Peggy Ployhar

Teaching a child how to hike parallels the larger tasks of homeschooling and parenting.  Hiking, as well as homeschooling and parenting, may have many technical pieces of instruction, but never should we dismiss the greater benefit of the journey itself. There is a greater benefit of the homeschooling journey too, and it has more to do with walking the path with our children each day than how well any of us masters the hiking itself.

 

A Family that Hikes Together

Our family has been hiking since before we had kids. My husband and I both came from hiking families. Plus, within a few days after each of our children were born, as an initiation into the family, we introduced them to hiking.

As an infant, our child would ride in a front-pack when we would take off for a nearby trail.  As each child grew bigger, the transition from facing towards one of us in the front-pack to facing out happened around the second or third month.  Next, the child graduated from our front-pack to a more sturdy hiking backpack.

But we did not leave each child in the backpack stage. Instead, we observed that child’s walking acuity.  We paid particular attention to how well the child mastered uneven terrain and how resilient the child was to the occasional fall.  Our oldest was a natural pack mule on the trail and thankfully so because he was as solid as one too. He became rather difficult to carry early as a toddler, and we were all too happy to let him take that stocky frame and carry it on his own two feet.  But his younger brother was completely different. Our second child had difficulty mastering uneven surfaces. He hated walking on grass and especially when he needed to transition from the grass to another type of surface. Thankfully he was extremely light, and we managed well in the need to carry him much longer than his older brother when we went out on our hiking adventures.

Each child’s readiness considered, we still did not transition right away to multi-mile hikes as soon as each started putting their feet to the trail.  Instead, we had each walk part of the way and ride the other. At first we continued to carry an empty backpack and allowed the child to ride when walking became too difficult or was slowing down the rest of the party, but eventually, we transitioned making our shoulders available for the occasional rest.  

 

Hiking Milestones

Not until each child had built up enough personal stamina did we remove the option to ride.  But, getting our children walking on the path by themselves was only the first milestone in teaching them to hike. In the years to follow, as our family hiking continued, we continued to teach our children lessons on the trail.  

Our children learned how to:

  • Plan wisely and pack enough supplies.  Acknowledging your unique needs and properly preparing to address those needs dependent on the conditions of the trail and the length of the hike is extremely important if you are to get the most out of the trip. Ill-preparation can lead to uncomfortable situations and the potential need to make otherwise unnecessary changes.
  • Be considerate of others. No matter who is on the trail with you or who will follow your path consideration is appreciated.  These lessons involved making room for others who are slower or faster than you are and making sure to “leave no trace” so the hike will be equally appreciated by those who follow.
  • Look out for dangerous conditions. Being observant or taking appropriate action when necessary is essential to hiking safety.  From determining an animal and it’s probable proximity from droppings and prints to knowing when to make noises to warn animals of your approach, when to stand still to avoid getting attacked or trampled, and how to protect yourself if caught in a storm are all invaluable lessons to keeping safe on the trail.
  • Enjoy the journey.  Taking time to look up from the trail to watch the wildlife, smell the flowers, take in a scene, or stand in awe of the magnificent beauty that God alone can create so flawlessly has to be cultivated and encouraged. Looking beyond the trail to be immersed in the experiences is the greatest reward a hiking experience has to offer.
  • Cultivate relationships.  Talking on the trail or even sharing long periods of quiet pondering when walking side-by-side with others strengthens relationships.  Hiking parties naturally bond on the trail and these bonds have strengthened relationships in our immediate family and with extended family and/or friends we have hiked with.
  • Never give up. Hiking can be very tiring especially in high-altitude, dry, and steep conditions.  The determination to finish the trail before you start, unless conditions cause a necessary detour, helps for keeping the course when the trail gets the hardest.

 

Greatest Benefit of the Journey

Why do I share these things with you?  Because over the years as our family has taken countless hiking trips from short half-mile hikes in quaint campgrounds to grueling hikes down into the Grand Canyon and up again, there is a wonderful parallel for how teaching our children to hike has mimicked our 17 years of homeschooling and 22 years of parenting. Little by little we have trained our children not only to hike but also how to hike well, and still at the ages of 22, 20, and 14 they continue to do a lot of “hiking” alongside us as we teach them how to best follow the trail God has set before our children in the way they should go. Thankfully they still desire that we keep hiking with them through the ups and downs of their daily lives which has been the greatest benefit of the homeschooling journey.

“Our children still desire that we keep hiking with them through the ups and downs of their daily lives which has been the greatest benefit of the homeschooling journey.

