My kids hate writing. No, check that. My kids hate being told what to write about. They love writing when they decide when, how much, and on what topic. For example, they have created magazines, complete with ads, interviews, jokes, and puzzles. (you can buy a color copy for a buck or so).
Hannah even has a blog: Hannah's Brain: a jumbled mess of creativity (and other awesome stuff).
The final school assignment (by their beautiful and hard-working teacher) for Hannah and Elijah was to write a research paper. Simple enough, we thought.
It. Took. Forever. And ever. I think one of them is still working on it.
Anyway, you can imagine their level of distress when I made them write a three-page letter to each other. Why? I'm glad you asked . . . .
We had just gotten back from vacation, and they were struggling to adjust back to normal life. Struggle is an understatement, since they used name-calling, angry tones, and even hitting.
They're no angels, but I was caught off-guard. After all, since they are home-schooled, they're always with each other. I wouldn't have thought that they'd be suddenly at each others' throats. But maybe they had too much of each other for a week.
Or maybe they're selfish sinners, just like they're parents, and we need to continually train them in obedience to the Lord.
I came home from work, and Joanna filled me in. I know that they love each other, but they just need to remember and consider that love. So, I told them to write each other a letter, confessing what they did, explaining why it was wrong, describing what they should have done and will do next time, and also saying good things about the other person (I really wanted to end it on a positive note).
When I told them all that, and explained that it had to be three pages long, you thought I slapped them across the face (no, wait; that's what they did to each other). Tears rolled down.
I got them! "You see," I explained, "You feel bad because of your consequence. You should feel that bad -- or worse -- for hitting and treating your brother/sister unkindly!" How long this assignment took was up to them, but they would have no playing until it was done.
What a great way to start the summer, right?
They both went right to work after a little more guidance from us (after all, even though they sinned, they need to know we're still on their side). Joanna suggested they find Bible verses that apply, and include that in their letters.
How did it turn out? Once again, I'm glad you asked.
It. Was. Great.
The kids finished and handed each other their letters. And they let us read them. Our eyes teared up reading them. Here are some excerpts:
"I'm sorry for hitting you hard. It is wrong because you should never hit anybody. I was feeling angry and just could not control myself."
"In Proverbs 19:11 it says, 'Sensible people control their temper, they earn respect by overlooking wrong.' Next time I will be a sensible person and ignore what you said."
"I really enjoy when you play with me. You are very funny and tell good jokes. You are creative and are very good at crafts."
"I love to do all kinds of things with you. You are funny, silly, and smart, all made into one person. You are fun to play legos [sic] with."
"I sometimes think everyone is against me. I will try not to do that any more, because I know you will always, deep down, love me. . . . And remember this: I will always love you."
"If I had to pick an animal to describe you, I would pick a dog. You are energetic and loyal."
"You love God and I love you for this."
"We spend a lot of time together. Do you know why? Because we have true love for one another."
OK, besides one of them calling the other a "dog," isn't that just touching? And they've been so much better together since them. (Then again, I'm out of town for a few days, so it may be going all to pieces while I'm gone.)
So, the next time your kids are at each other, maybe they need a love letter to remind them of the gift of siblings.
- 4 Effective Consequences for Disciplining a Young Child
- Cruel and Unusual Punishment in Parenting
- Losing Privileges Can Hit You Like a Ton of Bricks
- Engaging and Disciplining Middle School Boys