Teaching the "Hard Subjects"
The question being asked at HSB this week is, "How do you teach the hard subjects?"
It's all a bit relative, isn't it? What's hard for me may not be hard for you. But we can learn from each other nonetheless.
For me, the "hard subjects" are not academic; they don't revolve around reading or writing or projects or assignments. (Wait. That's not entirely true because I do find all those things hard, too. But they're not the hardest.)
The "hard subjects" at our house are life skills: cleaning up after ourselves and each other (dishes, laundry, cleaning bathrooms, etc.), treating each other with kindness (putting others first, following the golden rule), controlling emotions (especially frustration and anger, but also sadness and fear), and speaking nicely and respectfully at all times.
We had a rare blessing this past Friday: we enjoyed a fit-and-fight-free cleaning day. In fact, it was so fit-and-fight-free that we got done in a morning what usually takes us A-L-L--D-A-Y--L-O-N-G! (Dealing with fits and fights consumes so much time and energy!!!) Why was it so successful? I think it was because we all treated each other with kindness, controlled our emotions, and spoke nicely to each other!!!!!
We started the day right by immersing ourselves in the Word. Actually, I started my day right by immersing myself in the Word. Then we did it together. What a difference that bathing of our souls makes!
And as I've been reflecting on the success of that day, I've been reminded of what I already know. The teaching of those hard lessons starts with me learning them, through and through. I can get righteously upset about the way my children speak to or treat each other; but I oughtta look at my own words and actions first. (You know -- the log vs. the splinter in the eye!) Too often, their tone and treatment reflects my own -- maybe not in that moment -- but certainly at some point in time. When DD9 melts down claiming that she's "had enough" and that she's "not going to listen," I can sometimes hear a distant echo of my own words and angry tone. When DS12 snaps at his younger brother and refuses to let him do something he wants to do, it's often not far removed from his own experience with me. Shame on me. (Oh, and I am ashamed! Always humbled.)
I want my children to learn to practise grace (Ann Voskamp describes it so much better than I can in her wonderful posts); but I need to practise it with them first. I need to be modelling the gentle tones and the patient repetition of the same instructions, day in and day out (even though I may not understand why a 12-year-old needs to be asked time and time again to clean up his medical bag, or a 13-year-old can't remember to rinse her dishes before putting them in the dishwasher). I need to be demonstrating the kind actions and respectful words. I need to be showing what it means to be gracious and merciful, even though it goes against my human sense of "justice."
So -- how do I teach the "hard subjects" in my home? I need to humbly admit that I don't always do it well -- I need to bathe myself in the Grace of the Cross -- and then I need to teach by my example.
What are the hard subjects in your home? How do you teach them?