Our children at the beginning needed us to help them with everything.  But, teaching them the mechanics of life was only the beginning of teaching them all the knowledge that my husband and I had acquired over the years. In fact, we are still teaching our children as they actively navigate much of their trails now on their own. The same is true for homeschooling and parenting.  We teach our children reading, writing, math, and other life skills, but if we stop walking alongside them once we have taught them these things then we miss out on the greatest benefit of the homeschooling journey – the deepening relationship.

 

Path Yet Ahead

My encouragement to you as you look back at your homeschooling and parenting journey so far, and then look forward towards what yet you have to teach, there will always be enough path and time for the lessons that need to be taught as long as you plan wisely and determine to never give up. The key is in teaching the technical lessons that build on mastery and allow time for integration: enjoy the journey, cultivate the relationships, build awareness of potential dangers, and teach your children the importance of the impact God desires to make through them on the world around them.

Thankfully, God provides the trail as well as a continuous stream of supplies. So, as long as we follow His directions every day, we will not get off track or lose our way and our relationships with our children will only grow more strong and beautiful as we walk alongside them on this journey we have the privilege to share.

 

We at SPED Homeschool are so glad you have allowed us to take this journey with you, and we would love for you to share snapshots of what your homeschooling journey looks like.  Feel free to share a picture or story that makes your homeschool unique and beautiful, and let us know if you would allow us to share your story with the SPED Homeschool community.  When we share our stories, we not only gain a greater understanding of one another’s path, but those outside our community will also gain a greater understanding of what homeschooling looks like when a family works to help their child succeed beyond their struggles.

 

 


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By Peggy Ployhar

In our years of homeschooling the most profound way we have taught our children how to live a life of faith has been by allowing the Holy Spirit do the heavy lifting.  I have always believed it has been my job to live my life of faith before my children with excitement and to share with them the walk God has me on, especially as it affects their lives. As I pray and commit to Spirit-led parenting, the Holy Spirit does the heavy lifting of convincing, convicting, and moving my children’s hearts.

 

 

Spirit-led Parenting: What it Looks Like

 

One example of God working in the hearts of our children has been through reading biographies together. When we’ve read together, my children often remarked on how amazing God is to use those who seem ordinary, unfit, and sometimes all-together unworthy of His attention to perform some amazing things for Him just because they trusted Him and believed what He said He could do with someone who turned to Him with an obedient heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another story I share often is when God had impressed upon both mine and my husband’s hearts that He wanted us to sell our house and move to the county.  For our oldest on the Autism spectrum, it seemed like a death sentence to leave behind his comfortable world for the unknown. But I trusted God had clearly spoken to me. One day when he was protesting about us preparing the house to sell, I decided to let the Holy Spirit do the heavy lifting of convincing my son this was God’s will not mine.

 

 

I basically told my son, “You ask God to tell you if moving is something he wants our family to do, and then come back to me when you have clearly heard from him.”

 

 

 

A few days later, unbenounced to me, he prayed to God to show him that day if we were supposed to move. All day long he was looking, but he never told anyone of his prayer for fear we would add in our own interpretations.

 

 

Then when evening rolled around, he went to his sister’s  room with his other brother to listen to an audio tape of “Mr. Henry’s Wild and Wacky Bible Stories” as they did most evenings. It was their practice to not turn the light on because our daughter usually fell asleep during the story, so in the darkness my son picked up a tape, put it into the tape player, and sat down with his siblings to listen.

 

 

 

Do you know what story he happened to put into the player that night?  The story of Abraham being called out of his homeland. As soon as the words, “Abraham, get out of this land” hit my son’s ears, he knew those words were the answer he had been looking for that day.  He ran out of the room screaming at the top of his lungs,”Nooooo!” And that is when I was brought up to speed with the prayer and God’s answer. Never again did he complain about moving.

 

We forget too often, no matter how old or young we are, we have access to the same God and the same Holy Spirit.  Spirit-led parenting trusts God through the Holy Spirit to do the convincing, convicting, and moving of our children’s hearts, and God’s ways will always turn out more positively then when we try to force our will or our faith upon our children.

 

 


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By the SPED Homeschool Team

 

One of the most important things we can do as homeschooling parents is to instill a love of the Lord and a desire to serve others in our children. Since that can look different for each family, our team members share how they incorporate Gospel-centered parenting  into their homeschool.

 

 

Gospel-Centered Parenting through Relationship

 

Cammie Arn:

“For our family it hasn’t been a particular program or study that we have done, rather it’s been living our relationship out in front of our children. Allowing the kids to snuggle up while I finish my morning quiet time has been key for them to see how we prioritize God in our home.

