Thursday, August 4, 2011

Book Club Thursday | Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours

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

The section of chapter 4 that we are looking at today (Respect Is a Two Way Street and Don't Demand Respect- Earn It) was eye opening for me and really made me very happy. 

Dr. Leman quickly goes over the subject of spanking again.  He states "Spanking is an option for disciplining your child, but always be sure you are doing it as a loving correction, not in any way that rejects your child."  At times when spanking has been necessary, we have taken Addie into her room and closed the door behind us.  It is not to her benefit or anyone else's for her to be humiliated, and that should never be the intention of correction.  The moment of correction needs to be between the parent and child and God, after the moment of correction love is shown by hugs, kisses, and snuggles, and we wait until the tears have stopped before going back out. 

He also says (which Brian and I have chosen to follow in our own home), "While spanking is an option for discipline, I believe it seldom should be the first choice when deciding on the best way to "pull the rug out" in order to help your child learn. I think life's best teachers are experiences in reality. I'm not saying spanking isn't reality, but I am saying that reality includes so many other approaches to loving discipline."  Since reading this book, Brian and I have found so many options by way of teaching Addie through reality. 

For example, on night's when Addie doesn't want to eat her food, after we are finished eating, she is allowed down from the table.  However, she is told that she may not have anything else to eat for the rest of the evening unless she eats her dinner.  As time moves along, the little tummy begins to rumble and we hear, "Mommy, I'm hungry."  I remind her that her dinner is still available for her and move on.  Usually, within no time, she is seated at the table eating the rest of her dinner.  The reality for her was that she was served what was made for dinner, and she was free not to eat it, but she was not free to eat anything else.  When she finishes her dinner, then the pantry and snack box is open to her. Does it take time?  Yes.  Is it sometimes inconvenient?  Yes.  Is it worth it? Yes.

Right now, as the time is ticking for Ian to make his arrival, I have been trying to get her to do a little more for herself on her own to free me up to the demands that a newborn makes.  One of those things is having her go to the potty without our help.  She knows that if she can get herself prepared for the potty, get herself on the potty, go without our help, and wash her hands she will get three M&Ms (the M&Ms have made a comeback in our home!).  Most of the time, there is no problem and the only help she needs is to have the toilet paper handed to her (remember that it is behind the seat!).  However, there are times when she doesn't want to go alone.  That's fine, but the reality is that she does not get M&Ms- and for my Addie that is a very sad reality.

Brian and I are huge fans of The Cosby Show.  As we were watching a recent episode, I told Brian, "He uses Reality Discipline with his kids!" 

In the episode we were watching, Rudy thought she had tricked her parents into letting her go to a "club" for 16 year olds while she was only 12.  She used the guise that is was a cultural exchange which included a Bible study.  Her parents, who are very in tuned to their children and are always shown as wise, understanding, and very together parents (unlike the parents in today's TV shows), knew she was not telling the truth but did not accuse her or let her know they were on to her little scheme. They asked some young people they knew about where Rudy was going as found out the truth of the matter.... and they let her go!  When Rudy arrived home, there was a message left for her on the answering machine.  It stated that her parents were too tired to wait up for her and because they knew where she had really gone they were too upset to deal with her at that hour.  They understood her need for being around people who were older than she was, therefore, they had volunteered her to spend the next 6 weeks at a local nursing home to help those who were older than she.  That is Reality Discipline!

It is so easy for us as parents to expect our children to respect us just because we are their parents.  However, there are times when parents treat their children like inconveniences, intruders into what was once a carefree life, or a burden that they are having to live with until they turn 18 (Why 18 is some special number is beyond me! I know many 18 year olds who should not be left on their own let alone sent off into the world to forge their own way), and yet these same parents just naturally expect their children to hold them in high regard and treat them with respect. 

As Dr. Leman says, "Oh, I suppose you can demand it and all the while be pointing at Ephesians chapter 6, which clearly states that children are to respect their parents.  But that may not cut much ice with little Snookie or Cletus.  The way to gain respect from another person (and it helps to remember that our children are persons) is to earn that respect."

One of the main things I have taken away so far from this book is that the passage in Ephesians does not end at verse 3.  The passage goes on to admonish parents not to exasperate their children.  I have personally taken that verse to remind me not to bully, pester, nag, or push around my children.  Yes, I am the bigger person here, but God loves my little people just as much as He loves me and I have to reflect that to them on a daily basis.

Dr. Leman shared the story of a 15 year old girl who was in the hospital after attempting suicide.  After spending time with her, never judging her, listening to her, and sharing from his own experiences that girl asked him what he thought she should do about her problem.  Dr Leman says, "I had finally earned the girl's respect.  I had paid my dues and she was now interested in knowing what I thought about what she should do.  This is what respect is all about."

Naturally, you won't always agree with your child on everything. But as long as you have love and respect for each other, the relationship will grow and become stronger and stronger.  I often tell parents of younger children that now is the time to build respect between you and your child.  It will be like money in the bank when your child hits the teenage years and tensions mount.

After reading this, something that Addie has been saying to me almost daily, several times a day, for the last two months hit me like a two by four, and I wanted to jump up and down (which at this point might trigger labor so I decided not to).  Addie will look at me with a smile and love in her eyes and ask for no apparent reason, "So, Mommy, what do you think?"   I had always taken her question as a conversation starter, but now I'm thinking it might have a different meaning.   Have I earned her respect over the last three and a half years and now what Mommy thinks is really important to her? 

What does Mommy think?  I think I am so grateful to God for allowing us to find this book in order to teach us how to best respond to our daughter and soon-to-meet son.  I think I am so blessed to have a husband who is in the trenches with me as we fight for our children to grow up in a way that is pleasing to God.  I think I am love with the little family that God has blessed me with.  I think I grow in love for each of them each and every day.  I think every glimmer of progress makes me want to work harder for them.  I think one day Brian and I will look back and be thankful for the time and effort we put into our little people.  And I think that one day I will finally hear the words from God that I am longing to hear.

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