Monday, September 15, 2014

"Yes, Mommy," by Karen Andreola

Yes, Mommy
At present, I’m teaching a Sunday school class for moms. My topic is motherhood and child training. I've titled it, "There's No Place Like Home." Moms of all ages are welcome to take part. On this post I share my notes from the second class – yesterday. The first class was on love and “The Majesty of Motherhood.” I’m finding preparation to be formidable but I am enjoying the passing on of ideas that had helped me most during the years of bringing up my children.

karen andreola
Karen-Yours Truly, 1961, Watering the Violets 

Today I have something very practical to talk about. It’s nitty-gritty. And it will take some grit to apply it.

In the Italian Renaissance, Michelangelo used tools skillfully. He is probably best known for using a paintbrush to create his magnificent fresco on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. But he was also a maker of statues. With hammer and chisel he created people and cherubs out of rough, chunks of marble.

He said, “I saw an angel in the marble and carved until I set him free. 

Children are born with possibilities.

A mother unlocks the possibilities. Like Michelangelo who used tools to set the angel free, a mother needs tools to build character in her child; to set him free to walk in the spirit for an abundant life.*1

"Watering the Foxgloves" Jessie Wilcox Smith

3 Tools
Three tools help a mother turn out the design she has already conceived in her mind for good, happy, healthy children.

Atmosphere of Home
Discipline of Habit
Presentation of Ideas

I’ll be straightforward with you. Nagging, scolding, a booming voice, empty threats, and empty promises, are broken tools. Habit is a fit tool. “Atmosphere” and “Ideas” are helpful tools too, but I am jumping in the middle today. 

foxglove - yellow

Admonish One Another
The 5th commandment tells us to honor our father and mother. God put parents in authority over children. The business of children is to obey.

In 1984, while living in Florida, an older mother in the church couldn’t help noticing that my two-and-a-half-year-old wasn’t so obedient. She gave me a little talk and handed me a child-training book. This ruffled my feathers a bit. I didn’t care for the book, either. Humph. But I looked up to her and admired her lovely family. The next day, in my quiet time, I softened. I humbly took her message to heart and was grateful. The book, although disappointingly bereft of practical ideas, did at least hold out the call. Practical ideas soon suggested themselves to me and I set out to correct and train my little one. From then on, she and I did drills over and over for fun every day until she got “Come to Mommy” down pat. Her first lesson was to obey and obey promptly. 

Yours Truly, talking with the gardener, at Robert Fulton's birthplace

In America we are over-familiar with democracy. During the 1970s I remember the children of hippies addressing parents by their first names. It was a sort of progressive-socialistic in-thing. Americans are supposed to be on equal footing. But we don’t all have equal roles. The New Testament states that we are to respect authority and that, like it or not, God puts people in positions of authority over us.*2  

Focus onto a mother’s little kingdom of the home. If God is there, we should find, not a democracy, but an absolute monarchy. In a Christian home, mother is queen. She serves with love, sympathy and dedication; while she expects from her children: honor, loyalty and obedience. Children do not have equal say. It doesn’t mean they can never share an opinion, share their feelings, make a decision, or even negotiate, but it is generally accepted that Dad and Mom set the rules and uphold them.  

Robert Fulton

Habits Reduce Friction
Lay down the rules in your house. Then, lay down the rails of habit. Every locomotive runs along rails. The railroad track allows this enormously heavy engine to glide along, pulling its cars, without friction. But someone (with much muscle) someone with slow and steady effort, laid down the rails – often in the sweltering heat of the day. Miss Charlotte Mason, said, “The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days: while she who lets their habits take care of themselves has a weary life of endless friction with children.”*3

Two Weeks
Anything you or your child do for at least two weeks – and do consistently – is becoming a habit. If the rule in your house if for your child to put his clothes in his laundry hamper, but he forgets and throws his clothes on the floor by the hamper on most days, he has been allowed to form a different habit. Using her habit-tool a mother trains herself, so that she can train her child.

Formation is easier than reformation – so start early and nip things in the bud. But don’t fret. You can weed out a bad habit by replacing it with a good one. “One custom overcometh another” the old saying goes. It just takes repetitive watchful diligence. It isn’t surprising that on some days, you might feel the formation-of-habit-stage to be a tiresome job. Keep at it, in due time, you will reap the fruit of the seeds you sow, and weeds you replace.  