Taking them to Sunday school and church weekly and allowing for questions and conversation. Having them share prayer requests and watching God answer prayers has given our kids a foundation to stand on into adulthood. We read real stories of courageous Christians as examples of people who lived Godly lives. They have seen God provide clothing when we needed something in particular, food when there was none, money when it was needed, vehicles to both our family and individual adult children.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shannon Ramiro:
“I have a general prayer I say, and I make general comments to God throughout the day, often when I am feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, etc. My son always comments that he doesn’t see the point of it. He also wonders when I will stop considering any kind of “pseudoscience” (e.g. Feng Shui). I recently bought a vinyl sticker I have in my office area at home that states, “Don’t Stress God’s Got this.” It has been rather recently that I have begun being more open about my beliefs, but I have always lived a life in which I serve others as much as possible. I have always hoped I lead by example and my children know certain behaviors that are expected in my household, as well as in the treatment of others and responsibility to our greater community.”

 

 

 

Gospel-Centered Parenting through Prayer

 

Dawn Spence:

 

“We write out our prayers on a board and talk about how God has answered their prayers. Some of their prayers have been on the board for many years and still they see we are consistent to pray.

What came to my mind is the power of prayer and what my kids have witnessed as they have prayed for others and have seen them be answered. It was hard to see when prayers of healing are not answered the way they wanted. They also saw how when they have a need or have a hurt it is the best way to get their needs meet. I have seen my daughter find people and pray with them. I wish I would have had that opportunity when I was younger.”

 

 

 

Gospel-Centered Parenting through Service

 

Debbi White:

 

“Our homeschooling journey spanned many years, so different methods and techniques were utilized, but the overarching emphasis in our home was ALWAYS the Lord.  (Hind-site has shown me several areas that I was flawed in, but I did the best I knew at the time, as most of us do.)

 

Memorization of scripture and hymns, reading/learning Bible stories, family prayer time, and service in our community were main pillars in our spiritual pursuits.  We invested in quality Bible story books when the girls were young, and read them over and over again in our evening devotions. Christian radio was the main medium in our house, and the girls listened to tapes of Adventures in Odyssey daily.  When they got older, we read Christian biographies and memorized hymns.

 

 

The girls and I enjoyed baking, and often we would take muffins, cookies or cake to the sick or elderly.

 

 

One Christmas we bought several gifts from the dollar store, wrapped each one (I think we somehow segregated male/female and child/adult gifts.)  We piled them in a wagon and took them to the hospital. It was so touching for me to see my young daughters pass out gifts to the patients. We also often visited the local nursing home, and we entertained in our home weekly.  We enjoyed having a couple over for board games, families over for meals, and large groups (church, neighbors, home-school friends) over for Open Houses. We also entertained missionaries frequently.”

 

 

 

 

 

Gospel-Centered Parenting through Bible Study

 

Mary Winfield:

 

“For our spiritual learning we do a lot. We go to church and Sunday School each week and our church has a  curriculum that encourages families to learn at home when not at church. The manual has the topics that will be taught on Sunday (and ideas on how to study at home), so you can instill the gospel in their hearts with continuity. We also have a nightly scripture study and prayer as a family. Overall I think that my kids are not going to remember all the specifics of the lessons and prayers we had, but they will remember that we were always striving to be closer to God and to have a Christ-centered home.”


Amy Vickrey:

 

“In the past, we have done daily Bible Studies, and I hope to make this a priority again as we settle into a new schedule this new year.  We enjoyed learning about the Names of God, and the different ways we see him based on those names. My son has learned to pray from going through that study, and can say the most heart-warming, sincere prayers that I feel are years beyond where most people would see his understanding.  I feel it is God who gives him the ability to pray with such sincerity and earnest!

 

I know my kids see my faith and hear me talk about it because of the things that I hear them say and do.  I know as parents we all feel inadequate at times, and unsure if we are doing enough. I know this season of my life will pass, and with time pain will turn to memory.  Life will continue and will become peaceful once more. In the meantime, I try to remind myself that it is not how we deal with the peaceful times but how we deal with the tumultuous times that make the most lasting impressions on our kids’ lives.  I know my parents did not have much to offer us financially during many seasons of our lives. Yet, they gave their time to us, to our friends, and to others. And this meant a lot to those whose lives they touched. I hope that my kids will someday say the same about me.”

 


Tracy Glockle:

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I think in many ways, homeschooling reflects the person or people involved. If Christ is central in my life, Christ will naturally be central in our homeschool and in anything I do. So first and foremost, my own heart and my own spiritual journey need to be a priority. It’s easy to let my own needs slip as I’m focusing on my children, to read my Bible less, to pray less, to seek fellowship with other Christians less because I’m focusing on the urgent immediate needs I see everyday. But one of the best ways I can serve my children and my family is to seek the Lord in my own life regularly. To carve out time, even a little time, and make that a priority.

