The importance of being…

Today’s post is really the first of two parts, since they go hand in hand. Today I am going to write about the importance of meaning what you say and the next post will be about dealing with repeat misbehaviors, dealing with heart issues.

We love our kids and want the best for them. We want them to like us, so sometimes being the “bad guy” can be hard for some personality types. Then we get the famous sayings like “Just wait until your father comes home!” or “Go ask your mother.” Many times, after a long day, we decide to ease up just a little on parenting, to give ourselves a break. It is really very easy to excuse ourselves from the hard parts of parenting, isn’t it?

This is a misconception of our society, shy away from what you aren’t a superstar in. I have had parent/teacher conferences go something like this: “Well, I’m not good in math, so how can you expect my son to be good in math?” Really?!? But, that’s a whole other soapbox. ūüėČ What we have to realize is this- no matter our strengths or weaknesses, our kids are depending on us to be the whole package. They NEED us to work on our weaknesses.

So what weaknesses am I talking about?

Here is a true scenario from our neighborhood pool last night: A bunch of moms are out by the pool watching their kids. For the most part, it is relaxing! They are chatting while their kids happily swim. Then 2 boys start wrestling, splashing around, kicking and jumping in without looking. One boy starts crying, so the mom jumps up and yells “That’s it! We are leaving right now and I mean it!” The boys protest, make excuses and down right ignore her several commands to get out of the water. Every time they ask to stay, it is a staunch “NO!”. After yelling at them for several minutes, I hear her say “Well, this time we can stay a little longer. But no more being rough or we will leave right away!” Does this stop the behavior? You could probably guess… no. The boys are back at it again. Mom threatens. Boys ignore. All the while, the boys are making it not so fun for the other kids swimming. Now, we aren’t talking about small boys. They were probably 8-10yrs in age.

I don’t claim to know all of their background and don’t want to sound judgemental, but as you read that account, can you see what went wrong? It seems really obvious to me- mom made a statement, tried to stick with it, but then bows out. The boys had NO REAL CONSEQUENCES for their bad behavior. Mom threatened, but that isn’t a punishment. I think it is always easier to look at others and see what they can do differently. And I wish this scenario was a rare occurrence, but it isn’t. Many parents, whether they are exhausted or just don’t want to be the “bad guy”, don’t follow through on their threats. Kids are smart. They learn what they can get away with very quickly. If you don’t follow through,they know before you do. So look at yourself from a 3rd party perspective. Can you see a pattern of threatening and never punishing? Can you ask a good friend to be honest and evaluate you? This isn’t easy people! We don’t like to hear bad stuff about ourselves! But isn’t it worth it?

Here are steps that I try to follow when my kids misbehave:

1. Think (and pray) before you speak.

When you open your mouth, are you in control? Or is anger in control? When you say “Stop doing that or I will……”, is it something you fully intend to do? Even if it is inconvenient for you? What you say you will do is so important. Kids do respect people who mean what they say. And, something to think about, when you say you will do something when they misbehave and don’t, that actually makes you a liar. Ouch!

2. Follow through.

If I’ve thought about the punishment and am sure that I will do it, I tell my child what the consequence will be. Then I HAVE to follow through. I am not the bad guy. I did not make the poor choice, my child did. His actions have consequences and it is up to me to teach him this, or I am SETTING HIM/HER UP FOR FAILURE IN LIFE. You are doing your child a disservice when you don’t punish! You are going to frustrate his/her teacher. Your kid will act out even more. This is stuff we don’t want! But, it isn’t as hard to do as you think. Yes, your kid will be mad at you. Yes, you will have resistance. I have been a stay at home mom for almost 10 years before going back to work. And just by the nature of being home more, I tend to discipline the kids more than my husband does (yes, he disciplines, too.). If our conception of discipline is true, then my kids should love my husband way more, since I am the “bad guy” more often. Guess what? They don’t. They love us both so much. They write me notes about how much they love me and I get all the snuggle time I want! Why? They know mommy tells them what is right, and will correct them when they do what is wrong. I don’t punish because I am mad at them or don’t like them, it is because they made a poor choice and I want to help them learn the right choices. Which leads to my next step:

3. Forgive.

Don’t hold a grudge over your child for the poor choices he has made. After the punishment is over, hug them and tell them you love them. Punishment is not a method to get revenge, it is a way of trying to prevent that bad choice in the future. Love covers over so much! Let your kid see that the only reason you punish them is because you love them and want them to turn out to be great adults.

