The hardest part of homeschooling (or–schooling at home): learning how to live and work together well. Anyone who knows me in real life can testify that I am not patient at all, about anything. Secondly, it’s hard for me to breathe with my house this messy. Both of those things continually rage against me, as we’re living in here together, perpetually, with no breaks.
But impatience and filth are not my biggest challenge. The solitary thing that puts me on my back at the end of any given day is the endless chastisement, re-directions, reminders, and corrective training. Over time it builds up. It feels like my words are all negative, all the time. It absolutely takes its toll on the children; and before long, it feels like I am the one who is actually failing at everything.
I have felt desperate, thinking, “Oh my GOSH! I never see any good in them!”
Love keeps no record of wrongs, and this seems like a paradox for parents raising wayward children. For years, I’ve earnestly prayed for the gift of encouragement, especially within my own family, which should be automatic, considering how much I love these people!
We know what we want it to be, but neither they nor we can keep it together long enough to rise out of the cycle of negativity. It can feel we are stuck in the same place day after day.
My family has found a simple but concise practice to counteract some of the negative, critical talk that inevitably permeates our daily speech.
As much as possible, I try to keep a running “record of rights.”
I jot down anything good I have observed from each child over the past day or days: their kind words spoken, their helpful actions, loving gestures, and taking initiative. I look for instances they produced any of the fruits of the Spirit! I try to record as many occurrences I can think of, and God brings many to mind.
Some days I just have one for each person. If it has been a while, I think back over the past week or so, and I record five or six per person. At the end of the day, usually at the dinner table, my husband or I read the list aloud. Every child receives a round of applause and a decent dose of positive affirmation.
They are tremendously pleased to be acknowledged and thanked for the good things they have done.
What an aroma of grace over our family! For one thing, it verifies that I am, in fact, encouraging and seeing the good in my kids. And it warms my heart toward them when it’s beginning to grow cold. It infuses reassurance, approval, and praise into each of our relationships.
Kids adore the recognition. Because they know there’s potential for commendation, this is also a great way to foster in them a habit of thinking, “Have I done something good for someone else today?” (Then again, they should do it whether anyone notices or not. Different lesson.)
Encouragement is a gift of the spirit and it doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but it is within reach. This builds a framework for just how to intentionally and quantifiably give this gift.
Try it out! The fruit of this will multiply in your home and out your front door as everyone in the family has their spirits lifted—they will be filled enough to potentially fill others. It models and demonstrates the art of encouragement in just a few minutes per week. It will brighten the spirit in your home…and, you can lay your head on your pillow at night knowing that not everything you say to them is negative or critical!
We are all doing our best!! Stay safe, and continue your pursuit of spiritual, mental, physical, and emotional wellness!
Let’s keep track of everything good,