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Would you put academics on hold...


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to concentrate on character building, family unity, sibling relationships, behavior modification, etc. for a season? I've been very transparent on this board about the struggles that we have had as a family. My children, in general, do NOT get along and it is way beyond the normal sibling rivalry that comes with the territory. It can get downright evil. Certain combinations of siblings are lethal. Others are quite precious. My ds9 is having behavioral and psychological issues which interfere with ALL areas of our lives...homeschooling, family life, sibling relationships, my marriage, etc. It's tough. There are behavior issues to varying degrees with each of my children. Attitudes about doing schoolwork are HORRIBLE all around...with the exception of my dd14 and dd5 who rarely complain about school (unless it is a writing assignment...then there are tears...mine and hers ;)). My children are not respectful on a consistent basis. We are not super-strict parents but de require a certain degree of respectful behavior and kindness in our home. Privileges are removed for the biggest infractions (disrespect toward parents, violence of any kind toward anyone, name calling, foul language, etc.). It doesn't seem to be working. Anyway, to make a long and rambling story short. Would you can academics for a season to focus on improving the climate of your home? If yes, what exactly would you do to this end? Any books, character studies, curriculum, Bible studies, etc. that you would recommend? I'm at my wits end. Math, history, science, grammar, etc. are terrific and necessary but if my children cannot learn to get along, treat each other with kindness and respect, treat US with kindness and respect, submit to our authority as parents and as teacher, etc, etc. then they certainly will not be prepared well for life outside our home. I must not lose my family. I will not lose my family. Looking forward to your suggestions and advice as always. But please, no condemnation...I've had enough today (not from the Hive mind you :D). Just be gentle. Thanks.

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Do they have outside activities? Those would be the first to go. I might take a few days off and really discuss things, but if I had reached that point I would also be involveing a family counselor.

 

Some outside eyes might be a good help.

 

:grouphug:'s!

 

We have some uglyness going on right now, but it gets nipped in the bud. No riding her horse, no playing outside with the neighborhood kids...and a lot more chores. Sorry, I can't be of more help!

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Yes, I would and certainly for longer than a couple of days. It sounds like your dd 14 is doing well in the attitude area. Perhaps she can still keep up with her school work ( the parts of it she can do independently anyway) while you focus on working on the attitudes of the other children.Not to leave her out of family times together but perhaps have her doing some school work if it doesn't interfere with working on attitudes for the family. :grouphug::grouphug::grouphug:

Edited by Miss Sherry
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Big hugs, Sue. Just want to start with that! :grouphug:

 

I'm not sure I would put everything on hold. I think it would end up being a stressor to feel behind. You are right, that there has to be a safe atmosphere before real learning can happen, or it won't even transfer well to long-term memory.

I know you are in the middle of getting help for your son.

 

I think what I might do is separate your kids a bit from each other. Sort of divide and conquer, while you are figuring out what to do. Can you put combos of kids that can handle being together in the same space, together for certain parts of the day? I'm thinking physical separation/selected togetherness here. For example, maybe a couple need to be alone in their own rooms, but these two over here could handle working in the same room--and these 3 really aren't bad together, but this one could only be with one specific kid--Make pairs or solos, and be the "visiting" teacher for a while and see how that might work.

 

I might cut back on some things--paring down to the essentials might be a help.

 

But I would not wait for all the family to come together and be sweet together before I started teaching. It might never be the perfect picture you might long for and have in your head--or even close to it, sad and sorry to say. Can learning still take place in spite of all the yuck? IDK. See what you can work with, even if it is not the best possible way.

 

I would make sure everyone reads, writes a bit, and does math. I would make sure high schoolers do at least these classes --math, English, a science, history or gov't , a foreign language, and one other that they need for college, even if college may not be in the picture because you don't want to close doors yet.

 

I would also try to allow some free time, but not so much that the kids get into trouble. If the olders could get some outside work, that would be good.

 

I know it sounds wrong, to recommend that the family NOT be together every second, but I'd say you all need a breather from each other, and then need to be reintroduced to each other, with new ground rules and new expectations, and new kindness. I know a good family therapist can help you do that, but I also know that's hard--when a family has lost or never had a bond, it is work to get it back, and no amt of wishing it were different will help (although prayer will--).

 

I'm sorry--we are going thru some of this, too.

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So, I don't think setting aside academics to concentrate on family attitude/discipline will necessarily help your kiddos.

 

If you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed and believe that pausing academics would put you in a better frame of mind to deal with other issues, then yes, go ahead. In my family, I find it's much better to have a structured environment, that means having a flow to everyday, and that means rolling up our sleeves and engaging in a little mental exercise via school work. It's as good for us as a bit of daily physical exercise.

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Absolutely... I think of Mark 8:36... For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?

 

I apply this to our family life... what will it profit my family if my children are awesome at Latin or Geography or whatever if we let our hearts and relationships with each other fall by the wayside?

 

I would keep up with Math and let them read a lot. And I would spend the rest of the time on building and rebuilding relationships.

 

:grouphug::grouphug::grouphug:

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Yes.

 

What would you think of a millionaire with no integrity?

A genius with no discipline?

A CEO with no respect for others?

 

Sounds a lot like current reality, but it also sounds pretty sad IMO. ETA: I hope I didn't come across as being snarky! I'm dealing with some of the same things you mentioned and have decided to focus on character development a little more. My kids are still young, so I don't think I will have to put aside academics to make this happen. But if I needed to, I would.

Edited by HeyChelle
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I would definitely recommend family counseling as the first step, if things are to that point. My family had some severe issues when I was a teenager, to the point that I ended up in a foster home for a year because there was so much anger from everyone that we couldn't be around each other. We had group sessions with a counselor during that time, and it worked wonders. I won't say it made us the perfect family, but it allowed us to express all the negative feelings we'd stored up inside in a productive and safe manner. It was tremendously helpful, and I'm a much better person for having worked with that particular counselor.

 

ETA: Not sure how I ended up with the winky face at the top of my post. Must've bumped something. Anyway, I certainly wasn't trying to wink at you.

Edited by Mergath
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I often feel like my kids are at their worst when they have the least structure and the fewest tasks to accomplish. I have a much smaller family than you do, but I think in my home, under occupied kids can spell "trouble."

 

Of course, I am at my best when I am least overwhelmed, lol. So taking a break would free up my energy to address the problems.