You can start today. If you are a Christian you have a holy advantage. The Holy Spirit will guide you. Call on Him every morning. He will be by your side. 
4 Steps Toward Forming a Habit

Command:  chose an age-appropriate “must.”
Explain:  demonstrate, be an example, provide an inspiring idea 
Expect:  show confidence in your child’s God-given ability
Inspect:  inspect the “must” daily until it becomes a habit

I stood there with my arms crossed as if crossing my arms would root my determination. “The queen has spoken,” I said, reminding my children, and fortifying myself that I wasn’t going to change my mind about something I had previously commanded. I stopped short of adding, “And I mean it.” The apostle James tells us to let our yes be yes, and our no be no. Mothers need to stand on their word. To win our children’s trust our words must carry weight.

A mother speaks please and thank-you if she would like her child to do likewise. She will also demonstrate how to make a bed, hang a towel, sweep the floor, wash the dishes, speak the truth, be punctual, be thorough, if she’d like a child to do so. Along with explaining – she might also offer her child an inspiring moral idea or story. Aesop’s Fables work well.

Whatever you normally like to give your child as a privilege - can become an incentive during the habit-forming stage. You might tell your son, “After the floor is swept everyday this week, on Saturday we’ll go out and buy a new fish for the aquarium, or invite your friend Bobby to join us on the nature trail.” etc. My son was our floor boy. Earning privileges are incentives that reduce the need for punishment and reward.

With teens be diplomatic. Teens do well with stipulation; a tactful “first things first.” For instance, expect dishes to be washed immediately following lunch or supper, reserving leisure for after dishes are done – the counter-top clean and de-cluttered, sink and drain shinny, – faucet sparkling, and tea towel hung neatly on the rack to dry. Be as specific as you like with your expectations.

The godly homemaker “watches over the ways of her household.”*4 Form one habit at a time, keeping watch over those already formed. If your child hangs up his bath towel the first, second, and third time in a row, don’t stop your inspection there. Follow through. If he forgets on Thursday, the habit will take longer to form. Avoid lapses. Consistency is the key for both mother and child.

What new habit would you like to initiate?

Is there a bad habit you would like to weed out and replace?      

Habits Keep Children
There are habits of right thinking as well as right living. The habit of truth-telling and not fibbing out of cowardice comes by training the conscience. Habits keep children. If my verb sounds strange it’s because the sentence begs particulars. The only useful habits children keep are the ones we train in them.

“Keep” is also a noun. In 1987 we walked through the grounds of Windsor Castle not far from London. It was a mild February day. Surrounded by a mound of green grass and hundreds of yellow daffodils, was the castle-keep. This cylindrical building with its thick walls of stone was once a retreat for the royal family in times of political danger.

Good habits are like castle-keeps. They protect and preserve. Teaching courtesy, punctuality, attentiveness, thoroughness, neatness, purity, industry, integrity, teaching please and thank-you, demonstrating affectionate hellos and goodbyes, keep a child respectful, grateful and diligent. Who does this honor and please most?*5 

End Notes
*1  Galatians 5:16
*2  Romans 13:1, 2
*3  Charlotte Mason, Home Education, page 136
*4  Proverbs 31:27
*5  Colossians 3:20

A Program for Sure and Steady Habit Training
Habits of obedience are what the Accountable Kids program, age 3 to 14, is all about. I’ve introduced this book to my class and handed out copies to those interested. The tangible reminder cards and tickets are a big help for little ones. 

Children with attention deficiencies have greatly benefited from this program. Any way you look at it, the practice of earning privileges, and of receiving the natural consequence of our actions and attitudes, are preparation for life. My daughter uses this program. It is making a difference with her two busy, boisterous little boys. The six-year-old no longer needs a reminder card to make his bed, sit still long enough to finish his breakfast, feed the cat, and take care of the guinea pig cage each morning. What a relief. What joy. This season, as home teaching has begun, he is embarking upon a new set of habits. His little brother is learning to answer, “Yes, Mommy.”  

May something shared here be useful in your life.

To visit my post; an introduction to “The Majesty of Motherhood.” Click title.
The mailbox for sharing "Comments" on "What is Mother Culture?" is now open. 

