We self-quarantined. Jono is very sick. I don’t know if it is the Coronavirus, itself, or if he has another virus. He is asleep right now. And he sleeps really well during the day, but his cough keeps him miserably awake all through the nights.

So, we are self-quarantined, and tired.

But we are doing magnificently well! Schoolwork is a bit tedious, but my children thought it was tedious before we were locked in the house. Homeschool work is a whole lot more fun. And, again, the naps have felt so so good.

Spending so much time together, I think we have an opportunity to learn more about how we work – both as a family unit, and as individuals. I am learning more about learning and inquiring and feeling at their level, rather than insisting that they come to mine.

And some days I do brilliantly well. And other days I really mess up.

Today’s podcast episode offered me four tools, to help me better myself as a mom, and even now, as a teacher of the very same children.

I am going to use Emily Freeman’s words, but insert my own experience with my own child:

When my daughter in high school told me she was afraid she wouldn’t do well on the test she’d been studying hard for, I dismissed her imagination too soon. “Oh my gosh, you’re going to NAIL it!” And she probably would – that’s true. But she might not. So what then? The picture that she was holding onto in her mind wasn’t necessarily an unreasonable one. She was lost in her own imaginary world, seeing the test put before her, and her brain going absolutely blank. In her head, it was super stressful even though it hadn’t happened yet, and even though it probably wouldn’t happen at all. But I’m no help to her when I say, “That won’t happen. Don’t worry about it.”

“I’m learning to practice expanding my own imaginary world to include the imagination of my children.”

When is it appropriate to react by reminding them of the model? We’ve been working that model, every single day, since our homeschool curriculum started last week. We’ve discussed it, memorized it, and turned that thing inside out. So when is it my job to encourage them to apply it to the children’s every day problems?

Maybe not yet – maybe that wouldn’t be the first step, right?

“The goal is to enter into that painful place with her, to walk alongside her into the dark alley of her mind, to confront the fear lurking in pretend corners, and not to tell her there’s nothing to fear but to give her the tools to handle what might come next.”

Here are four “tools” Emily give us today, to help us as we practice this skill:

  1. Ask at least two questions. And not leading questions, and not statements in the form of questions. When Ella is stuck in fear, ask a question. “I know we’re the parents and sometimes it seems like we’re supposed to have all the answers, and so our first instinct is not to ask but to tell. But, instead, if your child is struggling with a fear of frustration or a decision, before you tell them anything, try asking them a question and then challenge yourself to ask at least one more question. Look for the clues to her hesitation. Find out the images she’s holding onto.”
  2. Kneel to understand their world before asking them to rise to understand yours. What does it feel like to be her, in her stress, in her imagination, in her very real struggles? The best way to know is to ask her.
  3. Offer next right thing solutions. And that means for that specific child at that specific age with those specific challenges, etc. “To her, this is the biggest and potentially most consequential decision she’s yet had to make. And if a child has no idea what she wants to do, maybe ask her what is just the next right thing she can do today. And it might have nothing to do with the decision. It might be go for a bike ride or eat a snack. Keep her in the moment as much as you can and do your best to stay there with her.”
  4. Remember your job. It is God’s job to fix and to change. Do you remember the War Room? Clara preaches in that book, “It isn’t my job to do the heavy-lifting. That’s something only He could do. It’s my job to seek Him and to trust Him and to stand on His word… It’s not your job to fix (her). It’s your job to love (her), respect (her), and pray for (your daughter).”
  5. I want to add one more, from my own wells of experience, as a mother, as a wife, as a daughter, as a woman. Don’t be afraid of discomfort. Don’t be afraid of that part of the 50/50. It is part of the human experience – for me, for you, and for the children. Again, from Clara, “I’ve never seen a (person) wake up who hasn’t gone through something hard.” Can I be grateful for that “hard”? Can I teach my children to accept the hard, lean into the hard, and be grateful?

“The human experience includes a lot of discomfort and it’s actually not a problem. It’s just part of the deal.  Being human means pain sometimes. It means physical pain. It means emotional pain. It’s there for our own growth. It’s there to provide us the opportunity to understand ourselves and to experience discomfort in order to then experience its opposite, which is joy…”

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