 

I might consider moving to a easy (for whatever level the child is at) course of study that is workbooky and preplanned for a while. .

 

If you had the children busy and interested, I personally would find it easy to work on these issues, and for us, academics ARE character sometimes. I can use school work to reinforce some of my favorite "Mom Rule" like, "Whatever is worth doing is worth doing right."

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A few things (sorry I forgot I don't have a proper siggy :D): My kids are dd14, ds12, ds11, ds9, ds8, dd5 and ds2. It isn't me (for once) who is overwhelmed and in need of a break. Hard to believe, isn't it? ;) What I need is for my family to "gel", to work together as if we are on the same team instead of enemies, to at least "try" to get along (in that I mean be civil and kind to one another). Satan is having a heyday with my family right now. It is NOT God's will for us to quarrel so. That much I know. Family counseling is already in the works. We had a few sessions a while back with a young counselor from my church (she is certified...not a lay counselor). It wasn't very helpful, but I am not giving up. It is difficult to get all 9 of us together in one office. :D I realize that I cannot handle this/fix this on my own. I've tried. I haven't really figured out a concrete plan for my little "academic hiatus". It's still in the idea stage. I wouldn't can math, reading or writing (the 3 Rs) or Bible. And, I wouldn't necessarily allow my high schooler to slack (although as I have posted before, she is a young 9th grader and could do high school in 5 years). I have a few character books, devotionals, Bible studies, etc. but need a more "formal" plan if you will? Chris in VA...time apart is difficult but I will try. Certain "duos" work better together than others. I think it would be wise to try and separate although ironically, none of the children wish to do their schoolwork alone but they complain so readily about the noise, distraction, etc. It is very :confused: :confused: Mom: "You can go to your room to work on your schoolwork. It is quiet there. You have a nice desk there." Child: "No! I don't want to work in my room!" Mom: "But you said that it is too noisy here; too much to distract you." Child: "Yeah, but why don't you make so and so move!" Mom: "So and so does not have a desk and so and so is too young to work independently!". You see how it goes. Ugh. Please keep the responses coming. I so appreciate each and every one of you! :grouphug:

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Yes, take the time.

 

I know it is different, but we took 10 days where ds had to clean his room. He never did it well, and over years it had gotten very cluttered. He worked only on that, he would keep telling me he was done and I would point out he wasn't. Until it was clean and organized to MY standard, he wasn't putting good work forth with his sister, his school work or anything. We talked a lot about respect for ourselves, our things and respect for others during this time.

 

If your kids are really disagreeing can you get them to unify for a goal. Set them a hard task that they will only be able to complete together using team work. Have a really great thing they can earn if they get it done. Something that even with team work that would take them at least a week to complete.

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I wouldn't stop everything because I have found that my kids fight more when they have fewer structured activities. We take as short as summer vacations as possible for this reason because their behavior gets worse the more time they have to/for themselves. So while I might cancel certain academic subjects for a time, I would only cancel the amount that would correspond to how much time each day I was going to fill with character building exercises/activities.

 

Another thing I would examine is what activities/social situations my kids are involved with in and out of the home. We are VERY conservative with what we allow in our home. However, we do allow certain computer games. One we have let the kids play was Civilization (an old version so very plain graphics no actual fighting shown) but their is still the concept of fighting and "killing" the other people. When we let our kids play this, we found that even in their free play time away from the computer, their interactions with each other was much more violent (always "playing" fighting but someone ALWAYS gets hurt), much more yelling, arguing etc. When we removed the game, their behavior improved as well as their play became much nicer (and quieter) and there was just less fighting. We don't own a TV but I'm sure glimpses of even some of the commercials these days could trigger similiar behavior in some kids. So I would look at any tv/computer my kids were exposed to. I'm be examining the types of books they are reading. I'd really be monitoring the kids they interact with (there is a little boy at our church who loves fighting, war, etc but my kids bring that mentality home and it just creates havoc here). Sure my kids might not like it if I say they could see/play with someone but frankly family is number #1, and friends are a a very distant #2. If a friend is interfering negatively in any aspect of family life, then the friend must go.

 

I'd also spend time explaining to each child who is old enough to understand, why changes were being made. I think it's important for the kids to understand how important these issues are to Mom and Dad. Some kids will respond better than others but I think it's important to lay out the explanations for them so they know the reasons behind the changes. And of course stick with it even when they complain because surely they will complain. But I've found when I'm consistent about things (and not give in when I'm tired or at wits end), they accept the changes better than when I don't keep a steady hand in guiding them.

 

Sorry I don't have any specific material to offer but hopefully there is something to think about in there that might apply to your situation.

Edited by cjzimmer1
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1. Outside Play, Every Day. I find that when working with groups of kids at those ages (mainly 10/12 and under), they get antsy. I try to get everyone out to run around for some time each day. When depends on the rhythm of our day, but if people are starting to lose their focus, it's time to take a break.

 

2. I try to involve the children in problem solving. I try to take the time to listen to the child's concerns, identify their feelings, and empathize. We do some brainstorming as a group. We try to listen to everyone's ideas. We talk about the pros and cons. Sometimes we list them. Ideally, we come to some compromise. We repeat as needed. This takes time, which is hard in the short term, but worth it in the long term, IMHO. "Siblings Without Rivalry" was a very helpful book for me. Learning basic "active listening" skills has been one of my most worthwhile efforts as a mom.

 

3. I wouldn't focus so much on a character-building curriculum. I'd be more likely to try to find things to work on together. Creating a party, or building something, or even something school-y like spending the day pretending to be in Antarctica or something. Listening to each other, making use of each person's skills, etc. But keeping it fun - about the journey rather than the result, KWIM? What do you like to do as a family?

