Tag Archives: boys

When the Usual Parenting Technique Doesn’t Cut It

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children most important

“Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.” C. S. Lewis

I wish I had written down all of the things that I used to believe about parenting so that after having 3 kids I could have something humorous to laugh about when things get a little crazy up in here. Isn’t it true that we believe some pretty ridiculous ideas concerning how to parent a child? Most of these ideas start with…

“I would never do _____.”

“I can’t believe anyone would _____.”

“I am certain I would _____.”

Like I said, ridiculous.

For one, it reeks of judgment. And secondly, these statements are spoken in ignorance.

I used to think that because I worked with children before I had kids, I would have an upper hand on what to do as a parent. Sorry, Charlie, it doesn’t work that way.

After having my first child, I learned quickly certain “techniques” worked well and others … not so much. I subscribed to the “do what you need to do to survive” theory for a LOT of my son’s first year. He was colicky, and he was THE FIRST CHILD. You know what I mean! We’re all a little crazy with the first one, but we learn and they survive, and we become a little less crazy after the second one is born. I did whatever worked for my son and for me, and he seems to be turning out okay. 😉

Now I knew that I had some ridiculous ideas about what parenting a child would look like, and I knew that every child would be different, but I wasn’t prepared for the reality that I may have to parent my two children in two separate ways. I’m still trying to figure this out, so if you’ve come to read some inspirational and new technique for parenting your kids, I must apologize. I do believe that knowing is half the battle! I know that my 3 sons all have different personalities, and one of them most definitely has a different personality from my own!

So here’s what has helped me:

 

  • Am I parenting from my own personality and trying to force my way onto a child with a different personality (when his way may be fine)? Is it worth the battle?
    • Example: I want you to clean your room. Here are the boxes. Cars go here. Trains go here. Dinosaurs go here. Clothes go here. (MY WAY)
    • (HIS WAY) I will clean but I don’t care about your boxes. At least I’m picking up, right?
  • Am I learning to appreciate my child’s differences from me rather than being frustrated that he’s different?
    • He is passionate and wears his emotions on his sleeve and this is good because he can learn to be passionate about something that truly matters.
  • Am I casting a vision for my child, seeing the positive side of his personality rather than being fixated on the negative?
    • Positive: knows what he wants, has a strong will thus a strong leadership capability, doesn’t back down easily
    • Negative: stubborn, strong-willed, argumentative
  • Am I intentionally speaking truth into his life rather than taking the easy road and ordering him to obey?
    • When he yells “no, I’m not going to listen to you!” for the 15th time while in line at Target, I may respond quietly and then let the teachable moment happen later when I talk to him about how God is going to do great things in his life but having that kind of attitude is not respectful to me or beneficial to him.
    • Or I might just threaten him with a spanking and argue back that he’s being rude and to stop interrupting me (which usually just escalates the yelling).
  • Have I realized that I can’t do everything perfectly and still need help? Am I praying for my child’s heart and not just his behavior? Could it be that there is a spiritual battle going on and what I really need to do is ask for God’s protection over him and for God to work in his life?

 

What I know for certain is that I am a different person than who I was before I had children. They are not setbacks or inconveniences in my life. God has used them to refine me more than I’d like to admit! They are a blessing from the Lord. A heritage.

And I’m going to keep reminding myself of this every time it feels less than peaceful in my home.

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Thank you, Dr. Dobson

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Family Portraits (Joseph) 145

I’m a mom of 3 boys. I’ve heard it said that a boy is noise with dirt on it. No truer words have ever been spoken.

I know a family who has 5 boys, so I know that 3 isn’t that spectacular.

However, I maintain that 3 boys is definitely more than I bargained for!

You see, as a mom, let me state the obvious. I’m a girl. GIRL. Totally girl. I may have had my bout with tomboyhood when I was young, but I’ve been over that for a long time.

I like my house clean. I like to be treated gently. I like getting my nails done, my hair done, and getting dressed up. I like having conversations that involve girly things like shopping, decorating, cooking, gardening, and occasionally I’ll go renegade and talk about tennis or camping (just to stay adventurous of course). I like my sleep. And yes, I like it to be quiet every now and then.

Yet most of these things DO NOT HAPPEN.

A clean house, no one can find. This is the proverb in our house anyway. Cars, trucks, superheros, blocks, Toy Story underwear, and any number of guns litter the floor at any given time (and you can always find at least one toy in each room, even closets). If there’s water to be spilled, it is, so watch your step in my kitchen. Oh, and we’re still potty training, so we get to find little brown nuggets sometimes. Delightful, you envy me, I know it.

As for being treated gently, fuh-get about it! We wrestle and smother and pretend to be ninjas (which means I have to be THE expert ninja just so my 1 month old has a fighting chance…pun intended). I couldn’t count high enough to record the amount of times that I’ve told my middle child to sit down on the couch rather than jump or tumble or slide or wrestle on it. So I stray from the couch, seriously, because I don’t want to be his target.

