Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Headgate Revisited

About a month ago I realized that I hadn't read "The Headgate" article in quite a long while. Somehow in my move it had been misplaced. I emailed and received a new copy. It was the one thing I did read while on our latest trip. I have been pondering it this last month.

So just what are my thoughts now after a year of first being introduced to it? Still love it! I came away with a strong impression again about how true the principles are. These principles aren't new, they've been around a long time, but I respond to the way she articulated the principles in her article.

Through rereading it I was able to review and look back over the changes we had made the last year and say we grew and changed significantly in our family. What a year of growth we had. I didn't do wonderful with all the principles but there was a great awareness and application that took place. Below are the five aspects of The Headgate. I have "scored" how I thought I did this past year. I will then talk about each principle.
  1. Create a House of Order Score: Good
  2. Require Work Score: Okay
  3. Inspire Daily Score: Good
  4. Understand Lessons and Daily Application Score: Fair
  5. Close the Headgates Score: Great
Create a House of Order. I gave myself a good on this. Most of this step was something that I thought that I already knew, understood and applied. I didn't really focus on this step and so I think I missed some application that I now understand.

I did learn a lot about this subject this past year in other readings I pursued. I learned about gender roles, modesty and submission. There were some examples of this step on her website that at the time (a year ago) I didn't accept. I don't know now that I agree with here absoluteness on those situations, but I am much, much more in agreement with her now. I realize that I need to embrace my role of wife and mother and not pawn it off on my husband because I'm tired, etc.

Another thought I had while striving to do a better job of letting my husband preside and protect me was that often I tend to jump in and "man-handle" the situation since I felt my husband couldn't. Upon reflecting I thought about the word "man-handle." That was exactly what I have been doing, and that is very wrong. I am now striving to submit and embrace my gender role. In that process I have seen more order in my home as well as finding that I am finding greater happiness personally.

I am rereading this step again now with more understanding. More thoughts have come on how I can improve.

Require Work. I only gave myself an okay on this step. I was asked recently by a reader how I have done with requiring work in our little house. We have really improved overall from where we were at a year ago, but still we haven't done so hot. This is a powerful principle that has been the very hardest for me to apply. When I'm not focused it's easy to just end up doing school work in the morning instead of working. I have long since jumped off of the conveyor belt but sometimes I can see traces of it still popping up in random places. When we buckle down and work we get an amazing amount accomplished and we all feel great (despite sometimes an initial grouchy attitude). I see instant results when I refocus on work in our home. The kids cherish their free time and use it very wisely.

At least half of the boys' free time they choose to spend learning. They read a tremendous amount, but they also play hard outside. (Right now they are building a fort like the Sackett fort). Since rereading the Headgates I have reapplied this principle and again seen tremendous results.

The hard step in this is figuring out what to clean after you've cleaned everything very well. This is especially hard in this little house. There are only so many walls to clean! I strive for about two hours (hopefully in the morning) of work. If we have to go somewhere in the afternoon and they won't get their free time I usually let up on the morning work a little. As I've struggled to figure out work to assign the simple answer has been to pray for help to know what they should do. As always when I knock the Lord will give an answer. He cares what they do for work also! Involving Him in the daily work plan helps motivate me to stay on this path and not deviate back to old tendencies.

Another principle that I relearned was her way to teach work (which comes from Lara Gallagher).  First they work with, then near and then independently of you.

To recap: We did okay this past year, but I have a strong testimony that requiring work is vital. I am recommitted to this step!

Inspire Daily. We scored a good on this. This principle I have learned and studied about in great detail through TJEd. Since reading this article I have limited my momschool time with them to just reading the current read a loud. By this I mean that my momschool/kidschool does not include a long or short list of things to read, practice and get through with them. Usually after dinner (at noon) I read a couple of chapters to whoever wants to listen. This is most often just the middle two. My read a louds are targeted to them as they need the most inspiring. Liberty has no problem going off and reading by herself. The last couple of books we have read are the first two Sackett books by Louis L'Amour, The Red Scarf Girl, The Hiding Place and now we are reading The Story of the Trapp Family Singers. We have had great discussions and they have been inspired by these stories. My simple goal has been to have them reading hundreds of books on their own. While they haven't read anywhere close to hundreds of books they have read a great many.

