One of the many benefits of cleaning out your file cabinets and getting organized is finding hidden treasures that you have gleaned from many years of printing homeschool ‘advice’ emails. I found one such treasure this morning in my purging frenzy and just had to share it with you. As a perfectionist and an analytical thinker, I admit that I have been less than a perfect roll model of love and acceptance 100% of the time with my children. I tend to expect too much, lecture too much, get upset too quickly, and be too critical. I was glad for the reminder to NOT exasperate the children this morning from this anonymous email I got in 2003 from a homeschooling mentor. Wish I could give credit to the original author… but alas, there was no byline. Thank you to whomever wrote it – the items on this list are truly solid advice!
You Exasperate Your Children When You…
1. Never admit you are wrong.
Instead, tell your children you have made a mistake and ask their forgiveness and God’s if you sin in your actions or attitudes.
2. Model hypocrisy (say one thing, do another)
3. Fail to keep promises.
Be cautious with your words. You may not think you are making a promise, but your children may interpret your words or actions as promises.
4. Demand too much of them.
Don’t expect them to act like adults. Be reasonable in your expectations of their actions, attitudes and how much responsibility you expect of them. Try timing your workflow to see if what you are asking is even possible (if you tend towards overloading the schedule).
5. Over protect them.
Don’t bail them out of problems – let them learn the hard way now. The cost will be less now than later in life when you aren’t there to pick them up.
6. Batter them with words.
Use your words sparingly! Be consistent and let your yes be yes, your no be no, and your words be solid in action.
7. Abuse them verbally.
Never call names, add explanation marks to their names or predict failure. Find ways to compliment and praise them instead. Tell them all the things they do well – not a list of their shortcomings.
8. Make discipline too severe.
9. Show favoritism.
Don’t compare children in their achievements, abilities or grades. They are each unique gifts from God.
10. Embarrass them.
Be careful and cautious with how you speak about them to others – especially when they are present.
11. Give no time warnings.
Don’t come in a room and tell them to stop immediately unless they are doing something that will harm them or others. Give them a few minutes to adjust to your expectations. Tell them ‘bed in five minutes’ or ‘we are leaving in ten minutes, so please finish and clean up’ – then follow through!
12. Try to be their buddy.
You are the parent. Time for friendships is later in life when they are parents themselves.
13. Withhold firm discipline and proper training.
If you tell them dinner is ready and they don’t come, no dinner. Don’t debate. You are the parent. Train them in the way they should go and always remain calm and prayerful in your decisions. Then stick to it!
14. Discipline inconsistently/use different punishments for the same offense.
Each child should receive the same punishment for the same crime. Being tired is no excuse for inconsistent punishments. Keep a journal to ensure consistency.
15. Are weak with your authority.
Don’t let the children ask you repeatedly to have or do something. Don’t allow them to even TRY to wear you down. If you make a decision, stick to it.
16. Consistently believe evil of them.
When you are suspicious of them, making accusations of wrongdoing, you are deflating their trust in your unconditional love and acceptance of them. Be happy with them and know that you are blessed to be their parent. Your trust and acceptance can encourage them to make right choices.
17. Do not listen to them.
Let them explain their frustrations with you and be honest with you about how they feel – even if it upsets you. They should be polite and respectful, but they should always be allowed to come to you with their feelings.
18. Continually criticize them.
“A child can only take so much gloom.” – Little House on the Prairie
19. Communicate to them that they are unwanted.
If you tell them it would be easier to go to work than take care of kids at home and they will think you would rather be there. Don’t tell them what you are giving up to raise them or they will think you would rather not be their parent. When you are frustrated, pray – do not speak hurtful things you will regret.
20. Threaten them with rejection.
If they are not doing what they should, discipline them. If they refuse to obey, let them sit outside on a bench in your back yard because you will not allow willful disobedience in your home. Don’t threaten them with empty threats. Only say what you really mean after you have time alone to pray about the issue. Ask for help if the disobedience spirals out of control. Maybe an objective mentor can give you ideas you haven’t thought of to curb the problem.
21. Never communicate your approval of them.
If you only take time out of your day to correct them and not ever to encourage them, you are teaching them to seek your attention through negative actions. You are also making them not like themselves – which will make them seek approval in others by doing things to get attention from their peers.
22. Neglect them.
Don’t allow the phone or your own private duties to interrupt your time together. Make time to build a relationship with them. Take time to listen and communicate with them. Get to know them as a person. Keep a prayer journal for them and make notes about time you have spent talking with them. Remember what it was like to court your spouse? Love them with your whole heart. The house cleaning can wait.
23. Overindulge them.
Don’t allow them to be part of your decision making when you are making parental decisions and don’t spoil them with material things. Don’t allow too much screen time or ‘twaddle’ or they will develop a taste for ‘the easy life’ and balk at hard work and deep thinking. They will expect things to be given to them and not want to put out effort to achieve them.
24. Reward insolence, sass, pouting, anger, or disrespect.
A child should never raise his voice at his parents unless he is calling you from afar. Do not allow a disrespectful tone to be rewarded by acknowledgment. Cease the conversation and discipline. Bad attitudes are a symptom of a clouded heart. The bible talks about the heart’s wickedness. A great book on discipline and heart issues is “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” by Ted Tripp.
25. Cease a time of chastisement before it has produced humility.
Don’t stop in your punishment of bad behavior until you see the fruit of a changed heart. If the actions AND attitudes change, you have succeeded in your objective as their disciple. If there is only an action change, and yet their countenance is still angry, you have only taught them that lip service is all you are asking of them. Their heart is the root of the disobedience. Your job is not to weed out bad behavior, but to till the soil of the heart until GOOD can grow there.