4. When you make a mistake….

OK, so you won’t be perfect. Me either. We all are not perfect. Every once in a while, you will shout out something ridiculous. A punishment you would never, ever do and then you secretly hope your kid will obey so you won’t have to go through with it. Been there? I have! The second it comes out of my mouth, I think “oh, boy. Can’t believe I just said that!” Here’s what we need to do in the circumstance. If we are in a public place, pull the child aside. This lessens attention. Apologize. If you said something you don’t intend to do, tell your child. “Mommy’s sorry I said that. I really won’t sell all of your toys on Craig’s List. I was upset. Do you forgive me? Thank you. Now here is what mommy meant to say: If you don’t obey, here is what mommy will really do….” You can adjust to your kids’ age levels. But the main thing is to apologize as soon as you realize it is not a fair punishment. If you continue to promise to do it until the kid has defied you 20 times, it is no longer graceful to say “I was wrong, I won’t punish you”. You’ve just been whipped. And notice that I didn’t say they weren’t going to be punished. I just changed the punishment to a more reasonable one. I still will follow through with the new punishment.

5. Consider having a house set of rules, with punishments predetermined.

In our house, our kids know that if they speak disrespectfully to mom or dad, lie to us, or hurt their brother or sister in any way, there is an automatic punishment. We’ve dealt with those issues in the past, so I don’t need to “warn” you, you just need to obey. ¬†Deciding on punishments and warning kids really should only be needed on new issues you see that come up. If my son knows that he will get a warning every day to be nice to his brother, he will be unkind to him once every day. That’s not what I want to happen, right? So he is 11 and old enough to know that he will be punished if he chooses to be unkind. With these set rules in place, I have now conveyed the idea to my son that it is not¬†ever¬†ok to be unkind to someone in our family.

Think about the rules in your house. Is it mass chaos? Do you only enforce rules when you are well rested or in public? Think about what you are teaching your children through this. If I want my kids to always obey, whether someone is watching or not, I need to be consistent myself. Or are you too hard on your kids? There is another side to the coin! If you haven’t told your kid that an action is wrong, should you really punish him/her for doing it? In all things, think about how you would like to be treated in your child’s place. Be understanding, but remember, you are not trying to be BFFs, you are training your child. And if we don’t train our own children, who do we expect to do so?

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Resting and Reconnecting- Parenting and the Sabbath

aylee sand

Happy Easter!

We live in a busy world. Here is a little glimpse into my world: wake up at 6, make breakfast for the 4 kids and myself, get dressed and ready for work, take the kids to school, work all day, come home, cook dinner, help homework, get kids to bed, do my second job teaching online, and then go to bed to start all over again. Of course, there can be other things going on in a day- I might have a parent/teacher conference or coach cheerleading or have a game to go to. But you get the picture. Very busy lives!

We can get so busy as parents, in fact, that we can miss the little moments.

So in our family, we celebrate Sabbath.

What does that mean? We go to church on Sunday and then the rest of the day is for reconnecting and relaxation.

I know you are busy. I am, too! Weekends usually mean grading, lesson planning, and test writing for me. For my kids, it means homework and sports. But we try to get that done by Saturday so that Sunday is our family day.

Oh, and another thing, our family day is rarely at home. This is intentional because I would work myself silly if I stayed home. But if we leave, then it forces me to focus on my family.

We usually go to the park or the beach, since it is free and close to where we live in South Florida. The point is not how much you spend on the outing, it is that you spend time together. We also have done museums or the zoo. We actually have a season pass to a museum and can use that to get free admission to other museums in the country. It is a great way to get to know where we live and explore new things. As you do things together, you feel closer as a family. And as you feel closer, your kids feel more comfortable coming to you with what it on their minds. Many deep conversations have come from our family outings. Find things that your family likes to do- and then just do it!

What if your life is so busy that you don’t have time for something like this? Well, then I would say that you are too busy. We should never, as parents, be too busy to spend time with our own kids. We are responsible for providing for them and training them. They shouldn’t be an after-thought. ¬†Remember, what you put in to your relationship with your kids IS WHAT YOU WILL GET BACK.

And this might be touchy, but might I suggest to churches: stop scheduling stuff on Sundays! Well, a Sunday morning service is OK. But why not encourage families to do stuff together that day? Pastors and staff, why not do something with your kids that day? Why do we feel the need to have small groups and other things going on that day? Why have youth group Sunday evening? Let families have time together.

