Regardless of how we teach and train our kids, regardless of how we protect and how intentional we are in the social situations we put our children in there will always be heart issues to deal with.
During the school term our family has limited free play time with other kids, mainly due to the two different lifestyles of school and homeschool. But, come school holidays we see people all the time and this is fantastic and we look forward to this time. In fact, this is the main reason why we keep our year divided into school terms – so we can catch up with our friends who go to school.
A busy, but good social time
This week has been really busy for us socially. Our interactions with people, so far, have been varied, purposeful and with appropriate boundaries. All the things that I look for as my children make decisions on how they spend their time. But, it has also been emotionally draining – people, people, people. I know the drain that this type of busy-busy has on my emotions but I often forget to see what it does to my children.
Yesterday I heard one of my friends say to her children (who were trying to extend their play time with my kids) that they had to go home and that they had had enough time with other children for the moment. Her comment, though not appreciated by any of the children, was so true. Everyone had reached their limit. It was time for the parents to recognise that and take control.
Our afternoons and evenings though have been very low key. We have all had to recover from our social mornings. Obedience levels have been just acceptable, very little initiative has been shown, and a few attitude checks have been called for. Keep in mind this is with our mornings spent in good, productive, imaginative play with families who have the same expectations of behaviour.
It is in these situations that we forget that the socialisation issues, that we so call ‘protect’ our children from, still manage to find their ways to our family life. Our children have bad attitudes, make poor choices and seem to forget everything that is of value in our family! Why is this? Because we are all sinful beings; we all have selfish desires. I remember my sister-in-law telling me years ago that some of her homeschool friends were surprised that their toddler was still hitting and still not willing to share. Hello! This is a sin nature it is not a socialisation issue! Regardless of the protecting, guiding, nurturing we do in the area of our children’s social interaction they are still dealing with sin issues in their heart. We have to be aware of it, not just avoiding socialisation, but rather proactively dealing with the heart issues when it happens.
A not so good end result
This morning as I continue to deal with tired out children who have lost the self-control that is necessary to be self-directed in moral choices I was reminded once again of what socialisation is all about.
Tonight our girls have yet another social commitment. As I was encouraging my daughter to see what was going on in her heart, to help her reach down into her heart, fix the negative attitudes, and then reach up to the standard God has set before her (a standard of obedience, kindness and servitude in particular) I reminded her that tonight she was going to be with a group of girls and she needed to have her heart in a place where she could be a leader – a leader to encourage all those girls to live according to God’s Word.
It became clear to me that this is what social situations are really about – we are to be leaders in all our relationships, not bossy type leaders who control things, but a leading example of God’s ways. At any time we cannot be this example, it is time to be by ourselves (for our children this means to be with their family), to regroup our emotions, renew our mind (this covers the training that we as parents must be consistent in) and most importantly tap into God and the refreshing power of the Holy Spirit.
Socialisation with Purpose and Heart
Kids and parents often see social situations differently – kids see it as a time to have fun with their friends, parents see it as an inconvenience that is going to create more work at home ironing out all the glitches!! Maybe there is a different perspective:
- Social situations are opportunities for us to show God’s love and God’s ways. This is a precursor to the Great Commission.
- Social situations are also for fellowship purposes, which are to build up each other. This is the reason we need to choose our friends carefully so we can edify them and they can edify us too.
- We need to be the leader, not the follower, always encouraging others to follow in God’s ways and being prepared to stand alone should our friends desert us in any given situation.
- When we are emotionally drained, or in situations where we find ourselves being the followers, we need to take time to regain the strength that it takes to be a leader.
We cannot avoid social situations – we are social people, God made us to interact with people. Instead we need to see that creating healthy social situations creates an environment where our children can grow in the social skills that they need – healthy social situations will give us, the parent, good opportunities to continue to teach and train our children’s hearts.
Another article on this issue: Socialisation – Is it an issue after all?
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