Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Parenting and Virtue Studies.

"If you don't discipline your kids, someone else will." Today really got me thinking of how my own kids behave for others when I am not around. Do they listen? Do they use their manners? Are they pleasant to have around? All these behaviors reflect how they behave at home and whether or not they are disciplined correctly.

Being a homeschool parent is difficult. Adding to the difficulty is the fact that we are around our kids 24/7. We don't send them off to school, where another adult gets to do the disciplining for 6-8 hours out of the day. We don't get that break. Being around our kids all the time is a sacrifice. It takes patience, dedication, and love. Not that parents who send their kids to school don't have these qualities. Homeschool parents just get to practice them ALL THE TIME! And I don't want to start a riot with homeschool vs. non-homeschool; I'm just trying to state the facts.

One of the main responses that I get from others in regards to my homeschooling is this..."I could never do that. My kids wouldn't listen to me." OR "I would never be able to get my kids to do their work." This sounds like a BIG excuse. But more so, it sounds like a MAJOR discipline problem. Your kids don't listen to you?? Your kids won't do what they are told??'s a parenting and discipline problem. If your kids don't listen to you or do what you tell are they going to listen to another adult?? Granted, many of these responses are said to hide what they are really thinking..."Me homeschool? No Way!! I need my time away from my kids!" And that's OK! Everyone's family is different!! I don't look down on those who send their kids to school, just like I don't want others to look down on me for homeschooling.

Now back to the nitty gritty. Discipline and virtues.

I have been having a little problem lately with establishing guidelines for how to behave. Discipline is not that big of problem around here. I have expectations and there are consequences to not meeting those expectations. I actually DEMAND certain behavior and hold high standards. Why shouldn't I expect the BEST from my children??

But there are certain behaviors that are difficult to teach. Sure, I can teach my 3 year old not to climb on the furniture...but how do I teach him to be charitable? How do I teach Marco and Isabella faithfulness? These are all virtues given to us by God. These virtues make up our character and are formed along with our morals. It is difficult to learn these behaviors. Even I have problems showing some of these virtues.

So I have devised a plan to teach my kids the following virtues.
  • Peace
  • Kindness
  • Charity
  • Goodness
  • Patience
  • Joy
  • Self-Control
  • Faithfulness
  • Generosity
  • Gentleness
  • Modesty
My plan is to conquer a new virtue each week (since my kids are young, I'm omitting chastity). I'm planning on reading stories from the following books: Children's Book of Virtues, Everyday Graces, The Bible, Devotional Stories for Little Folks, and any others I find along the way. I also printed out some really nice virtue cards that are put out by Living My Faith. I'll be laminating these and giving them to the kids. If I catch a child displaying a behavior that reflects the virtue we are studying, then they get a star put on their card. I'm planning on rotating the cards until we have studied them 3 times each. That's 33 weeks of virtue study.

Of course, I know that just reading about being virtuous is not enough. I need to teach by holding them responsible for their actions, while rewarding them for displaying good judgment and behavior. I need to teach them by setting an example and by following the rules consistently...not just some of the time. I'm hoping that by the end of it all, I will have instilled a little bit of Godly behavior in my kids and in myself as a parent.

Prayer to the Holy Family

O most loving Jesus, Who by Thy sublime and beautiful virtues of humility, obedience, poverty, modesty, charity, patience and gentleness, and by the example of Thy domestic life, didst bless with peace and happiness the family Thou didst choose on earth, in Thy clemency look down upon this household, humbly prostrate before Thee and imploring Thy mercy. Remember that this family belongs to Thee; for to Thee we have in a special way dedicated and devoted ourselves. Look upon us in Thy loving kindness; preserve us from danger; give us help in time of need, and grant us the grace to persevere to the end in the imitation of Thy Holy Family; that having revered Thee and loved Thee faithfully on earth, we may bless and praise Thee eternally in heaven.

O Mary, most sweet Mother, to thy intercession we have recourse, knowing that thy Divine Son will hear thy prayers.

And do thou, O glorious Patriarch, St. Joseph, assist us by thy powerful mediation, and offer, by the hands of Mary, our prayers to Jesus. Amen.


Charlotte said...

When I tell people that my husband and I already plan on homeschooling our 16 month old son, people think we're nuts or that we'll change our mind later. But the reason we made this decision ahead of time is because we know that if our son is to be a good homeschool student, he needs to be obedient to us. And that doesn't just happen when a kid turns 4 or 5. It starts NOW. So you are correct, part of the problem is lack of adult discipline.

klh said...

I completely identify. Your post got me thinking about how to teach these things to my daughter. I took out a beautiful little box that I have with 9 stones in it. On each stone is written one of the fruits of God's Spirit, as found in Galatians 5:22-23. I decided that we'll focus on one at a time, and, at this stage of her little life we'll focus on how they are characteristics of God himself. So the point is to lay the foundation to teach her that if she needs patience, joy, or the like, she should look to God. Thanks so much for your inspiring post!

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