 

Next, we incorporate Christ-centered conversations throughout the day, particularly at meal times. Right now, we are reading together through the book of Hebrews at breakfast, and my husband leads us in the evenings as we study Proverbs. I love the Simply Charlotte Mason resources for Bible in our homeschool. Each child also has an individual time of study, using various resources we have gathered over the years. Seeds Family Worship is another favorite resource of ours for Bible memory. Each subject also triggers lots of conversations about God and His plan for our good and His glory. The books we read out loud together, the history events we study, the marvels of creation—all speak of God’s hand in our world.”

 

As you can see, there are so many ways to add faith and service to your homeschool, and no wrong way to do it!

 

 

What does Gospel-centered parenting look like in your home?

 

 

How do you incorporate the Lord into your homeschool?

 

 

We would love to hear from you!


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By Cheryl Swope, M.Ed

Teach Us to Pray
Good parents teach many good things every day: Share toys, tie your shoes, eat good food, and speak kindly. Good parents help children learn to read, write, and master arithmetic. Good parents teach children to love what is true, good, and beautiful. Yet we, too, must be taught. If we forget this humbling truth we may become discouraged, overwhelmed, or resentful, even as we plow ahead. We rightly look for help in every need, learning to pray and not to faint.

 

Christ Jesus our great high priest and our only fully atoning sacrificial lamb has won for us full access to the Father. “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

 

 

At Home in Prayer
The other night my son, a young adult with mental illness and autism, asked how I was feeling. I had been resting with a sore throat and cough. I appreciated his thoughtfulness in asking.

 

Then from his 6’2″ frame, I heard these quiet words, “I have been praying for you every night.” My throat tightened with gratitude. I swallowed hard and looked into his face. “Thank you, Michael.”

 

He had been worried about me. I knew this. Michael had offered to wear a mask on his work van to avoid bringing home new germs, as I am susceptible to viruses and infections. I never told him to pray. I never asked him to pray. He knew, by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, where help could be found.

 

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2)

 

This was my grandmother’s favorite passage. She taught my mother to pray. My mother taught me to pray. So too my father’s father prayed. In time of need, as with I am worried or ill, I know that even today my father at age 84 will pray for me. My father taught me to pray. We teach our children to pray.

 

Prayer is a welcome gift for all Christians in time of need and at all times. We are encouraged to pray “in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.” (Ephesians 6:18), “for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.” (Galatians 3:26)

 

Have you ever noticed that the older prayer books acknowledge the depth of trials of mankind in this life? When we are looking for just the right words for our own prayers or for prayers to share with others, we can turn to such collections for such topics as these:
– prayer when a child is born with a disability
– prayer when a child is stillborn
– prayer when a newborn dies before being baptized
– prayer for wayward children
– prayer for the blessing of children in a marriage
– prayer when the hour of birth draws near
– thanksgiving for a successful birth
– prayer when a woman has an unfaithful husband
– prayer when one spouse has abandoned the other
– prayer of a juror who is to decide a criminal case
– prayer of a soldier for his family at home

 

 

Through Christ Alone
How, then, shall we pray? We pray through Jesus Christ, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (I Timothy 2:5)

 

If we do not know how to pray, we can take comfort. This, too, has been anticipated: “For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26)*

 

Lest we focus back with discouragement on ourselves in our prayers, as we are so quick to do, let us remember the one to whom we pray, the one who prays for us. In Jesus Christ, we have One who “is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25)

 

 

For Us He Prayed
The Lord Jesus Christ prayed through temptation, trial, and the ultimate efficacious agony on our behalf. If we can think of nothing more to pray with our children, we can pray with thanksgiving for this. In so doing, we teach ourselves and our children to pray.

 

O Love, How Deep

Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471)

For us His daily works He wrought,
By words and signs and actions thus
͑Still seeking not Himself but us.

For us He rose from death again;
For us He went on high to reign;
For us He sent His Spirit here
To guide, to strengthen, and to cheer.

All glory to our Lord and God
For love so deep, so high, so broad;
The Trinity whom we adore
Forever and forevermore.

