarding her behavior and lack of respect. When I asked her why she kept acting out and would not listen to my directions to clean her room she answered soundly, “Daddy doesn’t put his laundry downstairs. Daddy doesn’t put his shoes away.” And on she went with a ‘laundry’ list of behaviors my husband and I do that we should not do, things we say that we should not say, it was a brutal list of our behaviors as parents that were rubbing off on our children. I listened to her speak and I silently wept as I realized that I had become a ‘Do as I say, not as I do” type of parent.

Some would say that as a child, my “sweet-face” should not be allowed to tell us Mt St Helens(her parents) how to act or what we are doing wrong. They are welcome to their opinion as we are welcome to parent our children as we see fit. In our home our children are free to communicate whatever they are feeling as long as they do so with respect and at the appropriate time. Our daughter was holding up a mirror and revealing to us how her and her younger brother view my husband and I as parents, as examples.

Proverbs 22:6(NIV), “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

All I could think about as I listened was the above verse. I kept asking myself what kind of legacy am I teaching my children. I wondered, how do my children view their father? I wondered how our son and daughter viewed God, if we were a reflection of His love for them while on earth. My heart broke. An innocent conversation about being good stewards of what God has blessed us with (clothes, toys, beds, a home), turned into a self-reflection that was seriously ugly.

Thankfully, our children forgave us for being poor examples in some areas and thanked us for being great parents in others. We asked them for forgiveness and they asked us to forgive them. We prayed as a family and asked God to look at our hearts, to search us and to know us and to reveal himself to us. The night ended with us listening to worship music and being grateful for open communication.

Once the children were asleep my husband, Geoff, and I processed the conversation and how it made each of us feel. I reminded him that the whole thing started over a mandated instruction for our 8-year-old to clean up her closet and put her clothing where it belonged. Then, I said, “As parents, we need to clean out our own closets before we reprimand our children. I was referring to examining our own behavior before we react to our children living as we have shown them. As parents, self-reflection is always a good thing. Sometimes it’s beautiful and sometimes it’s down right nasty. We were both very sad and pondering how we had allowed ourselves to be so consumed with life that we had forgotten our most precious positions; living as children of God and being parents to our most priceless gifts from our father above.

I laid in bed that night asking God to make me the kind of mother that my children could be proud of. The kind of mother that they would want to have at school and around their friends. I asked him to open my eyes to areas in my life that need Him the most and to start a work in me that would filter into my children and their children after them. He is so very faithful to answer our prayers.

Exodus 20:6(NIV), “but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

Gram H Legacy 2My hope is that every person that reads this article will stop and think about the example they are to the next generation(s). Parents or not, we are all examples to someone. What type of LEGACY do you want to leave?

 

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The dating tightrope, finding balance

Written originally for “The Whatevergirls”

Part 2: Today, I want to take a look at the guidelines my husband and I set in place as we tried to find the right balance on the dating tight rope.

We feel the guidelines we set are extremely important.  To have no guidelines, to not care how dating looks, or no set age when you think it is the right time to date, would be like saying to your kids: “I don’t care how fast you ride the motorcycle,” and: “it is your choice to wear the helmet or not.” That kind of attitude towards dating is setting your child up for hurt.  On the flip side of that, I have watched a few families that have said no to dating, no to attending a dance, no to even going to a movie with a group of boys and girls; the outcome of that was not good either.  The NO, NO, NO from the parents led to the SNEAK, SNEAK, SNEAK of the kids.  I have witnessed more than one family lay down some of the tightest rules–as far as the opposite sex goes–and allow no dialog about it with their kids.  Sadly, in some cases, it has led to everyone but the parents being aware that their child is being anything but pure.  The kids have chosen the proverbial “back seat of the car,” while the parents have assumed their guidance of one big “NO” about the opposite sex is good enough.

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Our son and his girlfriend

My husband and I knew we needed to find the right balance to walk the dating tight rope in our home.  Again, I want to stress that this is what worked for our family, it may not work for yours.  Also, I cannot say that we did not have any near falls while walking this out. We saw that our kids were more likely to want to hang out at our home if we allowed them to have a relationship with healthy guidelines. When they hung out at our house, with us there, we got to be like the parents in the other room while the baby enjoys freedom in the crib–like I talked about in my first post, “taking the first step”. I guess you could say we found taking the middle ground between “no rules on dating,“ and “no dating at all,” to be where we landed.

