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

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.

 

By Debbi L. White

Establishing annual family traditions builds security in children. It makes memories but does more than that. It creates a family culture that helps formulate its identity, which is important to our children as they grow into independent individuals. Family traditions help our children know who they are and where they come from.

 


Importance of Family Traditions in my Childhood

When my brother Jimmy and I awoke early on Christmas morning, there were matching pajamas and stockings stuffed with gifts at the foot of our beds. The night before we had been given firm instructions to change into our new pj’s and to quietly go through our stockings until the sun came up. (Those were very slow, grueling hours!) Although the contents of our stockings changed each year, we could always count on finding an orange and a silver dollar in the toe.

 

At the hint of daybreak, we were allowed to awaken our parents. However, we were not to enter the living room or even peek down the hall! While Dad set up the movie camera and lights, Mom combed our hair and made sure we were presentable. When the signal was given, we ran down the hall and began tearing into the piles of gifts!

 

Every summer we vacationed in Ocean City, Maryland for a week. We always stayed at the Hastings Miramar hotel on the boardwalk. Dad would spend the days on the pier fishing, and Mom went to the beach. My brother and I could decide which place we would rather go. After late afternoon baths, we would all go to the hotel dining room and sit at our assigned table for the evening meal. That was always followed by a stroll down the boardwalk for rides, games, and treats.

 

My parents separated when I was 10 and Jimmy was 8. These family traditions are among the cherished memories of my childhood.

 

 

Importance of Family Traditions for My Children
After my husband and I had children, I thought it important to establish our own traditions. I wanted to build structure not only in my daughters’ days but also in their years. I desired that they feel a strong sense of unity as a family, and be able to look forward to various events that we created annually.

 

When our firstborn outgrew the hand-me-down baby clothes that had been given to us, I began making her toddler clothes. This was done as much out of love as it was out of necessity. However, after our second daughter arrived, there was little time to sew, so I became more of a bargain shopper. I didn’t want to totally give up sewing, though, so I continued to make their dresses for Christmas and Easter. Fortunately for me, the girls loved lots of ruffles and ribbons and lace! When they got a little older, they would help pick out the patterns and fabric. It was such fun! That became a tradition that continued into their teens.

 

Being in the ministry, we did not live near any family. Sometimes relatives joined us for the holidays, but if not, we would invite folks from the community – especially for Thanksgiving. My husband had insisted early in our marriage that I make pie crusts from scratch. That was a bitter pill for me to swallow, but it didn’t take long to master the skill. The day before Thanksgiving was spent pie making. Everyone got to suggest their favorite pie, so it was not unusual to make 9-11 pies! The girls helped, of course!

 

There was plenty of pie so we could have some for Thursday breakfast as we tore bread for stuffing, and watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. As the table was set, three pieces of candy corn were put on each plate. Every person had to tell at least three things they were thankful for before we began eating. Several years I gave pieces of paper to each family member prior to the meal so that they would have time to reflect on what they were especially thankful for that year. I’ve held on to those papers, and they’ve become precious keepsakes as well as reminders of what transpired in years past and what my daughters prioritized.

 

Certain decorations, music, and movies can be incorporated into annual celebrations. My daughters enjoyed watching Rudolph while decorating the Christmas tree. We always got a real tree, usually on Black Friday. There was a certain order it had to be decorated in, too!

 

Christmas Eve we rode around and looked at the lights, came home and had hot chocolate and opened one gift. The next morning I always had prepared a special Christmas Tree Danish which we ate while reading the Christmas story. (Some years the girls acted it out.) Then we took turns going around opening one gift at a time, first from the stockings, and then from under the tree. A traditional gift was a special ornament for each daughter commemorating something from that year. (I wanted to start a collection of ornaments for them to take with them when they started their own homes.)

 

My parents took my brother and me to Ocean City every year for our annual vacation, and I carried on that tradition with my daughters. Instead of staying at the old hotel on the boardwalk, we established the tradition of staying at the Plaza, a condo that has indoor and outdoor pools. Because we homeschooled, we were able to get discounted rates after Labor Day each year, and the crowds were thinner, too! My daughters are now grown and married and live in different states, but they make it a priority to return to the Plaza every September.

 

Unfortunately, our family was broken when the girls were young, as was mine. But the family traditions continued and gave them security in things that we could keep the same.

 

 

Importance of Family Traditions in Your Family
The possibilities for creating your own family traditions are endless and can range from simplistic to extravagant. If you’ve not yet established holiday traditions, check out Pinterest, or books on the subject. Two books that have been an asset to me in establishing traditions are Gloria Gaither and Shirley Dobson’s Let’s Make a Memory and Thanksgiving A Time to Remember by Barbara Rainey. Ask friends what they do, or just powwow and brainstorm with your family. It’s never too late to start creating memories that will last a lifetime.

 

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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.

 

 

By Peggy Ployhar

In my last article in this series, I stated, “Instilling truth into a child’s heart depends on how prepared his/her heart is to receive truth.” Therefore, my next six articles in this series will focus on practical ways to cultivate a child’s heart for truth. I will base everything I discuss in this cultivating section of the series upon the previous methods I have shared in the earlier articles of this parentinganger series.

