The first thing you want to do is get a new definition of balance. Our typical idea of “balance” has to do with dividing our life in terms of equal time and equal priority. But what I like to stress to people is that balance is not a matter of giving coequal time to each area of your life. Rather, balance is about giving the right amount of time to each area. For example, if you have soup and you don’t put salt in it, it’s not as tasty or flavorful. But you wouldn’t want to eat a bowl of soup that was 50% salt and 50% soup either—that’s not balanced. Balance is the right amount of the right ingredient. So when you look at your homeschool, your parenting, and your marriage, it’s not just about that right amount of time and attention; it’s really about the right hierarchy, sequence, or priorities. The leverage point to all these aspects of life is your marriage. If your marriage goes poorly, your parenting will surely go poorly, because you won’t be aligned. Your homeschooling will go poorly, because it will be a “me against them” problem. What you really want to do is have a hierarchy, and the most important thing in your life needs to be your marriage (if you’re married, of course).
After marriage, your parenting approach is the most important priority, because it sets a framework for how your family functions. The third most important priority is homeschool. Homeschooling is not going to make up for problems in your marriage; it’s not going to make up for issues in your parenting. So you can see how it’s important to get your priorities down, and then you can start figuring out how to improve each area. It’s strategic to think about constant improvement. How’s our marriage getting better than it was last month? How about our parenting approach? How’s our homeschooling improving?
What is at issue more than anything in all three of these areas is something as simple as resolving conflicts or problems. You cannot avoid conflicts in a relationship because if you’re both the same, then one of you isn’t necessary. As humans, we’re all different and we find ourselves at odds with one another at some point. We’re always going to have that issue, but we can resolve our disagreements.
So how do we take an area in our marriage and solve it so that it never comes up again? How do we solve an issue in our parenting to where we’re so united in what we’re doing that it never comes up again? Even an issue as simple as bedtime. How do we decide our approach to homeschooling so that it’s settled, so it’s not anything we conflict about? So that we really know what we’re doing? Jody and I had to battle through every one of these areas, and we still work on them, so be encouraged. But realize that the key is to have the right hierarchy and the right proportions to each area of life.
Should I Join a Homeschool Co-Op?
My wife Jody and I have debated this. I argue that co-ops are technically not homeschooling, because they include other teachers, other kids in a class, etc. Jody says, “Yeah, but you’re doing all the schoolwork at home.” Well, that’s fair. And yet, I think that’s what school was thirty, forty, fifty years ago; you go to school, you get taught something, you go home and do homework. That’s not really in the purview of common education these days. Students basically get all the work done at school so they can do extracurricular activities or what-have-you.
When I look at this question, I think there are three elements that you really want to consider to help decide if it’s worth being in a co-op. So I’m going to go pro co-op for a moment, and if you don’t do these things, you need to integrate them into your homeschool anyway.
The first is the social element. That’s one of the nice things about a co-op. It does create a social context for your students, your kids, to interact with other kids. I like that, I think you’re going to need that some way or another, and co-ops instantly do that for you.
The second thing is that in co-ops, there are certain children who thrive academically. They perform a little better in a competitive environment, I know that it’s not politically correct to do anything intensively, but even so, the nature of human beings is that some people step up to the plate and do better when they have other people to interact and keep up with.
The third thing is accountability. One of the nice things about a cooperative context is that there’s some accountability going on where you need to have assignments completed by the next meeting. Or other people might point some things out to your student or you, blind spots where you’ve fallen behind.
If you want to not socialize, not have any competition, and want no accountability, co-ops are a bad idea. I’m a fan of learning, so if these things resonate with you and would help you out—I’d say, “Go for it.”
I received an email today from a mom who had moved recently. Her son hasmade new friends, but really didn't think the new one's where as good as the old ones he was missing.
Here's my note back to her.
So, the easiest thing to do is for him to get a few things clear in his mind:
1. His heart does not have one or two spots for friends (competition and comparison)...it has hundreds and hundreds of spots. Once a friend has a spot, just let them have it forever 🙂 New friends get new spots in your heart!
2. Help him process that you are not moving back. He may 'know' this, but it probably isn't articulated and owned. He probably needs to say "We are not moving back" about 70 times. Once he knows that fact deep down, he will start making good use of where he is.
3. Answer him with, "So what?" Then when he answers, ask "So what?" again. Honestly, so what if his old friends were better? Why does that matter?
4. Help him understand a better story about friendship. Friendship grows over time. He's comparing long-term friends to recent friends (not fair). Set a date in the future when he will have known his new friends as long as the old friends...then on that date, sit down and ask him to compare the friendships. Between now and then we can drop the discussion because it isn't fair.
Hope that helps,
Fred Ray Lybrand
Can there really be a problem with telling your child, “Do your best? Maybe, maybe not. I know that it was a terrible thing done to me by my dad, probably innocently. Dad was big on ‘do your best’, and he added that this should be applied to whatever you pursue. He used to say if I wanted to be a ditch-digger, then great; just do my best at it. Of course, this is where it get’s a little confusing. When I did my best dad would also challenge me with, “Why didn’t you do better?”
