MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY, Parenting, Spiritual Family

C.O.R.R.E.C.T.I.O.N.

Victory Alabang held a parenting seminar morning of last Saturday, July 14. Tired from our trip, the girls and I came late, arriving in time for the break-out sessions. I left the girls in one of the rooms to watch cartoons with the other kids, so I could attend the 0-9-years-old group with Pastor Ariel and Shirley Marquez, while others attended the 10-12 group with Pastor Sonny and Malou Oaman, and the 13-and-up group with Pastor Chico and Maryanne Peña.

Pastor Ariel focused on teaching us about disciplining our YOUNG CHILDREN, by communicating with them and giving them the rod. He made it clear that giving our children the rod is NOT child abuse. It is not done to punish, but to correct. It is CORRECTIVE, not punitive. One of the verses he shared is one of the most effective verses we shared to our children, to further explain why we discipline them. I will never forget that night months ago, when Danae read it herself. She was genuinely surprised that not giving her the rod actually means we HATE her.

He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him. Proverbs 13:24

Our girls understand that we discipline and teach them because we love them.

Here is the acronym we learned.

CLARITY. Rules must be set. Rules must be clear.

OBEDIENCE. This is our goal: to teach them to OBEY without delay, without challenge, and without question. We need to teach them this based on mutual trust. We love them and have their best interest at heart, and they can trust our decisions for them.

RIGHT ATTITUDE. Do not discipline in anger. Have the right attitude when ministering with the rod. Cool down first, or if your spouse is present, let him or her do it. We aim for the rear end, and no other body part. Beware of hurtful words. The sting of the rod will quickly fade away, but the sting of our words can last a lifetime.

RESTORATION. After establishing guilt (ex: “Did you or did you not hit your sister?” – question answerable by yes or no only; asking them why will teach them to make excuses), tell your child that he or she is forgiven and loved.

EXPLANATION. Explain every single time why you are giving the rod. Bottom line: we love them and want them to grow up to be good people, and we are obeying God’s word to teach and discipline them.

CONSISTENCY. The same rules apply anytime and anywhere, and the same corresponding consequences apply as well.

THOROUGHNESS. Make sure you finish it. Complete the process from beginning to end, from establishing of guilt to restoration and prayer. Prayer teaches them that when they disobey Daddy & Mommy, they are also disobeying God (Deut 5:16), and therefore need to repent before Him.

IMMEDIATELY. Minister immediately. Do not wait till you get angry or till you get home. Do not let your anger build up. Do not let your child suffer in fear of his or her “impending doom” (haha). Go back to the car or go to a bath room if necessary.

OUT OF SIGHT. Keep it private. It should be just him or her and you. Keep your child’s dignity intact by disciplining him or her privately.

NEUTRAL OBJECT. Use a neutral object, such as a plastic ruler, a wooden spatula, or a rubber spatula, as your rod. Do not use your hand because we use our hands to express affection to our children, lest they be confused.

It was a good time to realign our disciplining ways to how God wants us to discipline our children. We realized when we got home that we already have old notes regarding the same topic, and yet we still needed to hear all of it all over again. It just goes to show BASICS are always important, and it never hurts to be reminded of them from time to time. 🙂

My Kids, Parenting

EARLY TRAINING

A few months back, Danae complained about having to get her own water and having to get us glasses for the table. She even smartly told us that we were big enough to get our own water, that she’s a child and we should get water for her. The other day, she wished that they had a nanny so they didn’t have to clean up after they played.

Most days, Danae is willing to help. She’s always been a natural helper. Sometimes, she whines first before helping. And on very few occasions, she would complain and go as far as saying she doesn’t want to help anymore.

I grew up with a nanny, who did everything for me that it was such a chore to even get my own water. I literally learned to get my own water when I was already in high school, and begrudgingly so. Cleaning up after playing was not a priority in my life and I was never really pushed enough to make it a habit.

