Do you have kids who like to interrupt you? I taught the kids in the time of peace what I expected, and then we role-played, practiced, and got good at the technique before we were in ‘need’ of it. I explained that they are SOOO important, but so am I. When I am in the middle of something with someone ELSE, I need the respect of not having someone demanding my attention elsewhere. We had FUN role-playing what a demanding child looks like when Mama is talking to someone else or on the phone. We talked about WHY interrupting wasn’t okay and how it made others feel. The bottom line it is a self-control issue. I instructed them to put their hand on my arm, which signaled, “Mom, I need you.” It is important then for the adult to put their hand over their hand, which means, “I see you.” Then, when the timing was appropriate, I would say, “Excuse me, Mrs. Smith, could you hold for a moment?” and would direct my attention to them. If they came barging into the room or demanding my attention, I would simply say, “Excuse me, Mrs. Smith, could you hold on for a moment?” And then I would say out loud to my child, “You are so important, but so is Mrs. Smith. I need you to wait until I am done,” and then when I got off the phone, we would role-play and practice again. My kids use this tool to this day, and it is golden to have respectful kids who know how to wait their turn.
TEACHING CHILDREN HOW TO INTERRUPT RESPECTFULLY
I once told the kids I took a picture of their poop and posted it on Facebook. They were mortified. I asked them why and they said, “Because that is PRIVATE, Mom.” I put them out of their misery and told them I agreed and would never do that to them. I then explained that their God-given body parts are private too – just like boogers and poop – there is nothing shameful in going to the bathroom, but we keep it to ourselves. Children must be proactively taught by their PARENTS that #1. No one can LOOK at their private parts. #2. No one can TOUCH their private parts. #3. No one can take a PHOTO of their private parts.
People have asked me over and over to show them HOW I taught my children different things. Years ago, the kids and I sat down and recalled some of the key lessons I taught them over the years, and we put together a kit for parents to use in their own homes.
This is a sample lesson: Heart Play (Playdough) – Teaching children to care for the hearts of others. Intentionally play with playdough with your children for a bit, and then ask them to make you a huge heart. Ooh and aah over their heart creation while you hold it in your hand. Talk about our physical hearts and why God gave each of us one, and how important they are to our survival. Every human has a heart – it is what makes them alive. Take the heart creation in your hand and talk about how gentle we need to be with people’s hearts. Now take one finger and smash it deep into the heart, then smash another finger in another place. Show them that the shape of the heart changed when you were not gentle and caring about it. Words aren’t just words; harsh words are hurtful to people’s hearts. Also, explain that many people have wounded hearts (not from us), but when we say loving things to them, it is like their hearts go back to the way they were originally. Act this out a few times and role-play how we can both squish and help people’s hearts.
In the days ahead, when your kids are having issues with unloving words, remind them of the playdough heart. Ask them, “Hey guys, do you think you just put love in that person’s heart or poked it?” “How could you do that differently without hurting his/her heart?” Also, when they get their own heart poked, show them how we can ask Jesus to put His hand on our hearts and heal them. “Jesus, my heart got hurt. Will You please touch it and make it all better?”
Please read PART ONE first.
You Have Work To Do!
If you have a white lineage, I encourage you to go before the Lord today and ask for forgiveness on behalf of your family line, heritage, and ancestors for any way they participated in the dehumanizing, abuse, and control of black people in the name of slavery (through purchase or attitude). I encourage you to ask for forgiveness for any way your family line has partnered with the attitude and belief of supremacy and hierarchy based on race.
Gather your children and talk about the issue of race. Talk about how it would feel to be excluded your whole life simply because of your hair color. We owe them their history, even if it isn’t always pretty. We owe them the truth so that they can be empowered to change their world. Have them write out an “I am sorry” card and offer it to Jesus. Have them write out declarations and speak into the atmosphere that we are all equally made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-28).
If you have a black lineage, I encourage you to get before the Lord today and ask for forgiveness on behalf of your family line, heritage, and ancestors for any way they have come under the spirit of control and partnered with rebellion or rejection (victim spirit) in defense. I encourage you to spend some intentional time today forgiving those who have caused you and your family line harm, hardship, and cruelty. This will not be won naturally because we are reaping the fruit of the strongholds created generations ago. Each person must do their own part to clean up the mess we were handed, put their stake in the ground, and declare we will not tolerate this any longer.