Karen Andreola


  1. Awesome post, Karen! Very good advice on child training. :-)

  2. How special that you are able to teach a Sunday School class for moms!

    Dianne L

  3. Thank you for this post Karen - it was encouraging and full of good reminders. I am printing it out so I can re-read it frequently as we work on habit training! On another topic - one of my friends that I gave your "Mother Culture" cd to called the other day to tell me how much she liked it and that she had listened to it several times and was encouraged. And after hearing your words, she was inspired to take up playing the piano again. She now practices daily for 15 min. when her children first go down for their naps and then 15 min. when they first go to bed. She said her practicing is making a big difference in the lives of the whole family. :)

  4. Dear Kare, Oh, I loved reading this post.So much wisdom spoken here.Just finished reading myself Proverbs 8 and 9. Speaks much about wisdom.8:33 says...Listen to my instruction and be wise,do not ignore it.34:Blessed is the man who listens to me,watching daily at my doors,waiting at my doorway. There is preparation work for the Christian to learn obedience,and so it is too with child training. Just loved how this all tied in to my morning reading.I do hope you are well Karen and your family also. Blessings,Dawn E. Brown

  5. What sweet Girl With Watering Can pictures!

    Weeding and tending seem to be never ending tasks. Though my children grew up and left to make their own homes, the weeding and tending still goes on in my own life.

    To this very day, if I make the bed, the rest of the house tending will follow fairly smoothly. If I fail to make the bed, I only become lazier as the day passes.

    It can surely be overwhelming when we finally wake up and notice the weeds in our lives. I like Miss Mason's calm assurance of, "one habit at a time."

    May you and your students find great delight and great benefit in your time together!


  6. Karen,
    Thank you for sharing this with us today. You have inspired me to continue to good work that the Lord has set before me with your clear and tangible ideas.

    Angela D.

  7. Mom,I found this post heartening, especially today while driving two tired, hyper little boys home from a beach vacation. It was a good reminder to hear that I am the Queen. :) I especially appreciated the notion of laying down the tracks of good habit. Many an evening I feel worn from the labor required for this task. The reward is well worth the effort. Nothing brings my heart more joy than seeing my children happily performing a good habit.
    Thank you for having an open heart all those years ago when my naughty two year old self brought you some embarrassment. I hope you can see in my life now that I have not departed from the training with which you blessed me as a child.

  8. This is so good, Karen!

    We just spent a week with a family that is all about pleasing the children, and they are not little ones either. It was not a great experience, as they were rude, self focused and unhappy. Sigh.

    Our children while not perfect, were happy, enjoyed themselves, expressed thanks to their Dad for treats and meals out, etc.

    We do need to continually work on these habits and disciplines, or we will lose them. But I am thankful for the atmosphere in our home because of them!


  9. Wow! This is full of wonderful practical advice. Thank you.

  10. I have limited computer time lately so I haven't had much chance to comment but I wanted you to know I'm sharing this on Facebook!

  11. Karen! How exciting to read the wisdom you've been blessed to teach & share with the ladies of your church! I was blessed, too, to read your dear daughter's comment; what a sweet testimony it is to know the words you share with us here as well as in your books are based in real-life application. Blessings to you, my friend! Lifting you in prayer as you teach. :) xo Lisa

  12. How blessed are those mothers in your Sunday School class. You have so much wisdom to share with them, and with everyone here and then of course your books. How, I wish I would have known about Charlotte Mason and Mother Culture when my little ones were coming up. I guess, I did a fairly well job of raising my kiddos, especially not having much Godly influence from the outside, but as you mentioned...I was a Christian mother and the Holy Spirit guided me along the way which was the best influences of all :) Blessings friend

  13. Hi Karen! Thank you for such a lovely and encouraging post. We have been working diligently on habits here lately. I'm reading Simply Charlotte Mason's Laying Down the Rails. I am really enjoying it. :-)

    I wish that I was a tiny bit closer, so that I could join you in your Sunday school class. :-)

    I love picture of you when you were a wee one. :-)

  14. This is one of my favourite posts of you - so full of wisdom from experience. I will keep it in my mind and surely come back to it.
    I also love your observation "we don't all have equal roles". It sounds old-fashioned but I think children might be grateful to know their roles and boundaries if we as adults behave consistently.
    I love the beautiful late summer photos. What a well-kept garden!

  15. This post is golden.

    The ladies in your class are very blessed to glean from your wisdom and experience. Thank you for allowing your readers to be the proverbial "flies on the wall."

    I have been mulling over the concept of authority myself lately, as I plan to include the topic at some point in my blog series about homeschooling. It is vital.

  16. This is very timely. We have a few bad habits that have dug in their heels. I try to show myself a little gentleness... life has been so chaotic that socks on the floor (while they are annoying to my visually-oriented psyche!) have not seemed important enough to squawk about. On the other hand, a Queen doesn't squawk, does she? ;-) Maybe some royal pronouncements are due. The moms who have you as a Sunday School teacher are graced indeed. Peace, Kristyn