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A few things (sorry I forgot I don't have a proper siggy :D): My kids are dd14, ds12, ds11, ds9, ds8, dd5 and ds2. It isn't me (for once) who is overwhelmed and in need of a break. Hard to believe, isn't it? ;) What I need is for my family to "gel", to work together as if we are on the same team instead of enemies, to at least "try" to get along (in that I mean be civil and kind to one another). Satan is having a heyday with my family right now. It is NOT God's will for us to quarrel so. That much I know. Family counseling is already in the works. We had a few sessions a while back with a young counselor from my church (she is certified...not a lay counselor). It wasn't very helpful, but I am not giving up. It is difficult to get all 9 of us together in one office. :D I realize that I cannot handle this/fix this on my own. I've tried. I haven't really figured out a concrete plan for my little "academic hiatus". It's still in the idea stage. I wouldn't can math, reading or writing (the 3 Rs) or Bible. And, I wouldn't necessarily allow my high schooler to slack (although as I have posted before, she is a young 9th grader and could do high school in 5 years). I have a few character books, devotionals, Bible studies, etc. but need a more "formal" plan if you will? Chris in VA...time apart is difficult but I will try. Certain "duos" work better together than others. I think it would be wise to try and separate although ironically, none of the children wish to do their schoolwork alone but they complain so readily about the noise, distraction, etc. It is very :confused: :confused: Mom: "You can go to your room to work on your schoolwork. It is quiet there. You have a nice desk there." Child: "No! I don't want to work in my room!" Mom: "But you said that it is too noisy here; too much to distract you." Child: "Yeah, but why don't you make so and so move!" Mom: "So and so does not have a desk and so and so is too young to work independently!". You see how it goes. Ugh. Please keep the responses coming. I so appreciate each and every one of you! :grouphug:

Which kids are bumping heads with eachother?

 

Do you have anyone that can provide childcare if you were toleave the house without all of the children?

 

Brainstorming...

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:grouphug:

 

1. for us, routine is everything.

2. when things go off the rails, i reach for "peaceful parents, peaceful kids" and start working through the chapters again. (it involves things like choosing one thing to work on - eg. "no putdowns")

3. we go "no media"

4. we spend outdoor time every day.

5. i start working on one part of the day at a time.

 

eg. i read aloud to them at lunch and then everyone goes to their rooms for happy horizontal hour. i never vary. it takes three days, and then everyone just goes to their rooms automatically after lunch.

 

i also stop engaging them in decision making. i don't suggest they go to their room, i tell them. i remind them "this is not a discussion". so in your example about the child who didn't want to work in their room, in this time frame, i wouldn't engage them in discussion or explanation at all... it simply has to be good enough that you told them to do it. this will initially be hard, but becomes easier quickly. once things are better, then you can discuss choices.

 

i program the whole day... there is free time, but only within certain parameters.

 

and in the midst of it all, i try to find one on one time with one of the dc each day. so does dh. one of them gets 15 minutes of a parent's undivided attention, once a day. right now, they are all choosing to play speed chess with dad, and bake with me on their day. when they were little, i would also slip into their rooms during happy horizontal hour and read a short book with the littles. it was lovely.

 

:grouphug: good luck!

ann

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:grouphug:

 

1. for us, routine is everything.

2. when things go off the rails, i reach for "peaceful parents, peaceful kids" and start working through the chapters again. (it involves things like choosing one thing to work on - eg. "no putdowns")

3. we go "no media"

4. we spend outdoor time every day.

5. i start working on one part of the day at a time.

 

eg. i read aloud to them at lunch and then everyone goes to their rooms for happy horizontal hour. i never vary. it takes three days, and then everyone just goes to their rooms automatically after lunch.

 

i also stop engaging them in decision making. i don't suggest they go to their room, i tell them. i remind them "this is not a discussion". so in your example about the child who didn't want to work in their room, in this time frame, i wouldn't engage them in discussion or explanation at all... it simply has to be good enough that you told them to do it. this will initially be hard, but becomes easier quickly. once things are better, then you can discuss choices.

 

i program the whole day... there is free time, but only within certain parameters.

 

and in the midst of it all, i try to find one on one time with one of the dc each day. so does dh. one of them gets 15 minutes of a parent's undivided attention, once a day. right now, they are all choosing to play speed chess with dad, and bake with me on their day. when they were little, i would also slip into their rooms during happy horizontal hour and read a short book with the littles. it was lovely.

 

:grouphug: good luck!

ann

 

Very good advice. :iagree:

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Yes, I would, and I wouldn't worry too much about missed academics, either. Your family dynamics are so much more important. I'm reminded of a story that I heard Andrew Pudewa tell in a seminar about one of his daughters who had such a rough time during the high school years. He and his wife were so afraid for her future that they made the decision to send her to some sort of live-away camp for awhile. She basically did no academics for a year and a half and then went on to college successfully.

 

If it were me, I'd get into a good routine that included everybody, (not saying you don't have one, but maybe changing it to get into a different "feel"), cut outside activities and playing with other kids for awhile, and get everybody on board to make peace at home the number one family priority. Once they all realize how much better off everyone will be without all the fighting, maybe they'll keep it that way?

 

:grouphug:

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I often feel like my kids are at their worst when they have the least structure and the fewest tasks to accomplish. I have a much smaller family than you do, but I think in my home, under occupied kids can spell "trouble."

 

Of course, I am at my best when I am least overwhelmed, lol. So taking a break would free up my energy to address the problems.

 

I might consider moving to a easy (for whatever level the child is at) course of study that is workbooky and preplanned for a while. .

If you had the children busy and interested, I personally would find it easy to work on these issues, and for us, academics ARE character sometimes. I can use school work to reinforce some of my favorite "Mom Rule" like, "Whatever is worth doing is worth doing right."

 

I was going to say these things. My kids do much better when they have a purpose/work. I have also found that they will band together so to speak if they all feel equally 'in the same boat'.

 

Family counseling might be very helpful to break the patterns you are in. I think behavior can become a habit. Hugs to you, I think we can all relate to your struggle and hurt to some degree.:grouphug:

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Family counseling is already in the works. We had a few sessions a while back with a young counselor from my church (she is certified...not a lay counselor). It wasn't very helpful, but I am not giving up. It is difficult to get all 9 of us together in one office. :D

 

It can take time to find the right counselor for your family. My parents and I went through two before we found one that worked for all of us. If the one you saw wasn't working- and you usually know pretty quickly if a counselor isn't going to click with your family- I'd really recommend trying a different one.

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If yes, what exactly would you do to this end? Any books, character studies, curriculum, Bible studies, etc. that you would recommend? I'm at my wits end. Math, history, science, grammar, etc. are terrific and necessary but if my children cannot learn to get along, treat each other with kindness and respect, treat US with kindness and respect, submit to our authority as parents and as teacher, etc, etc. then they certainly will not be prepared well for life outside our home. I must not lose my family. I will not lose my family. Looking forward to your suggestions and advice as always. But please, no condemnation...I've had enough today (not from the Hive mind you :D). Just be gentle. Thanks.