 

“…love what is true, good, and beautiful.” – Cheryl Swope

SUPER SWEET HEADING

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A SUBHEADING

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By Peggy Ployhar

As humans we instinctively know we need to pray.  When tragedy strikes we ask for prayer, we gather to grieve and cry out, and our hearts seek healing from beyond what we can see, feel, and touch.  But, the biggest tragedy is that we don’t practice praying much when things are going well in our lives. We forget we have needs and large voids we can’t fill on our own.  The biggest void I could not fill through my own self-determination was the one created by the damage my parenting anger had created in my own life and in my relationships with my children.

 

 

 

A Spiritual Battle

Parenting anger at its core is a spiritual battle, and therefore prayer is fundamental to changing parenting anger and bringing about healing, in both the parent and the child. Prayer alone brought forth this healing in my life.  How? By ushering forgiveness and restoration to places grace alone could reach.

 

 

 

 

 

Prayer is about asking, but it is more than that.  It is also about seeking something greater and desiring for it to come into our lives and change our nature; the nature which often brings us to the place where we realize our need for forgiveness and healing.  And, prayer is about submitting to that change by pursuing it with tenacity rather than pursuing our natural inclinations or good intentions.

 

 

 

 

A Plea for Change

When I decided in my heart that I no longer wanted to live with the rages I often experienced, I started to pray for God to change my heart and to heal my relationships with my children with more vigor than I ever had before.  My prayers went from “stop this” to “change me.”

 

Change was slow, but every time God revealed a new lesson I then prayed for His help to heal me, change me, and restore me.  When I backslid in carrying out this new lesson, I sought out His forgiveness as well as the forgiveness of my children, and we prayed together for God to help us accept His grace and do better the next time. I also started to make it a point to pray with my children when they met with failure in their own battles.

 

 

 

Fundamental to Change

Prayer was fundamental in keeping us moving forward, in giving us the strength to keep going on, to accepting our imperfect natures, and in realizing all the more our need for a Savior and a constant help as we navigated life with a desire to become less angry and hurt and more loving and compassionate—more like our heavenly Father.

 

When I started this series on parenting anger, I never could have imagined this process would take so long to complete and I would have so much to share.  If this is the first article in this series you have read, I would highly recommend you go back to the beginning and digest each article one at a time. Savor the wisdom God shared with me as I healed through my own struggle and allow the lessons to go not just to your head, but also your heart.

 

 

 

My prayer for you is that you don’t give up, on yourself or your children.  The struggle to change and grow in this ability is worth the battle, and the best part is that God will be fighting right alongside you all the way.

 

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By Peggy Ployhar

In the previous article in this series on parenting anger, I mentioned this next step is the glue which helps hold the integrity and authority changes in your parenting in place. Here is why this step plays such an essential role in repairing any disconnect with your child when your parenting anger has caused division in the past.

Judgment by Reaction
Looking at our children through a lens that is not personally judgmental can be very difficult. We tend to have strong feelings for how much we desire to see our children succeed. These strong feelings can easily be read by a child through nonverbal communication. When our body language shows we are nervous, stressed, or even bothered when a child fails, our reaction passes along judgmental overtones. These reactions, if repeatedly observed by a child, will convey a parent’s inability to accept failure even without any verbal communication.

Most of the time when we struggle with accepting our child’s weaknesses, it stems from our own inability to accept our failures. If you struggle in this area, and in accepting yourself for being less than perfect, then the first thing you need to realize is that failure is an essential part of life which helps us, and our children grow and learn.

Embracing Failure
A while back I wrote an article called Failing to Learn where I stressed the importance of learning how to accept failure as part of the learning process so mistakes can be launching points for more learning instead of roadblocks of further exploration and understanding. With each mistake, we are given the opportunity to see how and why we failed. From there, we must choose to take what we learned in failing, and joyfully move forward in the hope that our next attempt will be better than our last based on what we learned in the last go-around.

When we can change our perspective about failure, the mechanics of accepting our children also becomes much easier. We are more prone to say “oops” when mistakes happen. And, our child’s limitations are given flight to become vehicles for greater discoveries.

When we start to make this shift towards accepting a child’s limitations and working on our responses to their failures, we also need to change our approach in how we redirect our child’s reaction to their failures. This is where the big change in your parenting needs to happen to glue all these elements together…and to prepare for the final steps in cultivating your child’s heart.

The Boxing Ring
When a child sees your reactions to their failures as an attack, you, in turn, will become the object for any out-lash in dealing with internal feelings of inadequacy. You essentially become your child’s punching bag because your reaction comes with a dual meaning. First, it conveys to your child you are safe because your love for them is what caused your reaction to their failure, but secondly, you are also an enemy because your reaction has placed you in their battle zone. Thus, instead of your child taking on the real issues he/she is facing, exposed through failure, your child makes the issue about your relationship.