Managing a home is tough, and more so in my case because I had to learn everything when I was already older. I never cleaned a bathroom until I was married. I never cleaned a house until I was married. I was never burdened with the responsibility to cook our meals until I was married. All these things don’t come naturally to me, therefore each chore IS a chore. I’ve definitely improved, but i still need to develop the proper habits.

I believe that training our kids now, even with simpler tasks, will help them in the future. I always tell the girls that even if they had a nanny, they would still be cleaning up their toys themselves. We don’t want them to be too dependent on nannies or helpers like I was, or take the help for granted like I did. We want them to develop a sense of appreciation, of responsibility and of ownership for their things, their room, their home. We also want them to learn the joy of serving others.

We have a long way to go, but we believe that we will reap what we sow.

In the meantime, we will continue sowing into the lives of our children. 🙂

My Kids, Parenting

Danae’s Read-A-Thon

Danae’s school recently concluded their book month, wherein they, aside from other activities, promoted the Read-A-Thon in all levels. As the kids read books at home, the parents or guardians were asked to time them and record the title of book, time started, time ended and date on a sheet of paper. The teachers scheduled a certain period during class hours where the kids were to drop everything that they were doing, and read. The teachers timed them and listed their readings too. Whoever would spend the most (accumulated) time reading, would win a prize. The goal was to get the kids to appreciate and have a love for reading.

I enjoyed this particular exercise because reading and comprehension come easy to Danae (her school has recognized her skill in reading for 2 years now), and it was an opportunity to practice and make it an everyday thing. She almost always obliged when I’d encourage her to read a few books, because it was sort of like homework, which she enjoys doing. I didn’t even tell her that there’s a prize involved because I didn’t want it to be about getting the prize and I didn’t want her to get disappointed if she didn’t get any.

Because we would read at least 2 books daily, sometimes even  up to 6 to 8 short stories, it became somewhat of a habit. We would read to her everyday, especially her Bible story before going to bed, but during the Read-A-Thon, she started wanting to read it herself! Only exceptions were the few nights when she was already super sleepy. I mean, Danae would read by herself, sure, but it wasn’t a regular thing that I pushed. She’s more into grabbing a notebook, doodling or writing or drawing. Now, it’s EASIER to tell her that it’s time to read, and when we tell her it’s Bible time, she automatically reads it herself. We just ask questions later on, to make sure she understood it. But of course we still enjoy reading to her, especially her children’s Bible called the Jesus Story Book Bible. Even I get refreshed reading it. It’s just so wonderful.

So who won in the Read-A-Thon? I kept thinking that Danae surely would, because she read A LOT. We filled up about 3 pages (bond paper), listing the stories she read. She did the work! But I have no idea. There has been no announcement yet. And it doesn’t even matter. I got greater news from her teacher yesterday. Danae’s going to be part of the Fast Readers program in her school! I’m so proud of her and I love that the school encourages them and gives them an avenue to develop their strengths. Like I said before, our kids are already TEN TIMES BETTER than we are. King and I were never natural readers and we didn’t have a love for reading as kids, but our kids seem to. We are extremely grateful for that. 🙂

My Kids, Parenting

Danae Learns Responsibility

One afternoon two weeks ago, Danae told me that they made something in school that involved cutting. The first time she shared her story, she just said that they made something. By evening, before going to bed, she told me that somebody cut her hair after making the craft. Curious, I asked her who it was. When she said she didn’t know, I immediately asked if it was her. And it was! She told me that when her teacher asked, she said it wasn’t her.

I wasn’t angry that she cut her hair (because thank God it wasn’t noticeable at all), but I told her that what she did was wrong. She shouldn’t have lied to her teacher about it, and she needed to apologize. She cried her eyes out. She didn’t want to apologize because she was afraid that her teacher will get mad (her words). She said she lied because she was afraid of her teacher. She was so upset that for the first time, she said that she did not want to go back to school anymore. I comforted her and assured her that I will be with her when she apologizes, that we will not do it in front of other people, and that her teacher will appreciate her honesty. After much talk, we settled it and she agreed. I did my part in accompanying her the next day and making sure that it was only her teacher listening, and Danae did her part.

