1 Kings 15: 25 Nadab son of Jeroboam began to rule over Israel in the second year of King Asa’s reign in Judah. He reigned in Israel two years. 26 But he did what was evil in the Lord’s sight and followed the example of his father, continuing the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit.

CRITICAL THINKING

True or False. Animals cannot create things.

This was one question on Ryan’s science quiz on which we had a discussion. The teacher’s guide said that it was TRUE, but Ryan insisted that it was FALSE.

I gave Ryan the chance to explain why he said the statement was FALSE. He said that birds make their own nests and beavers build their own dams, so in that sense, animals can create things. He did have a point, so for that, I marked his answer correct. (One of the reasons why I love homeschooling 🙂 )

As his homeschool teacher, it is easy to mark his mistakes wrong because the answer key says so. But I want more for him than just accepting what the books say. I want him to think and process every information that he comes across with. I need to be secure when my kids challenge me, not out of disrespect, but out of determination to learn.

As the school year is drawing to a close, I want to look back on the past 10 months and know that I didn’t just spoonfeed information to my children and they blindly memorized everything. That is not how I want my children to grow up. They can remember the names of all of the Philippine presidents but do they know what makes a good president? ” Critical thinking, is a skill that elevates thinking beyond memorization into the realm of analysis and logic. ”

My goal for educating my kids is to equip and empower them for life. More than memorizing facts, which can be easily googled anyway, I want them to know how to think, how to reason out, how to challenge statements, how to weigh information, how to solve problems and make decisions.

WHEN IT’S OKAY TO IGNORE

“Mom, Ryan’s baseball friend told me that I’m small and that I can’t play baseball,” our three-year old Joaquin said.

Over the years, even my older kids have come up to me at one time or another to report that a classmate or a friend told them they were not good enough.

It’s inevitable that our kids will hear put-downs from others about their looks, their potential, their achievements and just about any trivial thing that concerns them.

As parents, we can react in different ways. We can go and confront that boy who put down our child and warn him to stop bullying our son “or else…” Or we can pull out our child from that school and look for a more friendly environment for him. Or we can constantly hover around our child and make sure no one comes near him who has bad intentions. Or we can teach our kids to attack with meaner words like “Yes I’m small but I’ll grow bigger but you, you’ll stay ugly forever!” (Believe me, there were times in the past, I was so tempted to attack!)

Or we can simply tell our kids to ignore the comment. We can teach our child to listen to the right voices and reject the wrong ones.

When Joaquin told me about the incident, I reminded him of the video we just watched entitled “Dave and the Giant Pickle.” (Talk about timing…) This was VeggieTales version of the biblical account of David and Goliath. I reminded Joaquin that even if David was small, he was able to kill Goliath because God was with him. So even if other kids tell him he’s small, he can still do great things because God will help him. “So Joaquin, you are big because God is with you!”  I saw how his face lit up as he received affirmation from me.

Of course, your response will depend on the gravity of the situation. If your child is constantly being bullied by his classmates and he is starting to hate school because of that, by all means move him to another school. But if it is a simple case of immature teasing, teach your child to ignore those comments, and feed his mind with the right ones. When others say discouraging things to our children, let our words of praise and affirmation speak even louder!

DO YOU KNOW HOW TO DOUGIE?

All moms would agree with me that motherhood is a serious business. But there are days when mothers should just set aside their tough and resolute front and be crazy for the sake of fun! If you ask my kids, I think they will tell you that they have the weirdest mom ever, but hey, if weird means fun, then I’m okay with that. I don’t want to be boring. I want my kids to have lots of fun memories with me. That’s what made me decide to learn how to dougie with them.

Now, if you clicked on the link, you’re probably wondering if I got the dougie. Well, that’s not the point 🙂 The point is, we need to stay relevant to our kids, learn to connect with them and simply just have fun with them. And boy, did we have lots of laughs as we danced together. We kept laughing at ourselves until we were out of breath.

A friend just recently told me that her kids preferred to be with their dad more than with her. I asked her why she thought they did, and she said it’s probably because all she did with them was to make sure they obeyed the rules. “Do this, do that, don’t do this, don’t do that…” Those words basically summed up her everyday encounter with her kids. Moms, as much as rules are important, there should be a good balance between rules and relationship. One way to develop that relationship is to do things with your kids that they consider fun. Find out what they are into and join them!

At times,  I’ve had to force myself to learn certain games just so I can enjoy them with my kids. And I would usually find myself having more fun than I expected! So go ahead, even if you look funny, do the dougie!

