i don't claim to know it all. i don't claim to be perfect. i just claim to love jesus.

Friday, April 29, 2011

on parenting

well i'm not going to claim to be an expert. at all. but i have five kids. so i'm a parent. and i just feel the need to blog about it. so i am. :)

a few weeks ago i got my hair cut with the three big girls. ((it was such a fun "girls day")). while there i saw another mom and her two boys. the older of the two didn't want to sit to get his haircut, totally fine. totally understand. then she'll all "no mcdonald's. sit down. no mcdonald's. come on sit down. no mcdonald's. sit. okay fine. you want to sit on my lap." the whole conversation lasted a good few minutes. and kicking and screaming from said child. who was five or so. i watched this mom parent her children the entire time we were there. she allowed her 18 month old to wander around the salon and grab HOT curling irons out of the 'spots'. sharp scissors. hair spray. you name it. he was grabbing it. while she sat in the chair, never once getting up, saying "don't touch that. come here. don't touch that". ((at one point i had to take back what he took out of the cart thingy and told him no. and he totally avoided me the rest of the time.)) at the hair place you are allowed to get a prize after a haircut. the older boy successfully got his haircut and took a prize. then decided later it wasn't what he wanted. he wanted a sucker...or FIVE instead. so he proceeded to stuff his pockets with the suckers. while his mom said. "come on now. put those back". as he proceeded to stuff them in his pockets. and then run at her full force and hit her on the head. more like slap her. whatever. she bundled up her boys. and walked out the door saying come on now, let's go to mcdonald's. with the suckers STILL in his pocket.

i just shook my head. i mean seriously. you think he's going to listen to you when you "threatened" him with no mcdonald's...he did not obey you...and then stole suckers...did not obey you. and you take him there any ways. he totally knew you would. which is why he knew he also didn't have to listen to you in the first place.

i always laugh when i hear parents threaten their kids with outlandish things. i once heard a mom say okay no birthday party for you. really?! i mean REALLY?! will you really cancel the party? nope. didn't think so. ((the little girl knew it too and never obeyed)). i'm sure i've done it too. but have since realized how foolish it is. shaun has too. he once threatened to throw away all of our toys. so i asked him really? will you? he just looked at me and realized how goofy it sounded. ((it didn't make the kids pick them up either because they knew he wouldn't)) over the past few months i've seen God do an amazing work on my husband and his parenting. he's grown so much. and it's such a blessing to see. he isn't a pushover anymore YAY!!

i really think a lot of the problem come when parents try to be their kids friends. i don't need to be their BFF. my job as a parent is to parent them, not be their BFF. i feel that i need to be the mom FIRST friend SECOND. i'm not saying to not be friends with your kids. because i love the friendships i have with my kids. it's when that friendship is put before the relationship of parent/child it becomes a problem.

confidence is key. my kids know when i say something. i mean it. i'm not going to sway. i'm not going to give in if they cry,whine, pout, etc long enough. their tears don't do anything to me in those situations. you can be mad or sad or whatever at me. but i still mean what i say. and i will follow through too. empty threats are useless to parents. don't follow through with one threat...and then another...well your kid will figure it out and bamo...they act like they're in charge. and you've let them.

i've seen so many times where a child is telling the parent what to do. or not do. and the parent listens?! that is so backwards. and then they wonder why their child won't listen to them?

yesterday i took the five kiddos out to eat for lunch at a sit down place. i had a number of people tell me how "brave" i was. i just smiled. but then giggled too. bravery to me...is not going out to eat with my children. bravery to me is jumping off a cliff. or out of a airplane. or fighting in wars. they're my kids. we need to eat. i was lazy. and wanted chicken noodle soup. so we went out to eat. i guess we've never not taken our kids anywhere. since little one we've always taken them in public. they've been 'trained' on how to behave. they know they're expected to not throw fits. not whine. etc etc. and if they do they're taken in the bathroom and talked to. i refuse to take a child "out" of a place for misbehavior. i personally feel like if i take them out to the car for the temper tantrum they threw it's rewarding them. and not showing them how to act appropriately. when we take them in to the bathroom we have stern discussion. tell them that is not acceptable to (fill in the blank). that they will walk out of the bathroom not throwing a fit. and they will sit at the table quietly and eat. and if they do it again we will come in the bathroom again and they will get a tap on the bottom. usually it only takes on visit to the bathroom. i do not feel like there is anything wrong with a spanking. i feel like it is wrong to beat your child. to act out in anger against your child. but spanking, done in love and not anger, is acceptable to me and works for our family.