Every now and then I may break free to get my nails and hair done. That’s actually one of the strongest options I have of all the above. But it just doesn’t happen nearly often enough. I also “dress up” in my summer dresses even on laundry days just so I feel feminine. But then my dress often becomes a “toy” for the middle boy, so there goes that luxury.

Now the conversations. Those get interesting with boys. I just heard my oldest tell his grandma that his baby doll’s name is “Fart” (we use it for them to practice on a pretend baby so hopefully the real baby will survive them). Lovely. We talk about superheros and being strong and racing. We hear a lot of poop and fart jokes, and they’re only 5 and 3 years old, God help me! Half of what I say to them is “no, don’t jump on him”, “please don’t destroy that toy”, “clean up your mess”, “no, we don’t pee on the carpet…or tile…just the potty”, and any variants of these phrases. I read them books so that we can have somewhat intelligent conversations.

Sleep. I gave up on that. My oldest has always gotten up “early” and the middle one started getting up just as early once they started sharing a room. It’s like they have a radar that tells them they might be missing something daring or fun or mischievous so they obviously must get up early so as not to miss these appointments. Heaven help me, I just want them to sleep a little longer or at least stay in their rooms so I can get a shower. But then, the strawberry incident happened, and their wall has a smearing of strawberry on it…another story for another day filed under “Epic Messes That Happened in the Morning before Mom Came in the Room.”

I think you can already guess what I have to say about it being quiet around here. NO CHANCE buddy. Quiet time or nap time isn’t really quiet. It’s just not fair. I imagine all those families with only girls having the best quiet time complete with silence and everything. They probably even read their books quietly and get to paint their toenails. I’m just hoping my boys don’t FIND my nail polish.

I admit, all of what I’ve written sounds like I’m whining. I also admit that I’ve been mourning the fact that most of these things don’t happen for me. I would love to have some daughters. I just hope I don’t have to wait for daughter-in-laws to make that happen (although daughter-in-laws are pretty special…I would know because I happen to be one *wink*). I fully expected to have at least one daughter by now, but God has given us boys. So what’s a girl to do? Well, this GIRL bought Dr. Dobson’s Bringing Up Boys, because I apparently don’t know the first thing about boys (and quite frankly they drive me crazy because they’re just not like me and I have a NEED to understand them).

Thank God for Dr. Dobson!

As much as this girl would like to calm down these boys, she knows that they were meant to be men! They’re chock full of testosterone and that is how they were meant to be. All the danger, all the impulsiveness, all the spirit of exploration, and all the messes are just part of being a boy. Hallelujah, there’s a reason for it all! I have not been given these boys by accident, and so I want to do the best I can to raise them into men. We need men who are so full of energy and drive that sometimes they make messes as they press on toward their goals (but also know how to clean up those messes). We need men who will be strong yet know how to treat a lady with gentleness and respect. We need men who can talk about manly things and solve problems with their man logic (we all know a woman’s logic is questionable at times…and some would say it doesn’t exist…but I digress). Men need to be men, not women. Wish me luck and say a prayer for me. I want these boys to be strong, God fearing men one day, even if it means I have to (temporarily) say goodbye to some girly things (or at least save them for a girlfriend or my mom).

When Will You Learn Your Lesson?

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You’ve had those days. You start out well with a nice, refreshing Bible study, putting your mind and heart squarely on what God’s word says. Then you walk out of your room to go snuggle with your four-year-old son (whom you promised you’d snuggle with in the morning), only to find him no where in his room. You search the house. You call his name. No son. No answer. Then you go to his 2 year-old brother’s room. You open the door then quickly wished you hadn’t. For in that moment you beheld a disaster. Board books everywhere. Aquafor lotion open and half gone on the floor. Vicks vapor rub open and half gone next to the bed. Baby oil completely gone. Two travel size baby lotion bottles open. One tube of aquafor, one tube of lanolin, one tube of Neosporin all nearly gone. And then to top it off, sprinkles of baby powder everywhere.

I begin to cry because I remembered that instead of going crazy with anger, you should show your kid how sad you are that he has done this terrible thing. So I begin the lecture on how sad I am at what he’s done and at how much he’s wasted.

In all the rage and sadness I hadn’t even looked at my two boys yet. As I’m starting the clean up, I finally look at the culprits. There they stand, in my two-year-old son’s bed, naked (mind you the two year old is not potty trained…) and with every manner of lotion and oil slathered in their hair. The bed is also slathered with the aforesaid mentioned lotions and oils and powders. The books, the walls, the toys, the boys…everything is a complete mess. I couldn’t speak for at least 5 seconds (that’s a long time, right?).

