Today’s episode of Cultivating Grace is sponsored by:
Parenting with Relationships in Mind
Greetings friends. I’m Connie Albers, and I am super excited to be on the Cultivating Grace Podcast. Lara does an outstanding job of supporting homeschoolers across the country and around the world, and I am thrilled to be able to come alongside her in equipping and preparing you for your homeschool journey as you build close relationships with your children.
Now, I’m the author of Parenting Beyond the Rules: Raising Teens with Confidence and Joy. As a mother of five now adult children, I’ve learned a few lessons along the way. We’ve also had the privilege of working with teens for over 25 years now, and there’s so much that I learned from these kids because I wasn’t their mom and dad, and they felt free to share with me things that they wish their moms and dads knew or that they could talk to them about, which is what led to me writing this book.
I want to see your family and your homeschool be all that it can be. I want to see you build a lasting legacy like our family has. One where the relationships are healthy and vibrant, where your families are close knit, where when the tassel is turned, your children still enjoy doing life with you. And that’s my ultimate goal. So let’s dive into parenting beyond the rules and how that applies to your homeschool and your parenting.
Let’s first start with understanding your child’s world. Your kids need to know that you do get it, that you understand. Whether you are tech savvy or you are socially engaged, the world that your children are growing up in is very different. And how do we understand their world?
Well, it starts by observation. We want to observe how our children are reacting to what’s going on. What’s going on in the culture? How are they receiving and hearing and processing news and relationships and social media and devices and video games? How are they interacting with friends and fellow homeschoolers?
So it starts with observing. Become a student of your child.
The second is that how are they engaging on social media? It’s very important that we teach our children how to have a positive social footprint. When our children understand that the words they say and the things they post can adversely impact them, their college admission, their future employment, their life in general, all of a sudden they become more keenly aware of their own footprint. So, understanding their world, in essence, is helping them to understand the impact of social media and technology in general.
Third, that we understand the impact of bullying and cyber bullying. Once upon a time bullying happened in a classroom, and I will have to tell you as somebody who speaks across the country, I will tell you right now, homeschoolers are not immune to cyber bullying or bullying in general. It can happen in the church. It can happen in the co-op. It can certainly happen online.
Sadly, there’s many apps where kids are actually rewarded for creating horrible rumors about other children. Sometimes those other children don’t even know, but you becoming an attentive observer. You being immersed in knowing what’s going on in their world and in their culture, and then communicating it to your child in a way that they understand that you get it. They want you to know you understand the peer pressure that they have placed on them.
The second pillar is to listen up. Listening is an art form. It’s not something that we just hear what somebody’s saying and go, “Yep, yep, yep, yep. I hear you. Well, why don’t you do this and be done?” Now, there’s three keys I want to focus on.
One is listen to learn. Your child wants to talk to you. Are you listening?
Are you listening to learn what it is that they’re sharing with you? Where it’s coming from? What’s the motive? What’s the driving force? Are they hurt? Are they concerned? Are they facing fear or doubt or insecurity? When you focus on listening to learn, you actually strengthen your relationship.
Next, listen to resolve conflict. So your child often wants to tell you something that may be a simple thing you can do that would improve your relationship, but if you’re not listening, and you don’t give them the freedom to express how they’re feeling about maybe something you said that may have hurt them, or maybe something that you did, or maybe you wrongly accused them. And I’m saying this from experience. I am a mother of five. Like I said earlier, there have been many times that I have accused my children wrongly, or I failed to gather the facts before I formed an opinion and then before I entered into a conversation. So, listen to resolve conflict. When you work on resolving conflict between you and your child, you’re also teaching your child how to resolve conflict with other people. Being slow to speak, being quick to hear, that key principle goes a very long way in cultivating a close relationship with your child.
Next, you want to recognize the hindrances. Let’s face it. We’re busy. We’re distracted. We have more to do in 24 hours than can ever be done. Our to-do list is a mile and a half long. We cross one thing off. We’ve added four things on, but if you want to build a close relationship with your child, as you homeschool and raise your children, you have got to recognize those hindrances and work toward minimizing them and reducing them.
So, identify what they are. Is it busyness? Is it distractedness? Maybe you have deadlines at work, or maybe you have some marital issues or some financial struggles. Maybe you’re having a struggle with one of your other children, and it’s consuming your time and your thoughts. It’s leaving you a little margin to actually listen to a specific child who may be walking through something, and they need you.
The third point now is to monitor your mouth. Hey, our words – they’ve got to be seasoned with grace and kindness and truth. I often tell parents, “Let the words that come out of your mouth land in a tender part of your child’s heart.”
Think about that for a minute. Let the words that come out of your mouth land in a tender place of your child’s heart. You know, that is possible. It’s not possible when we overreact, or we just kind of let the first thing that comes in our mind go out our mouth.