a sweet friend once said to me, she needed to respond. not react. that spoke volumes to me. so often when we're angry we can 'react' badly. but taking the time to calm down and then respond to behavior, is so much better. i've been working on that myself. to respond. not react. it's amazing how much it's changed in our family.

in our mom's room at our homeschooling co-op we were talking about discipline. one mom said how she doesn't count to three. it only means you can disobey on one and two. ummm. love that. it's so true. because really...most kids take til three to *maybe* listen. i've never been a counter really...i used to babysit a lot and it didn't work with them. so why would it work with my kids. but i agree completely with her statement.

we've been working on obeying. did you know obey means to listen the FIRST time? i didn't. i thought it meant to just listen. but it means the first time. since implementing the "obey the first time" rule...i've seen HUGE changes in my kids. and not only must they obey the first time they must do it with a happy cheerful heart. sure it can be a struggle, but the heart attitude needs to be corrected as well. my children will continue to do the task they were asked until they have the correct heart attitude. they will sit on the couch if need be for however long until their heart is corrected. we don't do the "minute per age" because who am i to decide how long it takes to corret their heart? that's God's doing. and the heart change is clearly evident, so they can't fake it either.

you also need to be consistent. i struggled a bit with the consistency issue while battling my PPD. and it showed. now that we've gotten back on track..ah...so much better. what you say and do today, better be what you said and did yesterday, and what you will say and do tomorrow. if it's not....why should your children believe you?

no kids are perfect. i know that. mine are far from it. and i'm far from the perfect mother. i've just learned that i need to be their confident. consistent parent. and take no crap for lack of better words. my kids are not allowed to ask "why" they were asked to do something. ((of course they can ask why the sky is blue? grass green? etc)) but they are not allowed to ask me "why" about other things. my answer to them is "you don't get to ask why. you just obey". i do not have to explain myself to them. if i tell them to clean up their room, they clean their room. i do not have to tell them "why" they have to clean their room. there is also no back talking. at all. period. they do not tell me "no". if they decide to, they are told that. you do not talk to me that way. they're made to say sorry and ask for forgiveness.

we started that new recently. asking for forgiveness. if someone does something to hurt the other they need to apologize and ask "do you forgive me?" i think this is an important thing. it's hard for anyone to ask for forgiveness, but forgiveness is so important. and if it's instilled in them at a young age, it is hopefully something that will not go away, but stick with them. so as teens and adults if they do something wrong they can ask the other person for forgiveness. and it won't be something difficult to do.

we've also learned to not give our kids' excuses. like say oh that's just the way she/he is. well if the behavior isn't okay. then no. they can't be that way. we showed caitlyn too much grace for way too long. which resulted in fit throwing that could win awards!! when we finally said. wait. NO. you cannot behave like that. just because that is the way you are...doesn't mean that is the way you have to be. even evaleigh is not given excuses. sure she is a baby. but there are certain things she can understand. we went throwing a "pinching" stage during nursing. she'd totally just pinch me on my breast...and it hurt. so i took her off. and told her no. and then gently 'flicked' her hand. she learned in a few feedings she could not pinch. and hasn't done it since. if we show too much grace for too long...the behavior will only get worse. and then harder to correct. we need to be correcting always. if they throw a toy across the room, you tell them they can't do that. you don't "shluff" it off on them being to "little" to get it. they are smarter than we give them credit for. so be sure to always be correcting, not giving excuses. it's not fun to discipline. but it's worth it, when you get the correct behavior the next time.
it may seem drastic sometimes. but i think that all of this hard work i'm putting into parenting my kids will only benefit  me in the end. the no fit throwing rule allows us to eat in peace in public 99.9% of the time. the other traits we carry allows us to parent our children 100% of the time. they know when we say "stop splashing in that puddle" that if they don't obey the first time, there will be consequences. and we should not have to say it more than one time. i've found that if i've allowed the behavior to continue for longer and longer that one of two things will happen. 1. as a parent you just quit asking. they continue to disobey, and aren't made to listen at all. or 2. you get madder and madder and madder. and they continue to disobey. both ways are not the outcome i want. i want my children to obey, not disobey.