If you were to view this scenario as a boxing ring, your child would be in the battle of life with you in the same ring. There are many things your child battles each day, but your job as a parent was never to be his opponent. Instead, you have been called to be a coach who can provide fighting strategies for all the important things he fights through in life.

Coaching to Success
By accepting your child’s fight as part of the learning process, and your role as the ever-vigilant coach through this training period in your child’s life, your goal will be to remove yourself from the ring by accepting your child and battles they are up against. Win or lose, you must show you are willing to stick it out while learning alongside as to what works and what doesn’t with failure, and success, leading to the winning strategies.

Each time your child tries to get you into the ring, you must make a dedicated effort to keep your feet out of the battle zone. And when needed, calling a “time-out” a break until your child is ready to receive training instead of taking you on in the ring. Over time this process will become easier, especially as your child starts to see the value of having you working with them to fight these struggles instead of being frustrated, embarrassed, or upset when they fail.

Continue to be Encouraged
In my next article, we are going to continue with the next step in the process of cultivating your child’s heart, which is forgiveness. Until then, make sure to keep fighting the good fight alongside your child and make sure you are getting the encouragement you need to keep pressing on. 

One way you can get exclusive resources and a monthly dose of encouragement in your inbox is by subscribing to the SPED Homeschool newsletter. Also, make sure to check out our podcast channel  or download one of the SPED Homeschool Conversations podcasts on iTunes or Google Play for lots of great content to encourage you in your family life, homeschooling, and special needs parenting.

 

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By Peggy Ployhar

In my previous article, in this series on parenting anger, I talked about the Parenting Anger Escape Door and hinted to the fact that it is “a gateway to developing godly character in both you in your children.” Once I discovered how God’s escape door for my ugly anger episodes could actually help both me and my children, I have never looked at my sinful nature the same. I hope what I have to share with you below will leave you feeling the same about your struggle and encourage you to keep pressing on.

But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” Genesis 50:20

Yes, God makes wonderful masterpieces out of life’s messes, and I am excited to share with you how He does just that with our misdirected parenting anger.

Blurred Vision
Once I started training myself to not pick up the rope and instead turn to braiding the whip (if you don’t know what I am talking about, you will have to go back to the previous article in this series), my parenting vision cleared up considerably.

Anger had blurred my perception of effective parenting strategies. Instead of working productively to train my children, my desire to control their actions slowly crushed their spirits. When I finally stepped back, it was glaringly clear how much I needed to change my approach.

A Natural Warning Light
But checking our own behavior is only half the battle. The other half comes when we confront training our children due to the lack of character we are alerted to in their lives.

A lack of godly character will always make our internal righteousness meter go haywire. This is God’s way of showing us we need to take notice of a situation which lacks godly character. And, if you remember from the last article in this series, indicates a lesson needs to be taught.

Taking God’s parenting anger escape door leads us to the perfect starting place where this character training lesson should start. We first pray and use our energy to seek God and His training lesson, and in doing so we discover the most impactful and eventually fruitful way to help our children develop strong godly character.

Building Solid Boundaries
When I am speaking to a group and get to this part in my talk, I take out three objects: a shoebox, a flat piece of cardboard, and a ping-pong ball. First, I show my audience how the ping-pong ball is extremely difficult to keep on top of the flat piece of cardboard. I point out how the lack of edges on the board leaves nothing to stop the ball from going off the edge. Then, I contrast that example with a ping-pong ball being securely held inside the shoebox, making sure to point out the high sturdy sides that allow this containment.

I use these examples because I want parents to understand that as we teach our children lessons in godly character, we are essentially giving them a building block to add to their natural boundaries. For a child instructed in righteousness, and given lots of building blocks, they instinctively know when to stop (just like the ping-pong ball) because those walls have been built over time and through many independent lessons that have stacked up sturdy boundaries for godly living. But, for a child who is only held back from the edge and controlled from doing wrong, they are not provided those blocks and instead when left without someone to hold them back from the edge will topple off just like the ping-pong ball on the flat piece of cardboard.

My demonstration may seem too extreme for those of you who have a younger child who is still close by and working on these skills, but when your child grows into his/her teen years and then moves into adulthood, you will realize how critical it is to have laid boundaries with strong and solid blocks of godly character. Those boundaries will spare you and your child much larger heartaches and pain than the training process could ever bring into your lives.

In my next article, I will be giving you some very practical how-to instructions on instilling godly character into your children using these blocks. But, in the meantime keep working on walking away from the rope, braiding the whip and seeking God for a clearer vision of how He is alerting you to character flaws through your natural anger meter. With a resolute desire to seek His escape door and readiness to grow in godly character along with your children, you will be well on your way to conquering your parenting anger.

