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raising the wee ones…

December 22, 2008

i have asked you all many times for post ideas. most my posts are filed under community because this is what i consider a community blog. its your home too. so i wanta talk about what you wanta read about.

when i ask for post ideas i usually get a couple requests to write about parenting. and i shake my head. i wish you all could be flies on my wall instead. that would be so much easier.

but…im gonna try and list a couple things that i feel have been very beneficial for us as a family in raising the kids.

when they were young and i needed to communicate something important to them…maybe they were misbehaving and i wanted to make a point – i would get down to their eye level, look them in their eyes and speak softly. very soft. i always chose a soft voice cause i knew they would have to be quiet and focus that much more to hear me. it ensured they were listening. then, i would have them repeat what i said. having them do that put the responsibility on them – they knew what was expected of them because they repeated it back to me. therefor, they would have no excuse if they chose to disobey.

validating them. i have to remember they’re kids. they’re gonna think like kids. if there is something i view as silly or insignificant, but it scares or concerns them, then i need to respect that. i can’t belittle my kids for that because it is real to them. now…what i can do is walk them through a line of more rationale thinking and help paint a different picture if i think it is warranted and would be beneficial. otherwise, there are some things they need to learn on their own, in their own time.

we have always supported and encouraged things they naturally did well. their areas of giftedness, their interests. if it excited them – it excited us. kota went through a stage where he drew and made up stories for hours and hours every day. i have files, boxes, bags, poster boards tucked away of all his art work and “newspaper” articles. he came alive in these times. and when he’d want to show us his work, even if it took an hour, we’d watch and listen.

same with kass when she picked up the guitar in elementary school. she knew only 3 songs for the loooooooongest time. and that girl would strap her guitar on and follow me around the house like she was neil diamond serenading me. i’d go to the bathroom, she’d wait outside the door…still playing and singing “God is great! sing His praise! all the earth, all the heavens…” [flush]

now. what we didn’t do was stop everything all the time for them. yes, we invested a lot of time into the kids…we still do. and rightfully and gladly so. but there were, and are, also boundaries. i think kids need to know there are times when mom and or dad need some space. kids need space too. we need to have breaks from each other. if it’s not convenient to stop what youre doing to watch little johnny blow a snot bubble, cause thats his area of giftedness, then don’t. it’s okay to say, not right now – you’ll have to wait a minute. i think we are a generation of instant gratification. a generation of parents who dont want to hurt their kids feelings. which brings me to the most crucial thing brent and i have done…

we have been kassidi and dakotas parents before being their friends. it is my opinion that this is the biggest mistake a parent can make. truth is – you are your childs best friend. even if they don’t think so. you are the one who will say things to and do things for that kid none of their friends would. you are the one person who won’t stab them in the back. the one person they can, and should be able to, depend on. so i think we already got the best friend thing taken care of. be. the. parent. even if that means saying no or withholding a privilege. they will survive and so will you. doing otherwise is a disservice to you and them and their future.

oh my word count! i am SO sorry for the long post. im sure i could write a ton more. and maybe i will again. but please, please discuss, challenge, ask questions here.

what has worked for you?

what would you do differently?

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33 Comments leave one →
  1. December 22, 2008 2:08 am

    It is important to be the parent..first! and to be consistent with what ever we say. Children need stability, heck I need stability. and as you said…they will come to know that we are their best friend the one they can count on.

    Sooooo if I am not getting it,…will you come and look me in the eyes and speak softly…so I do?? worth a try. πŸ˜‰

  2. December 22, 2008 3:44 am

    Well, I’m going first time round – my kids are 4 and 19 mths….

    I like the idea of speaking softly, but I think I’d need prayer to get that done. Personally, I battle with easy frustration and I shout more than I should… esp because my four year old seems to have a block that stops him from hearing me! I seem like the only way he will listen is if I shout…. that’s the only way he actually does what I tell him, sometimes.

    We are trying to encourage them to explore the things that they like, on good days…

    What can I say? It’s my first time round, and they don’t come with an instruction booklet!

    (What I’d really like is a pause/mute button…..)

  3. December 22, 2008 3:49 am

    Thanks for all that…A lot of that I am doing already. I naturally fell into going eye level and using a softer tone. Sometimes, that tone has to raise…but for the most part, I’m speaking to her in a normal, neutral tone. She has no choice but to hear my words because I’ve removed all the distraction of the tone. I surprised myself with this, but dealing with the sensitive feelings of a neglected 6 yr old girl taught me early!

