OUR KIDS: A DECLUTTERING WORK IN PROGRESS titles Chapter 6. No matter what age your kids are, or even if you don’t have any children of your own, please read on. Throughout the week, we’ll address kids of ALL ages, so whether you have youngsters, high-schoolers, or like us, grandkids, stay tuned! Just this past week we were called to minister to our sweet niece, so even if the ‘kid’ isn’t yours, or is already an adult, you can still share, teach, and mentor.
Joel 1:3 says, “Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation.”
Let’s start from the beginning…Babies are like magnifying lenses, perfectly formed convex lenses which will magnify every aspect of our lives in frightening and naked detail. Trust us when we say whatever WAS before they were arrived, will only be MORE SO after they’re born, and this refers to the good, the bad, the pretty, and the ugly.
No job for Little Johnny… Babies don’t fix people or relationships – EVER! Never bring children into this world with a “job” already waiting for them! So many people believe that once the baby is born, everything will be okay. If you’re starting out behind the eight ball and expecting the baby to fix it all, you’re placing an unfair burden on this precious soul who didn’t ask to be here in the first place. Don’t impose your problems, marital or
otherwise, on your baby. We’ve known many three-year-olds, who by no fault of their own, could already use counseling and a good dose of decluttering themselves. How ridiculous does this sound? Exactly! Children deserve to begin with a clean, fresh slate, and you owe it to them to do everything in your power to make sure that’s what they get.
It’s Never Too Late…By your choice and God’s design, your little bundle of joy is part of your life. It’s your job to deal with your personal challenges BEFORE your baby’s arrival so his or her innocence won’t be met with negativity right out of the chute. But if your baby is already here, don’t worry! Even if your angel is now a hairy, grumpy teenager who towers over you, take heart. It’s never too late to make positive adjustments. With determination, a solid game plan, and a consistent effort, big changes can happen quite quickly.
We challenge you to take your responsibility seriously and be the parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, coach, mentor, friend, etc. that God has asked you to be. Kids, even big kids, need us.
When you send your children into the world, they’ll invariably come under attack from an abundance of forces OUTSIDE the home. With enough of that to go around, make sure they don’t have to deal with negativity inside the home as well. Our kids should feel protected and secure at home. It should be a place where they can count on an understanding ear, a loving hug, and even a gentle kick if necessary!
When we talk about helping our kids to declutter their lives, WE FIRST have to make sure their home environment is clutter free from the negative and full of positive so they have a strong and healthy foundation to work from.
For starters, ask yourself what your home environment is like? Does your home have an air of love, peacefulness, and positive energy permeating throughout, or is there a feeling of darkness, negativity, and tension present? If it’s the latter, don’t allow it to continue.
And don’t overlook the obscure. The news sickens us with stories of parents who beat their children, withhold food, or prohibit them from going to school. Avoiding the biggies is easy for most of us, but it’s the less obvious infractions that slip under our radar all day long.
- Do you ever speak ill of your spouse or ex-spouse?
- Lay your burdens at your children’s feet
- Do you snap at them and then apologize, only to snap and then apologize again?
- Are you always rushing them to do everything faster?
- Do you hold your kids to ridiculous perfectionist standards?
- Do you hold your children back because of your own fears and insecurities?
- Are your children subject to being spoken down to or being emotionally abused?
- Do you go back on your word when the going gets tough?
There are many more concerns but hopefully this got your wheels spinning.
No matter how hard we try, we aren’t going to achieve perfect parent status. Thank God we aren’t called to be perfect because it’s not even remotely possible. How much more successful will you be as a parent, and how much happier will your children be if you at least try to right the wrongs? The law of averages is on your side. The more you try, the more you will succeed; some good will have to come out of it. If nothing else, your children will feel more loved by sheer reason of your effort. This challenge just makes sense. Your kids deserve it.
THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING!!!
Can you imagine if you taught your kids to declutter the important areas of their life when they were younger so they could reap the benefits of this for a lifetime?
The time you would save them!
The grief you would save them!
The JOY you would bring them!
So, how do you SHRINK your decluttering tools down to a level your kids can relate to and understand? A perfect starting point is their bedroom. KIDS NEED TO BE KIDS! They need to play, create, and have some room to roam, within boundaries of course. They even need to know it’s okay to be messy at times! Establishing a sanitary and antiseptic bedroom isn’t the objective. The goal is to encourage order, cleanliness, and a sense of responsibility and pride within them.