 

 

 

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By Peggy Ployhar

I am excited to have finally reached the third article in my series on parenting anger because the information I share below is what finally opened my eyes to the escape door talked about in 1 Corinthians 10:13.

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

I was familiar with the story of Jesus cleansing the temple in John 2, but one morning I realized this story held the key to escaping my ongoing battle with parenting anger. Since that day, these passages have become some of my favorite in the Bible, because they provided me the escape plan I had desperately prayed for every time I lashed out at my children.

If you are not familiar with this passage, here it is:

Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!John 2: 13-16


Problems Trigger Anger
First, I want you to notice something. Jesus saw a problem. If you are unfamiliar with the Jewish law and customs of the temple, it may seem like Jesus’ reaction to the marketplace-type atmosphere was a bit extreme. But, when you learn that the money changers and animal sellers were taking advantage of the people with weighted scales and “temple-approved” animals for sacrifices towards their own advantage, the picture becomes a bit clearer.

Those who had come to fulfill God’s command to worship Him were being swindled by crooked merchants. These merchants were mocking God’s laws and profiting off the people who had journeyed to Jerusalem to dedicate their Passover sacrifice. And it was this injustice that fueled Jesus’ righteous anger.

Now, as parents, we don’t have temples and merchants that make us angry, but we do have a lot of other things that trigger our anger and aggravate how we respond to anger-provoking situations. It may help to look back at those triggers and aggravators from my last article if you did not read it or if you are needing a refresher.

Don’t Take the Bait
The secret to not giving into these triggers is to train yourself to see them, identify them, and then disconnect from them.

When I am speaking to an audience, I use a rope to signify a trigger. When you see the rope and focus on the problem that is causing your anger to rise, you are tempted to go pick up the rope and neatly deal with the situation as you see fit, just like a fish snaps at bait on a fishing line.

At first you may not realize acting upon your anger will tangle you in a sinful response. But, even if you have the initial willpower to step back from the situation for a moment, the more you focus on the problem before you, the greater the pull becomes to act upon it and handle it as you see fit.
 

This is the sinful trap that anger elicits. A temptation to act with a sinful response. To quickly deal with the problem on our own terms, bring justice to the problem we are faced with, and move on from the issue as quickly as we can is the natural human response. But, this is not God’s way of handling problems or how He would desire for us to use the energy we have been given when we see a problem.

An Alternate Option
The key then to turning away from the temptation is NOT to pick up the rope, but instead turn the other direction and do what Jesus did…braid a whip! Yes, you heard me right, but let me explain.
 

The next thing we need to notice from the John 2 passage is the word “when” and the actions that caused a time-lapse in the story. Verse 15 specifically says, “When He had made a whip of cords…” How long do you think it took to gather up long leather strips and braid them, considering the whip was enough of a threat to drive oxen and merchants out of the temple? It had to have been quite a while.

What do you think Jesus was doing while He was braiding? When I contemplated this situation, I was taken back to His habit of always talking to the Father, consulting in His plan and seeking what He was doing in the situation. So it would be most reasonable to consider that He was praying and seeking God’s guidance on how to best handle the problem before Him.

Revealing the Escape Door
Anger comes with a load of energy, but that energy was never intended to be used to enact justice.

Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” Romans 12:19

So, what do we do with it? We use it for praying, pressing into God for His plan, and when we need to ensure that we don’t reach out with our own method to take care of the issue, we busy our hands.

Now, you probably aren’t going to braid a whip, but I am sure there are lots of things you can do while you are praying, watching, and listening for God’s direction. Laundry, dishes, yard work, sweeping, vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms…you get where I am going. These things are great outlets for our anger energy.

And, in redirecting your energy, you have moved towards the escape door, grabbed its handle and have moved away from anger’s sinful trap.

A Door to Godly Character
Your next thought may be the same as mine, “What about the child who was misbehaving that invoked my anger? What do I do with him while I am praying?” You will need to wait for my next article to learn how to handle your child’s side of this scenario, but I promise you it will be well worth the wait.

For now though, I want you to focus on finding those ropes that lead you to sinful parenting anger episodes. Identify them, label them, and practice turning away from them and busying your hands while you pray and seek God. Don’t worry, your child will not turn to the dark side before we get back to addressing his/her issues, but you need to focus on yourself first before you are ready for the next step.

There is much fruit to be gained in taking your time and really working on these steps one at a time. The reason I say this is because the escape door is not a door to nowhere, but a gateway to developing godly character in both you in your children.

So, be encouraged and keep pressing forward.