COUNTING THE COST

Ryan (8 yrs old): Mom, how much does it cost to take care of a baby?

Me: Just for milk and diapers alone, you’d probably need P5,000 a month. And then there are clothes, doctors visits, etc.

Ryan: (deep in thought) I don’t think I’m ready to have a baby.

DISCIPLINE IS PAINFUL

We were already geared up to go to Toys ‘R Us, as anonymous child had been wanting to go there for weeks. He was clutching his wallet in his hands, and was looking forward to finally get that toy he’d been saving up for weeks. You know the look on your child’s face when he is about to open a birthday present? I was happy to see that look on his face.

On our way, anonymous child said something that was disrespectful to me. It was hurtful to be spoken to by one of my children like that but I tried to convince myself that maybe i should just let this pass and not make a big deal out of it. I didn’t want to ruin our supposed “date” to the toy store.

But there was the nagging part of me that just didn’t want this to slide. I knew how important it is to God that children honor their parents. And if I didn’t do anything about this, I was communicating to my child that his behavior was acceptable.

So I did it. I explained that what he said didn’t show honor to me and he had to be disciplined for it. I knew it would break my son’s heart, and it broke mine more to see it, but I had to cancel our trip as a consequence of his disrespectful attitude. I reminded him of Ephesians 6:1-3 that says ‘Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.’

When children honor their parents, God rewards THEM, not us. The promise of everything going well and enjoying a long life is given to children who honor their parents, not to the parents. And don’t we all want our children to receive that promise? That is why we need to teach our children to honor us. It is not so we will feel good about ourselves, or that others will see how well-behaved our children are, but so they honor God and receive His promise. It was this biblical principle that convinced me to just head back home instead of to the toy store.

When the Bible says “No discipline seems pleasant, but painful…” (Heb 12:11), I think it’s not only talking about the one who is being disciplined, but also about the person doing the disciplining. When I discipline my child and give him a consequence, it doesn’t give me a sense of happy satisfaction or enjoyment. It hurts me to see my child in pain. It hurt me to see the look on my child’s face when I told him that we were not going to the toy store anymore, knowing how excited he was to go. That’s why, often, the easier thing is to look the other way and not deal with misbehavior. But a parent who is serious about raising his child the right way should be tough enough to handle the “unpleasantness” of discipline.

It is not for our own good, but for our child’s.

CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN

The month of December is like a long road trip where kids can’t wait to reach their destination and are asking non-stop “Are we there yet? How much longer?” I love it that kids anticipate Christmas! It is always refreshing to see their eagerness and wide-eyed wonder about Christmas in contrast to the stress that adults normally go through as they deal with their Christmas to-do lists.

To make the time of waiting for my kids much more fun, we always do a Christmas Countdown. This year, the kids and I decided to make a craft out of it. With my old scrapbook papers, envelopes and clothespins, this is what we came up with:

Got this great idea here. Everyday, the kids open an envelope and read our activity for the day. Today, for December 1, the card reads “Check your stocking for a surprise!”

Here are more ideas for you from It’s Written on the Wall!

OUR LOPSIDED CHRISTMAS TREE

It wasn’t after most of our ornaments were hanging on the tree when we noticed how our tree looked. Joaquin, our 3-year old, wanted to join in the fun of decorating our tree so I gave him all our stuffed ornaments to hang. Naturally, because of his height, all the stuffed ornaments ended at the bottom of our tree. That was not how I imagined our tree to look like.

Sometimes, it is really much easier to do things without the help of our kids. I say “help”, but it feels like they’re really not helping at all. We just end up undoing what they did and cleaning up their mess. Last night, Joaquin broke one of our ornaments and another child broke a candle holder. I was tempted to send everyone to their rooms so I can do everything peacefully, casualty-free, and exactly the way I wanted it.

But more than having a nicely decorated home for Christmas, our goal as parents is really to build memories with our children. Sure our Christmas tree might not look perfect, but our kids will remember how much fun they had putting it up. Sure they broke an ornament or two, but those are easily replaceable, but memories stay with them.

As Christmas draws near, let us not forget to build memories with our children. If you’re like me, your December calendar is filling up fast with parties here and there, and we don’t want to leave our children out. Schedule fun activities with your children like make your own ornaments, sing Christmas carols, bake sugar cookies, visit an orphanage or bless another family with a meal. Your activities don’t have to cost a lot. It can be as simple as watching a Christmas video at home with popcorn and brownies.

And most importantly, take time to reflect on what this season is all about… that Jesus was born to give us life!