Friday, October 12, 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.
Child Wise Principle #2

Use the strength of your leadership early on and the strength of your relationship later.

We are bigger.

That alone gives us a certain amount of leverage in parenting. We need to use that leverage to be leaders to our children. Our children are small, impressionable, and follow easily. We need to give them someone and something to follow or they  may follow the wrong leader and be led down the wrong path.

When our children have followed us long enough as children to know that they can trust us to make right decisions on their behalf, we will then be able to use the strength of the relationship we have built with them over time to continue leading them in a different way.

This principle carries the first three of four parenting phases in it.

Phase one: Leadership which spans years 2-6. Your primary goal as a parent in this phase is to establish your leadership in your child's little life. This is a phase of boundaries; boundaries that give way to freedoms as responsible behavior is demonstrated.

Phase two: Training which spans ages 7-12. During training, your children are not yet in the real game of life. They are only in practice sessions.

Phase three: Coaching from ages 13-19. I personally love that the author does not just pull out the ax on parenting at the age of 18. Who came up with that number anyway! I know plenty of 18 year olds who still need coaching, training, and leadership.

Your child will only accept your coaching if you did your job as a trainer. And they will only listen to your training tips if you gained control of them in the discipline phase.

Child Wise Principle #3

Parent now, be friends later.

When I first had Addie, I had a visitor come to the house to see the baby. This woman had three children of her own and was a friend of the family. As we were talking, she began to share what she considered some great parenting advice.

"I am my children's friend." (sounds innocent enough)

"I let them call me by my name when they need me to be their friend and not their mother." (alert antennae went up. All three of her children were in early elementary or preschool.)

She began sharing how she did not put herself in a position to make her children feel like they were not her equals. She tried reasoning with her children so they never felt like she was telling them what to do... because friends do not tell each other what to do, etc.

Needless to say, it has been four and a half years since we have seen her. She stopped being invited to family functions because of her children's behavior.

Our children have plenty of friends. They only have 2 (or in some cases, one) parents. God has given us the authority to parent our children so that they may grow up to glorify Him with their lives. By choosing to be their friend now, we will miss out on being their friend when they are older and friendship is completely appropriate.

My mother was my mother. When I married Brian, something happened, and my mother went from being my mother to being my friend. Our relationship grew and changed so much (it went to a completely different level) that I am not sure which stage I enjoyed the most with her- her being my mother or being my friend.

This is where phase four comes in. Friendship. One day you will sit down with your children over a cup of coffee, and all of a sudden you will realize, "We're here." It will hit you that a new relationship is starting: friendship. It is wonderful, liberating, the crown of your parenting.

I look forward to that day. I don't know what parent doesn't. To know that the hard work of leading, training, and coaching is now done and you have worked for and earned a respectful friendship with the now adult child that you have.

One day...........

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