SETTING BOUNDARIES FOR OUR KIDS

Today our little Joaquin got hold of a marker and started drawing on a small board. After a few minutes, to my shock, I realized that his marker started to wander off the board and onto our floor. Had I not caught him in time, I’m sure his marker would have made it to our walls, and bedsheets, and clothes.

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Joaquin drawing on the floor
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Good thing he was using a washable marker

I wonder how our house would look like if Paolo and I didn’t have boundaries for our kids. According to my daughter Janina, this place would look like a “dumpster.” Empty bags of chips all over, dirty clothes in the hallway, wet cotton balls stuck on the mirror (yes they’ve done this), drawings on the walls, CD’s on the floor, kids screaming at each other and possibly hurting each other, etc, etc. You get the idea.

We set boundaries for our kids at home for a long-term goal. We want them to be able to know how to live within the boundaries of God’s word. I know a few well-meaning parents who allow their kids to do everything they want and realize that their kids have a hard time adjusting to the rules of their school or behaving in other people’s homes. The worst part is that they will have a hard time living according to the will of God. If kids got used to doing their own way, they will have a hard time being in submission to any kind of authority.

Psalm 119:9
How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.

EVERYTHING IS A SEED

After hearing Pastor Joey preach on the Parable of the Mustard Seed this morning in church, I was reminded about one very important parenting principle: every little or big thing we do and say to our kids is a seed. It is bound to bear fruit in their lives.
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Sometimes we feel that our discipline is not taking effect, or our regular dates with them do not make a difference, but we have, in fact, planted a seed in their lives. Sometimes, in our anger and disappointment, we shout at them and say statements like “You’re never gonna change” or “You are so irresponsible”, thinking that they would forget those instances, but we have in fact, planted a seed in their lives. Sometimes we regret spending so much time watching kiddie videos with them (like I am watching Alvin and the Chipmunks 2 now and blogging at the same time) or regret taking a leave from work to watch their game, and think that we could be spending our time in more productive things, but we have in fact, planted a seed in their lives.

All seeds grow, and it’s only a matter of time that we will see the fruit of what we’ve planted in their lives. My prayer is that we will all plant the right seeds…

STEPPING BACK

Nathan’s first year in highschool was not very easy… from a class of 11 in grade 7 to a class of 40 in Ateneo, from a school with a population of 250 to a school population of over 2,000, getting to know his classmates from different kinds of background, adjusting to different teaching styles, being exposed to greater peer pressure and standing up for his convictions and coping with the much heavier load of schoolwork (being in the honors class, the level of difficulty was higher than the other classes.)

Several times during the schoolyear, Nathan talked to me about homeschooling. One such time was when a teacher of his accused him of violating one of the school rules and he seemed powerless to defend himself. Nathan has always been deadset on not only getting academic honors but also getting the Kostka award, which was the character award, given to students with all A’s in conduct. This violation would mean disqualification for the Kostka award.

Seeing all the transitions, Paolo and I made it clear to him that he shouldn’t worry about getting any honors or awards. All he needs to do is pass and get promoted to 2nd year. (talk about lowering our standards. :D)

As parents, it is so tempting for us to snatch our kids out from their difficult situation. But there are times when we need to STEP BACK SO GOD COULD STEP IN. Pulling him out of Ateneo and homeschooling him could have been one of our options. But Paolo and I knew that Nathan needed this experience  to prepare him and equip him for the future. We knew that through his trials in school, he will learn to depend on God more, not on his parents nor his abilities. We knew that he will get to know God more and discover for himself that He is faithful and trustworthy. Our goal was not his happiness but his holiness.

And that’s what he learned. As he learned to trust God more and more and persevere in school, God saw him through. That teacher who accused him of a violation, for some reason, Nathan got an A in his class, and was even exempted from his finals. And he ended the school year with 2nd honors and the Kostka award. No credit to us, but all to God.

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Allowing our kids to go through difficulties will push them to depend on God. And that is the most valuable lesson we can ever teach them.

