Frustration Part VIII

What do you do when you realize your child has become the idol or the family terrorist?

1.  Don’t engage in a power struggle.

“It is a grave mistake to try to overpower a power drunk child.  It is also futile.  In the ensuing battle, which becomes chronic, the child merely develops greater skill in using his power and finds greater reason to feel worthless unless he can demonstrate it.” – Children the Challenge

One of the things we have done in the Guire home when a particular child seems to be ruling the roost, i.e. stealing candy from others, flinging hurtful words, for an extended period is to have family court.

Family Court
The family sits around the dining room table and the crimes are listed.  The accused must listen.  Afterwards, the offended talk among themselves and decides the sentence.  The sentences decided have been various: do the dishes for a week, do the chore of the one you robbed for a week, pay x amount until you have paid the debt, say five nice things to everyone before you leave the table.

Family court puts the perpetrator in his place without mom and dad constantly engaged in a power struggle with the child.  He has to face his accusers.  It give him a chance to see where he stands.  If everyone in the family is upset, he should want to make amends.  It is real life.  If you steal, slander someone’s good name, trespass, destroy property or harass someone when you are a grown-up, you will go to court and be sentenced for the crime.

Of course, mom or dad must be the judge and not let the family court get out of hand and the accused doesn’t end up doing everyone’s chores for a year.

Frustration Part VI

Let’s get practical.

Theories are wonderful, but what do I do when I am stuck in the frustration circle?  What are some practical ways to escape and feel the wind on my face again and excape the stink?

Here are a few tips:

  • Slow down and eliminate unnecessary stress.  Often a schedule that is too full causes extra stress on Mom.  If an activity outside the home is causing problems inside the home, cut it out, no matter what it is.  A family’s emotional health is more important than an activity that ‘everyone else is doing’.
  • Evaluate the child’s learning style.  An auditory learner who is only given visual work will balk and become frustrated.  Try to to use all the of the learning styles with multiple children to cover all the bases.
  • Take a break!  Homeschooling Moms have high expectations.  They expect perfection from themselves and their students.  Homeschoolers do the whole math book!  While academic success is important, it is okay to let loose once and awhile and settle down into the moment at hand.  Enjoy!  Make muffins.  Go to the park. 
  • Go to the bathroom.  If in the middle of the teaching day, Mom gets overwhelmed or is engaged in a power struggle with a child, she needs to remove herself from the situation.  Go to the bathroom. Pray. Refocus.  Get your game face on and return to the playing field with a new attitude.  
Next week, I will share some personal stories from the tips I have given you today.  Feel free share your stories and tips in the comments.  
Tomorrow-Fun Friday!

Frustration Circle Part V

Theory 2- It is difficult to behold sin; it causes us to act, react or look away.

And about the ninth hour (three o’clock) Jesus cried with a loud voice, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?– that is, My God, My God, why have You abandoned Me [leaving Me helpless, forsaking and failing Me in My need]?   Matthew 27:46

God looked away from Jesus while he bore the overwhelming world darkening sin of the world on the cross.  God is holy and He cannot co-exist with sin.  Forget the bumper stickers, co-exist.  It’s not possible.  Light and darkness cannot dwell in the same space.  When the light comes, darkness leaves, it must.  For that brief period, Jesus bore all the putrid darkness of sin belonging to each of us!  The earth itself rebelled.  Darkness overwhelmed the earth and it shook from it’s very core.

This is an example at the far end of the spectrum to make a point.  I am not God and my child is not carrying my sin, but when he carries a burden of sin, it is difficult to watch.  I want to take it for him-to relieve him and get him on the right track again.  I take action to get him back to the cross and lead him in the way he should go.

When a child remains in a rebellious attitude for a series of days, weeks or months despite correction, I want to look away, not because I am holy, but because I know the end.It’s painful to remain in a relationship with someone who habitually sins in the same way.  It’s a scary movie.  I yell at the video screen, “don’t go that way!”