So, homework for this week- plan something this next weekend. Or whatever day you have with your kids. Maybe it has to be a week day. It doesn’t matter what day it is. But make it special. Focus on your family. Talk. Spend time together with no agenda. (sorry moms, but taking the kids grocery shopping doesn’t count!) If some topic comes up that you don’t feel capable of handling, tell your kid that you will get back to him/her. It is ok if you don’t know everything. Don’t be in a hurry to go do something else. Let your kids see that you enjoy being with them! You are building your relationship with them! One tiny grain of sand at a time.

Parenting- starting off

Starting off

So here it is- my very first blog post. I suppose I could have decided to write about anything, but the thing that is closest to my heart is parenting. So, even though I am not the perfect parent (who is?), I have decided that I should just go ahead and do it.

Who am I? Fair question. I am Kelly, a wife to a wonderful guy (Daniel) and have 4 kids. Micah (11), twins Jadon and Chaya (9) and Aylee (6). Two boys and two girls- just what I always wanted! Oh, and for a living, I am a high school math teacher.

In my years of teaching high school, I have had lots of parent/teacher conferences and had in my mind what I was NEVER going to do as a parent once I had kids. I’ve been pretty successful with that, since I saw how kids turned out with different parenting styles. I also saw what did work, and tried to align what I did with what works. As I write these posts, please keep in mind that every family is different, so I will try to keep to key principles. Nothing here is meant to offend, just to offer advice. And I welcome your input into the conversation!

Why parenting? I am so type A it isn’t even funny. The first few years after I decided to be a stay-at-home mom for a season were killer. I wanted results. I wanted to feel useful, productive. As much as I loved those sweet babies, there is little to show for from feeding and changing diapers all day. But then that day came, where I saw that little person starting to emerge. My view was forever changed! I am not just feeding and changing diapers- I am shaping a HUMAN BEING! Wow- what a humbling revelation! Everything I do and say will either build them into who they were created to be, or damage them. Have you ever thought about that?!?

So today’s post is about first things. I believe in order to be an effective parent, we need to be in sync with the One who created us. How is your relationship with God? Are you growing closer or farther away? The first thing as a parent or parents, is that we should have a good, growing relationship with God. Maybe you’ve had a relationship with him before. Maybe you went to church in the past and have been hurt. Maybe you are just burnt out. As parents, we do things all the time that require being selfless. I certainly didn’t want to wake ¬†up at 3AM to make another bottle! But I did. Why? My kid needed it! So why try to get closer to God- even if we’ve been hurt? For our kids- they need it! At first it may be hard, but just push through. Start to pray- really pray! What has hurt you? Tell God, He cares! What are you struggling with right now? Pray about anything and everything. I know I feel so much better when I bring things to God.

Some of you have a pretty good walk with God already. Others need healing. Once you are at a place where you feel closer to God, now is the time to start parenting. Do your kids know about God? Is it just because they go to church? Do they hear you pray? One thing my husband and I have been very intentional about, is being transparent and real in our faith. I pray, out loud, over my kids daily. And not just “God is great, God is good, let us thank him for our food” type prayers. Specific prayers. I pray for their walks with God, things they are struggling with, for their future. This shows them, that in our family, we depend on God. We talk to Him as we would our Daddy. He cares about every aspect of our lives. This also teaches our kids how to pray as well. It is so sweet to hear my kids pray for their friends and each other. When mommy has had a bad day, they pray for me! We need to teach our kids to focus on God. If they can learn continual prayer as a young child- what a blessing! I had to learn this once I was a grown up!

You don’t have to be a minister to pray. Prayer is just talking to God. Thank Him for your kid(s). Thank Him for giving you what you need. Pray for what is on your heart. Don’t be afraid to be transparent! One of the biggest mistakes I see parents make, is trying to cover up the fact that you aren’t perfect! They know, trust me!!! Meet them where you are and go to God together. What something amazing to happen in your family? Humble yourself enough to ask forgiveness for something you have done, out loud, with your kids (obviously, use your discretion if you have done something that is not kid-appropriate). They will see another side to you and that can tear down walls. I recommend praying with your kids all the way through school, even in 12th grade! If they want to pray with you in college, go for it! There is something powerful about praying together!

Homework: (I am, after all, a teacher….)

1. Do something that will bring you, as a parent, closer to God. Anything. No matter how far or how close you are, try to get even closer!

2. Start praying with your kids. Today. Start as simple as you need to. And pray “real”. I’ve heard that it takes a few weeks to make something a new habit. So start now and keep at it. Even when you are tired, or feel you have nothing to say. As you do so, it will get easier and it will become a good habit!

Matthew 6:9-13 is the Lord’s Prayer, maybe this can help you get started.

God bless you as you seek to raise your kids!