TEASING

Got a message on facebook from a mom asking for advice:

I need a parental advise. I have two kids. An almost 4y/o- girl and a 3.6 y/o boy. With my eldest, I’ve never much encountered this prob much as I can recall, but with my boy, I just did yesterday, twice – being called names, like “bakla” and “iyakin”. It brought back my being pikon when I was a child. And I realized, I wasn’t prepared for this. My father in-law made a joking remark as he was talking with my kid, “bakla ka raw?”. I instantly reacted, asking who said that, and I told him in a nice, but defensive way, “No, Papa, he’s just cautious”. That’s really his character. And he mistakes it as kabaklaan. grrrr…. And so I told my husband that he should tell papa to avoid saying those things to him… then, on the same day, my husband’s cousin teased my boy “iyakin!”, several times. Admittedly, my boy cries easily when pushed or hurt, what should I do? I believe, I should be prepared in such encounters, and I want to respond right, as well as prepare my kids of the real, tough world… I just don’t want to keep mum when anybody says negative words to my kids. hayyy…. help! 🙂

Sad to say, teasing has been accepted as part of our culture. I see many parents who just look the other way, or even join in, when their kids are being teased, not realizing the negative effects teasing can cause in their kids’ lives.

Here’s my reply:

Image and video hosting by TinyPicIt is hard to protect our kids from careless remarks, because we cannot control the people around our kids. But what you did was right. You stood up for your son. But there will be times when we won’t be there to protect him. The best thing you can do is to affirm him whenever you’re together. Our kids primarily get their security from their parents. Even if they are criticized, as long as they receive the affirmation they need from us, they will hold on to our words. Be generous with your positive words. Constantly tell him things like “you’re the man!” “you’re strong” “you’re a hero!” “you’re a blessing!”. You and your husband should make it a goal to build him up with words everyday. As early as now, teach him how to deal with criticism. Explain to him that there will always be people who will not like him. And what they say is not necessarily true. Remind him that he was wonderfully made by God and that God, dad and mom love him unconditionally. If he gets teased, first ask him if  there is any truth in it. “Are you really iyakin?” Cause if it’s true, then maybe he needs to make adjustments also. We can always learn from criticism, whether they’re true or not. If we respond in a healthy way to criticism, God can use that too to make us a better person. On the other hand, if the criticsim is totally untrue, tell him to reject it and to ignore it. And go the opposite spirit by blessing him. So if someone says “bakla” to him, tell him “you are gonna be a mighty man of God, like David who killed the giant Goliath”. Bless your kids everyday.

Proverbs 18:21
The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

GREAT MOMMY IDEA: FLASHCARDS

I am starting a new category to share great ideas for moms, things that i’ve tried and worked, things i’ve learned through my own experience, or through other mom friends or things i’ve read on the internet… anything that can make our lives easier, more fun, more organized, more practical…

The first one is an idea I got from one of my best mom buddies, Jeje Quizon.

I have this big pile of flashcards I’ve collected over the years, from way back when Nathan was a baby (and he’s 14 now.) I’ve added new sets along the way as I had more kids. I have ABC’s, 123’s, everyday words, addition, multiplication, opposites, animals, phonics, telling time, flags, etc. Most sets are incomplete though. Most cards have folds and creases and even food stains on them due to the daily wear and tear. I have tried to store them properly by putting each set on ziplock bags but i guess this didn’t work so well. When we went to Jeje’s house yesterday to have our pre-easter egghunt, I saw her sets of flashcards. This particular one was her eldest Julia’s, who is now 11. But the set was complete and clean. Here’s how she did it:

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She had the cards laminated (National Bookstore or Copylandia offers this service) and she held them together with a ring. You can also opt to buy the laminating films from the bookstore and iron them by yourselves at home.  Isn’t this such a smart idea? I wish I’ve known this earlier. It could have saved me money from buying new flashcards everytime I had a new child. Thanks Jeje for allowing me to share this ingenious idea!

ADAPTING TO CHANGE

This year, Janina’s school, Victory Christian International School (VCIS) shifted to a new curriculum called PACEs. We had mixed feelings about this at the beginning since she’s never done this type of curriculum before. For half of the day, she will have to work in a cubicle of her own, set her goals, read the lessons on her own, answer the tests and check them on her own. The first few days were rough. But as soon as she got the hang of it, she found her own pace, and learned to work diligently with minimum assistance from her supervisor. We saw that she became more focused, self-motivated and driven.

Change is not always comfortable. In fact, most of the time, it’s uncomfortable. We need to train our kids to adapt to change. We moms usually do the best we can to make things easy for our kids. Though that is not bad, there are times we need to let them experience the discomfort of change to prepare them for greater changes ahead with greater discomfort.

I am so proud of how our daughter adapted to the change in their school’s curriculum. Here are the awards she got this year: (😀 I’m a mom so please allow me to indulge 😀 )

Most Diligent Learner
Most Responsible Learner
Best English Public Speaker
Best Filipino Public Speaker
Best Filipino Writer Award
Best in Spelling
Most Number of 100s Award
Medal for Consistent Honor Roll
Medal for Best in Scripture Memory
Medal for Academic Excellence 2nd Place

I am grateful too for VCIS who partners with us in training our kids to love our God and honor Him in everything they do.