What a great opportunity for our child to learn responsibility. Now we know for sure, that she will not cut her hair again OR lie about it again. We made her own up to her responsibility by letting her face her fear, admit the truth, and apologize for her mistake. She is only 5 but she is already starting to actually learn the value of honesty and integrity (also that lying is unacceptable in our family), learn the reality of actions and consequences, learn the power of her family’s love and support, and learn the freedom that forgiveness (asking for it & receiving it) and grace bring.

That day, my daughter acted like an adult. That day, my daughter made us so very proud.

Just My Thoughts, Motherhood

SUPER MOM!

For the past week, we have had no household help except for our handy man, who thankfully washes our cookware and runs errands for me sometimes. Our helper is on leave till the first week of June, which means 2 more weeks of this — no one to clean for us, cook for us, wash & iron our clothes for us. I am in the Philippines and I grew up having a nanny who was at my beck and call, and helpers who did everything for us. And if you know me, I’m really not that domesticated haha. I like to cook only when I feel like it or when we host small dinners for our friends. I don’t like washing dishes and most people don’t want me to wash their dishes either because I take sooooooo long. My hands cannot handle hand washing loads of clothes due to my proneness to allergies. I cannot, for the life of me, iron clothes properly. I make them more wrinkled! It takes me forever to clean and organize stuff too.

My mom was the working kind (but now retired) and she did not train me to help around the house. Um, let’s just put it this way. I am more domesticated than she is haha. And yeah, maybe we were spoiled a little bit in that sense. I know I know, I’m a brat! Or at least I used to be. But when you become a wife, a mom, and you start managing your household, you can’t BE a brat! Taking care of my kids is one thing. It comes naturally for me. But it’s a whole other thing to do chores around the house.

The good thing about all this is that I can see the flaws in our existing system. It pushes me again (because I’ve done this before but the system was not maintained) to think and reorganize so that things will be more efficient around the house, with or without a helper. It pushes me to give away or throw out what we do not need anymore. It pushes me to clean things and areas that have been overlooked or neglected. It pushes me to teach the kids to help out, to clean up their own messes, to put things back where they belong, to wash their undies, to clean themselves up. It pushes our family to work as a team.

Sounds like I got it all figured out? Haha. HECK NO! The house is still in quite a mess, we still use disposables for our meals, I have still yet to execute some of the plans in my notebook, I still get frantic and stressed out, and I am still going to hire a cleaning lady to help me clean every so often. I love, however, the things that I’ve been learning. Little tips here and there from friends, shows, books and the internet. I’m encouraging myself that SLOW IS FAST. It takes me a while to think and go through stuff because I tend to think about everything, as opposed to one thing/area at a time. But I’m hoping that when I do finish, it will be worth all the trouble. I want to learn more as I go along (so please give me tips if you have any), and I’m excited to finish! I have a long way to go, but I’m hopeful.

So no, I am no SUPER MOM. Nor do I want to be. I can handle being one some of the time, but not all the time. I salute the REAL SUPER MOMS out there, who literally do everything for their families. God bless you indeed! 🙂

Just My Thoughts

I CHOOSE CONFLICT 2

“I’ve always been like this.”

“This is my personality. This is me. Take it or leave it.”

“If you’re not used to it by now, then you don’t really know me yet.”

“People keep telling me this over and over again. They misunderstand me.”

Ever heard these things come out of your mouth? Well, they’ve sure come out of mine. People used to complain to me that I’m too frank, offensive, and bossy. Frankly, I didn’t care if I hurt anybody with what I said. To me, I was telling it as it was, how I saw it, and if you can’t handle the truth, then you’re weak. That was my personality before, and I always hid behind it. I used it as an excuse for my awful behavior, as if it were acceptable, and I expected my friends to tolerate how I was. If they couldn’t, then it was they who misunderstood me. I was impatient, prideful and self-righteous.

When I was younger and clueless, when I did not personally know the Lord yet, I chose conflict because I thought I cared enough for my friends, knowing that the truth is what will help them. But I didn’t care enough to change how I said it. I convinced myself that “that is how I am” and perpetuated my own foolishness.

