Rants, Musings, and Mental Meanderings of a former Conservative Christian Mother. Standing Strong against ignorance, preconceptions, labels and excessive housework. Celebrating original thought, religious freedom, parenthood, free enterprise and chocolate.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Family Team

Our speaker at MOPS this week was Melissa Robertson, and I was just so encouraged and inspired by her. She is one of those sweet women that makes you feel instantly as though you've known her for years. As a home-schooling mother of five, she definitely has her hands full! But she knows how to roll with the punches, pick her battles, and most importantly keep God and His principles first in her life. I really enjoyed her topic, and she gave me permission to share it here with you. I am writing this based on the notes I took, so it is not what she said verbatim. It's a re-telling, not a transcript! ;0) Hope you are as blessed as I was.

The Family Team
Here are some tips to help your family work together as a team. Mrs. Robertson used the analogy of a sports team to represent how a family can defeat opposition and become victorious.

1. Identify your true opponent.
It's always embarrassing when you score a point for your opponent, yet that is exactly what we do as a family when we attack each other. As frustrated as we may get with our children or spouse, we must realize that life should not be a daily battle with them! We must recognize each other's strengths and weaknesses, and learn how to work with them. Don't try to mold them into who you WANT them to be, but be willing to work with each other as you all strive to be what GOD wants you to be.
Your opponent is not other Christians. Women especially have the tendency to feel competitive with other moms, and you try to out-do each other in various areas. Who's the better cook? Who has the higher dress standards? Who has the nicest/cleanest home? Whose children are the smartest or most popular? Again, fighting other families simply scores points for our true opponent and weakens our team. Let your children hear you praise others instead of bragging or criticizing, and this will instill a sweet, humble spirit in your own child. Try to exhort and encourage other moms instead of competing with them. Overall, remember that the Devil is the true enemy of our families, and he is the one we want to score against.

2. Follow the right playbook.
A Christian family must acknowledge the Bible as the ultimate and final authority. Beware of adding or subtracting from this, as this will be a stumbling block to your children and may in fact make them more likely to rebel. Define your family with Biblical principles, not society's ideals. Seek out Bible-based resources such as devotional helps. (Mrs. Robertson recommends "Our 24 Family Ways" by Clay Clarkson. It is a devotional guide for the family, and even has coloring pages that illustrate the different concepts for the younger children.) Reading the Bible can be tedious and overwhelming for children, so put the effort into finding materials that will bring God's Word to their level of understanding. The better they understand the rules of the game, the better they will be able to play. Not to mention, making devotions fun for them will make them more likely to stick with it as they get older and into adulthood. Also, keep the basic rules of the house simple, and make sure you have Bible to back up these rules (even if only in principle).

3. Know your position and play it as well as you can.
Dad is the coach, and Mom is the captain. Dad makes the plays and does the research, and Mom makes it all happen in day-to-day life. It goes without saying that Mom has lots of input into Dad's decisions, but beware of trying to have two coaches! Assign your kids duties, and make them stay faithful even when the novelty wears off. Your child will not be productive at first, and in fact it will be easier for you NOT to invest the time in teaching them. (How many times have I been tempted to push her aside and say "Oh never mind! Let me do it myself!") In the long run, though, you do your child a terrible disservice by catering to him/her and not teaching him valuable skills. Instill a Godly work ethic early on, and this will build the right kind of self-esteem in your child, based on something he/she can actually accomplish. Give them something to do, make them learn to do it well, and then they will have something to be legitimately proud of. Try to make it a point to work alongside your child. A child will feel resentful and overwhelmed of you pile duties on him then kick back and read a book. Working together will actually build a love for work in them, since they will cherish the time spent with you. There are exceptions and use some common sense here, but a good general rule is "When you are working, your child is working. Rest and play together." It may be an inconvenience at first, but taking the time and effort to help your child develop skills and use talents will pay off for both of you. You will gain valuable help as their skills improve, and they will gain confidence as they see that they are able to make meaningful contributions.

4. Build Team Spirit
Take time to practice together as much as possible. The more time a team spends together, the better they know each other and the better they will play together. Make the time to have a regular "family night," and take the time to have meaningful conversations with your children throughout the day. Capitalize on "teachable moments," and remember that your team will all outgrow your league soon enough. Then there will be plenty of time to clean up the arena! ;0) Attend church regularly, since this is where your team will study and learn the "playbook" and continue to grow to be better "team players." Network with other Christian families, since they will become your team's cheerleaders, giving you the boost you need when your team gets in a slump. (And we moms know it's no fun being in a losing streak!) When choosing a ministry within your local church, make sure it is not something that your children will have to compete with for your attention. Make it something that you all can benefit from and serve in together, even if in different capacities. You will win more games if you play together as a team as opposed to every member off helping other teams and neglecting their own.

5. Evaluate your definition of victory.
What truly defines a victorious team? What makes a family a real success in God's eyes? Society will tell you this is based on academic achievements, wealth, popularity, or visible talents. Some families are just happy if their children acknowledge Christianity, maybe say a prayer and call themselves "saved." The Bible, however, defines a successful family team as one that produces not only "good" kids, but truly Godly kids. Children who go on to complete the work began in their lives, giving God complete control over their lives, giving the Bible complete authority in their lives, and allowing God to use them in whatever way He has planned for them. Producing a team that brings glory to its "Owner and Creator" is something we as moms especially will spend the majority of our lives striving for, but we find our strength and inspiration every time we are able to score a point against our opponent and see our children slowly come not only to a realization of Christ, but develop a very real and personal relationship with Him.

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