Stair-step their level of responsibility as they grow.
[Sherry] For instance, when my boys were each toddlers, I had them help me put their undies (forgive me, boys) and socks away in drawers and help with toy clean up. Down the road, they were expected to hang their shirts and pants up and make their beds. The older they got, the more I asked. Eventually, they were cleaning their bathroom and doing their own laundry. Would it have been easier for me to just put their socks away or make their beds in the first place? Oh, yes! But this would have been of no benefit whatsoever to my boys.
Also, consider this. You’ll have an easier time soliciting your children’s cooperation LATER if they’ve been trained to help ALL ALONG, as opposed to just putting your foot down one day and making demands they aren’t accustomed to. If you end up with a fight on your hands each time a request is made, you will be more apt to fall into the “it’s just quicker and easier to do it myself” routine and let them off the hook. Don’t go there! This may seem like an easier route initially, but you’re selling your kids short and preventing them from learning valuable and necessary life skills.
We’re firm believers that our kids, and people in general, will rise to just about any reasonable expectation, so make sure YOU aren’t the lazy one in the relationship. Don’t be the root cause for their failure. We challenge you to help them help themselves!
PITFALLS TO AVOID
No Wiggle Room – How busy is your child? Balance is key, so if you have an overly involved child, make sure they leave wiggle room for family time and downtime. Some kids are so busy their perfectly orchestrated lives would fall apart if they got sick and missed a single day in their schedule. Yes, you want them to be included, but being their voice of reason and setting them up for success, not burnout, is more important.
Revealing the Root – Is your child involved in something for YOUR benefit only? Have you ‘encouraged’ (and we use this term loosely) them to ‘love’ the sport you did in high school? Perhaps you’ve persuaded them to dust off your old violin for music classes they have no interest in? College is expensive and maybe you’ve insisted your child continue an activity that they’ve lost interest in because there is a ‘darn good scholarship possibility’ available? Whichever the case, these motivations aren’t healthy or productive. Encouragement is one thing but if guilt, pressure, and obligation are tactics you use on your child, declutter them now!
Helicopter Parents – Have you known parents who make phone calls their kids should be making, type reports their kids should be typing, and solve problems their kids should be solving? What about parents who hover over, obsess, interfere with, and micro-manage every aspect of their kids’ lives? Have you known parents who “love too much”? Sometimes our kids need to fail. As much as it pains us to watch them go through it, they need to experience challenge, hurt, and regret. If they don’t, how can we teach
them to brush their knees off and get up again? Know your place, parents, and don’t rob them of the tools they’ll need to be independent and successful adults.
This list may seem harsh but it’s all too realistic. If you recognize any of these scenarios, challenge yourself to address them for what they are and declutter them from your child’s life. There are many WONDERFUL parents who try hard and still mess up. That’s human nature. Be aware, be responsible, and do you best.
THE GREATEST PARENT OF ALL
So you’re probably wondering where we get all of this great (we hope you think it’s great) advice? Aside from our own experiences, we rest on the Word and teaching from the greatest parent of all – OUR Heavenly Father.
While he may not tell us what time to set for our kid’s curfew or exactly what consequences we should dole out, his Word gives us all the advice and wisdom we need.
As you read these verses, think not ONLY of God as our parent, but as our charge in parenting our own children.
We are given comprehensive and sound examples from God and are to give comprehensive and sound examples to our children: “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph. 5:1-2).
We are cared for by God and are to care for our children: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:7).
We are protected by God and are to protect our children. Have you ever read Psalm 91? If you haven’t, please do. Even if you have, take a fresh look and refresh the verses in your mind. The theme of the entire passage is how God is our shelter, our refuge. While the author isn’t referring to shelter in the physical sense, this concept certainly applies to that aspect as well. God provides a place for us where we feel safe from our fears. Our kids should also be privy to the reassurance of protection.
We are taught by God and are to teach our children. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me…” (Mt. 11:29). “This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go’” (Isa. 48:17).
We are disciplined by God and are to discipline our children. “…My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son” (Heb. 12:5-6).
God clearly is the greatest parent of all and the “Master Declutterer”! He had it all figured out and under control long before the phrase was coined and the concept brought to you through Declutter Now! We challenge you to follow his lead and teach your children to follow him as well.
Next week we delve into Mind over What Doesn’t Matter. Don’t go anywhere. It’s one of our favorites!