My husband and I have discussed how that the last couple of weeks we really feel that we are seeing a tremendous fruit of our labors with our children. They have an amazing breath of knowledge and are very well behaved. (The 8 year old sometimes has a problem with the wiggles and giggles in Primary and Cubscouts. He is doing a lot better though). The fruits we have seen I believe can be traced back to the hours we have spent in the classics together. I also attribute their compressive knowledge of gospel doctrine and scripture events to the hours upon hours we have studied together in daily family scripture study. They have been inspired not only in the classics but in the scriptures and all of them read the scriptures daily on their own with often no prompting.

Understand Lessons and Daily Application. I gave myself a fair on this one. In all fairness my children already know how to read and write and so there weren't necessarily lessons that needed to be learned from a 3R's standpoint. So here again is a step I sort of glossed over thinking I had it down. In hindsight I realize that I did miss out on some things. I did hold some writing lessons a year ago, but I was bored and they were bored and we dropped it.

Some important principles in this step are the "return and report" model which I already had a testimony in. This is an important model to adapt to my life.

Another important part of this step is to only teach them information that they need right them. Her example of not vomiting all the phonics rules on the them in first reading lesson is very valid.

I have also agreed with her point of teaching them things that are the most practical and things they can get daily application out of. I have refocused on this and noticed that there are basics things that my kids didn't know. A simple, silly example of this is during family prayer. We sing a hymn every time we have family prayer and sometimes we need hymnals for the hymn that is chosen. We realized through a couple of events that our children didn't not know how to share a hymn book. It usually broke out into a fight. At church the pews we sit on hold four hymnals. One for each child and one for me to share with whoever is sitting by me. (Hubby is on the stand). Because of this I hadn't ever realized that they couldn't (or wouldn't) share. So we had a "How to share the hymnal properly with your neighbor-whoever that may be" lesson. Since then they apply that regularly when we sing for family prayer. Another silly lesson is that we also noticed they were putting their scriptures away while a speaker was bearing their testimony at the end of a FHE lesson or a talk at church. We taught them how rude this is and that etiquette required them to wait until after the meeting was over to organize their belongings. These are simple lessons that they apply on an almost daily basis now and so these lessons are understood.

There are many lessons I realize that I need to teach my children that have nothing to do with math and science, but are important for life. This is another step that I realize that there are many things I can still be working on with my family.

Close the Headgates. We did so fantastic at this! This was my focus the entire year. The concept was talked about continually in our family and also among our friends. It is a regularly understood term. We not only removed 75% of our personal belongs, but we also put up the TV and the Wii.  We do still have them though. In the 9 months or so since we put up the Wii we have gotten it out once and we didn't even really play with it.  (I think we will probably get rid of it soon?) We have gotten out the TV/DVD more than that, but it's a chore to get it and we have it narrowed down to a very select list of movies we watch. I'd say we average a movie once a month.

Are children really don't have any toys now. They don't even care. They have some army men. They play with those occasionally. Maybe once a month. Lego's? We still have them, but they are put up also. In the fall they got them out a couple of times but didn't play with them very long and asked if we could put them away. I think they'll want to get rid of them soon.

So what do they play with? They have their "high impact battle swords" (I think that name is funny and I always say it. Sorry). They also bought fowling pieces at Valley Forge a couple of weeks ago. They also play with sticks, rope, yarn (when they ask permission) and metal junk they find on our land in the old barns. They play hard and make forts and fight in wars together. Their weapons get "checked" at the door in the mud room because chivalry says you don't come into a home armed.

Gone are the electronic toys, gone are the art supplies, gone are the costumes, gone are the puzzles and gone is the junk! It has been so liberating and wonderful.