But isn’t character more important than personality?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying having a personality is a bad thing. God made us each different from the other. I still have my personality. I am who I am. I’m still a strong, loud, frank, straight-to-the-point woman, but God is continually molding my character. He’s teaching me, especially through discipleship, that I can and should use my strengths or my personality the right way. Because of my personality, I can be honest when I counsel or give advice, but because of my hopefully growing character, I can relay it in a loving way and keep our conversation confidential. Because of my personality, I can teach, but because of God’s work in my life and character, I can teach a group of people from experience. Because of my strong personality, I can also discipline my kids effectively by giving them the rod and by talking to them, but when I am in a teaching moment with my kids, I tend to lose my patience. I can’t very well tell them to accept my behavior because it’s my personality to be loud and impatient. I have to exercise the character God wants me to work on (humility & patience) — I have to apologize too and do better next time.

In any kind of relationship, conflicts are sure to arise. There are times that we do need to pick our battles, meaning not everything should be argued about and sometimes we need to compromise. In the times that we feel that it is necessary to “fight” for something, we need to learn to fight clean.

That’s why our character must override our personality. We must give more importance to building our character than protecting our personality. If we can choose to engage instead of to ignore, if we can choose to be involved instead of to be indifferent, if we can choose conflict over comfort, then we can and must choose character over personality.

We can’t after all be touched by the Lord, and remain the same.

Just My Thoughts, Parenting

CONTACT!

EYE CONTACT

When Danae was born, I was mesmerized. I could not take my eyes off her and she loved looking into my eyes as well. We would hold our gaze for minutes at a time, especially while she was breastfeeding. It was like communicating to each other how deeply we loved each other, silently. No words could fully express how we both felt anyway.

Ever since, maybe also because of the mommy books I read then, I felt it important to have eye contact with my child, most especially when we would speak to her. It  is more sincere and it makes more impact when we tell her that we love her, that we’re proud of her, or when we give her instructions that she needs to obey.

We taught our kids early, and are continuing to teach them especially because Noelle refused in the beginning, to look into a person’s eyes when they apologize. A blurted out apology is unacceptable because it does not hold true. A proper apology teaches them to take responsibility for their actions. You hurt or disrespect someone, you look into their eyes to let them know how truly sorry you are. It’s hard but it’ll teach them to think twice before doing or saying something hurtful, and to teach them to humble themselves — something that is still difficult for me to this day. It’s another story though if the other person doesn’t want to look at them when they’re trying to say sorry. We just make sure that our girls do their part. They are being trained for something they will need to do, hopefully not often, when they’re grown up.

Eye contact shows my children that I am serious about something I’m trying to teach them, and it teaches them to pay attention. It shows them that I am listening to them and am interested when they’re communicating with me. It shows them also how sincere we are when we’re the ones apologizing to them. It fosters our deep connection with them when we express our love, joy, and gratefulness.

I’ve always disliked it when people do not make eye contact when spoken to. It feels like either they’re hiding something, or they’re lying, or they’re not listening, or they don’t care, or they’re prideful, or they’re insecure. I want my children to be sincere, trust worthy, humble, secure, and respectable human beings. I know teaching them eye contact will help.

PHYSICAL CONTACT

The other day, Danae told me that her classmate kissed her on the lips. Appalled, I asked her why she let him. She explained to me that it wasn’t her who kissed him, but he who kissed her.

Teaching opportunity once again! I told Danae that when her classmate/s kiss her, they are not respecting her. When they try it again, she should stop them. It will teach them to respect her, and they will eventually understand that they must not treat her that way. Overreacting, am I? I don’t think so. I say train them early so it won’t be so difficult for us parents and for our kids when they’re faced with such challenges during adolescence and adulthood.

This actually applies to all ladies. We have the power to say NO! If you want to be respected, set the boundaries. The men will take their cue from us. If we tolerate it, then they’re going to keep doing it. If we don’t, they will stop. This way, you weed out the boys from the men. This way, we know who earns our respect as well.

