I am loathe to criticize or condemn. In fact, in this place, more than any other, we all need to follow The Law of the Benefit of the Doubt, closer. That is, we ought to go about our world joyful. When we meet people who we think are treating us poorly or who are spreading misery about, give them a break (and give yourself one, for that matter) and give them the benefit of the doubt. It could be the worst day of their life, you never know. That is how I try to approach parenting commentary. With that disclaimer disclaimed, I have an instinctual way I parent. It works. Enough said.
Rachael’s Parenting Pearls!
1. Fear Based Parenting: Almost all parents, whether their kids are stellar students or constantly getting the red card on the way out of the classroom, have fear based parenting issues that have their little issue roots in the conventions of our society. It is hard to escape the constant loop of societal chatter that make us deathly afraid to parent. “Afraid??? I am not afraid to parent!” See, this is why I am loathe to criticize. If I may be so bold as to quote Dr. Phil, “You can’t fix what you won’t acknowledge.” He does have some gems. So…crack open the possibility that there are things in this society you are afraid of….and that these things, may….I said MAY…have some impact on how you parent. What are we all so dang afraid of?
- Negative judgement – from teachers, neighbors, onlookers, pastors, parents,
- Negative judgement – from our children, now and in the future
- Our kids failing – in soccer, in school, in dance…in life, and that failure will be because of us
- Getting our kids into the right school
- Our kid’s bad behavior – that we will have to endure it and that we won’t have any means to stop it
- etc. etc. etc.
2. Boundaries: With us all running around from activity to activity steeped in a deep sense of fear, our kids are behaving miserably. They are not happy. No matter how much your kid whines for a cupcake…they don’t like that hour of whining. It was not only rotten for you, it also sucked it up pretty bad for them. They were NOT in joy mode. One of the biggest ways to give your kid a break and immediately get better behavior (and happier kids, btw) is to take a brick and start building your boundaries. When you build walls for your children, you will find they don’t try to knock them down. It is a shockeroo when they rest on them. Boundaries are funny things with kids, what do yours look like? Do they need some rehab? How do you maintain them? More to come on these amazing boundaries.
3. Consistency: This goes hand in hand with boundaries. In fact, boundaries are meaningless without consistency. Don’t make any change, whatsoever, unless you are committed to be as consistent as it is in your power to be. It is a biggie.
4. Chores: These are important for so many reasons and from as early on as you can tolerate the less than perfect cleaning. Kids need to feel like they contribute to the family in a meaningful way. Parenting out of love makes them feel like they are a cog in the family wheel. It gives them a sense of ownership and responsibility toward you and the unit. Chores are one way to start this. That is also why the chore cannot be to maintain their own room and their own items. They need to do a communal chore. I could go on and on about chores and fun ways to make them work and change things up. Plus…moms…you get a break.
5. Respect: This word and the next one must become part of your family motto. You must respect your kids and your husband. Your kids must respect their siblings, you, and your husband and your husband must respect you and the kids. Nothing works without doing things in your family to develop a modicum of respect. We do this through efforts to show daily respect to our family and we make daily efforts to show respect to the rest of the world. There are ways to make this happen, no matter how ingrained you think your child is, compared with other children.
6. Compassion: Like respect, compassion extends not only to your family but to all you come in contact with. If you child isn’t compassionate to you or others, stronger models need to be employed and situations created to elicit compassion. Where respect focuses more on behaviors of parenting out of love, compassion delves into the land of feelings where we develop a loving view of each other and those around us.
7. Shame: What? How can you say shame? That is one of the things I fear the most….that my kids will feel shamed. How can you list shame? Well, grasshopper, when you or I or your child behaves in a shameful way, we, or they, ought to feel ashamed. The thing you are afraid of is that your dolly will feel ashamed of things he or she ought not feel ashamed of. You, along with the rest of America, threw the shame baby out with the bathwater. Now, our kids aren’t ashamed no matter how wretched and shameful they act.
8. Bribery: I am not above bribery. In fact, incentives can be used very VERY VERY effectively when tied with boundaries and consistency. For example, when you create a boundary that says, “whatever punishment I give, It will remain in effect no matter what.” Your kids get the bigger message of, “my parents do what they say.” Then when you offer an incentive, it becomes increasingly meaningful.
9. Attitude: We don’t do “Bad Attitude” in our house. If you are nasty I want to know what is wrong….even if the answer is PMS or I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Yet, it also gets to the answers that matter. Everyone knows they don’t get unfettered moping time at our house. If something is wrong, mom is not going to just let my sad mug, terse retorts or teary eyes slide. Eventually, you get to answers like….the kids are bullying me or I am having a really hard time with my calculus professor.
10. Get Help: Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help when you need it. If you haven’t been following these pearls you may need some help now.
Look for upcoming blogs to feature each one of these more specifically. If you need to turn parenting out of fear into parenting out of love and don’t feel like you can do it alone, maybe you need a parenting coach….one who has been there, done that!