Thursday, June 9, 2011

Book Club Thursday | Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours

We are reading through Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours by Dr. Kevin Leman.  All direct quotes are in bold type.

This is the third part of chapter 2 It's All in the Eye of the Beholder | They Learn by Watching You

Perhaps the key way children learn as they perceive reality through their own eyes is by watching the adult role models around them.  Obviously, their first role models are Mom and Dad.

Some parents may argue with me, but I still believe that Mother and Dad always remain the key role models for their children.

As a teacher in the Christian school system for 11 years, I couldn't understand how I could pour my heart out to my students, try to live as an example of a Christ follower, teach them Biblical principles on a daily basis, really think I was getting through, only to have to reteach the same lessons and principles the following day.  Years later, quite a few of my former students have contacted me on Face Book and it has been sad and in some cases disturbing to see where their lives have gone.  Why?  Because, as Brian has reminded me countless times as I begin the climb onto my soapbox, I was not/ am not the key role model for them- their parents are. 

Towards the end of my time teaching at the Christian Academy, I had a parent who wanted to meet with me to discuss her daughter's behavior.  Her daughter was becoming overly interested in the male/female physical  relationship, and another girl in the class was contributing to this issue.  The first little girl was constantly trying to be around and spend time with the second girl (even though her mother had already told her to stay away from girl #2), and it was concerning her mother. 

I went to the principal and asked him why the mother wanted to have me discuss this problem. Her daughter was deliberately disobeying the mother. I had done my part by keeping the girls as far from each other as possible when they were in class and any other time that I was overseeing them.  The way I saw it, I was only going to be around for another 4 weeks, but this mother was going to have to deal with her daughter for the rest of her life.  If she couldn't deal with this issue, I didn't understand what I was supposed to do for them.

What was the real issue?  Mother was dating.  The second little girl's father was living with his girlfriend. If parents are not careful in these types of situations, curiosity towards more mature things arise in 10 and 11 year olds.

Sending our kids to church, having them involved in every children's program and youth program and activity, making sure they are there every time the doors are open, and putting them in Christian school is nice, but that is not where our children will look to see how God expects them to live.  They look to us as parents.  If our own walk with the Lord is mediocre at best, then can we truly expect our children to even bother with serving the Lord when they see Christ as a Sunday morning deal and once they feel they are old enough they are going to give their Sunday mornings to other things... or just sleeping in.

I believe the that possibly the best way to be a good role model for your children is to be honest.  Children, you see, start out by being totally honest.  They may learn deception and deviousness down the line, but they start out with a very open and honest approach to life.  I urge parents to be as direct and honest with their children as possible, starting when they are very young.

All this may sound scary to some parents who have been trained to always look as if they are in control and "competent".

When the child learns that his parents are truly dependent upon the grace of God and that they need God's help, he will see that God is very real and not just a "belief" that is talked about in an abstract way.

Being this kind of role model may sound a bit daring, but I believe it's well worth the risk.  He are some reasons:
  1. Through your honesty children learn that it's okay to be less than perfect.
  2. As you model honesty before your child, you have tremendous opportunities to build intimacy and a strong parent-child relationship.
  3. As you model honesty you have opportunities to share in your faith in God with your child.
This blog is proof that I don't know everything there is about parenting, that I am learning on a daily basis, that I make mistakes, and that I need the Lord for wisdom, strength, and forgiveness- constantly.  As Addie gets older and is curious about what I have written, she will see in black and white that Mommy is not perfect (very hard for a first-born to admit).  Is this the only place that she will come to that conclusion?  No.  I have had to say, "I'm sorry, Jesus.  I'm sorry, Addie," when I have not looked at the entire situation before making a decision and then found that I was wrong.

Is it easy to do?  Honestly, because I decided from the beginning that I would be honest with Addie when the fault is mine, it has been easier than I expected.  The first time was probably the hardest (and I can't even remember when it was), but as time has gone on, it has become easier.  And because she is such a smart girl, she would easily know if my pride was getting in the way or if I was being honest with her.  I want her to always know that Mommy values her relationship with the Lord and with Addie more than her pride. 

Addie has also heard me ask God for help regardless of the situation whether I am asking for wisdom in how to handle a situation concerning her, hanging laundry and just talking openly with Him, or asking Him to help me open a jar of peanut butter (there were two jars that were impossible to open!).  Addie thinks that if we take a walk around our house it is because we are going to pray. In fact, one day, Addie decided to lead me on the walk and began praying on her own.

Making sure that our children see our life, our dependence on the Lord, and our walk is very important to us.  It is a priority.  I pray that one day, Addie and Ian come to us and say, "Mom, Dad, thanks for living in a very real way for us.  Our relationship with the Lord is strong because of it."

Reality Discipline is something that must be practiced by both parents in a consistent and coordinated way.  I am so thankful for a husband who is on my team.  We check with each other to see if Addie is asking for something that the other has already said "no" to.  We back each other up.  We stand up for each other.  It is important that our children see us as a united team.  And as the one who is here all day, it is so nice having Brian come home and know that he is going to reinforce everything that I have said and done during the day.  It's called teamwork... and it is a beautiful thing.


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