Plug-In and Stay Encouraged
Please feel free to comment on this article in the forum below, or email us at SPED Homeschool if there is anything you would like to let us know about or help walk you through.

Also, if you are not part of our Facebook support group, I would really encourage you to plug into our community and surround yourself with other families who are homeschooling their children with special educational needs. Having support and knowing you are not alone is important. We know because we have all been there and are willing to encourage you through the places we have been.

 

 

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By Dyana Robbins

If you are married and parenting a special-needs child or children, you are likely well-acquainted with the marital prognosis bandied about in our circles. It’s not a kind one. Widely shared statistics tell us that the divorce rate for our families lies around eighty percent. Others decry that statistic, but no matter the number, special-needs parenting places great demands on a marriage.

However, there are wonderful things that special-needs parenting creates or deepens in an enduring marriage. I’m writing a series of articles on those things; highlighting strengths developed in the fires of parenting special-needs children and strategies for developing them. I’ll start by sharing a little of our experience and how our marriage has benefited through it.

Our Story
My husband and I married in 1995 and did not have children until 2002. These seven years provided ample time to know one another and plan for children. We both met career, financial and personal goals before conceiving and felt secure that we had laid the best foundation we could to bring children into the family.

Our marriage was well-prepared to support children, but the arrival of our first child threatened everything we had built. Our son was born without the ability to nurse or take a bottle. We spent many long weeks pumping breast milk around the clock, trying to rouse our son to eat, and then spooning the liquid gold into his mouth. Exhaustion and fear over his condition accelerated a fall into postpartum depression.

We beat back the darkness, our son improved. Then we welcomed our second son into the family two years later. Before long, I was battling fears that whatever was affecting my oldest son had also affected his younger brother. By the time our oldest was three-and-a-half, we had identified both our sons were impacted by autism spectrum disorders, among other challenges. Our family was struggling to get through each day and our marriage took some tough blows for the next five years as we came to terms with handling a reality that differed from our expectations and preparations.

As our sons are entering high school, we enjoy an enduring marriage and a host of benefits from weathering the early years of parenting. Here are some marital benefits of special-needs parenting we have discovered along the way.


Still smiling after all these years and lots of tears…. 


What We’ve Gained


Enhanced Sensitivity

Some of us are naturally attuned to the needs of others, while some people struggle to appreciate them. I won’t disclose who is who in our marriage, but we have both grown exponentially in this area. Parenting our children has required us to closely attend to the children’s needs and one another. Thriving together requires recognizing everyone’s needs and balancing them in ways not demanded by typical parenting.

Deep, Honest Communication
When our marriage was suffering, we learned to communicate more deeply, honestly, and quickly when problems arose. Beating around the bush is a luxury confined to times of normalcy and peace. Fighting for our family required honest, forthcoming communication. I developed courage to address unmet needs in myself and children and to express them well to my husband. This was a process, but we hashed out better communication skills and committed to using them.

Deeper Commitment
Our vows were expressed with a commitment to part only in death, yet I questioned them in our darkest times. As my husband struggled with our new realities, my understanding, compassion and forgiveness were lacking. I entertained ideas that it might be easier on my own and had to quickly combat them with truth. I chose to love him better and renewed my commitment to our marriage. He stuck with me through disillusionment, anger and depression. We look back on those times and marvel at how we’ve grown spiritually, emotionally and relationally.


Laughing More

There are many challenging and painful things we encounter, but almost all of them can be viewed with a sense of humor if we are willing to laugh at ourselves and our circumstances. Shared laughter helps us cope with stress and builds unity. Some of our biggest laughs have come from mining humor out of acutely stressful or painful situations. Given the number of those situations inherent to parenting special-needs children, we laugh a lot more.

Coordination and Delegation Skills
Nothing can mold a couple into a tip-top team like managing the schedules, needs and appointments of our families. Balancing work, therapy, school and life demands requires skillful coordination, a team mentality and the ability to delegate. I’m thankful for how we’ve honed these skills over our years of parenting; we can flat get things done.

New Ministry
In the early years of parenting, we had to divide and conquer to meet the challenges that kept coming. One of the few things we could do together in those years was encourage other struggling parents. It helped us stay connected to one another.

We have met many wonderful people through our family’s challenges: doctors, therapists, other parents and those with special needs themselves. These relationships give us a richer life and opportunities to share hope, comfort and encouragement even as we receive them.

These are a handful of the benefits we have enjoyed. I hope they encourage you to recognize your own. I’d love for you to share yours with me! My next article will address strategies for cultivating these benefits.


This article has been copied with permission from Ambling Grace. 

 


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