That’s when I completely lost it. No more tears. No, it was time to yell. I quickly ordered my four year old out of the bed and told him to go get some clothes on. The two year old was innocent in my opinion but because of the mess I made him stay in the bed just so I could clean up the area and then start a bath. I look back at my 4 year old who is still standing there as if he didn’t just hear me bark my orders. Uh, did I stutter? You’re about to lose your life, child, you’d better get going. So I lift him out of the crib, and he runs to his room. I get madder as I begin wiping baby oil and aquafor off of books and toys and the bed. Most of the oil has soaked into the board books. I’m sure the oil and powder and lotion is also in the carpet. Lovely. As I clean, I just yell, “I can’t believe you’ve done this. Why didn’t you think. You know you’re not supposed to get these books down. Why would you get into these lotions? Did you know that you could have hurt yourself or your brother with these things? You have absolutely wasted my time this morning. I’m going to have to clean up this mess then give you both baths. You’re in so much trouble, mister.”

I finally separate the non-oily books from the oily ones and wipe down the bed frame with a blanket that’s already sprinkled with baby powder. Then as I am about to get my two year old out of his bed, I realize he’s peed all over his sheets and two blankets that were thrown into the mix. Even better. So I start a pile of laundry in his floor then get him out and start the bath. Remember, I’ve left my four year old in his room to get dressed. I peek in there to make sure he’s actually gotten dressed because so help me if he hasn’t…

Thankfully he was dressed and waiting. I tell him again that he’s in big trouble and slam his door, telling him to wait until I’m finished bathing his brother. I get the two year old clean (except his hair…I learned later that the shampoo did NOTHING to wash out all of the lotions and oils out of his hair) and get a diaper on him. I send him off with a small lecture telling him that what they’d done in his room was a “no no”.

I go get my four year old, and he’s sitting in his room playing. Playing. How could he be playing when he should be mourning the fact that he’s just disobeyed his mom, wrecked his brother’s room, wasted practically every bottle and tube in my son’s room, and given his brother these products to possibly ingest and to definitely make a mess? I lay out his behavior and he knows the consequences. Spanking. Three swats. He tells me I shouldn’t have hurt his bottom. Well, son, you shouldn’t have “x, y, z…”

His bath is done. He gets his clothes back on. We get our breakfast and then he does his school work. It’s all I can do to refrain from being in punishment mode all morning. The cold shoulder. The angry answer. The sarcastic remark. I don’t want to be THAT mom. So I push on through, fighting every feeling in me to explode at every infraction, be them intentional or not, important or not.

This is my chore day. I have to get laundry done and go get groceries. I make sure my four year old realizes again that he’s wasted my morning and has set us back in our schedule to get to the store (ugh…this makes me cringe reading back over it). And all day it goes like this. I get angry over and over based on his decisions from this morning. I keep re-hashing it. I realize I’m just so scared that this four year old is never going to learn to obey. If he can’t learn to obey me, how is he ever going to learn to obey God? I’ve written him off as a failure for all of his life because he can’t get this one lesson down… perfectly… right now (and keep in mind, this is my rule follower son!). I even tell him a few times during lunch, “son, you’ve got to learn your lesson or you’ll keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again.” I remind him of how much I hate to spank him and that I’d rather him just obey. When I ask him to tell me what’s he’s learned, he shrugs his shoulders and gives me the “I don’t know” answer. Again, I’m scared he’s not going to learn so how can I force him to learn his lesson? Maybe if I lecture him a few more times, he’ll learn. Maybe if I add another consequence, he’ll learn. Or maybe not.

My bible study lesson this morning? Living in the truth of who God says you are. Believing Him when He says He’s made me courageous, adequate as His servant, and that I’m accepted not on my own merit but by the blood of His Son. How could my behavior today have taught my son anything about the truth of who he is? I was being fearful (not courageous) as I parented. I felt completely inadequate to deal with this situation properly, and I truly was, because I was trying to fix it in my own strength and through feeling my way around the situation. I was essentially punishing my son over and over with my words, making him feel like he couldn’t even gain my approval until he was perfect. Ouch. That one hurts the worst.

So I began to speak the truth to him about who God says he is. God has called you to be a man of integrity and honesty. To obey Him and love Him with all of your heart. To be courageous. That he is acceptable no matter what he does. And then I apologize for my crazy explosions. God help me.

What I wouldn’t give to have started out that way. I’m not really any different from my children when it comes to learning my lesson. The difference is I have a perfect Father who hasn’t written me off as a failure just because I can’t learn my lesson perfectly today. He gives grace, undeserved. And when we feel inadequate, He supplies the strength and the wisdom to make us adequate. Acceptable. Thank you, Father. I’ll take it all.

{P.S. This happened back in October of last year as we were packing up our home to move. Looking back at this, I just giggle because he was just doing what kids do…making messes and having fun doing it. It’s too bad I was too stressed out to see that. Lesson learned.}