One of my favorite television shows is “Supernanny” because it is such an object lesson of what can happen when there is no vision for raising a family. The families profiled on Supernanny struggle to complete the most basic activities—from cooking and eating a meal to going on outings with their children. Nothing is done smoothly, and the parents are emotionally and physically exhausted by their struggles of trying to get through each day. Adding home schooling to such an atmosphere would be a recipe for disaster!
When I married in April 1985 and began having children, I knew I wanted something different than the way I was raised. Discipline varied according to my mother’s mood each day, and rules were not clearly explained or enforced.
I tried one philosophy and then another with my first two children, but nothing had any staying power until I became a Christian in 1988. Finally I had guidance and inspiration in all areas of my life! I read my Bible consistently, in particular the book of Proverbs, and quickly began applying the wisdom I found there with my young family.
In 1993 we made the leap of faith to begin home schooling our growing brood of two daughters and two sons. I attended a one-day workshop Gregg Harris presented at a local church. His workshop was a breath of fresh air, chock-full of wisdom for training children, for home schooling with enjoyment, and for serving one another. I bought his book, The 21 Rules of This House, as soon as we were released from the workshop to peruse the shopping area.
At last I had a very concrete set of biblically based principles for the whole family to follow—especially Mom! I was enabled to be consistent in disciplining my children. The book was created to be copied so that children could color a page illustrating each rule as they were taught it. It also contained a laminated sheet listing each rule, which still has a spot on my refrigerator twenty years later. Gregg Harris no longer publishes this wonderful resource, but “The 21 Rules of This House” and accompanying instructions are listed at greggharrisblog.blogspot.com.
Once I implemented this child-training tool, our family life improved dramatically! I no longer wasted time trying to decide what to do regarding certain behaviors. In a short period of time we learned these new rules, pairing them with Bible verses, and we were off and running.
Not having to reinvent the wheel each time one of the children misbehaved made for days that ran more smoothly and efficiently. The children stopped pushing to see where the boundaries were once they realized that I was being consistent. Truly, when we correct our children we have rest.
Next I sought the Lord on another issue that needed the benefit of consistency. My children always clamored to have a turn to sit in the front seat of our van, to get the mail, to set the table and create a centerpiece for the dinner table, to help make dinner, and to have “special” time alone with Mom. I was feeling overwhelmed trying to remember who had done what and when. My children were frustrated and feeling as though they had each been shortchanged when I allowed someone a privilege when it ought to have been a different child’s turn. Parental inconsistency causes children insecurity.
One day, as I had a rare quiet moment when the children were playing outside together, it came to me to assign each child a day of the week. On “their” day they were the person who got all the privileges and responsibilities listed above. My oldest child was assigned Monday, the second child assigned Tuesday, and so on. When my niece visited us for two summers she was assigned Saturday as “her” day.
My children were happier as each of them had his or her turn to be the “special” person. That child beamed with happiness on his or her assigned day and planned all week for a unique centerpiece for our table and what we would do together for “special” time that evening. I was also happier because I no longer felt that I was doing a terrible job raising my children.
With just two plans in place, followed consistently, the whole tenor of our home changed. If we had not implemented biblically based rules and a daily plan for managing which child was allowed privileges and responsibilities, I do not think we would have continued home schooling after the first year. These two tools allowed us to truly enjoy our children and to have the peace and quiet we needed in order to seek the Lord for His plans for each of our five children. (We ended up with two daughters and three sons.)
My children are now all adults, ranging in age from nineteen to twenty-seven. Each one of them has at one time or another thanked me and their dad for how they were raised. Each has pointed to a friend’s family, in which the parents were inconsistent or disciplined emotionally, as examples of what he or she is glad did not occur in our family.
If you are struggling with your children, I urge you to seek the Lord for wisdom, to put in place some biblically based family rules (some others to evaluate: Doorposts at doorposts.com, Our 24 Family Ways by Sally and Clay Clarkson at wholeheart.org, and materials by authors Debi and Michael Pearl at nogreaterjoy.org), and to be consistent with whatever training tool you are led to use for your precious children. I wish you the rest, contentment, and satisfaction that I found with my children as I implemented the principles of consistency in my home so many years ago.