Over the last few weeks, I've been sharing some lessons from the farmhouse.
Two weeks ago, I talked about some "home" lessons we have learned.
Then last week, I discussed lessons about marriage.
Today, I'm going to finish out this series by sharing five lessons that I've learned about parenting over the last fourteen years.
Disclaimer: Just like I shared a few weeks ago and last week, I am not the perfect housekeeper or the perfect wife. And I am DEFINITELY not the perfect parent.
With that said, we have been parenting for the last fourteen years. We've taken advice from parents whom we love and trust and we've learned through trial and error. So here are some parenting tips that will hopefully be helpful to somebody.
1. Be consistent.
Do what you say you are going to do.
If you offer a consequence for a certain behavior, follow through with that consequence.
And on that note, set realistic consequences from the get-go. When you ask your child to complete a task, with some sort of consequence attached -- make it realistic. There is nothing worse than when you are in the heat of the moment and you threaten some difficult-to-maintain consequence if a child does not comply with the expected behavior.
"If you don't turn the television off, you're going to be grounded for a month."
If the child doesn't turn the television off, the parents are left with one of two choices.
Sure, in the first choice, the child knows you mean business and will likely comply with your directives for a while. However, a month of grounding is pretty substantial for not following one simple direction.
And in the second choice, your child is learning that your words don't really mean much when it comes to consequence for behavior.
In the above example, I would suggest something like "no television for three days". This is a manageable consequence that truly fits the behavior. After the three days is over, the child will likely understand that when you ask him or her to turn it off -- you mean business.
So -- Be consistent. Set boundaries. Follow through.
2. Teach responsibility.
Our girls help us to manage our home.
Our oldest daughter is responsible for one load of laundry a day. She washes, dries, and folds it and then delivers the clothes to the bedrooms where they belong.
Our second daughter is responsible for dishes. She unloads the dishwasher each morning and after we fill it through the day, she washes it at night. She hand-washes any dishes that are left after supper, also.
Our youngest daughter is responsible for gathering laundry from the hampers in the house and taking it to the laundry room each day. She also gathers up shoes that have been left out and puts them on the mud room shelves.
They also have daily chores to help the family out on the farm -- feeding chickens, gathering eggs, taking scraps to the hogs, and whatever else needs to be done.
3. Lead by example.
This is a tough one.
You know that old saying, "Do as I say, not as I do"?
Yeah. That doesn't work.
Your babies will pick up on your ACTIONS, not only your words.
If you want your children to have a relationship with Jesus -- model a relationship with Jesus.
If you want your children to grow up and have a healthy marriage -- model a healthy marriage.
If you want them to speak kindly to their friends -- speak kindly to them and to YOUR friends.
If you want them to be hard workers -- work hard.
If you want them to admit when they are wrong -- admit when you are wrong (this one is NOT easy!).
We could go through hundreds of examples of this.
Lead by example.
4. Be patient & offer grace.
I will be the first to admit that we have ridiculously high standards.
I have had to find a balance between having high expectations and offering grace to our girls.
We all mess up. We all fall short. NONE of us are perfect.
Our kids are learning and exploring and testing boundaries. Their brains are not fully-developed yet and they will make poor decisions sometimes.
We must learn to guide them through these decisions, with grace & mercy.
We must be patient with them as they learn to navigate this life.
5. Be present.
Put the phone away.
Sit down together at the dinner table.
Play in the snow.
Work on household projects together.
Do craft activities.
Do a Bible study together.
Enjoy the time you have with them because it goes so very quickly.
I hope these tips are helpful for you. What would you add?
Enjoying a day with our girls here at the farmhouse,
I have been using the YouVersion Bible app (by Life.Church) for quite some time now.
For six years, in fact.
However, it was just over the last few months that I have begun making it one of the social media platforms I use to share my Bible study experience with friends and family.
And just in the last three weeks have I become friends with two of the most wonderful little girls you will ever meet...my oldest two daughters.
To be honest, I thought this would be a fun little activity that we could do to spend some time with Jesus and have good conversation about the Bible.
I wasn't prepared for the deep thoughts the girls would share on our shared Bible studies.
After reading her devotional, along with a few scriptures from Hebrews and Romans, my sweet Harlee replied profoundly that faith and trust in God is what makes life worth living.
Wow...what a thought for my barely 11-year-old.
And a wake-up call for her mama.
Since that day, I have taken my Bible study time with her (and her sister) very seriously.
God has used these words to speak to all of us...
To open up conversations on our Bible apps and in person...