 

Yes, I would take time off, without guilt. I wouldn't do ANY academics. Nothing.

 

What I would do is take everyone to the zoo. Go on hikes. Sleep in and make some big breakfasts. Visit some historic villages in your county (if you have them). Volunteer us all for a Habitat for Humanity house, Food Pantry, something not of us. Have *fun* together. And gently steer while the fun was being had.

 

:grouphug: You can do it. So can they.

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Could you find a volunteer project for your family to work on together? Get them to work together for a greater purpose.

 

As far as work goes...can you make it up in the summer? Or would that make things worse? You really don't want to be behind in academics that would only stress everyone out more. I also agree that if you abondon all of your routine, chaos would follow. Maybe you could do academics in the morning and spend the afternoon hiking or doing something together. I would certainly make a schedule for who works where and when. Stick to a schedule with strict bedtimes and family meals. I would eliminate tv and video games. I would ramp up the calm friendly manner in which you give instructions before school every morning. Pray with them at the breakfast for a peaceful day. Have them pray with you when they start feeling anxious and snippy. When two argue have them hold hands and pray together for each other and for their relationship. I think most importantly is that you set the tone for the family. It is so hard, so spend the time you need to get your spirit prepared for being in the trenches for a while.

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Sometimes I feel like life causes us to lose sight of everything. All of a sudden we stop and ask ourselves WHAT ARE WE DOING HERE? Take a break, cut back to the essentials so they don't lose skills and try to create unity. Maybe they can work together on a household project or do oral presentations to each other to build support? Make teamwork become the focus of your day. If it were warmer I would say start a family garden and out their butts outside with shovels! Good luck!:grouphug:

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Absolutely... I think of Mark 8:36... For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?

 

I apply this to our family life... what will it profit my family if my children are awesome at Latin or Geography or whatever if we let our hearts and relationships with each other fall by the wayside?

 

I would keep up with Math and let them read a lot. And I would spend the rest of the time on building and rebuilding relationships.

 

:grouphug::grouphug::grouphug:

 

:iagree:

 

I was just given a character study book by a friend that we may be using here.. I've been looking through it and considering ways the various units could be implemented in our home. You might like to check it out...

 

Developing Godly Character in Children

 

slightly longer review here

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Yes, I would take time off, without guilt. I wouldn't do ANY academics. Nothing.

 

What I would do is take everyone to the zoo. Go on hikes. Sleep in and make some big breakfasts. Visit some historic villages in your county (if you have them). Volunteer us all for a Habitat for Humanity house, Food Pantry, something not of us. Have *fun* together. And gently steer while the fun was being had.

 

:grouphug: You can do it. So can they.

 

:iagree: I was going to post and ask you what your family likes to do. What do you enjoy doing together? Hiking? Gardening? Reading? Cooking? Watching sports? Playing games? I would look at finding the joy in each other.

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:grouphug:

 

1. for us, routine is everything.

2. when things go off the rails, i reach for "peaceful parents, peaceful kids" and start working through the chapters again. (it involves things like choosing one thing to work on - eg. "no putdowns")

3. we go "no media"

4. we spend outdoor time every day.

5. i start working on one part of the day at a time.

 

eg. i read aloud to them at lunch and then everyone goes to their rooms for happy horizontal hour. i never vary. it takes three days, and then everyone just goes to their rooms automatically after lunch.

 

i also stop engaging them in decision making. i don't suggest they go to their room, i tell them. i remind them "this is not a discussion". so in your example about the child who didn't want to work in their room, in this time frame, i wouldn't engage them in discussion or explanation at all... it simply has to be good enough that you told them to do it. this will initially be hard, but becomes easier quickly. once things are better, then you can discuss choices.

 

i program the whole day... there is free time, but only within certain parameters.

 

and in the midst of it all, i try to find one on one time with one of the dc each day. so does dh. one of them gets 15 minutes of a parent's undivided attention, once a day. right now, they are all choosing to play speed chess with dad, and bake with me on their day. when they were little, i would also slip into their rooms during happy horizontal hour and read a short book with the littles. it was lovely.

 

:grouphug: good luck!

ann

 

:iagree: This is VERY good advice.

 

May I suggest two resources:

 

The Young Peacemaker series:http://www.peacemaker.net/site/c.aqKFLTOBIpH/b.958199/k.AFBE/Young_Peacemaker.htm

We used these workbooks with two of our boys who were having difficulty getting along.

 

Instructions in Righteousness:http://www.doorposts.com/details.aspx?id=15

This is my favorite book. I've given it at many a baby shower....it has proven itself invaluable to helping us define terms and set standards.

 

I hope things get better for your family. :grouphug:

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Yes, I would.

 

I would suggest things like:

 

1) Find a hobby that you can ALL do together and enjoy as a family. Getting outside- fresh air and exercise- is a good thing. How about hiking or nature walks or geocaching or some such.

 

2) Start playing cooperative (not competitive) games together as a family. There are cooperative board games but you could probably find ones that are more like activities- oh, here's one site that says "trust building activities"...

 

http://wilderdom.com/games/TrustActivities.html

 

This is a GREAT family board game that encourages communication, sharing thoughts and feelings, and so on:

 

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000QX9Y9O/?tag=googhydr-20&hvadid=5005236567&ref=pd_sl_46xrnvcv4s_e

 

Maybe also look up roleplaying activities that kids can do either to demonstrate how they SHOULD have handled something, or to demonstrate how their actions made another person feel.

 

3) Start having perhaps a "family conference" regularly where only one person is allowed to talk at a time and can share their thoughts and feelings about the day honestly- let them start sharing with each other in a moderated non-threatening environment what they liked doing with each other that day, how somebody else hurt them that day, etc.

 

4) Bribe them. Start a family coin jar where every time somebody does something particularly NICE- gives someone else a sincere compliment, gives in to somebody else, offers a sincere apology, demonstrates an ability to get along well, whatever works for you- coins go in there that can eventually be used for some sort of fun family outing that they would all enjoy and look forward to, an overnight at a hotel with a pool, an amusement park, whatever works for you guys. Alternatively, coins can also be REMOVED from the jar when they are being cruel to each other.

 

5) If all else fails (or even regardless) you might want to consider family counseling of some sort.

 

Either way, yes, I do believe in your case this needs to be prioritized over schoolwork, especially if you live in an area with relaxed homeschool laws.

 

Good luck! :grouphug:

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I wouldn't, because I agree with the posters who said this is not a short-term fix.

