The Words of the Goodman Family

Shim Jung Education

Nora Spurgin and Sharon Goodman
June 2, 1990
Open house of the Jin-A Child Care Center in Clifton, NJ

Mrs. Nora Spurgin and Mrs. Sharon Goodman address parents at the Jin-A Open House, June 2nd

Sharon Goodman

As a parent, I think about education and the future. An educator also thinks about what the future means for her students. You ask yourself, "How will the way I am with them now affect their future?"

So I wanted to start by sharing a little story from Korea that helps to illustrate an answer to the question: "Who are our children? Who do they belong to?"

I think we would all absolutely agree that our children are God's children. But if you were to feel that as God's children, then God and the church will take responsibility for them, that's not enough. Or, if you were to answer that our children are only ours, then that's just as incorrect because God has partnered with us in our relationship with our children. Therefore, the main point is that as parents we have this exciting and unique chance to be a partner with God.

The story I have to tell is a little humorous. In the old Korean folk tales -- although this is still a reality in some villages -- when the newly married couple come together after an all-day wedding ceremony, they usually go to the bride's house where a room has been prepared for their honeymoon night. The parents of the bride and groom stand outside the bedroom window, poking a little hole in the paper so they can watch to make sure everything goes just right. When they were satisfied that the marriage had indeed been consummated, the parents walk away very happy. We used to giggle about this, especially when we found out it really happened.

The deep point of this story is that in the first relationship between man and woman, God had to turn His head away.

In the relationship of blessed couples, He has the pleasure to be a part of it. So even before conception, at conception and through the birth, God is partnering with us in the raising of our children.

God, Our Partner in Parenting

While trying to help educate blessed children in Korea ranging in age from 10 to 19, my comfort was knowing that God was my partner. As parents, we never feel adequate enough or that we know enough. Parenting is our road to perfection and to know that God is our intimate partner is the greatest consolation that we have. In Korea, my husband and I realized these points: (1) God was our partner in loving the children and would take care of them more than we could; (2) in spite of our inadequacies, if we were as pure as we could be, as honest as we could be, then nothing we did would create any permanent damage.

I say that because parents sometimes worry, "If I do this and it's wrong, then what will I do?" With this thought in mind, we tend to do nothing about a problem. Doing nothing about a problem tells a child, "Oh, this is all right." I always felt it was better to take what you know and, letting God participate in this partnership, do what you could do as best you could. If you made a mistake, you admit it to the children and apologize. Through this kind of treatment, they learn compassion.

I find blessed children are incredibly quick to forgive. I'm just amazed! When I have to apologize to my own children, they'll say, "Omma, it's really okay."

And the other blessed children, "It's all right Sharon." It's gone immediately with no harbored resentments. As long as you stay open and up front, trying to be as pure as you possibly can, you don't have to worry about making a mistake.

That leads me to what I really wanted to talk about and that is, "being a role model." Parenting is such a responsible position. I usually call it "parent- teacher" because you are either or both constantly. Parenting is non-stop. You are a teacher from the moment the children see you until they no longer see you.

Parenting is also giving 100% all the time, so it's exhausting. That's why we need each other -- to talk things over and to comfort each other often. We need to meet together and talk about solutions for some of the problems we have to face. Parenting is scary because we know we are not perfect. We also know the ideal must be the base of everything we do. Our children have to see an ideal, so we stand in front of them as the visible form of God. When they look at us, they must see something godly if we want them to be God- loving people.

The Visible Form of God

I came to a very sobering conclusion during my experience in Korea that if children didn't have any relationship with their parents or if making that relationship was really difficult, they could not make a relationship with Cod. I saw our teenage blessed children at a time in their life when their original minds and hearts were beginning to open and expand to experience God. But if there was some reason preventing them from making a relationship with their parents, their personal relationship with God was blocked.

In fact there was one 12-year-old girl who went back to Europe to make her relationship with her mother work. She had done a lot of thinking and praying.

