January 26, 2012
Last time, we discussed the importance of creating a meaningful family life. I talk to alot of different people about their family struggles. What touches me about these conversations is that most people want to be wise parents who teach their children to love what is good and right. They know that they want a close family, loving relationships, and kids that bring them joy. But, when it comes down to it, they can't verbalize exactly what any of that would look like.
I realized that intention can be stopped dead in its tracks when attention isn't given to making the destination a little more concrete.
So, we are going to try something a little different today.
We are going to walk a day in the shoes of a family that exemplifies what the majority of us would probably see as desirable traits. Cheerfulness, attentiveness, honor, respect, generosity of spirit, perseverance, diligence, and self-control, are evident in our model family's daily life and their interactions with each other.
We'll call them the Noble Family – pun intended:-)
Rise and Shine
The Nobles are up relatively early, even though each member of the family has their own little routine. Mom is usually up first, has some quiet time (and of course, coffee) before the house comes alive. Dad is up soon after, gives Mom a cheerful, if drowsy, "Good morning" and gets ready for work. The kids start to come alive – one by one – and head down for breakfast. Some are a little more animated than others at this time of day, but everyone respects each other's space. The morning people are thoughtful enough to refrain from boisterous discussion, and the not-so-morning people are civil enough to greet everyone with a cheerful demeanor.
After breakfast is cleaned up, showers are taken, and teeth are brushed, it's time to get cracking on some schoolwork. Mom has given each of the kids their planner for the week, and she's marked which items are independent work and which require her presence.
Homeschool time usually starts with a read-aloud that the whole family can enjoy. Today, it's Professor Mom's new reprint of "Five Little Peppers and How They Grew" (I know, shameless plug, but really – those little Pepper children really make my kids smile!)
Afterwards, everyone head to different parts of the house to do some independent work, while Mom does some work of her own. No crabbing, no whining. If someone thinks their math assignment is too long, Mom doesn't yell or nag. She simply hands them another page. The Noble kids already know that when they shirk their responsibilities, their mother and father believe they need more practice:-)
Everything is moving along nicely until Mom realizes that she forgot to pick up groceries (I know I can relate) and now she doesn't have anything to make for dinner. Instead of getting irritable, she reminds herself that, while meal planning isn't her strong suit, she is getting better. Then, she packs everyone into the car and heads to the grocery store.
Are you imagining kids whining for snacks and teens rolling their eyes? Not here. You see, Mom and Dad trained the kids from a very early age that they don't ask for things at the store unless they make the request before they get there. If the answer is no, they know better than to ask again. Mom and Dad Noble hold to the theory that if you whine for something, you must have too much already. Something else that you enjoy will have to go away until your attitude of gratitude returns.
We already know that Mom is a little challenged when it comes to dinner prep. However, when Dad comes home and sees that dinner isn't quite ready, instead of crabbing or hiding in front of the TV, he gives her a kiss and offers to pitch in – either with dinner or with the kids. Mom tells Dad that she will glady take him up on the offer, as long as he takes a few minutes of peace first so he can process his day and wind down.
When everyone heads to the dinner table, the kids tell Dad about the emergency shopping trip and they all get a good laugh at how the best-laid plans…
Each person takes care of clearing his or her own dishes, and whoever is responsible for that night's kitchen clean-up duty gets to work. If they need to be reminded more than once, then they get to keep that job for a while. This helps them to remember that everyone has chores so that the household runs smoothly.
It's time to wind down. Mom and Dad laugh at how, no matter what size house they move into, everyone seems to gravitate together within a six-foot radius. Some are reading, some are playing with legos, others are listening to music. Even the cat is in on the act. As they each go about their own interests, they share little anecdotes or jokes or pop over for a hug. The TV isn't on (that's only for carefully chosen movies or videos.) Mom and Dad figured out a long time ago that TV – while useful for many things – really is a big time vacuum. They also know that most of what is on TV is really undoing all of the good habits and attitudes that they have worked so hard to instill in their children.
As the evening wears on, bedtime rolls around. Again, everyone knows what is expected, so there is no battle. When rebellion started as toddlers, Mom and Dad simply let the kids know that if they were fighting bedtime, they must be overtired. The solution – go to bed even earlier.
Now, though, it's just a nice good night, maybe a story with Dad, and read in bed until lights out. This way, Mom and Dad get some time to talk over household business or just have some time together.
So, there you have it. A day in the life of the Noble family. If you are sitting at your computer reading this and thinking that Professor Mom must have lost her last marble, I can assure you that – while this family certainly isn't the norm – it is definitely doable.
Did you notice that much of the reason that the day goes smoothly is because of how this family utilizes self-control, appropriate consequences, and other-focused thinking? Next time, we'll explore those two keys to pleasant family interactions in a little more detail.