 

I also worry about the message being sent--if the kids are horrid to each other, they get a long break from school and get to do fun things.

 

That said, my brother and I fought horribly up until I was about 15 and he was 12. The beginning of our relationship change came when we decided to unite to get my parents to do something we wanted. Usually, it was a movie. So we would work together to get the house clean so that when Mom came home from work we could talk her into the family going to a movie.

 

Which is a long way of saying, in addition to counseling (which I highly recommend) could you link family fun to improved family interactions? Maybe give the kids one point for every half-day without name calling, hitting, etc., and when the family had collectively earned X number of points you could do Y fun activity?

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I wouldn't stop school as you have phrased the questions, because you need a platform from which to work on the conflict problems. There still needs to be structure in your day. However, I would absolutely de-prioritize the academics. Meaning that whenever a conflict comes up - the school goal moves to the background and resolving the issue is the main focus until peace is restored.

 

I guess it is more a matter of mentally releasing yourself from the academic goals than actually setting aside school work.

 

My favorite resource is Young Peacemaker book, both biblical and practical.

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I wouldn't take a break from school but I would definitely add in time spent working on relationships.

 

With that many kids I would expect personality conflicts and that some kids just wouldn't be good friends. I would also expect that everybody would be polite and civil to each other regardless of how well they liked each other.

 

Do you have clear and realistic expectations for how they will treat each other. I don't think you can force kids to be friends but you can force them to be pleasant. Could you sit down with each one individually to discuss the issue and then bring them all together to make a list of family rules and a list of clear, concrete consequences if they are broken.

 

Also, if there isn't any physical violence I often stay out of it (while listening for truly inappropriate comments). I will send my two to the dining room table (seated on opposite sides so they can't touch each other) to work out a solution. They aren't allowed to get up until they have worked out whatever the issue is and can come to me with a solution they are both happy with. It forces them to work together and gives them a common enemy (me) which seems to unite them as a team and diffuse the tension.

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No. I would not.

 

I have found that academics are really just another opportunity to train character - both in me and the kids. Taking away academics removes a friction point - and really - we only have our character refined when we are challenged.

 

 

I also agree with the posters who said their family needs structure. That's why we HS year round - routine. Daily predictable activity. Defined expectations.

 

I also agree with the comments that kids would get the wrong message - be unkind, get out of school and get to chill.

 

I would get a plan together though - counseling, no media, no outside activities, no friends, planned family activities (I love the idea of habitat or working in a soup kitchen), outdoor time (picnics and walks would be good). A solid plan. And then I would implement it. Step by step. But I am a nerd.

 

In the end, we can each only suggest what would work for our families. You have to decide what to do - but whatever you decide - do it. Take time of if YOU think you need to. Unplug if YOU think you need to. Talk it over with your DH, but do whatever you think it'll take to keep your family strong and unified.

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It's still in the idea stage. I wouldn't can math, reading or writing (the 3 Rs) or Bible. And, I wouldn't necessarily allow my high schooler to slack (although as I have posted before, she is a young 9th grader and could do high school in 5 years). I have a few character books, devotionals, Bible studies, etc. but need a more "formal" plan if you will?

 

 

This is a good idea. I'd also work on building in things that would force them to work together. Reminding them that they are all on the same team and sniping at each other is counterproductive. They need to remember that they ARE a family and family has one another's best interests at heart.

 

I'd sit down and write down something fun, something character building, something work-wise for each day to accomplish each day. I'd mix up the pairs of kids; remind them that yes, this one kid can be annoying at times, but you weren't always the perfect little angel that you are now;) and tomorrow you get to pair with someone else.

 

For me, I don't do well unless I have a concrete plan in writing. If I don't do this, it kind of falls by the way.

 

I would definitely cut out the "out of the house" stuff for a few weeks. Not as a punishment type thing...I'd just inform the kids that "you know, I'm scared about the direction that our family is headed. You know I don't keep up with hardly any of the friends I had when I was your age, but family...now that is forever. One day, dad and I will pass away and you will be left with your siblings. The foundation that you lay right now is important. I want you all to be able to relate to one another."

 

Sometimes, my kids love to camp together...even in the living room floor in the dead of winter (this is good because even the very small kids can participate) I'd definitely look into the media your kids are consuming. The idea that teen s are supposed to be smart mouthed, know everything and that mom and dad are idiots is pervasive in our culture. Those attitudes influence us without our knowledge.

 

just my 2 cents...

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Just throwing out some ideas:

 

Read some books/find some movies where team building exercises are completed in the context of a family.

 

Swiss Family Robinson for one.

 

Prince of Persia is a good story about the importance of family.

 

How to Train your Dragon was a cute movie I watched yesterday. Underlying point of the importance of teamwork and family.

 

I find that I can teach my son about good interpersonal skills when I let other writers and movie makers do the talking. We discuss a lot of these elements afterward.

 

I would have an individual time with each child and have them list one good trait about themselves and one thing they would like to change. These would be private between you and them. I find sometimes that when I'm being snappy with others it's my own self-esteem that has taken a hit. Make those two traits prayers points.

 

Other random ideas:

 

Have each child draw another childs name from a hat. They must do something nice for that person in the next 24 hours without being known that they were the giver.

 

Have the older ones read to the younger ones. Pick specific books.

 

Have them plan a full meal without your help. Everyone must be involved in some way. They plan, execute, serve, and clean up without help from you.

 

If you have a digital camera let each child have a turn with it. They are allowed 10 pictures, either outside or inside. No agenda, just what they want to take pics of. I did this with my son on a nature study walk, I was amazed at what he saw and photographed. Totally not what I was focusing at all. I could be a good exercise to see where your children's focus is.

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I'd still do school else how would you train/teach them to do school cheerfully? But I'd do school "lite" so you are concentrating more on correcting the ATTITUDES and hearts of the kiddos rather than what you get accomplished in school.

 

You can't really sit around and look at one another all day. :) But you can go about your day with YOUR concentration put on attitudes and keeping them near and dear to you.

 

Honestly? Get thee to Raising Godly Tomatoes and read like a crazy person. Sounds like you want their hearts, not just their actions mama. That requires a special kind of effort. ((Hugs))

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Boot Camp?

 

That little exchange you described about school is IMO disrespectful mouthing off. It was nothing but a loosing situation for you from the moment your son questioned your authority.