Here’s some keys to help you. Focus on their needs. How does it land in a tender part of their heart? Well, we focus on what their heart needs. What words is it that they need to hear from us?
Well, to be honest with you, as a master strengths coach, I can tell you, besides food and water, the two most important elements that a child needs is to be heard and to be affirmed. So when you focus on their needs, you can always begin your conversation affirming that you heard them and to encourage them.
So you want to hear what they have to say, and you want to affirm them that their feelings or thoughts, their emotions, they’re valid. We’re not discrediting them. We’re not going to guilt them or shame them because they’re immature children who aren’t able to communicate effectively yet. They’re in the process of learning that. We want to learn to ask the right questions at the right time, and we want to be available. So as we communicate, and we monitor our mouth, we want to be communicating worth– their worth, their value. They might be immature. They might say the wrong things, and they might hurt your feelings. However, we still want to communicate worth and value to them.
And the fourth is fear. Isaiah 41:10 says, “Fear not, for I am with you.” You know, God is with us in this parenting homeschool journey. He is the architect of your child’s life. He formed, fashioned and designed them in his image. He has the blueprint, and by consulting Him, we’re able to know what it is He has for them, and how He wants to use us as the carpenters to help shape, form, mold and fashion them into the people that they are designed to be. And we do that by realizing that our child is a masterpiece, and a masterpiece takes time.
Parenting Beyond the Rules
We have to take the colors of grace and truth. It takes different brush strokes. It takes different conversations. It takes time, a little color swatch here, a little dab there. Sometimes, we take a broad brush of color of forgiveness, and we have to realize that our children are in the process of becoming the masterpiece they were made to be. When we learn to fear not because effective parenting cannot be coming from a place of fear, we have to starve that fear.
How do we do that? Well, we can fear rejection from our children. We cannot fear rebellion, that they might rebel, and we can’t fear the conflict that may arise. Yes, our children can embarrass us. Conflict is inevitable, but I have learned that when we take the time to listen to learn and master the art of listening, when we season our words, and that our words come off of our tongue and land in a tender place of our child’s heart because we are breathing life, and we are focusing on their needs. And we have the mindset of, “It’s not what I say. It’s what they hear,” then the rejection and rebellion and conflict are greatly minimized.
It doesn’t mean they’re always going to like it, and it doesn’t mean that we’re going to walk away both smiling, but it will be that our child will feel heard and affirmed as a human, as a person, as our child, and that we will know that we are communicating in a way that they most effectively hear what we have to say.
I love, and I’ve always told this story. Our children will want to listen to us when we paint pictures of possibilities. What is the next season going to be like? What might they experience? What feelings might they have made? The hormones, will they be it impacting their life? What is the impact of a friendship to them or the lack of friends? How is the words you say breathing life or not breathing life into them?
I want to see you when you turn the tassel for the last time. I want to see you enjoying rich relationships with your child. Ones where they’re calling you saying, “Hey, when is Thanksgiving dinner, mom and dad?” Not, “Hey, you are coming home for Thanksgiving, right?” That’s not the kind of relationships we want.
So, as we wrap this up, I want you to be thinking about what would you like to see in your family’s relationships or in your family in five years, in 10 years and 15 years. What do you want those relationships to look like? And then how can you go about today making that a reality? Because every day, every word matters. Your children are a masterpiece in the making, and it’s okay to parent beyond the rules because as your child starts to grow and change, we need to adjust. That doesn’t make us wishy washy. That makes us in tune and paying attention.
Connie Albers has spent much of her adult life as a homeschool mom to five and mompreneur with an outreach and ministry to parents through her speaking and various leadership roles. Balancing her own roles as a wife, speaker, homeschooler, consultant, and active volunteer, she has learned to discover resilience and joy within the stop and go of life. She is a respected leader, social media enthusiast and trusted mom who understands the challenges of balancing the demands of life, work and homeschool.
More recently Connie is the Associate Producer for Homeschool Rocked, a full-length documentary on homeschooling, where she is also honored to be featured in the film. Her newest book Parenting Beyond the Rules by NavPress outlines positive approaches to parenting today’s teenagers. Her enthusiasm for helping others navigate social media led to her taking a post at Social Media Marketing World. Connie’s mission is to equip moms to live their life with confidence and joy.
Connie and her husband, Tom, have been married 35 years and have homeschooled their five children, all of whom continued their studies and graduated from the University of Central Florida. She is a speaker, a spokeswoman, an author and owner of ConnieAlbers.com. Her latest venture is fulfilling her desire to equip women in their calling through her Equipped To Be ministry. The Albers family lives in Winter Garden, Florida.