The Curries

The Curries
Keith and Patricia

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Training: Homework

     Years ago, we received a note from Will’s fifth grade teacher. She just wanted us to know that Will had gotten a zero on some homework because he did not turn it in. When we questioned Will about it, he admitted that he had not done the homework. I asked him, “Why not?”
    His response, “I had soccer practice.”
    Was that supposed to make sense to us? Patricia and I looked at one another and decided to have a short parent meeting in our room. After discussing the situation, we decided to do nothing . . . until the next soccer practice. Our plan was this: zero on homework = zero soccer practice. We let the coach know, but not Will.
    When it was time to go to soccer, he was ready. “No soccer today,” we said. Then we explained our zero/zero consequence. HE LISTENED REALLY WELL.  After that day, we didn’t have problems with zeroes on homework.

    Since school is just beginning for this school year, let’s look at a few thoughts that might be helpful. Patricia and I are teachers. We were both good students, and we expected our children to do well in school. Nevertheless, we did not take it for granted that they would do well. We plowed the ground and sowed the seed to reap the right kind of harvest. You can do the same.

1.    We limited video, TV, and video games to the weekends. Monday night through Thursday night were for studies. The whole household lived by this rule. The TV was off. We all worked during the week. We might play a game together or do something fun, but video was not the answer. (There were some exceptions but they were rare). By making school and studies top priorities, we gained a lot of peace in our home.  If mom and dad agree, this is a very helpful habit to build in your home.
2.    Patricia scheduled their time after school: Snack time, playtime, practice-time, study-time, dinnertime, family time, Bible time, bedtime. We were flexible, we adjusted as necessary, but we had a plan and worked it. It worked.
3.    We had a place for homework for each of the children. Since the kids were different, they studied better at different places. Some at the table where we could see them, others in their rooms, others in the living room. We found what worked best for each one and that’s what they did. When some needed help, we were near.
4.    We kept their supplies close by. This was probably our weakest point because there were six of them and we tended to share supplies in order to save money.
5.    We checked on them. We checked their work, if necessary.

    Patricia and I are not special people. We didn’t do special things. We did proven things. We did ordinary things consistently. That’s all. If you do these same kinds of things that others passed on to us, you will get similar results. If you plant apple seeds, you reap apples. If you plant acorns, you get oaks. If you uproot video and plant schedule and place and supplies and check-up, you will reap better students . . . perhaps not immediately, but eventually.
    As you begin this school year, prayerfully decide what you want over the long haul, and set your kids up for success.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The “Other” Factor of Meaningful Purpose

    When he was six years old, Ryan Hreljak heard about the Ugandan people and their lack of water. He decided to earn the money to dig them a well. At six years old, Ryan earned seventy dollars. Proudly he took the money to his teacher at school to forward to the Ugandans. She had to explain to this little six-year-old that each well cost $2000. But Ryan was undaunted. He simply began to enlist the help of other people. Ryan got results.
    Ten years later, by age sixteen, Ryan has raised over $1,000,000, dug 319 wells in 14 countries, and provided water for almost  ½ million people. (
    What has sustained Ryan’s efforts for over ten years? He has seen his projects benefit others over and over again. Helping others motivates! Helping others motivates a person to keep going in the same direction over a long period of time.
    This is the third key area of purpose: helping others.

Help to others

    Having been in education for a number of years, I have found that teachers are motivated by “seeing the light turn on” when a child grasps a new concept. Policemen, soldiers, doctors, lawyers, builders, pastors, engineers, all are motivated by the belief that they are serving a greater good. Mother Teresa served in the slums of Calcutta for fifty years because she saw the benefit to others. This key element of purpose enables a person to keep going in the same direction for a long time.
     We are created with this social makeup that ties us to those around us. God said of Adam, “It is not good for man to be alone.” God is love and he created people with this insatiable desire to love and be loved. We turn it into a romantic, sexual love, but it is deeper than that, isn’t it? Meaning in life stems from service to others. God planted this likeness of himself in us—this tendency, this nature that finds fulfillment in service to others. Jesus said, “Greater love has no man than this: that he lay down his life for his friends.” 1 John 4:20 says, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar.”

    We must teach our children “otherness” from the beginning of their lives because it is the best refection of who God is. Before they start school, we teach them to share, to cooperate, to help, to work to contribute to the family. When we teach them these things, we are planting seeds of purpose that reflect eternal truth.

    This awareness of others and living to benefit others is Christlike. Without it, life sours. With love for others, they can begin to experience the sweetness of a deeper meaning in life. They increase their capacity for joy. Jesus commented on joy in the context of love:
John 15:10-12
    If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

    In summary, we can move our children toward “happiness” and joy by steering them toward purpose. Modern research regarding purpose is discovering the wisdom hidden in the Bible:
1)    Help our children recognize their God-given abilities
2)    Help our children realize those specific abilities that give them greater satisfaction
3)    Train our children to live for others and not for self

    If we can do these three things, we have moved our children further down the road toward purpose, toward meaningful life work, and toward joy.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

TRAINING: Pleasure in Purpose

    Although she lived in New York City, Olivia Bouler became deeply upset because of the Deep Horizon oil spill. Her concern began when she saw in the news a struggling brown pelican covered with oil. She wondered what she could do. Out of a discussion with her mom, she decided to draw pictures of Gulf Coast birds and send them as gifts to those who contributed to the Gulf Coast clean-up and recovery. Her enjoyment of drawing became centered around this project and Olivia discovered a purpose. Before long people began hearing of what she was doing and it grew. In five months time, Olivia had raised $165,000, had 9000 followers on Facebook, and discovered that she loved the study of birds. Her plans now include the study of birds in college on her way to a degree in ornithology.
    Her smaller purpose led to a larger purpose. The key in her case was doing what she enjoyed.

    To help your child find her purpose, help her discover what she enjoys doing. This does not mean what you do for her, but what she enjoys doing.

    One key to purpose pointed out by William Damon in his book The Path to Purpose is simply enjoyment. As Christians, we recognize that God has made us for a specific purpose. Finding that purpose and walking it out enables us to glorify him. (John 17:4) Each child is hard-wired for something by the Lord’s design. The enjoyment of that purpose is already in them. Eric Liddell, Olympic gold medal winner and missionary to China, said, “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.”

    As we watch our kids grow, we can observe the moments and the activities where they seem to feel God’s pleasure. God delights in us when we do his will; His delight multiplies our delight and the result is pleasure without regret.

    This kind of pleasure is a clue to a person discovering his purpose.

    Our son Jean-Luc entered the Naval Academy this summer. As early as five years old, Jean-Luc was interested in the military. As he grew, he would pore over books about weapons and war. He read books about generals and battles. His interest led him to people who encouraged him, activities that have developed leadership, and decisions that have kept him on course and out of bad company.

   Alicia is a young friend of ours who is now a senior in college. At a young age, she felt called to China. She enjoyed the Chinese people that she met and her heart of compassion simply overflowed when she contacted them. Her mother sought ways to encourage her in this direction. When a Chinese mom contacted Alicia’s mom and asked her to teach her daughter piano, Vicki (Alicia’s mom) worked out a barter for Alicia to learn to speak Chinese. That love for China and the follow through of her mom have carried Alicia through high school and college with purpose. Already she has been to China and Taiwan for extended stays.

    As parents, let’s keep our eyes open for both our children’s abilities and for their delights. These two things will help us to see connections that move our children toward life purpose.

    Next time we will discuss the third element of purpose that may be the most important factor of all.