 

If it were me starting at the ages you are, I'd get tough. Structure, structure, structure. Every moment of the day occupied and scheduled. Up at 6am and lights out at 8pm. Lots of physical activity. Lots of mental activity.

 

Everything out of the house that isn't a need - food, bed, clothing. Privileges and possessions have to be earned back. Your dh needs to step up and demand from the boys proper behavior toward his wife. You need to demand proper respect as their mother. Make it unpleasant to be mouthy. Stop asking or suggesting. Tell them to do what you want them to do and expect it to be done without arguing on their end. Divise appropriate consequences and follow through. They will fight you every step of the way. You'll have to find it in you to hold on until you get to the other side. Dh too. Don't back down, don't give up. This is too important.

 

Check your family's diet. No sugar, no food dyes, no additives. Very basic of meals with as whole foods as you can manage. Lots of water, lots of apples, bananas and raisins for snacks.

 

Go ahead and get it into your head that it will be exhausting to do this. Find a counselor not attached to your church.

 

Good luck which ever route you take.

Edited by Parrothead
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A few things (sorry I forgot I don't have a proper siggy :D): My kids are dd14, ds12, ds11, ds9, ds8, dd5 and ds2. It isn't me (for once) who is overwhelmed and in need of a break. Hard to believe, isn't it? ;) What I need is for my family to "gel", to work together as if we are on the same team instead of enemies, to at least "try" to get along (in that I mean be civil and kind to one another). Satan is having a heyday with my family right now. It is NOT God's will for us to quarrel so. That much I know. Family counseling is already in the works. We had a few sessions a while back with a young counselor from my church (she is certified...not a lay counselor). It wasn't very helpful, but I am not giving up. It is difficult to get all 9 of us together in one office. :D I realize that I cannot handle this/fix this on my own. I've tried. I haven't really figured out a concrete plan for my little "academic hiatus". It's still in the idea stage. I wouldn't can math, reading or writing (the 3 Rs) or Bible. And, I wouldn't necessarily allow my high schooler to slack (although as I have posted before, she is a young 9th grader and could do high school in 5 years). I have a few character books, devotionals, Bible studies, etc. but need a more "formal" plan if you will? Chris in VA...time apart is difficult but I will try. Certain "duos" work better together than others. I think it would be wise to try and separate although ironically, none of the children wish to do their schoolwork alone but they complain so readily about the noise, distraction, etc. It is very :confused: :confused: Mom: "You can go to your room to work on your schoolwork. It is quiet there. You have a nice desk there." Child: "No! I don't want to work in my room!" Mom: "But you said that it is too noisy here; too much to distract you." Child: "Yeah, but why don't you make so and so move!" Mom: "So and so does not have a desk and so and so is too young to work independently!". You see how it goes. Ugh. Please keep the responses coming. I so appreciate each and every one of you! :grouphug:

 

Personally I'd keep the kids on track academically, for the same reasons as already cited and do character building and problem solving as add-ons.

 

Family counseling may be more effective in smaller groups, ie parents with individual children or groups of children. Especially focusing at first on the kids who are pushing the most buttons.

 

I'd also consider looking around for secular curriculum or programs with proven track records. For instance, the Second Step program originally started as a program to prevent violence but is used widely in public schools to teach problem solving and social skills.

http://www.cfchildren.org/programs/ssp/overview/

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None of us know what's going on there, kwim? It's hard to offer the best/most helpgul advice because we don't know your particular family needs.

 

But. :) I know if we start to forget each other, things are harder. When we remember the bigger picture; to be together and enjoy each other, everything else is better. Do you have time to have fun together, or it is all about work, brushing teeth, getting it all over with to do it all again the nest day? If that happens, sometimes we forget why we even became a family-- which was to enjoy and build new relationships. There has to be a pleasure factor.

 

First, you have 7 kids, and that is just going to mean high volume levels, and stuff. Books, papers, toys. Some of thise things just are, and set your mind free from thinking it should be or look like someone else's filtered blog.

 

I might:

 

1. Plan laughter. Instead of looking at children giggling and playing in the livng room as a mess, look at it as joy, fun, and being together. Avert your eyes to the dust, don't stop it all by looking at the clock and saying it's time to put on jammies, do math, clean rooms etc. Let the relationship happen.

 

2. Use wonderful, interesting movies bring you together in the living room. Don't talk, just pop the popcorn and snuggle up.

 

3. Read funny jokes or stories at dinner, or listen to singable songs in the car or as you make dinner. Don't worry about messes; hand pieces of dough to little kids to knead.

 

4. Tell family stories. Every person, no matter how small, has a good story, every Dad has a story about his childhood, every mom remembers when something crazy happened when she was a kid. Tell them, tell them often. I would also use this time to tell every single story of any time they helped each other, did something nice etc. I wouldn't say "Why don't you do that anymore?" lol No. You want them to ejoy these stories. "When A was born, B was so cute, He always wanted to get the wipes, and he always triend to make her laugh. I remember the time...". Embellish if you have to. :)

 

5. Listen to intersting books, or read them. FUn ones, good ones, and maybe not dewll on details and discussion. Don't hash it out, enjoy it.

 

6. Get outside as much as you can. Go places where they don't have to have perfect behavior, be quiet. Have as many opportuinites for normal childhood behavior as possible. Small hills that even the babies can sled down, parks, gyms. Make sure the little kids get opportunities to thrown big balls, swing high, scream and yell, run, draw with fat chalk, blow bubbles, pop bubbles, spill bubbles without issue.

 

7. Dance to danceable music. Mom, too. I used to fancy myself a dancer, but no matter what I do, my kids laugh hysterically. What's up with that? But laughing is good, and it is cleansing. It also relaxes and makes you tired. So do it until people are tired. Then put on quiet music and offer an easy snack of turky slices, cheese chunks etc.

 

I know for us, having a good time together is critical to our emotional health as a family.

Edited by LibraryLover
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I think you are leading with the wrong question. Deciding to take school off without any plan to address the family issues is not going to be helpful. Instead lead with the question, what do we about this? How do we reboot our family? After you come up with a plan, then you ask the question, is this plan so time intensive that taking time off of school would help to fully implement it? Honestly, I am very skeptical that taking time off would help. There is a lot of good advice above, but what my mind keeps coming back to is radical structure. I can't imagine any lasting change to family dynamics happening without a highly structured environment and schedule. If you look at any treatment facility (for any destructive lifestyle issue that needs to be deprogramed), one of the major components is a highly structured environment. I believe school would be compatible, if not preferable, with that. The only circumstance that I can imagine taking time off as a really good thing would be if your whole family was able to work on a big service project together, like a local charity project or mission trip. But time off just to do family devotionals and character studies...no, I can't see that being helpful.