My Kids, Parenting

DANAE’S FIRST MOVIE DATE!

Danae watched Gulliver’s Travels yesterday with her cousin Javi and his grandparents, as she was invited the other night. It was her first time to watch a movie in the theater without us. I did not hesitate because I knew she would be in good hands, and I was pretty sure the movie was safe for kids. Danae wanted to watch it, too, so it was perfect.

I got her ready by early afternoon, got her bag ready with water, a towel, and a wallet with money. I reminded her not to eat ice cream because she was coughing and no juice because she had water in her bag (we try our best to keep her from taking too much sugar — she’s active enough even without it), but she can buy snacks. I also reminded her to be careful while watching the movie. She asked me if there’s kissing. I didn’t know if there was but I told her that she knows what to do if there is. She’s quite aware about emotions and relationships even just by looking at two people, for some reason. She almost always knows when a kiss is about to happen, and she either calls me to tell me or if I’m right there, I already notice her getting ready to cover her eyes, which she has been trained to do ever since. (For a previous blog explaining why we train our kids to do this, click here.)

When she got home, she told me that she didn’t use her money. Apparently wowo Panser and wowa Monette (lolo & lola – grandpa & grandma) treated her to a snack as well. I asked her about the movie and she told me there was kissing and that she covered her eyes. She even told her cousin to do the same. I’m so proud of my little girl! We were not there, but she was responsible enough to cover her eyes. She could have thought “mommy and daddy aren’t here, so I’m gonna do what I want! I will look!” But she didn’t! She obeyed us even when we weren’t there! We stand by our decision to teach our kids to protect themselves with the things they watch, read, and listen to. We hope and pray that this will be their lifestyle as they grow up. I am truly amazed by God’s goodness and my daughter’s maturity! 🙂

Just My Thoughts, Parenting

Top of the class!

Last month was Danae’s school’s parent-teacher conference and I was pretty excited to find out how well my daughter did. As I was waiting outside for my turn, I saw on the bulletin board the names of the top 3 students… the 3 kids who topped the kinder classes’ 1st achievement test. DANAE’S NAME WAS NOT THERE. I was assessing myself, how I felt about it. I was trying to be all okay with it, but the truth is, there was a pang of disappointment.

But before you judge me, hear me out!

I felt a little disappointed that Danae didn’t rank, but I was not disappointed in Danae at all. I went from “aww sayang (too bad)” and “hmm, i wonder why?” to “well i’m sure she did great in her exams” and to “uh oh, i wonder what other issues the teacher will discuss with me!” Haha, when a woman is left alone with her thoughts, she goes from one extreme to the other! Well at least, that’s what happens to me sometimes. It was actually just my ego, my pride talking, because being on top of the class would prove that Danae is super smart. But actually, I don’t need to prove anything because she is! One conversation with her and you’ll already know. And there was no doubt that Danae knew her lessons. It was just a matter of correctly following the test instructions, and a matter of who scored more in the test. And what was really more important was Danae’s growth in terms of character.

I was happy to hear Teacher Grace tell me that Danae’s test scores were great. She was actually surprised that Danae didn’t rank. And instead of being disappointed, I had a good laugh because the reason for the 5-point pull on her grade in Writing was just the coloring part. She didn’t finish coloring the whole picture haha! And her mistakes in some tests were only due to carelessness, which is so true even when we do exercises at home. Yes, she did not rank, but she did exceptionally well nonetheless. Imagine being able to cope with her classmates and nearly perfecting all her tests even with her absences due to her health! And not only that, according to teacher, she is one of the students who needs the least supervision. How can I be disappointed? I AM SO PROUD OF HER!