He will die for lack of discipline and instruction, and in the greatness of his folly he will go astray and be lost.  Proverbs 5:23

The worst of my fears sometimes comes true.  I react badly.  I am harsh, hard and pressing.  Jesus is none of those.  He is firm, strong, He roars like a lion, clears out the sellers, the invaders of the temple with strong arms.  Then He heals those who are broken- hearted.    

The Frustration Circle

God does not hand out easy passes
Sometimes by Friday, we want easy,right?
Monday, we may feel as if we can tackle anything, but by Friday, our menu plan has fizzled to peanut butter sandwiches, the character traits we are working on in ourselves and our children seem to flare up anew and we are tired. It seems as if we are facing the same offenses over and and over. It’s hard work to keep forgiving.
Why is it difficult to forgive the for the same offense of a child over and over again?
I have two theories:
1.  We blame ourselves for the child not changing, i.e. -the inability to control the child
2.  Sin is difficult to watch, it causes us to want to look away or to react

Let’s look at theory number one today.  Parents, especially homeschooling Moms, judge their success on the out put  of their children.  Well-mannered, well-educated, well-dressed children mean Mom is doing a great job.  Slovenly, wicked, unlearned children mean Mom is doing a terrible job.  Right?

Does it?  Can a human truly control another?  Are homeschoolers supposed to obedient, line up wearing khaki pants and izod polos, giving unified, well-mannered answers?  Should they line up and do the duck march too?  Wait, did I go too far?  Homeschooling doesn’t produce perfect people.  Every child has a choice.  Choice belongs to each human, God gave it to him.

If you think you are having problems with your children, look at God’s early family.  Adam and Eve disobeyed, lied, hid themselves and played the blame game.  Did God forgive them?  Yes, afterwards, he handed out some serious consequences that we are still reaping.  Adam and Eve didn’t fare so well either.  Their son Cain murdered his brother Abel.  You think disputes are bad in your household? Think about this historical fact, meditate on it. That spat about who was going to do the dishes or finish a math worksheet kind of pales in comparison, right?

A parent’s job is to train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6) When a child matures he will follow the godly training  he has been given, it might be when he is five or thirty-five.  It is up to him.

So, keep training, keep teaching, keep praying, keep the faith that even if your child is causing you frustration right now, he will go in the way of the Lord and not depart from it!

Frustration Circle Part III

If you are just joining the series, I have been addressing the issue of frustration in homeschooling from the point of view of the parent.

I looked up frustrate on

frustrate- to make (plans, efforts, etc) worthless or of no avail; defeat, nullify: The student’s indifference frustrated the teacher’s efforts to help him.

Wow!  The sample sentence couldn’t be any more right on.  It doesn’t just hit the nail on the head, it drives it into the wood with one fell swoop, splinters flying., have you been reading my blog or my mind?

Let me backtrack and dispel a myth about homeschoolers that I hear frequently:

Homeschoolers are more patient then the rest of the human race.

How do I know people think this?  Because if I had a dollar for every time someone said to me, “I could never homeschool, I don’t have the patience,” I could go on vacation!

Homeschoolers are not born with an extra dose of patience, like an extra muscular arm, allowing us to remain calm in the cyclone of a child having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day (Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day).  We are just flesh and blood humans like the of the population.

This is the number one reason that it is easy to stay in the frustration circle-we are human.  Even Peter, the disciple, thought there should be a limit on forgiveness.

 ” One day, while walking with Jesus he asked, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?”

Jesus replied, “Seven!  Hardly.  Try seventy times seven….” Matthew 18:21,22, The Message

Seven is the number of perfection, so in other words, Jesus is saying we need to keep forgiving a person for the same offense until they are perfect or we are and have not the need to.  Let’s face it, that won’t be until Jesus returns or we die.

So, Mom, ask for grace.  Jesus understands our weaknesses, it is when we step back and lean on Him, He is  our Strength and our Stronghold, yours and mine.

Why is it so difficult to forgive our child of repeated offenses?  Watch for some theories in Part IV on Wednesday.  Tuesday, watch for time saving tips!