my children are not obedient all of the time. in a perfect world maybe. but this ain't no perfect world. so shaun and i, with God directing us, parent our children the way He shows us how. and in the same ways that He parents us. with love. and with loving discipline. oh how i wish i could say i am obedient to God 100% of the time. but the truth is i'm not. because i'm not perfect. but He is. and i'm oh so thankful for that.

i can only pray you've read this with an open heart. like i said, i'm totally not an expert. i've only shared what works for our family. and quite honestly it works well. all praise has to go to God. we always get a people coming up to us in public exclaiming how well our children are behaved. how they've never seen such well behaved children. how proud we should be. oh boy are we proud. proud of the work God has done in our lives and the lives of our children. but i'll admit, it feels a bit awkward to be told all these things, but it also feels pretty darn good. it sort of reassures me, us, that we ARE doing a good job. and heck, who doesn't like a compliment. ;)

14 loving words from you.:

Jen said...

Our former pastor says that delayed obedience is the same as disobedience.

I have a lot of trouble ignoring parenting situations like in that salon. Those parents KILL me. In our house, you disobey, you suffer consequences, period.

And I did cancel a birthday party once and my kid survived. AND thought better about his behavior next time, let me tell ya.

Amy said...

I personally love when christmas season rolls around and all you hear is " you better watch it Santa isn't going to come... OR Santa is going to take all your toys back".
Grant and I joke about that all the time. His boss (who is a big santa will take toys back) was saying how his daughter wasn't behaving, Grant almost blurted out "oh what is the Easter Bunny gonna come and take her candy back" lol.
Great post!

Sarah MP said...

Following through is key. I've learned that from my love and logic class. I threatened to throw away a favorite toy, and I did it! Olivia stole from a store so we took her to the police station. It's about imprinting....mom is serious when she asks you to do something. Then, celebrating when things go as planned. Positive reinforcement is an imortant piece of the puzzle too!

Christy said...

Thank you so much for this reminder. It was exactly what I needed and came at the perfect time. Without realizing it most of the time when I'm preoccupied with something, when I don't feel well, or when we're in a hurry it is very easy for me to slip into bad habits of parenting such as too many warnings, counting, yelling from the other side of the room(house,car,yard,etc) and the only thing we ever end up with in our house is mommy getting frustrated and angry, and continued disobedience from my daughter. I know how to respond without reacting but lately with me feeling so drained and tired the bad habits on my part have come to roost. Thank you so much for the reminder of the basics, those principals that I started with but have let slip through. You are an awesome mommy and it shows. I could only hope to have as much figured out as you have. Thanks again ;)

Michelle - Blessed Mom of 4 said...

Thanks for sharing this! I've been working hard lately on responding and not reacting. A great resource that we have found so helpful in applying what the Bible says in regards to many situations is For Instructions in Righteousness from Doorposts. They also have a ton of other great products!

Jessica-MomForHim said...

About asking for forgiveness...that is really important. Our kids always have to say, "Sorry, (name), sorry for (offense). I will try not to do it again. Will you forgive me?" This was most important to my husband, whose idea it was, from before we had kids. Then the book "The Five Languages of Apology" came out and it made sense to me--people need to hear an apology in different ways, so doing all of the above covers your bases! :-)

And about taking kids out in public, I had to take my 5 kids to Home Depot by myself today to order our carpet (which took a little longer than I thought). An employee asked me, "Are they all yours? All girls? Any twins?" (Yes, yes, and no--all common questions I hear all the time!) Then she said, "You are going to have your hands full when they are teenagers!" I responded with, "Well, we are doing the hard work now, so hopefully it will make it easier down the road" (meaning discipline, like you mentioned).

The kids were great and listened well even though it took awhile. Later the same employee commented, "Boy, they sure are well-behaved." I was glad to hear that, and we always make sure to point it out to the girls later, making sure they heard the "good report" to reinforce their behavior.

Lindy said...

Consistency. I have watched a mom at MOPS threaten over and over and not follow through. That was eye opening to me, because I did it too! I tell my kids to "obey" also, not listen. THey are listening, they are just not doing what they are told. I have to say, I count. It works for us, but I have to follow through. A stranger told me at the craft store yesterday "good job" because I counted and when Martin hadn't come back to me, I put him in the cart like I said I would. It made me feel good! Thanks for posting this. I am going to have to work on responding. That was a very helpful thought for me.

