Thursday, April 5, 2012

What are we encouraging?

Alright guys, let's get serious for a few minutes. Everyone take off your smiley face and put your game face on. It's 3:10 in the afternoon, I have all four boys down for a nap. I've put my broom away and instead of using these precious moments for power washing the back porch (I REALLY want to get that project finished) we are going to talk. We'd talk tonight after the kids are in bed, but I've been staying up too late for the last month and I am determined to get to bed at a more reasonable time so that I will be alert and awake early tomorrow. Lying in bed while the kids watch net flicks first thing in the morning is not ok. It has to stop. I have to be more disciplined.

Now here's our topic: What kind of character traits do we want our children to have?

Well, let's see... first thing that comes to mind is confident. I don't want to raise wimpy timid men. I want boys who will be up for the challenge if God calls them to Africa. I want men who will step up and lead their families, who will be brave enough to ask someone where they stand with God. Confidence.

What else, well... wisdom. This means Mike and I need to teach them the value of being wise (right?) I've found this is hard to teach. And it means we need to exhibit wisdom in our choices (how we eat, how we spend money, how we follow God, how we set our schedules). We need to continually introduce them to the author of wisdom. We need to teach them humility, because with humility comes wisdom (Proverbs 11:2). Your turn, what am I missing?

Next, this is a big one and the one that currently stumps me the most. Hardworking. What should we be doing now to help our boys (ages 5,4,1.9 and zero), to learn to love to work, 0r at least to work joyfully? I could work them all the time, but I don't see Scripture backing that one and I'm pretty sure that wouldn't turn out well. I could not work them at all, but the Bible does disagree with that method. And I've seen many many children who go into adulthood crippled because of this thinking on their parents part. What about age appropriate jobs? Seems good. But they are done with complaining. How do I teach them to work and get the whining to stop?

The last we will talk about for now is: Contentment. I want my boys to be content, now and when they are grown. I want them to praise God whether well-fed or hungry, with plenty or in want. How do you encourage contentment? I don't know, but I do know how to not encourage contentment. Right after we moved here I suggested we buy a Wii. The weather was bad, the house was a wreck and we needed something the kids could do while Mike and I worked on the house. Our PlayStation (which served as our DVD player) was missing, after two weeks of living here we still hadn't found it. We assumed it was stolen. We weren't going to get cable so DVDs or Netflicks were the only options. We bought a Wii and the kids have loved it. It served it's purpose for the next couple weeks and we got the house done. And really, that thing was cheaper than childcare would have been for 5 days worth of kid watching. Like I mentioned earlier the kids love the thing. The problem is, they love it. They love it so much that it's all Jack can think of. First thing in the morning, he wants to play. As soon as Austin goes down for a nap, he wants to play. He wants to show Mike how good he is getting when he gets home in the afternoon. All day long.

I knew bringing a game system into the home (our PlayStation didn't play games) would invite a little conflict. I knew it could tempt me to let them just sit and play instead of having them do more productive things. Everyone knows how easy it is to let media babysit your kids. Makes life easier --for now. But I felt like I'd be able to say "no." The issue I wasn't expecting was this: I wasn't expecting it to consume their thoughts. When I say, "What should we do?" All they can think of is play the Wii. No other option is as fun or enthralling as playing the game. Suddenly Lego's aren't fun, riding bikes isn't fun, puzzles aren't fun, reading isn't fun, balls aren't fun... when compared to a video game.

The last couple years people have asked me how I felt about having a game system in the house. I told them I didn't know, but thought that the kids would be better off without one. I never thought we'd have the issue we are having. No one ever told me how it would breed discontentment with other activities. So, I'm telling you. Consider this before you get a game system. Mike and I don't know what we are going to do about the situation. I'm really counting on his wisdom. If anyone has any suggestions about how to have a Wii in the home and still encourage contentment, I'd like to hear them. Or any suggestions about any of the topics discussed here.

Thanks for being serious with me.

Now you can smile again. :-)


Cinda Boshart said...

Good suggestions, Mandy! I know those games can be really addicting. Our still-at-home children are pretty amused at how Scramble has taken over Jay's and my evenings lately. Mine messed up and I really think it may have been "of the Lord."

Becca, I think Option 2 might be a good place to start. Plan good times to bring it out--maybe as Friday evening reward for goals accomplished or something.

beccaellis said...

Thanks Mandy. Very helpful. I'll bet we start doing those three or some modification of your friend's plan.

Melene said...

Hi Becca! Hope you guys are enjoying Arkansas. What is Mike doing there?

I saw this quote recently and I think it goes along with the thoughts you are having. "Your children will become what you are. So be what you want them to be." I think you and Mike both are already on your way there.

RachelEvans11 said...

My parents introduced a couple of things while we were growing up - and it really helped with games and tv time.

When we were Jack/Ty's ages we had to earn our game/tv time. We had jars with our names on them, and my parents would put a bean in them for when we would show a good discipline (please, thank you, and many others). At first they did it where they would give us a bean a couple times a day to show that they were noticing our kind actions/words. They gradually got to once a day or so. But we never knew when they would put it in there. When we got five beans we got to rent a movie. After a while it became second nature.

When we got older my mom had trouble with my brother not eating his veggies. So for every serving of veggies/fruit we had we would get five minutes of tv and could get up to 30 minutes a day. We could also 'save' them and use them to watch a movie. This encouraged patience and introduced saving for something you wanted.

Sorry for the long winded answers - I'm hoping I can use these methods when I have kiddos. :)

Tracy said...

We don't have a gaming system, but we do have the little hand-held V-tech games—and TV watching is a huge temptation for my 5 year old. We give them specific times to expect those activities. Saturday is cartoons and/or a movie day; though we may surprise them with a special treat, they are not to expect movies any other day. When my son asks on Tuesday, we remind him, "Hmm. What day is it?"
And saving the games for a rainy day make rainy days so much easier!
(I like the "earning beans" idea, too.)