I can't neglect to add that I removed personal headgates from my life that I was "busy" with and it has allowed me to focus on learning, inspiring and living my gender roles. I can't begin to describe how life changing these concepts have been for our family
In Conclusion, The Headgate article has truly brought amazing changes to our family. We have seen wonderful growth. The principles that I applied have helped me understand the principles of Zion and it prepared me to receive so much further light and knowledge that I would not have received had I not closed my own personal headgates. Once I allowed our family to be released of some of society's trappings I found growth. I look forward to better applying the other principles that I skipped over before.


buzy bee said...

I recently re-read her article as well. I was very impressed by the hidden principles that I missed the first time. Principles like...why are my children doing things out of duty or out of love.... and leading out by valuing my time so my children can value theirs.

There were many more insights I had and it was beautiful to me. Now that I have applied many of the "rules" and order principles I can see the truths I didn't see when I needed do focus on the outward evidences. I now will be working on the inner principles of teaching my children how to be something by being something myself.

We also have changed the work we are doing. I will have to blog about it and share with actually was inspired by a friend but it has been a great blessing at our house lately.

ℛℯℬℯḉḉα said...

I'm in the process of re-reading also. Crazy how the need to revisit has come. I can't believe how much deeper it seems this time. I feel more ready to accept principles and make additional improvements in our family.

I love the house of order and want to better teach my married children. I'm finally ready to really let the legos go with or without permission. They play only occasionally. It has been a crutch "just in case". Now I am realizing I have not been trusting the inspiration I received. I am recognizing other crutches too. It's time to learn to walk.

jsb said...

Great thoughts and insights. I too have re-read the article and FAQ in the last week. Is something afoot? ;)

Thanks for sharing.

Sea Star said...

I need to revisit this article. I wish I could put good next to each of those principles. But I guess it is progress to say we are doing okay on most. Lots of room to improve!

Tristan said...

Okay, what article are you talking about because I'm pretty sure I need to read it?!

rneweyfamily said...

I just finished reading this a couple of weeks ago. I had heard a lot about it, but I really enjoyed reading for myself. Lots to think about.

Cherie said...

Wonderful thoughts! I love how candid you are in describing how your family has responded to different concepts, and how you can improve. It's great to see principles afoot in older children and how they work out as I'm trying to teach my little ones here. As usual, thank you for writing this, it's always a pleasure!

Lara said...

Thanks for your inspiring article. I have been eyeing the Headgate article too so maybe I will pull it out today. I have spent all my energy this last year hunting down and destroying every last wrong headgate I could find in my home. Some days it was so hard I didn't think I could go on but I knew I had to do this before my entertainment addicted son could progress. I have finally done it! I found even the secret hidden ones (with Keri's help) and now he is finally, FINALLY, moving forward with his education. Do you want to hear what the last one was? Reading before bed. Who would have thought?? They wasted their free time because they knew they could always read for an hour before they went to bed. Once I realized this I quickly enforced a lights out rule at bedtime. Now my two readers guard their free time like a precious gift and spend many hours reading every day. Wonderful!

Wrong headgates never stop popping up however. Another surprising one in our home was Indexing. What an exciting thing it is to get on the computer to push buttons all in the name of service! I squished that one quickly when they wanted to spend their entire free time indexing. Now they get to do it for one hour on Sundays but I'm not sure if we will even keep that up. I just want a simple, lovely environment for my children to grow up in. The computer doesn't fit into that in any way.

I think I already mentioned here that we have been doing a lot of sewing. Like you, we have found that we can only spend so many hours cleaning our home before there is nothing left to clean. Adding sewing to our work time has been magical. We spend an hour cleaning and doing jobs and then we spend the next two hours of our morning sewing. It took me three weeks just to get caught up on the mending but then we have been able to do some fun projects and my children are finally learning how to sew. It's a beautiful thing to watch my middle (just turned six) daughter sit and make perfect little stitches on her embroidery, crochet and knitting. Through sewing I have learned some valuable things about teaching my children and myself, step by step. It's something I want to blog about if I can ever make the time. I look at the sewing as a seasonal project. As soon as it warms up we will be spending those extra two hours working outside.

Thanks again for your thoughts and for letting me share here since it's so much easier than sharing on my own blog!

Being A Mother Who Knows said...

The headgates article can be found at

Lara, I appreciated you thoughts. You can post your thoughts anytime!
: )