Special Presentation for the parents

RAISING BOYS

Last week, Ryan came home from his classmate’s house limping. He showed me the sole of his left foot, and I found that a big part of his skin was scraped off. He said he ran over gravel barefoot. I immediately cleaned it, put antibiotic and bandaged it.

A few days after that, when we were in Tagaytay, Joaquin was happily playing on the bed, lunged forward and hit his head on the wall. After a 10-minute cold compress, his forehead looked like this.
These are just 2 of the many incidents when I’ve had to deal with a bump or a wound. There were a few times in the past when we’ve had to bring a son to the emergency room for stitching. Everytime I hear a loud thud in the house, I’m immediately on my feet waiting for a loud cry. I have 3 boys in the house and they are very adventurous. They would climb and jump on anything they can. They have a high energy level for physical activity. They are boys.

I’ve had to understand over the years that adventure is part of their nature as boys. I remember one afternoon when I found Ryan hanging on a tree branch. I shouted “Ryan, please come down” while my husband shouted “Way to go son!” And I saw the pride on Ryan’s face as he conquered that tree branch by himself.

The biggest mistake I can make is to pamper our sons and baby them and keep them from climbing and running and jumping. I usually find myself saying “don’t go up there, don’t touch that, don’t run, be careful, you might get hurt.” Though boundaries are good for our boys, too much of it can hinder them from becoming men. It doesn’t mean we let them do everything they want to when we know it will surely hurt them. But we need wisdom too to know when we just have to leave them be and let them be boys.

Our Playgroup

Whenever I get a text from a mom-friend like “Let’s hang out!” or “I miss you!”, I know it’s time for a playgroup. As fun as it is for our kids to play with each other, or more like play alongside each other, since they are too young to interact with each other, it is more fun for us moms. A playgroup is an excuse for us to get out of the daily grind of feeding, changing diapers, watching Hi-5 or reading Goodnight Moon. A playgroup is an excuse to speak in real sentences again and converse with adults beyond abc’s and 123’s.

We love our babies so much and enjoy every minute with them but being cooped up in the house for a long time sometimes makes us feel isolated. We have a need to know that we are not alone in whatever we are going through as moms. A playgroup is a nice break to connect with other moms and talk about trivial issues like brushing our babies’ teeth or real “mommy issues” and get support, advice and affirmation.

Anna and Andi, Me and Joaquin, Thammie and Alyanna and Mika, Belle and Hannah, Kitty and Alba

Joaquin in the ballswim

Mika, Andi, Joaquin and Alba

Advice for First-time Parents

We threw a baby shower for Iris and Dan who are expecting their first child, Helena. After dinner, a game, and the gift-opening, everyone gave them pieces of advice to help them through this exciting season of their lives. These are some of the best advice I’ve heard:

From the fathers to Dan:

“Don’t be just a servant, be a slave.” ;p

“Be a hands-on dad.”

“Appreciate your wife. Give Iris allowance to pamper herself (spa, parlor, the works!)

Hats off to you dads who are sensitive to your wife’s needs!

From the mothers to Iris:

“Trust yourself to know what to do. You don’t need to follow everything other people say.”

“Don’t expect your baby to be like the other babies.”

“Enjoy every stage of your baby’s life because she’ll grow up so fast.”

“Sleep whenever your baby is asleep.”

“Stay connected with other moms.”


From the singles to Dan and Iris:

“Pray for your child.”

“Set boundaries for them”

“Be with them through the tough moments”

Being a first-time parent is a roller coaster ride. One day you are very excited, another day you are very anxious. Will I do a good job? Will I raise up this child in the right way? Will I be able to provide for him? So many questions…

2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

SHINING INSPITE OF

Janina’s Musical Theater class performed during their Christmas program. Of course, as a mom, I would say that she did very well and really performed like a star. Their class has been practicing for weeks and Janina was very excited because she was given several solo parts. But a week before their performance, she came home to tell me that her teacher took away her solos without any explanation and has given them to the other students. I felt how devastated she was because it did seem unfair for her teacher to do that.

How did I react? Well, as parents, we should always look at situations like this as a teachable moment. I told her that maybe her teacher wanted to give the others a chance (though inside I was really upset the teacher did this.) And I went on to explain that she didn’t need a solo part to shine on stage. “Just sing and dance with everything you’ve got!”

I am so proud of Janina! I am amazed at how quickly she was able to get up and move past her disappointment and sing unaffectedly by the change of events. She did shine!