Monday, March 2, 2009

The prompting of my waffle thoughts...

The following conversation I had with one of my home school ladies last week. I wanted to share it with you because it is what prompted the Waffle post. I wanted to talk about it rather than just posting this but I have a birthday party on my mind and didn't have the time to reword this. I think that the same principles apply for girls as well. I just think that with most boys this will be a struggle throughout life. I also think that this whole concept is possibly why people label boys as "less" responsible that there counterpart girls. I think it is a very wise idea to start early helping prepare them for this struggle. I am still processing ways to help them. Thankfully, John sees this need as well and can help me think through it. More on this later.

The question she posted:

I have 3 children, 8, 6 and 3. I need advice for my 6 year old son. He is a wonderful boy - full of energy, joy, life. He is compassionate and caring. When he does something wrong, he is truly penitent and broken about it. After having said all of these wonderful things, here is my problem: Although he doesn't have any overt maliciousness, he "forgets" what is the right thing to do when I'm not around. For example, he knows he should listen to his teacher in Sunday School, but all the other little boys are squirming everywhere, so he quickly joins in. Or if he's playing with a friend who misbehaves, he does as well. He even tells me about it afterward ("Mommy, I made a couple of bad choices today.") He is very honest!

I know he is young, but I also know that habits are formed early. I do not want him to be a follower, but rather a strong man of God. What are some practical things I can do to help him towards self-control? How can I help him to be his own conscience? I would truly appreciate some ideas here.

My response:

Tanya, I am in this same boat and here are the practical things I have learned thus far from both my mentors and my husband.
1. My husband says that sometimes men "just don't think about things the way we do" It is the whole concept that women are like spaghetti - everything flows together and men are like waffles - all things are compartmentalized. When they are doing one thing that is what is on their mind. Most often other things do not flow into their thought process during that time. That being said my husband has come up with systems for himself that help him remember certain things. So how does this apply to our boys - well for my 5 year old I have seen that lots of short reminders - not lectures - right before each situation helps him remember. Before i take him into Sunday School I bend down and say "do you remember what you are suppose to do when the teacher is talking? And what are you suppose to do if the other boys start to talk, squirm, etc?" That is it. It is a gentle reminder as he walks into a situation.
I think that this parallels how the Holy Spirit uses the Scripture that we hide in our hearts. The Bible says to hide God's word in our hearts that we may not sin against him. The act of hiding the word is not what helps us not to sin. But the Holy Spirit using those words to gently remind us in situations is what helps us not to sin. Once we are reminded by the Spirit we, as Christians, choose to either be a slave to that sin or to turn from it and obey God. Our boys have that same choice. As a mom, we gently remind them as they enter a situation what is expected of them and then the choice is theirs - to obey or not.
2. This comes to the second thing - natural consequences. Sometimes it is sincerely the issue of not remembering. Other times it is their sinful LAZY hearts that choose for it to not be important enough for them to remember so they make the choice to forget. The best way to make the issue important is for him to suffer natural consequences of the decisions that he makes. If he is continually misbehaving with a certain friend then he should not be allowed to play with that friend for a period of time. Because we are not just to confess our sins but rather to confess and turn from it. I think it is great that he is honest with you about his bad choices and most likely I would guess that his problem really falls in the issue of #1. But we have to just be careful that he isn't just telling you the truth but not truly turning from his sin. I don't know your child so you will have to be the judge of that. If you think it may be the later then I would suggest invoke natural consequences that will help him remember ALONG with a gentle reminder before his activities, especially those in which you are not present.
I can't say yet how long these "gentle reminders" will be necessary because I am, as I said in this boat with you. I have been told that to not grow weary in doing this because eventually I will reap a harvest of faithfulness. I take that to mean that eventually these gentle reminders that I give him now will in fact sink in and cease to be necessary. But what I don't know is if they will just be replaced by other ones. My husband still has to have his own gentle reminders. Who know? Hope this helped.

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