 

It would be great if you could find someone outside of your family who would be willing to mentor you through this. Someone who could see the forest for the trees, hold you accountable, help you form a plan. Lame as it sounds, supernanny keeps coming to mind. Someone that you trust, who could help you form the plan, then check in on you along the way. I would not try to go this alone.

 

ETA: By highly structured I mean fully scheduled days for every member of the family. Extremely clear (as in written on a poster board) rules AND consequences. Solid iron follow through and consistency (this will require MUCH of you and your dh). Mandatory outdoor exercise for every member of the family. Someone above mentioned boot camp. At boot camp, every single aspect of the recruits' lives are scheduled and controlled. It will take an enormous amount of planning, energy, determination and follow through from you and your dh. That's also where the idea of a mentor comes in. Someone who will follow YOU and hold YOU accountable. If you do this half @ss, it could blow up in your face. You could end up with angrier kids at the end than you had at the beginning. AND in the middle of all of this, you must keep the joy and the love alive. Godspeed.

Edited by Shannon831
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:) Love this. I hadn't read yours when I posted my ideas. When we take the time to be together and love each other, everything is else is that much easier.

 

Yes, I would take time off, without guilt. I wouldn't do ANY academics. Nothing.

 

What I would do is take everyone to the zoo. Go on hikes. Sleep in and make some big breakfasts. Visit some historic villages in your county (if you have them). Volunteer us all for a Habitat for Humanity house, Food Pantry, something not of us. Have *fun* together. And gently steer while the fun was being had.

 

:grouphug: You can do it. So can they.

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This is a good idea. I'd also work on building in things that would force them to work together. Reminding them that they are all on the same team and sniping at each other is counterproductive. They need to remember that they ARE a family and family has one another's best interests at heart.

 

I'd sit down and write down something fun, something character building, something work-wise for each day to accomplish each day. I'd mix up the pairs of kids; remind them that yes, this one kid can be annoying at times, but you weren't always the perfect little angel that you are now;) and tomorrow you get to pair with someone else.

 

For me, I don't do well unless I have a concrete plan in writing. If I don't do this, it kind of falls by the way.

 

I would definitely cut out the "out of the house" stuff for a few weeks. Not as a punishment type thing...I'd just inform the kids that "you know, I'm scared about the direction that our family is headed. You know I don't keep up with hardly any of the friends I had when I was your age, but family...now that is forever. One day, dad and I will pass away and you will be left with your siblings. The foundation that you lay right now is important. I want you all to be able to relate to one another."

 

Sometimes, my kids love to camp together...even in the living room floor in the dead of winter (this is good because even the very small kids can participate) I'd definitely look into the media your kids are consuming. The idea that teen s are supposed to be smart mouthed, know everything and that mom and dad are idiots is pervasive in our culture. Those attitudes influence us without our knowledge.

 

just my 2 cents...

 

Boot Camp?

 

That little exchange you described about school is IMO disrespectful mouthing off. It was nothing but a loosing situation for you from the moment your son questioned your authority.

 

If it were me starting at the ages you are, I'd get tough. Structure, structure, structure. Every moment of the day occupied and scheduled. Up at 6am and lights out at 8pm. Lots of physical activity. Lots of mental activity.

 

Everything out of the house that isn't a need - food, bed, clothing. Privileges and possessions have to be earned back. Your dh needs to step up and demand from the boys proper behavior toward his wife. You need to demand proper respect as their mother. Make it unpleasant to be mouthy. Stop asking or suggesting. Tell them to do what you want them to do and expect it to be done without arguing on their end. Divise appropriate consequences and follow through. They will fight you every step of the way. You'll have to find it in you to hold on until you get to the other side. Dh too. Don't back down, don't give up. This is too important.

 

Check your family's diet. No sugar, no food dyes, no additives. Very basic of meals with as whole foods as you can manage. Lots of water, lots of apples, bananas and raisins for snacks.

 

Go ahead and get it into your head that it will be exhausting to do this. Find a counselor not attached to your church.

 

Good luck which ever route you take.

 

None of us know what's going on there, kwim? It's hard to offer the best/most helpgul advice because we don't know your particular family needs.

 

But. :) I know if we start to forget each other, things are harder. When we remember the bigger picture; to be together and enjoy each other, everything else is better. Do you have time to have fun together, or it is all about work, brushing teeth, getting it all over with to do it all again the nest day? If that happens, sometimes we forget why we even became a family-- which was to enjoy and build new relationships. There has to be a pleasure factor.

 

First, you have 7 kids, and that is just going to mean high volume levels, and stuff. Books, papers, toys. Some of thise things just are, and set your mind free from thinking it should be or look like someone else's filtered blog.

 

I might:

 

1. Plan laughter. Instead of looking at children giggling and playing in the livng room as a mess, look at it as joy, fun, and being together. Avert your eyes to the dust, don't stop it all by looking at the clock and saying it's time to put on jammies, do math, clean rooms etc. Let the relationship happen.

 

2. Use wonderful, interesting movies bring you together in the living room. Don't talk, just pop the popcorn and snuggle up.

 

3. Read funny jokes or stories at dinner, or listen to singable songs in the car or as you make dinner. Don't worry about messes; hand pieces of dough to little kids to knead.

 

4. Tell family stories. Every person, no matter how small, has a good story, every Dad has a story about his childhood, every mom remembers when something crazy happened when she was a kid. Tell them, tell them often. I would also use this time to tell every single story of any time they helped each other, did something nice etc. I wouldn't say "Why don't you do that anymore?" lol No. You want them to ejoy these stories. "When A was born, B was so cute, He always wanted to get the wipes, and he always triend to make her laugh. I remember the time...". Embellish if you have to. :)

 

5. Listen to intersting books, or read them. FUn ones, good ones, and maybe not dewll on details and discussion. Don't hash it out, enjoy it.

 

6. Get outside as much as you can. Go places where they don't have to have perfect behavior, be quiet. Have as many opportuinites for normal childhood behavior as possible. Small hills that even the babies can sled down, parks, gyms. Make sure the little kids get opportunities to thrown big balls, swing high, scream and yell, run, draw with fat chalk, blow bubbles, pop bubbles, spill bubbles without issue.

 

7. Dance to danceable music. Mom, too. I used to fancy myself a dancer, but no matter what I do, my kids laugh hysterically. What's up with that? But laughing is good, and it is cleansing. It also relaxes and makes you tired. So do it until people are tired. Then put on quiet music and offer an easy snack of turky slices, cheese chunks etc.

 

I know for us, having a good time together is critical to our emotional health as a family.

 

:iagree: with all of the above. Dad needs to take those boys aside and clean their clocks on disrespect toward mom. He needs to make them aware in a man to man talk that that is not. allowed. ever. And then you need to never ever again engage in it. This was a toughie for me to learn but it made all the difference in the world. Just simply stop speaking. ANd tell them that you only engage in a respectful dialogue. Until they are ready to do that, whatever they need they can simply figure it out on their own. If they can't, get some respect and we'll discuss it then. And all consequences apply regardless. It's not my fault you didn't finish your homework because you decided to mouth off and I refused to help you because of that. You should have been respectful.

 

The other thing we do is if you can't treat the siblings and me correctly, you don't get a life outside this house. Becuase if you can't demonstrate respect, tolerance, proper ways to handle your feelings, your hygiene, the way you eat- here at home, then there is no way you will do so outside this house. when you demonstrate your personal social skills here at home, I'll consider allowing you time with friends, etc.

 

The other thing we do is plenty of outside time and we can the media. when the attitudes start rolling, we unplug everything. It amazes me every single time how much better they begin to behave when they don't have vdieo games, cartoons, and tv shows to influence them. Anything we do with tv/media is family and family only event.

 

Hope you find something that works for you. It's tough when they all turn on each other but it's worth correcting in the long run.:grouphug:

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Now, I only have 2 kids, so I certainly don't have the same realm of interpersonal interaction that you have, but we have our issues nonetheless.

 

One thing that has helped many times is this: wait until a peaceful time with a particular child, then pull him/her aside for heart-to-heart about how he/she feels about home life. You share how you feel, too. Talk about how you wish home-life could be. Talk about how each of you might change to move things in that direction. Then put the plan into action and check in with that child about how it's going later on.

 

Also, I've had some luck teaching my kids how to challenge a house rule. Instead of whining, sassing or sulking, they can plan a discussion with us.

 

We are willing to listen to their perspectives on family rules if they approach us maturely and respectfully. It doesn't mean we'll necessarily change the rule (in fact, we rarely have), but we'll hear the child out and discuss it. Just their knowing they can be heard has made a nice difference.

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From Parrothead:

That little exchange you described about school is IMO disrespectful mouthing off. It was nothing but a loosing situation for you from the moment your son questioned your authority.

 

If it were me starting at the ages you are, I'd get tough. Structure, structure, structure. Every moment of the day occupied and scheduled. Up at 6am and lights out at 8pm. Lots of physical activity. Lots of mental activity.

 

Everything out of the house that isn't a need - food, bed, clothing. Privileges and possessions have to be earned back. Your dh needs to step up and demand from the boys proper behavior toward his wife. You need to demand proper respect as their mother. Make it unpleasant to be mouthy. Stop asking or suggesting. Tell them to do what you want them to do and expect it to be done without arguing on their end. Divise appropriate consequences and follow through. They will fight you every step of the way. You'll have to find it in you to hold on until you get to the other side. Dh too. Don't back down, don't give up. This is too important.

 

Check your family's diet. No sugar, no food dyes, no additives. Very basic of meals with as whole foods as you can manage. Lots of water, lots of apples, bananas and raisins for snacks.

 

Go ahead and get it into your head that it will be exhausting to do this. Find a counselor not attached to your church.

 

 

 

 

 

:iagree: with all of the above. Dad needs to take those boys aside and clean their clocks on disrespect toward mom. He needs to make them aware in a man to man talk that that is not. allowed. ever. And then you need to never ever again engage in it. This was a toughie for me to learn but it made all the difference in the world. Just simply stop speaking. ANd tell them that you only engage in a respectful dialogue. Until they are ready to do that, whatever they need they can simply figure it out on their own. If they can't, get some respect and we'll discuss it then. And all consequences apply regardless. It's not my fault you didn't finish your homework because you decided to mouth off and I refused to help you because of that. You should have been respectful.

 

The other thing we do is if you can't treat the siblings and me correctly, you don't get a life outside this house. Becuase if you can't demonstrate respect, tolerance, proper ways to handle your feelings, your hygiene, the way you eat- here at home, then there is no way you will do so outside this house. when you demonstrate your personal social skills here at home, I'll consider allowing you time with friends, etc.

 

The other thing we do is plenty of outside time and we can the media. when the attitudes start rolling, we unplug everything. It amazes me every single time how much better they begin to behave when they don't have vdieo games, cartoons, and tv shows to influence them. Anything we do with tv/media is family and family only event.

 

Hope you find something that works for you. It's tough when they all turn on each other but it's worth correcting in the long run.:grouphug:

:iagree::iagree::iagree:

Great advice here. I've enboldened the ones I've thought were especially good. I have found 2 great counselors by calling Focus on the Family and asking for referrals. Then, I called them and interviewed them on the phone BEFORE we went. You and your dh MUST be on the same page.

When my dh told one of our sons that ds will not be disrespecting his wife, and if he did, the consequences would be very severe, our son woke up and took notice. And his behavior improved.

 

Ask family/friends to PRAY for you about specific things. This is where little old ladies and prayer warriors from your church can make an investment in your family.

Edited by JVA
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:grouphug: and even more :grouphug:

 

 

I don't really have much more to add, considering you have received some really great advice and suggestions. I just wanted you to know I am praying for you and I could've written your post. We're dealing with this same exact thing. It is exhausting and I'm at my wits' end, and am also expecting baby #6. It sort of makes me nervous to add another one to the mix, KWIM?

 

I really like the suggestion from one of the PP re: war games. I know boys tend to like those things way more than girls, and my boys are certainly no exception. However, I have noticed that they are a lot more violent in their everyday dealings with each other when they've been playing games like that. My dh enjoys those sorts of games, but...He is 29. My boys are 8, 6, and 5.

 

There are a lot of helpful suggestions and I pray that your family, as well as any others who are dealing with this, can find a solution that works.

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