Having no doubt that Danae is doing well academically, I asked two more important questions. One was if they did or if they will adjust Danae’s curriculum according to her capabilities. Teacher Grace told me that they are considering adjusting her curriculum in Reading already, since she’s somewhat ahead in that area. Then I also asked the teacher what she thought we should work on more with Danae. I was impressed by what she told me. Maybe she also believes that Danae is smart and has no problems with academics, but I think it’s more than that. She told me that we need to teach Danae to, in my words, respect others more — respect their space, respect their own decisions. Danae has a tendency to be bossy, forcing people to do what she wants, and gets upset when it doesn’t go her way (hahahaha, sounds so familiar). I am thankful that Teacher Grace knows what is important for our children — CHARACTER, JUST AS MUCH AS OR EVEN MORE THAN SKILL. We are on the same page regarding this matter, and we can work together to help Danae grow and mature.

They have had their 2nd achievement test already and I don’t feel pressured anymore (because I do unconsciously put pressure on myself and sometimes Danae when it comes to her tests). I know that she did well, even considering 2 weeks worth of absences due to her week-long pneumonia-like symptoms and our week-long vacay. Whether she ranks or not, doesn’t matter that much anymore. Heck, it doesn’t even matter to Danae! So we really don’t bring up the subject of being an honor student. We just always tell her that she’s doing well, and she’s happy with that. But we do tell her about her attitude and character issues, so that she knows we are serious about disciplining her and teaching her to ultimately obey God. My kid is happy, secure, and confident. She’s naturally smart, active, assertive, and has a great personality. But she’s a kid. So, with necessary boundaries and much encouragement, we’re just letting her enjoy being one. She will eventually learn to up her standards and be excellent in everything she does, top of the class or not. 🙂

Just My Thoughts, Parenting

SOUND FAMILIAR?

I’ve taken note of these conversations in the past months because they made me think. Campus missionary Francis Villanueva’s great preaching at youth service yesterday about LUSOT, LAKAD & LAGAY, pushed me to finally finish and post it.

Me: Nae, don’t stand on that chair. Your sister will copy you. (a constant line in our household)

Danae: Oooh o-kay. I don’t want to be an “ATE” na.

Me: Why?

Danae: ‘Coz Noelle always copies me eh.

It really struck me when I had this conversation with Danae months ago. Don’t we feel pressured at times to be on our best behavior because people are watching? But that is the reality. People are watching and emulating us. So we can either choose to not care and do whatever we want, or be responsible and set a good example.

At a party last August, Danae tore up the package of a yoyo and just threw it on the floor.

Me: Hey Nae, are you supposed to do that?

Nae: It’s okay mom, everybody did it.

Me: Pick it up. Even if everybody is doing it, if you know it’s wrong, don’t do it. Even if everybody does it, it doesn’t mean it’s right.

Kids at Danae’s age can reason out like this already. Even though we started her early, teaching her to throw trash only in the trash can at age 1, she still came up with this reasoning. It definitely reminds me of what Ms Jenn Punzalan said at the EN10 pre-con, that if it is that important, it is worth repeating. Doing our part in keeping the earth clean is very important to me, and therefore it is worth repeating, teaching it to our children over and over again. And it definitely reminds me of our nature as humans. We can easily be influenced by our environment, our culture. Let’s stand for what we know is right and back it up with action.

When we arrived from marriage boosters one night last August, Danae told me she watched something.

Danae: Mom, I watched Chicken Little.

Me: Oh yeah? Where?

Danae: On Disney channel. I changed it. (smiling mischievously)

Me: Ok, you’re gonna get the rod for that.

Danae: But mom, you were not here.

Me: You know the rules. You’re not supposed to change the channels by yourself. You need to obey even when Daddy and Mommy are not home.

Do we obey traffic laws only when there are cops or MMDA present? Are we honest with our business affairs or school tests even when no one is watching? Do we choose to do what is wrong even when we know what is right? Do we keep doing what is wrong, waiting for someone to point it out to us before we stop?

In Cagayan de Oro last month, in Coron last July, in Boracay last February….

King: Bible time!

Danae: No, only at home!

Me: We read the Bible not only at home, but wherever we go.

I think she finally got it since she didn’t say this the other night in Tagaytay. We must form the habit of reading our Bible daily. There are no vacations in connecting and communing with God.