Emily said...

Great post! Thanks for talking about this. I needed this as disciplining is what we are working on around here. I find that as I work everyday with my 2 and 1 year old they understand what they are allowed to do and not do.

-stephanie- said...

Great post. We are working on obeying the first time over here. I tell them if they are not obeying us as parents then they are not obeying God and they are serving the devil. That gets through to them.

See you Tuesday.

ACW said...

I love this! Thank you. I'm trying to figure out how to handle my 2 year old and some advice from veteran parents is great. I think I'm done with the counting. And do you have any ideas when your spouse doesn't follow suit? Daddy lets you do things, but mommie doesn't. Any advice?

prettybyrdie said...

I hesitate to comment on this, and just let me say that I think you are a good mom and I know you love your kids, but I just wanted to offer my perspective. I was spanked as a child, by loving, Christian parents who followed every guideline, never in anger, etc. And I was very good, learned to behave quickly, never got into trouble as a teenager, went to school and worked hard, married a Christian man, everything my parents wanted for me. I know that it was an "effective" means of discipline. In short, it worked.

But inside, the humiliation, disrespect, self-loathing, and fear that I felt as a toddler being spanked has stayed with me. Even at two I felt the injustice of the situation acutely. I felt that if my parents did just explain "why", that I would obey. (My mom usually did do this, and I obeyed very well when I knew why I was doing what I was supposed to be doing). I knew that it was wrong to hit, even as my loving father explained why it was happening. I learned only to behave, not to change my heart or deal with the consequences of misbehavior. The spanking was over before I ever had time to worry about what I had done wrong, and I not only felt redeemed by the punishment, I felt resentful of the parents who were allowed to set the rules because they were bigger and stronger. After a spanking, my only thought was that they were guilty, not me.

As an adult, the consequences of the way I was disciplined have stayed with me. In my self-esteem, in my relationship with my husband, in my relationship with Jesus. After acknowledging this about myself, I did some research on the subject and found that I am not alone. Many adults who were physically disciplined as children, even gently and lovingly, have the kind of problems I do. I also found that other forms of discipline can be just as effective, if used consistently.

I also know that in our Christian culture, it is seen as biblical to spank. To that, I say as always, look to Jesus. I think, after doing some research, that the verses used to support spanking have been taken out of context, and I believe that by looking to Jesus, we can find a new way to discipline, to change the heart and not just the behavior.

I don't say these things to make you feel bad or impose my beliefs. Nor do I want to start some kind of big spanking debate. I think that many children are spanked with no long-term negative consequences. I just wanted to share my experience in the hope that you may look into the alternatives and perhaps think about new ways to discipline that reflect the way our actions have consequences as adults.

Kristin said...

I agree with you, Amanda. I am always told how good my girls are and the thing is, I don't expect anything less. I don't think it's an extra when they behave. I think it should be expected and so I have never accepted anything less. I don't tell them more than once to behave and they know I mean it. If they begin to throw a tantrum or whine, I immediately say No Ma'am in a very stern voice and I am not playing and they know it. I just don't understand parents who bargain with their kids or threaten, knowing they will never follow through. I don't get the counting thing either. I don't spank. I'm not a perfect parent and my girls have their moments. I've been known to bribe every now and then, but it's very rare. Everyone always says how mild mannered and laid back I am, so maybe that's why my girls are the same way? I certainly try not to judge other parents though, because I know some kids are just terrors. LOL! But most things they let them get away with shock me!

Veronica said...

Hey there! Late reading this but I'm so glad I made it over. You and I have talked about this very topic before and you know I have lots to learn in this area. I'm still working on being better about not taking my anger out on the girls when they do things that aren't good. It's easy for me to take things to extremes and then scream my head off! I'm also a counter...shoot me, lol!

The Lord is continuing to work on me and I'm thankful for your help. Lord knows I can use every bit of it!

He & Me + 3 said...

I pray all the time that I will be the parent He wants me to be for my children. I think you are a great mom and that this was written very well. Thank you so much for sharing. Parenting is not easy...but it is so rewarding. I don't like the empty threats either. That is a tough area for most parents.