A father of some teenage children had the family rule that they could not attend PG-13 or R-rated movies. His three teens wanted to see a particular popular movie that was playing at local theaters. It was rated PG-13. The teens interviewed friends and even some members of their family’s church to find out what was offensive in the movie. The teens made a list of pros and cons about the movie to convince their dad that they should be allowed to see it. The cons were that it contained ONLY 3 swear words, the ONLY violence was a building exploding (and you see that on TV all the time, they said), and you actually did not ‘see’ the couple in the movie having sex – it was just implied sex, off camera. The pros were that it was a popular movie – a blockbuster. Everyone was seeing it. If the teens saw the movie, they would not feel left out when their friends discussed it. The movie contained a good story and plot. It had some great adventure and suspense in it. There were some fantastic special effects in this movie. The movie’s stars were some of the most talented actors in Hollywood. It probably would be nominated for several awards. Many of their Christian church members had even seen the movie and said it wasn’t ‘very bad.’ Therefore, since there were more pros than cons, the teens said they were asking their father to reconsider his position on just this ONE movie and let them have permission to go see it. The father looked at the list and thought for a few minutes. He said he could tell his children had spent some time and thought on this request. He asked if he could have a day to think about it before making his decision. The teens were thrilled, thinking, “Now we’ve got him! Our argument is too good! Dad can’t turn us down!” So, they happily agreed to let him have a day to think about their request. The next evening the father called in his three teenagers, who were smiling smugly, into the living room. There on the coffee table, he had a plate of brownies. The teens were puzzled. The father told his children he had thought about their request and decided that if they ate a brownie, he would let them go to the movie. But just like the movie, the brownies had pros and cons. The pros were that they were made with the finest chocolate and other good ingredients. They had the added special effect of yummy walnuts in them. The brownies were moist and fresh, with wonderful chocolate frosting on top. He had made these fantastic brownies using an award-winning recipe. And best of all, the brownies had been made lovingly by the hand of their own father. The brownies only had one con. The father had included a little bit of a special ingredient. The brownies also contained just a little bit of dog poop. But he had mixed the dough well – they probably would not even be able to taste the dog poop, and he had baked it at 350 degrees, so any bacteria or germs from the dog poop had probably been destroyed. Therefore, if any of his children could stand to eat the brownies, which included just a ‘little bit of crap,’ and not be affected by it. Of course, none of the teens would eat the brownies, and the smug smiles had left their faces. Only Dad was smiling smugly as they left the room. Now when his teenagers ask permission to do something he is opposed to, the father just asks, “Would you like me to whip up a batch of my special brownies?”
What makes chores an actual ‘chore’ to a child is when we have taught them that they do not need to help out or be an active part of the family. If they are taught that it is Mom’s job to do everything, then, of course, they will resist when you ask them to pitch in or do something. It becomes an inconvenience for them to help you. Teaching them that tasks around the house are vital to keeping a home running and soliciting their help empowers them to belong to something greater than themselves. Empowering them when they are young is key but be encouraged that it is never too late to instill the character of serving, helping, and being a blessing.
When the kids were little, they always wanted to go to the park after nap time, but I was exhausted from cleaning, laundry, dishes, cooking, etc. I felt like my day was a perpetual cycle of complete and repeat. The thought ran through my mind that if I didn’t have kids, I wouldn’t have to do all of this work. I hated that thought because I loved being a mom and my children. I rebuked that thought and remember the Lord leading me to EMPOWER my children to be a part of the family, not just takers. I sat them down and told them that I wanted to take them to the park too, but that part of living in a family is running a family that includes picking up after ourselves, cleaning, and managing our home. We came up with four areas that needed attention every day – floors, dishes, laundry, and garbage. From that day on, I haven’t touched a single one in nearly ten years. Each week we rotate chores and run the family together. When they were tiny, they didn’t do it perfectly, nor did I expect them to. But I used it as a time to go after character, self-control, honor, and faithfulness. When one fails to take out the garbage, it affects the family. When we rush and put clothes where they don’t belong, it affects the family. When dishes don’t get done, it affects the family. When they had attitudes, I went after their heart. I wasn’t training them in the area of perfection but in having the CHARACTER behind a chore or task. This is one of the best choices I made as a mom years ago, and I am reaping the fruit of four children who own the wealth, health, and success of our family unit. They were taught from an early age how to care for their family, and it started with chores. What have you empowered your children to do to help run the family?
Many stores have cute Valentine’s Day mailboxes in their dollar section. Pick one up for each child, and instead of using them for V-day, use them to fill their tanks all year long. I would often encourage the kids to write notes of praise, thanks, or encouragement and have them secretly put them in their sibling’s mailboxes. It taught them how to be proactive in speaking love to someone and how good it feels to receive.
I would keep them and pull them back out again in the summer or fall when they need some help going after filling each other’s tanks. A great thing to bring on vacation or do during school breaks.
For those of you who do Easter eggs with the kids, hide one that is EMPTY. Make a big deal about it being the best one. When they open it, they will be confused. Explain to them that the BEST NEWS is that the tomb is EMPTY, and that is why we celebrate Easter. The Cross is part of the journey, but the EMPTY tomb is what we celebrate.
I woke early one morning with resolve in my spirit that my prayers needed to be deeper. Sometimes we knock on a door and wait for an answer, and other times we bang and bang until someone answers. I felt in my spirit the latter. Like a rubber band being pulled in two different directions, the atmosphere has so much resistance. Can anyone else feel it? Tension and pulling. I grabbed my Bible and searched deep in Psalms for verses that resonated with what I was sensing. I prayed passionately over every verse and declared with boldness His truth. Thirty minutes in, something shifted like an airplane going through turbulence before it found smooth skies.
Friends, we are not to manage this season by just enduring. We are to keep on pressing into Him. I encourage you to gather your family, grab your Bible and search for verses in Psalms. Have children draw out the verse, create artwork with His truth, declare it out loud, write it in chalk on your driveway, make a song with the verse, etc. The point is to get His truth IN you so that it can come OUT of you.
How many of you have to do things in life that require a sacrifice for your child? Selling a house? Long car rides? Going grocery shopping? Look at what this real estate agent did to EMPOWER the kids to be on the team rather than set it up for conflict and chaos.
“At my listing appointment tonight, I had the smallest residents sign their own contracts promising to keep their rooms clean, and toys picked up while the house is on the market. If they hold up their end of the deal, they each get a gift card from a store of their choice.”