Happy Feast of All Saints, everyone!
Isn't it amazing to ponder how many saints are in heaven, canonized and uncanonized? I think of family members who have gone before us and am grateful for the gift of faith that has been passed down through generations. I pray for their help in fostering the gift of faith in our own children and hope that we might see them one day in heaven to thank them. Some days this hope is stronger than others - depending on how we are coming along in developing basic virtues. For most of September and October, my hope was pretty low.
After years and years of "laying down the rails" it can be pretty discouraging when our train derails so frequently. My children (one in particular) continue to be challenged with the basic expectations in our family regarding obedience, responsibility, respect, and keeping on task with the rhythm of the day even though we have had daily plans and rules visibly posted for years. As much as I wish it could all become automatic and habitual, I find that keeping a home (with children in it) and homeschooling takes constant vigilance.
The other night my husband let the kids watch as he unclogged globs of hair and goop from the shower drain. One sister, teasing her brother said, "See, this is what you will have to do if you become a dad!" The brother replied, "Then I'll be a monk instead!" At times like these I think about the future of our children and realize that one of them may very well end up in the religious life - and I panic. Will they be prepared? Do we pray enough? Are they developing virtues? Will they wish we had raised them differently? I guess if God calls them and they follow, everything will work out with His help and grace. I just want them to be prepared for whatever God does call them to do - in religious or married life. This motivates me to learn, to grow, to read and try new ideas that might help me achieve my goals in raising up saints. Sally Clarkson just discussed this very thing -
The problem with motherhood and the need for women to build godly estates of godly leaders in their homes, through multiple children that a woman will invest her life into, is that most women had no training, preparation or education of what it would take or how much it would cost them. Most just got married with the hope that someone would love them and take care of them and provide security and affirmation, and then babies came, and overwhelmed them. They had never been trained for the job, never seen it modeled when they grew up, never had a vision for how powerful a house (family) for God could be or how much work it would take.
I love reading Sally's blog and her books. She speaks to my heart.
I am also slowly working my way through a stack of very practical and hysterically funny Carol Barnier books such as this one for "highly distractable moms". I say slowly, because every three or four pages she has an idea I want to implement, then I get distracted and it's a week or two before I pick up the book again. See, this book fits me to a T.
One idea I borrowed and adapted is the Dial-a-Child Chart. This is working out rather well for us even though it's basically our old chore chart in a more exciting format. Here's what it looks like hanging on the pantry door:
The dials get turned on Sunday morning. One glance and everyone knows who is supposed to do what.
Another passage from the Barnier books inspired me to fine tune our Family Rules and Consequences. These will look different for every family, of course, but this is what is important enough to our family to post on the wall:
One - We respect God, our Heavenly Father, and the earthly parents He has placed in authority over us.
- We are made to know Him, love Him, and serve Him in this life and be happy with Him in heaven.
- Obedience, service, reverence, honor, truthfulness.
- “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.” Ephesians 6:1
Two - We respect others: parents, our siblings, friends, and guests in our home.
- Peacefulness, cheerfulness, truthfulness, generosity, sharing, hospitality, helpfulness, forgiving, compassionate, kindness, gentleness, polite table manners.
- “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance.” Colossians 3:23-24
Three - We respect property and are good stewards of our belongings and our bodies.
- Clothing, shoes, books, toys, furniture, bathrooms, musical instruments, the van interior, personal hygiene, pets, etc.
- Orderliness, cleanliness, responsibility, being trustworthy.
Four - We are self-disciplined in our home work, school work, music practice, and commitments to outside activities.
- Diligence, perseverance, sanctifying and meaningful work.
- “Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings.” Proverbs 22:29
(If you have a good quote for #3 let me know - most scripture quotes refer to detaching from our belongings rather than taking good care of them. It's a fine line - not giving stuff too much attention, yet giving them proper care. I tell the kids that you can usually tell a lot about a person by the way they take care of their things.)
We are experimenting with consequences - I suspect I have been at fault by having far too few consequences because they have so few privileges to revoke compared to the average American child. Here's the new routine: when a child is having a problem, I call them over and ask them to tell me which rule they are having trouble with. They get a check mark for each rule violated. For instance, if a certain child (without naming names) leaves dirty socks on the floor they get a check mark for #3. If I ask them to put them in the hamper and 15 minutes later they are still there, they get another check mark under #1.
Two check marks result in allowance reduction and another consequence is added for each additional check mark: an extra job, do dessert, temporary loss of a prized possession, and an 8pm bedtime. No check marks by Saturday = Wii time and some of Mom's birthday chocolate. Plus marks can be earned for extra spectacular behavior like volunteering to take on jobs or being a great example of cheerful service.
Plus mark behavior can also make check marks disappear! Children without any checks and at least one plus mark get to go out for ice cream with Dad Saturday night. Two kids out of four made it this week. We are hoping that at least three kids make it next week, but of course what we are really aiming for is that all five make it to heaven with the rest of the saints we honor today.
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine.