I have been practicing Purposeful Parenting for some time now, around the time we decided to unschool-so about 2 or 2-1/2 years now. There are good days and bad days. I definitely have bad days and fall short on many occassions. But it has been a work in progress.
I recently started reading a series of articles on Sandra Dodd's unschooling website and ran across another method used in Purposeful Patenting that I always found quite silly when I heard it mentioned.
Values, but....no rules? Who ever heard of such a thing? Then something she said rang true. It was something along the lines of this....Rules externally motivate us through fear, threats, or punishment to blindly obey orders. Values internally motivate us to think about the difference between right and wrong. For example, S used to have a problem with pushing her Uncle when he made her mad. Now, instead of having to remember the rule "No hitting" and assuming pushing does count, she asks herself 2 questions. Would God like what I am about to do? Am I hurting or helping?
*Disclaimer: I realize that in real life we have "laws" but those laws also tend to be morally based-such as no stealing or killing-and nowhere near as strict as those inside our homes. As an adult I can cuss-if I want. I don't have to eat my greens or clean my plate if I choose not to. And I'm allowed to get angry and have a bad day. Unlike children who are *usually* punished when their emotions take control. (I have learned the only way S will know how to control her emotions is for me to get ahold of mine first. How can I expect her to know the difference in right and wrong emotional behaviors if I-the adult- can't model the proper way to show anger or sadness?) Anyway, I'm going off on a tangent....
The day after I read about values and principles I decided to see how it would work. Research. Then experiment. We sat down as a family and came up with our own values and questions to ask ourselves. (Below)
Value: (Spiritual) God First. Always. God's plan before our plan. God's time before our time. God's people before ourselves.
Is this what God wants? Would God approve of what I am about to do?
Am I listening to the devil?
Am I serving my God the best way I know how?
Value: (in conjunction with God's people being before ourselves) Treat others the way you think THEY want to be treated.
People are more important than things.
Questions: Can I put myself in their shoes?
Do I want to lose a relationship over this?
Am I hurting or helping?
What can I do to help?
Value: (Educational) Learning is Life. It is natural. Always be learning something. All learning is equal. Follow your interests. Be passionate about something. Be Yourself.
Have I learned something today?
Am I allowing learning to happen or am I hindering it?
Value: (Home) Houses are for living. Making a mess is good, as long as you clean it up because organization and cleanliness making living and learning easier.
Am I taking care of the house God Blessed me with?
Value: (Health) Our body is God's temple.
Is what I am doing or putting into my body healthy?
Value: (Personal) Be honest. Be caring. Love others. Be compassionate. Be respectful. Be a good listener.
Am I being the best person I can be?
Am I being completely honest or am I lying?
*This is not an unalterable list. It is is open for discussion an add on at all times in this house.
The results? I have seen an amazing improvement. Although none of us are perfect still, it has helped us in all aspects of our lives.
For me, when I have tried to learn to "bite my tongue" in the past, I haven't been able to because I had no plan in place. Now I HAVE to pause to think every time I say something other than small talk. And even then, if I am about to say something about somebody who frustrated me or how angry I am at such 'n such for whatever, I Stop. And Think. "Will that hurt or help?" It has become a habit. It has become a good habit.
I see DH and DD's minds at work as well. I see S pausing more in the middle of her sentences. I see my Husband walk out if the room if he feels aggitated.
It has been such a great tool to use! And everybody was able to take part instead of us just imposing a list of rules or having unspoken ones like, "No spitting on people." and expecting her to know that it is wrong.
I think the people who came up with this have something here. Like they say, "Rules are meant to be broken." But if there are no rules, there is nothing to break. Going against your own morals and values is harder than going against somebody else's list of arbitrary limits.
Side Note: I have also extended the "Purposeful" lifestyle to my marriage. The longer we are together, happily married, I wonder, "How much longer until my marriage crumbles?" Negative outlook, I know, but everywhere I am I hear people talk about how marriage is miserable and how you are destined for disaster at some point. And it scares me to not know what lies ahead. I always judged the strength of our marriage based on the trials we have made it through. I considered it a major feat to make it through a teen pregnancy/relationship and to have made it through what happened with Lucy. But sometimes I wonder if that was not the worst of what is to come. I never can be sure. But I can do whatever it takes to keep a focus on my Husband and not lose him by become drowned out in my daily life. Of course I am tired when he gets home. I have spent the day cleaning, caring for 4 animals and a child. I've been "unschooling" all day with S. My brain is fried. And I still have to cook dinner, clean it up, take the doga out, clean the house, continue to care for S....you get the picture. Where is time for my Husband?
One of my good friends who has been married 15 years and has faced her share of marriage trials gave me some advice I will never forget. She told me that my Husband is the king of his home, right under God. He provides for his family and should be treated like royalty. (We have the same views as far as family structure and gender roles goes, so her advice really hit home for me.) No matter how grouchy my Hubby gets. No matter how tired I may be, I make it a point to do four things. 1. Rub his back. (My friend says she rubs her Husband's feet, but we do not do feet in this house...so...back it is.) My Husband loves a good back rub. So I made him a special lavendar/coconut oil lotion to help him sleep at night. If he has had an especially rough day I like to diffuse some lavendar and get my other oils out to give him a relaxing essential oil massage. He enjoys it and it makes him feel special. 2. Make sure he always has a drink. Right now in the winter, it is hot tea or coffee. I have found recipes for watermelon water and strawberry lemonade for the Summertime. Yum. He always appreciates being taken care of like that. (I don't care what anybody says about him being to needy and relying on me, it makes him happy and it makes me feel good to take care of him. Short rant over.) 3. I am there to fill any *Reasonable requests he has. 4. We spend time together. Whether S is asleep or awake has no bearing. We always lay down and watch something or talk for awhile before bed. And some days we go out as a family or on a date. Whatever we do, we make sire we get at least an hour together. There are 7 hours at night between him getting home and bed. I think I can make an hour of time. It has created a better bond between us. Although I know it won't be the answer to every problem we will ever face. A bond will at least make it easier. I have mindful about those 4 things for about the past 9 months but it didn't take long to see improvement.
Whether it is purposeful parenting or purposeful marriage, it is the key that opens the door to better relationships. It is mot definitely worthe the effort of being purposeful.