She was successful, and making a connection with her mother totally changed her life. She had been unable to pray but, when she returned, she was able to make incredible breakthroughs that everyone noticed. She had a tearful, deeply loving relationship with God every day. This proved the relationship with her parents was so crucial. Witnessing this taught me that I have to make a deep, God-centered connection with my children now.

The ideal I'm talking about is the Korean word "Shim Jung." This heart is the difference in the new education system being created through the Jin-A Child Care Center. I believe it's the core and base of everything.

Sometimes when I'm speaking with other teachers or parents, they'll say, "I don't know why this doesn't work; I'm doing everything the book said. What am I supposed to do?" The missing ingredient is our lack in understanding the reason deeply enough to give them the heart or Shim Jung of the matter.

If you see two children hitting each other, it's so easy to say, "Hey over there... stop hitting." You just want to stop the action. But if you bring the two children together to explain the heart of the situation saying, "You know this is not a good way for children who love each other to act. Now I know you love him and this is not the way you want to treat him." Then you can find out what the problem is.

Importance of Relationships

Children don't know what's wrong, or they can't tell you what's wrong because either they have no idea or they don't know how to say it. You may have to tell them what's wrong: "Well I see you wanted that toy, but you just pulled it away." "Yeah, that is what happened." "You could say to your friend, 'You've had this toy for a long time, could I play with you?' If he says 'no' and that he wants to play with it by himself, then you could ask him, 'May I play with that after you are finished?" The child will always say "yes" and then they're like brothers again. You have to teach both of them that they are brothers and this is not a good way for brothers who love each other to act. Once they have that feeling they feel a responsibility to each other. As soon as that happens, you won't find yourself dealing with that kind of situation very often.

I feel children must see a role model. I had worked at one school for a short time when I observed that one teacher was not providing a role model. To the children this meant that the "bully" always wins. If there is no role model, then you are not physically, spiritually and emotionally protecting the children. They want to feel that when you're there, they're safe to set their original mind and heart free. In that kind of security, the most wonderful atmosphere is created where they're not working from fear but are actually learning to enjoy relationships. I think that this is the hardest thing for young children and for us to learn. That's because through relationships you can actually teach the ideal or Shim Jung. In fact, you can teach everything when you teach through relationships.

When it comes to dealing with a relationship problem, you had better stop everything you're doing. If you stop everything and go over to the trouble spot then what message does that give?

The children will stop and think, "Wow, this must be really important. Mom stopped everything she was doing to see what's happening here. This must be really important."

The same thing happens in school: Everyone stops, "Wow, this must be really important." You gave the message that something must be dealt with because you didn't ignore it. Although it may be inconvenient to deal with it, for the sake of their future, you need to do this type of parenting. When you're a teacher, you should always teach giving that message. It is a very strong message and they pay attention. If you let it slide by, then whatever behavior you saw that you didn't like, you're telling them, "That's okay." So even at the risk of being a little wrong or not saying it the best way you could, you must deal with what you see.

In order to understand the ideal, children will test and challenge you to see if the ideal holds up, still works, or is really true. I have a two-year-old. Of all the ages I've dealt with, I enjoy that age the most because they're so verbal, so transparent, and so active. If they don't like something, they're going to tell you that right then and there.

In some way, they'll say, "I don't like this" -- in a tantrum or a fit of screaming. It must be dealt with then. What they're really doing is asking, "When are you going to stop me? When are you going to say 'whoa'? Where is your line? I'd like to know."

Once you have a line firmly established, they're really pleased because they know where to grow and what the limits are. As they get a little older, the limit gets a little bigger, so they will test that border. And if you haven't let it grow naturally and quickly enough, you'll soon understand the boundary needs to be larger because they are ready for something bigger.

I've seen many different behaviors in children, but they can really go to the limits of being outrageous. Such behavior does not call for patience. This behavior from a child is saying, "Help me, I need to be rescued. Where is my line?" Meanwhile if you translate it as: "My child needs help and needs to know where the boundary is," then everything can be calm again. They will test to the very limit, but we have to go the whole way with them so they can understand what the ideal really is.