I remember after graduating with honors from a difficult master’s program (I had a 3.62 GPA out of 4.0) dad asked me, “Why didn’t you make a 4.0?” Inadvertently he had set up a standard for perfection that could never be reached. I’ve always felt it would have been much more helpful if he had simply said, “Just be better than everyone else in whatever you do.” That kind of challenge is at least possible. Do your best + you can always do better is a recipe for misery.
What about you and your parenting advice for your kids? Hopefully you are teaching them to be independent, but are you making the standard too high? On the other hand, are you a parent that offers no real standard, allowing your child to drift? Kid’s definitely need standards modeled to them, and they need challenges to grow themselves. Giving them no standards or giving them impossible ones are both off the target and into the dirt. By the way, can we really ever know if we’ve really done our best (maybe dad’s point).
Here’s an alternate way to think about it when you challenge your kids--- Do what it takes. Of course, they need to figure out what they want (or have it given to them during the growing years), but then the question of doing what it takes makes sense. Need to learn math? Do what it takes. Want to compete in a sport? Do what it takes. Want to go to youth camp with your church and need to raise some money? Do what it takes.
May I close with a question or two? Are you doing your best at parenting and homeschooling? Could you do better? Now, dump those questions. Instead, ask yourself how you want your kids to turn out as individuals and students? Do you want them to be in a position to choose their life; whether it includes college or not? Do you want them to read well, write well, do math well? Then, it seem simple:
A lot of us don't eat meals together as a family, and even when we do, we often don't know what to talk about. Here's a simple game we used to connect our kids with our growing up lives... we call it "The Anything Game."
Off to learn,
Fred Ray Lybrand
I’d love to hear your comments or answer your questions
There are a couple of common things parents can do to really damage there kids. These are the less obvious and more unintentional, but they still do damage and can easily be avoided!The second is spoiling.
I’d love your thoughts! Please comment below
Off to learn,
Fred Ray Lybrand
Frankly, this is the subtle side of John 8 where Jesus declares, “Know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” It is freeing to me to know The Truth and lots of the facts on earth that are true.
Off to learn,
Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand
Do Tantrums HAVE TO Happen? Well, by my very question you should know that I think the answer is, “No, tantrums don’t HAVE TO happen.” Of course, I’m biased— Jody and I reared 5 children and never saw a single tantrum… so we are skeptical.
Now, I will say quickly that I know some of you are thinking that we didn’t define ‘tantrum’ properly…but I assure you, as God is my witness, we never saw a single fit, conniption, tantrum, or violently rude / outlandish behavior! How can that be?
As crazy as it sounds, there are some people who know how to throw a football, manage their time, and run an office. Couldn’t a few people just actually figure out a few things about parenting?
Well, before I tell you, I did find an article I’m pretty fond of:
This was posted as a comment to my I want the big cookie success story, but I had to highlight this success story as it again shows me how amazing our kids.
Honestly, this is really aiming in the right direction, but it still involves more pain and suffering than is necessary.
Sorry, this is straight from my book , The Absolute Quickest Way to Help Your Child Change. The reality is that tantrums are taught. Now, the article above is definitely aiming at teaching a child how not to have tantrums…but, in my view, she started a bit late.
We began to teach our kids from before being toddlers that ‘demanding’ their way wouldn’t work.
You figure it out for your family…but I assure you…unless the child perceives the behavior is worth it—she won’t keep doing it.
Naturally, there is a little more in the ‘how to’ portion. However, if you’d like to skip figuring it out, just join our coaching club and we’ll help you skip the painful learning curve.
In the meantime, here are a few steps you might find useful:
1. Assume you are rewarding the tantrums (because you are)
2. Look for why it is worth it from the child’s point of view to have a tantrum
3. Stop giving the reward for the tantrum (the reward is what makes it ‘worth it’ to the child)
4. Tell the child what you expect (no matter how young the child is)—like, “We want you say ‘OK maybe next time’ when we say ‘No’ or ‘Not now’. This is just an example.
5. Give them some kind of reward (even if you dance a jig for them ) for doing what you want (expect).
Well, those are a good start.
Fred and Jody Lybrand
I’m a big fan of anyone who gets it!
Today I ran across this article by Mrs. Silver which I found to be pretty nice on the topic of disciplining children.
You can read the full article here:
This article is the second in a 3-week series about parenting ideas. Last weeks article was, “The Key To Becoming a Better Mom.” Last week I wrote about the difference between reacting and responding, and reading about a …
Here’s what I like the most:
Essentially what you see is that she is working from PRINCIPLES to PRACTICE. Most of us don’t think that clearly…we just look for some method / action/ tactic…without understanding WHY!
If you understand the WHY, the WHAT is seldom an issue. Frankly, discipline IS all about how children learn…working from external discipline to internal discipline. It is best when it is a prearranged agreement. It is about making the ‘rules’ the bad guys instead of Mommy and Daddy.
What a nice thing to see we are not alone in this world…common sense is still around!
I’d love your thoughts or practical applications!