My prayer is as we slowly work through each of these steps, you will find how practical and healing God’s way of handling our parenting anger can be when we use it towards building godly character in our children. Also, as you apply each of these cultivating steps, you will see how they work to bridge relational gaps that parenting anger may have created in your home. So, we start with ourselves: parental integrity.

Integrity and Trust
The reason I start with integrity is because a child only accepts a parent’s instruction as much as they can trust that parent. Also, integrity is essential in breaking the protective crust a child builds up when situations have trained them to distrust…which often happens when a child lives with a parent who has a short fuse.

If a child can trust their parent, they will gladly absorb what that parent has to teach. Everything we teach our children hinges upon how much they trust us. If we cannot work on this basic foundation of our relationship with our child, much of our homeschooling and parenting instruction will be for naught. We are also more likely to see our children look to other places for truth instead of looking to us. Over time the relationships we were hoping to so tightly control with our misdirected anger will be the first things we lose the ability to influence.

An Integrity Check
A person of integrity is someone who can be trusted to do what they say they will do. They are not someone who uses excuses and their actions and lives are aligned with the priorities they say they value. Day in and day out, no matter what, a person with integrity can be trusted. This doesn’t mean they are perfect, but it means they are trying all the time.

Let me ask you, is this how your children see you? Do you live in a manner consistent with your public persona? Or, do you change your character once you get behind closed doors or within the sanctuary of your home and family?

Children will determine how trustworthy their parents are based on what they see them do and how they live either according to their word or apart from it. What a parent says about who they are holds negligible weight if it differs from how their child sees them behave.

Reversing Your Parental Integrity
As a young parent, I did a very poor job of establishing integrity with my children. My anger was the biggest obstacle to developing integrity with my children because while I would tell them I loved them, I would not act in accordance with my words when I blew my top.

As I started sorting out my anger issues, I made a concerted effort to build up my integrity in the eyes of my children. To do this, I first created a mantra, “I love you no matter what.” And then I lived it out, by God’s grace, one day at a time…praying a lot along the way. I followed the process of taking steps to work through my anger episodes just as I talked about in the previous articles in this series (see the listing below at the bottom of this article).

My oldest son tested this fresh approach more than his siblings because he and I shared many ugly battles where I could not keep my integrity in check. Yet, every time he pushed me, I followed the pattern of identifying my trigger, keeping myself busy and praying, looking for God’s escape door, shifting my focus, and seeking the lessons that needed teaching while telling him, “I love you no matter what.”

I wish I could say my son started believing me right away, but it took months of repeating this cycle and him testing the boundaries of my ability to act towards him just as I said I would. But then the day came and the memory of this transformation in his heart still brings tears to my eyes.

It was a beautiful summer day, and we were outside playing in the yard when my son again tested my integrity boundaries. I can’t even remember what he did, but what I remember was what he did and said after I told him, “I love you no matter what,” and followed through with my anger in check.

He put his chubby hands on his hips and looked straight into my eyes and said to me, “You really mean it don’t you?” From that day on things changed in how I could speak into my son’s life. No, he didn’t stop testing my boundaries, but he started trusting me.

I encourage you if you feel like all hope is lost with your children because of your past inability to handle your anger. There is a way to repair those relational gaps and instilling integrity is the first step in the healing process.

Stay Connected with SPED Homeschool
Next time I will talk about authority and how to practically work on establishing a godly form of authority in your home that will strengthen the integrity bridge you are working on.

Until then please make sure to connect with us at SPED Homeschool on our  weekly live Facebook broadcast, in our support tribes , or by emailing us with any questions you would like to have us help you walk through as you homeschool your child with special educational needs.

 

 

 

By Cammie Arn

What do you think of when you see a puzzle piece?

I am always fascinated how those unique pieces with different shapes only provide glimpses of the full picture they are forming. And how many times it is usually not the picture I first imagined.

This is how I see the family of God. Each person is handcrafted by God to fit together with the rest of the body.

Society today screams at us that we can do it all and be all the pieces of the puzzle ourselves.

I disagree.

We were intended to use our uniqueness to benefit others and be part of the bigger picture of God’s kingdom.

In observing the unique nature of puzzle pieces, I realize they are all different, some more so than others. They have different boundaries, different colors, different ways of connecting with other pieces, and different places they fit to make the puzzle come together.

Likewise, we all have different perspectives and roles. One is not better than the other, but all are needed to connect and finish the bigger picture. Only when the bigger picture comes together is the image on the puzzle finally revealed.

Unity happens when the picture is complete.

Unity in the body of Christ happens when we allow others to use their God-given gifts to minister to one another. We have to be careful not to think others are to be just like us. No person is like another, just like no homeschool mom is like another homeschool mom. We all need to be just like Christ in the unique way He is making us as part of His kingdom.

Only by allowing God to shape and mold us can we fit into the exact place He has for us. This may mean we are ”rubbing shoulders” with some unexpected people and being called to come together with others who are not at all like us. That is okay. 

Coming together in our uniqueness is what sets us apart from the world. We choose not to fall into comparison traps or in judging others on their walk with God.

Instead, we strive only to be like Christ. That is when we each fit perfectly in the kingdom and perfectly into God’s bigger picture.

Would like to be part of a community of special education homeschooling families who will love you as you rub shoulders through the ups and downs of special education homeschooling life? Then ask to join your regional SPED Strong Tribe or the SPED Homeschool Facebook Support Group.  I will see you there!

 

 


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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.