Elder and Younger Siblings

One other thing that I learned in Korea concerns the relationships among siblings. In Korea, they work in a system that has built-in elder/younger brother/ sister terminology. The relationships are not only very clear, but you know who is the older one and who is a boy or girl. The True Children helped us to understand this point.

They spent a lot of time at the dormitory, talking with the children to establish the feeling of elder/younger brother/sister. That vertical relationship helped a lot.

Begin by telling the younger children, "Go ask your onni; she loves you and will be able to help you." This teaches them they don't have to depend solely on Mother and helps them make a relationship as two sisters. The older sister is going to be so pleased to have a responsibility and will start to feel a sense of being grown up. That's what you're working toward -- helping them to realize themselves. Once you have created a base where they are feeling responsible in your family or in your school, the standard will continue almost automatically. They're raising themselves and feeling very good about the growth process. You can help the younger ones look forward to the time when they can be big enough to be an 'onni'. I think we can adapt this idea and use it for our growing process in the Jin-A School system, for it's a very beautiful relationship. The jealousies that often happen between siblings wear away as they feel good about their position within the family.

We have to believe in our children's original hearts and minds, then we can see their original nature as we speak to them. Our children are strong willed, but sensitive. If you approach them with the right level of Shim Jung then they will respond without feeling hurt or intimidated. As long as you remember their original heart and mind which God built into our children so they would know and feel Him, you can use it all the time.

One of the tricks I often use is called the "magic of growing." If you can talk to your children about how proud you are of how much they are growing, then they're able to take more responsibility to put the baby things away. These little people are able to do that, it's just that we often don't take the time to ask it of them.

At every age level, you should ask, "What is my expectation and is it reasonable? Did I let my child know that this is what I expect? Did I consistently follow through without ever becoming too tired to deal with it?" These three points are the challenge of helping our children to raise themselves in the principle of growth. You want them to feel, "I'm growing and am so proud of myself that I can do this." That makes for a very healthy child who will cooperate in his own growth. This is one way I have learned to excite children.

If children can be completely confident that everything you're teaching and every rule that you have is all for their growth, they're excited to cooperate. You, as the role model, most responsibly fulfill that position for the sake of their future. If we don't deal with a problem that we see, then we are allowing a fallen nature to grow into them. That is the last thing we would want for our children. The most responsible thing we can do for the future of our children is to become their role model.

Thank you.

Nora Spurgin

I just want to say a few things about children when they get a little older. I have three teenagers and I think older children need a different kind of raising. They almost function better in a group than they do as individuals. Also a teacher becomes more valuable to them.

There's something with their relationship to a parent that can be very emotional, so a person who is a little distant from that can teach them a lot more. But there is always a need for the parent -- a deep need for security that has to be fulfilled.

I think it is very hard, when you are a parent, to distance yourself from your emotions and to really become objective when a problem occurs. If I could say just one thing to you today, I would like you to know how helpful it is to think, "Do I hear what my child is feeling -- not what my child is saying, but what he is feeling?"

With the people we love the most, our emotions often complicate the relationships. Several months ago, one of my teenagers said, "You're angry at me now, but when guests come you are so nice to them. That's the way you are: you're always nice to everybody else."

I had to really think about that comment and admit to myself that many times it was true. Home is where all the tensions come out: I'm in a hurry to get somewhere, I have to counsel someone. Somebody called and I was nice to them, only to yell at the kids about something when I hung up.

How many times did my children feel that I was nice to everyone but them? I decided that sometimes I had to make each child the first priority for my attention. I don't know whether it was just my attitude or whether it really made a difference for them -- but somehow the tension was eased a lot when I consciously tried this.

I'd just like to leave you with one thought and that is: every now and then step aside and think, "Do I hear what my child feels?" Try to respond to that point and a different feeling will develop between you and them.

There are many other things I could say, but that particular point says a lot in itself. If teenagers feel that you really love them, then they will be fine. They're testing a lot because they're growing up and don't want you to tell them everything. They have to learn much by trial and error, and yet they have to know that you are there to help guide them as soon as they turn around asking for it and even when they don't ask. 

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