To be able to have these teachable conversations through our day-to-day living.
If you are struggling with how to talk to your children, preteens, and teenagers about God's Word and Kingdom Work, I'd strongly recommend meeting your kiddos where they are.
Let's embrace the technology that is so prevalent today and connect with our kids on the matters of God.
Happy Weekend from the farmhouse, friends.
June 5th, 2004...the day that I married my high school sweetheart.
Mr. Farmhouse and I had been together for almost four years by that point, and I knew that June 5th was the beginning of our "happily ever after".
Then along came some other important dates.
December 30th. April 6th. June 11th.
The three most important dates in our married lives...the day our sweet girls made their debuts into our family.
My friend, Crystal, at Photography by Crystal captured these amazing images (and several others!) of my girlies this past summer.
Sidenote: I can't wait to share with you some more of her work when my wall art comes in next week!
I have looked through these images over and over and over again.
How is my Harlee-girl almost eleven years old?
When did my Claire-bear become old enough to want to change school districts this year and move away from her mama?
How is it that my Mattie-moo is sleeping in her own bed all night, speaking in complete sentences, and pulling up her favorite song on YouTube all by herself?
These pictures have really reminded me that my babies aren't babies any longer.
The older girls have already had a few "friendship struggles" in the last few years.
Those moments where you want to just rescue your child and tell them exactly what to say and how to handle specific situations when they get their feelings hurt.
Those moments where you are so worried that they are going to or have already hurt someone else's feelings.
Those moments where you just want them to choose the right thing...to say the right thing...
We've all had these moments in parenting, right?
Moments spent praying that they will be a light in a dark world.
That the world won't dim their lights.
That they will shine, even when life gets hard.
I'm not alone in this...this time spent worrying and fretting and praying over my children, right?
As I looked through these photos of my girls Saturday afternoon, I started to subconsciously make a list of my hopes and dreams for them.
1. That they would be kind and encouraging to others.
I want them to be good students and to try hard in their respective activities. I want them to work to be the best athletes they can be and to get good grades, I want them to practice their musical instruments and contribute to keeping our household run smoothly.
But more than that...I want them to be kind. I want them to be a good teammate, to show good sportsmanship. I want them to be includers, not excluders. I want them to see a need in a friend and meet that need. I want them to smile and to encourage and to give of themselves to help others to find good in the world.
2. That they would learn contentment and joy in everyday life.
I want my babies to understand that "stuff" is not important and people are. I want them to be content living in a hundred-year-old farmhouse the same as they would be content if we had built a brand new home.
I want them to know that sometimes playing outside all evening is a better option than saying yes to every single extracurricular activity out there.
I want them to understand that we can find joy in a sunrise or a sunset or laughter spent with sisters.
3. That they would find a passion and pursue it.
At one of the teaching conferences I went to last week, I saw an amazing speaker named Tara Brown speak about educators and parents being a Spark Champion for our children.
I want my girls to find their own sparks and pursue them. What drives them? What are they passionate about? What purpose do they feel they have in the world?
I want them to find these things and to work hard to learn more about them and to use these passions for good.
4. That they would build lasting relationships with a small group of friends.
Some of my very best friends are the girls that I spent my elementary years with. We have connected on facebook, text often, and sometimes don't see each other but a few times a year.
I want this for my girls. I want them to connect on a deep level with a group of girls that they can grow up with. I want them to band together with these girls and share kindness in the public school system. I want them to push each other to work hard and to be their very best.
They are both blessed to already be forming these friendships in their classrooms, in their school, at in our church. I'm so very thankful for this and I pray that these relationships continue to grow through the next several years.
5. That they would meet a faithful & generous man someday who will complement them in marriage the way that their daddy has done for me.
Yep. I'm already praying for their future husbands.
I know that God is preparing someone for each of them.
Someone who will complement their gifts and talents and fill in the gaps where they are lacking.
Someone who will encourage them to love on others and to give of themselves in a dark world.
Someone who will be a daddy to my grandbabies and a helpmate to each of my sweet girls.
I pray daily for my girls.
For the decisions they will have to make on this day.
For their friends.
For their teachers.
For their future husbands.
For their hearts and their minds and their physical protection.
I know that we will fail them miserably sometimes as parents and I just pray that God can move us both through these times and help us grow through all of our mistakes and mishaps.
I hope that when my girls grow up, they can see that we tried our hardest as parents.
I hope that they realize that they have a built-in best friend in each other and that there is no love like a sibling's love.
And I hope they can see that the best way to live is to love God and to love people.