The guidelines we set for our children when it came to dating, were like the pole that a tightrope walker uses for balance. If we let the guidelines lean too far one way or the other, it would be sure to knock our kids off the rope. The guidelines applied in all situations. We also were very clear on explaining the rules (guidelines) to any of our kid’s friends who came into our home. What we found was that kids like to know what the guidelines are, and they were happy not having to sneak around.

The guidelines:

  • If you want to hang out at our house with the opposite sex there must be a parent home.  The same goes for you hanging out at their home.
  • The bedrooms are off-limits!
  • If you are watching a movie, there is no reason to be in a completely dark room; have at least one light on.
  • If you get cold, turn the fireplace on; if you want a blanket, we have plenty of them so you can each use your OWN.
  • If you want to have a group of kids over for a pool party or movies, that is fine but we will be calling the parents to tell them that we are going to be here and they are welcome to come and hang out if they want.  We had many nights enjoying a glass of wine and visiting with parents while the basement was full of kids watching a movie.  We laughed as each parent randomly took a turn walking into the basement to make sure that no one was getting too comfortable.  Not only our kids, but other kids asked us more than once to have more nights like that.
  • If you are going out on a date, the only time you need to be hanging out alone in the car is while driving some place.  If you have nothing to do but sit in the car alone, get to our house or call it a night!
  • We are going to check with the parents of whatever house you are going to, and if you don’t like it you can stay home.

Affection:

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Our daughter and her boyfriend

We know you like each other.  We know you want to hold hands, snuggle and kiss.  We would much rather have you show affection in front of us, because the alternative is that you go somewhere alone to show affection and that can lead to things going too far.  Please be comfortable in front of us.  We were young once too, and we show our affection holding hands with a peck on the lips or cheek in front of you, because it is okay to have those feelings.  But keep it at that.  Don’t be alone, and do not take it farther than that simple affection.  To let things go beyond that will leave you with the regret of having to tell your spouse some day.

To our son: If you are going to date, you better respect the girl because she is Jesus’ princess; you better treat her in the same way you would want your sister treated. Also, you will not date a girl without speaking to her father first and looking him in the eye like a man.  That goes for something as simple as asking a girl to a dance.  You go to her father, or if she only has a mother then her mother first, before asking.  We also like our son to be aware of just how much that father loves his daughter, and that he would not only answer to us, but he would answer to her father if he disrespected her.  (Knowing that the father owned guns always added to helping get our point across and gave us something to laugh about behind closed doors).

To our daughter: If you want to go to a dance with a boy, he will come and ask your father so that your father may have the joy of making him sweat and tremble in fear.  If some boy wants to date you, he will look your father in the eye like a man when he asks.  He will understand that you are to be treated with respect, period.  We are letting him date Jesus’ princess, and if he thinks answering to your father and older brother is scary, then just think about trying to explain his intentions to Jesus.  It also helped when the young man asking to date knew that we owned guns as well.

My husband and I felt it was our responsibility to help our children avoid the same mistakes we made.  By setting these clear guidelines, we were taking our first steps to help our children walk the dating tightrope with more success than we had.  All those guidelines set in place were good, but we also had to trust that we had given our children a firm foundation to stand on, and that they would have the strength to resist temptation.  We pray that they will not make the same mistakes we made when we were young. As I said, our guidelines were like the pole the tightrope walker uses to stay on the rope, but remember even the best tightrope walker falls at times.  We had to trust that when our kids were without us and out on a date, and if they did fall into temptation, God would catch them in His safety net.

With the guidelines in place, the next step across the tightrope was having some deep talks with our kids about our expectations for them.  In my next post, I want to look at the importance of prayer and the different approaches we needed to take with our son, as opposed to our daughter.  Please remember I do not have all the answers and every step across the dating tight rope has been a cautious step for us.  I hope you are finding some answers to help cross the rope with your own kids.  Have a blessed day, and I hope you will join me in my next post.

If you missed my first post in this series, you can back up and read it at “Taking the first step”