Thursday, September 6, 2012

Book Club | Child Wise

We are reading through the book On Becoming Child Wise by Gary Ezzo, M.A. and Robert Bucknam, M.D. Any direct quotes are printed in bold type.


Today we are finishing up chapter 1: Overcoming Fear. I have chosen to give the section headings, a few quotes from the book, and then some of my own input.
Activity Overload

By the time children are five or six, they're saturated with social activities And still they beg for more! They don't want to miss out on something someone else is doing.

I have always been a homebody. I love my home, the house itself, and the comfort of the people that I love in our home. But when Addie was old enough for certain activities that our local establishments provided, I made sure that I took advantage of them.

Why? Because I thought my child was supposed to be involved in lots of activities. I had seen this while I was teaching. But after trying that for a week, I was exhausted! I am not a "keep my schedule so full and busy that I fall into bed exhausted at the end of the day and get ready to do it all again tomorrow" type of person.

Before anyone thinks we are social recluses, we are involved in several "outside" programs. Our children are a part of the Sunday school program at our church, Addie is in the Awana program (also at our church), we have group field trips with our local homeschol chapter, and we go to the library once a week (which, I am excited to say, has finally moved into the 21st century!). But as for other commitments, we have decided that this is enough for now. We have a lot of fun going out together as a family, but I don't want my children to get into the habit of always being on the go.

Emotional Escapism

We fear letting them down. This type of parenting only produces emotionally fragile children, children who lack coping skills necessary for the real world.

We have all heard of the little league teams that do not keep score so that the "fragile feelings" of the children are not scared because they feel like losers. But what happens when those children grow up and find out that there are winners and losers in life. If someone gets the promotion, then that means that someone else does not. There is one Superbowl winning team every year. Only one World Series winner (we are really hoping it's the Rays this year!). Only one athlete or team can win the gold in each Olympic competition. Children can only learn this lesson when parents put aside the fear of their children being let down.

Indulging the intellect

Giving children an understanding of their world is a fine and noble task. But a child doesn't need to know everything right now.

We have all hear the phrase "too much information," but we forget that it is sometimes too easy to give a child too much information about things that they are not yet ready for. Television shows, movies, and even video games have ratings because, even in an industry that tries to push the envelope, they realize that there are certain things that children should not be exposed to. As parents we need to have an even tighter policy of what information is allowed and what isn't. And if necessary, we cannot be afraid to inform others of what is taboo in our homes.

Accounting for Authority

The child-centered parent has an overwhelming fear of holding a child accountable for his or her behavior.

It is no wonder that children have no fear of authority in this day and age. Many of them have never been held accountable to any authority in their lives so far, so when an authority figure steps up and uses their authority, these children do not know how to respond appropriately and get further into trouble.

As a teacher, I noticed that the "not my child" parents were the child-centered ones who would not accept that their perfect angel could do anything wrong.  I had a child flat out cheat in my class (as in, I saw the child looking at another child's paper during a test), and the father refused to believe it (and even accused the other child of being the cheater) and told me that I was never to correct his child no matter what I saw.

We found out that Addie and her "best friend" had to be separated in Awana because of giggling during the lesson. Oh honey! I know that is my child! Little miss social butterfly. Brian and I both spoke to her and let her know in no uncertain terms that this was never to happen again. It hasn't.

Our children are going to grow up and they are going to get jobs and have bosses and they will be accountable to an authority. And Mommy and Daddy are not going to have any pull when it comes to stepping in to buffer little Johnny from the consequences of being consistently late or talking on the cell phone or being rude to customers or answering the boss back.

Basements today are a toddler's roost and prime space for wrecking. We can rest assured that obedience and honor are not top priorities in this household.

I love HGTV. I love watching the room transformations, the house restorations and renovations, and the beautiful room decorating. But I have noticed that many times when a couple is renovating or redecorating a basement, it looks like Toys R Us exploded in their house. After the transformation, my first thought is always, "Now how long will it stay looking like this?"

I have children. They have toys. They have been blessed with lots of toys. And we do not have a basement (because of the soil situation here in Florida, we can't have basements).

We have rules.

If you take it out, you put it back.
If you finish playing with it, you put it back before you take out something else.
If it stays out after you go to bed, Mommy takes it away.... until she remembers to bring it back out again (that reminds me......)

What Do Parents Really Want

Generally speaking, parents have three shared goals. As Christian parents, I believe we have one more goal, and that is that our children walk in obedience to Christ and chose to follow and serve him.

Three Universally Shared Goals

1. Parents want to enjoy their children. I can honestly say I do. I love these two little people and I look forward to seeing them every morning. We have such good times together, whether we are dancing in the living room to learning our new Awana verses. Addie and I have fun Friday night parties (we take a pile of books to her bed, we read, and then we lay there and talk about whatever she wants). Ian and I play and make up our own silly games.

2. To raise children that are a joy to be with and a blessing to those around them. Yes, I enjoy my children, but I love hearing from people that they can't wait to see my children. It thrills my heart when I am told as I pick up Ian from the nursery that he is the perfect child. I had a friend email me that her mother was in the nursery this past week and was just thrilled to have watched "the happiest baby ever." I love it when Addie's Sunday school teachers and Awana teachers tell me that they look forward to her coming to class. And of course, family members who email me all the time to kiss my kids for them and tell my children that they love them.

3. To raise children who are well-prepared for life. When Addie and Ian graduate high school (let's not dwell on this too long), I want to know that Brian and I did everything we could to ensure that they are ready to face the real world with a Biblical perspective. The world where there are authorities to obey and rules to follow. The world where you can't just do what you want. The world where hey will have to choose which activities to participate in and which will be too much to handle.

This was a lot, but I have really enjoyed this first chapter because I learned a lot for myself. I realized that regardless of how much I try to fight it, I still allow assumptions to play a part in my parenting. The role they play is definitely a lot smaller than it used to be, but it is not gone completely. I will definitely be working on that.

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