    The other thing I try and do is to let her know when it’s over. If there is a punishment, like a time-out, or even delivering bad news of another punishment, we end it with an apology and a hug. That way, she knows what the punishment is, and that it doesn’t include every breath she takes from that moment on! Growing up, I never had that and would spend hours (still do) not knowing when my mother was done being mad at me. (And I did wonder if my breathing would get me in further trouble! ) I don’t want that for my daughter, and she seems to be very responsive to this technique!

  4. December 22, 2008 3:57 am

    Bajanpoet- if I could offer some encouragement: it’s not too late!!

    My daughter is adopted…adopted at the age of 7. Her birth father yelled…and I do mean yelled…at her all the time. And he spanked her…bordering on physical abuse. We were forbidden to spank her since she came to us as a foster child, so we had to find other ways to discipline.

    Children can adapt and will be responsive!! And the great thing about dropping to their eye level and using a softer tone, YOU feel more in control and more in charge! The frustration level drops a hundred levels, and you actually feel like a parent!

    I encourage you to take 2 seconds and collect your thoughts and emotions the next time you think you are going to raise your voice. Then, approach your 4 yr old, and calmly talk to him. Watch what happens. He will know you mean what you say…because you are using a calm tone, filtering out your anger but keeping the point. It’s amazing…and it doesn’t just stop working either…

  5. December 22, 2008 6:51 am

    thanks for sharing these pearls of wisdom…

  6. heidi permalink
    December 22, 2008 6:58 am

    Give your children to God each and every day.
    Their His children that He loaned to us to raise.

    To me that’s the biggest gift that I have ever recieved.
    I need to be responsible for it.

  7. December 22, 2008 7:32 am

    Hi Tam!

    Wow – these are some great points. Thanks for taking the time to post them. I appreciate your tried and true wisdom.

    Merry Christmas!

  8. December 22, 2008 7:32 am

    Tam, it’s funny. I read this post before Kota’s post that you link to below. But as I read this one, I thought, Those are good things to remember. Since Photobaby is just a year old, I have a long way to go in parenting knowledge, but I try to hard to hold on to good nuggets of advice and experience like yours.

    And then I read Kota’s post. And it made me think of a few young people I’ve met before and I think, “Wow, how did they end up like this? What did their parents DO that helped them become such great kids?”

    Asked and answered, here on your blog. Good stuff.

  9. December 22, 2008 7:53 am

    I love this side of you. This is the side of you I knew first. πŸ˜€ And I LOVE hearing from parents that have been there done that….especially parents I already love.

    The part about speaking softly was good for me to read. I am guilty of being a yeller…and not always a mad yeller…just, yelling across the room or the house instead of taking the extra time to stop what I am doing and look them in the eye. 😦 That is one of my biggest faults as a mom I think.

    We are very good about saying “you will need to wait a minute” though. Jake and I are very big on making sure they don’t interrupt us, and when they do (b/c they are kids and just DO) we tell them it’s mommy and daddy time…. that we’re having a conversation and they need to wait. This happens a lot at dinner too. While they might be mad that we aren’t giving them 100% of our attention at that moment, I think it is important that they see we are committed to eachother as well. That we view eachother as important too.

  10. December 22, 2008 8:46 am

    Thanks Lori! Definitely something I’m gonna implement with God’s grace… pray hard anyway lol πŸ™‚

  11. December 22, 2008 8:47 am

    I, like Brandy, am a yeller. I have been known to yell across the house at the children to stop yelling. Yes, I know, bad mom.

    Since I am taking your reminder about using a soft voice, I thought I’d throw out something that I do that has not yet been mentioned. I confess when I make a mistake and apologize to my children if need be. That is hard to do sometimes, but I think it’s important for our children to know that I make mistakes, I know that I do, and even adults have to own up to stuff and face consequences. “I was wrong” is hard to say to other adults, it’s no easier to say to your own children.

    Tam, you gave some great advice/reminders here. Thank you.

  12. December 22, 2008 9:14 am

    Great words, TammyJo!

    Hmmm…I homeschooled so my kids were with me 24/7 for the early years. We spent LOTS of time outside, exploring nature. Some of our favorite memories happened out of doors, hiking through nature preserves and delighting in God’s creation. It was also a good time to get into some deep conversations about God’s attributes. Nature gave a ready-made lesson plan. And usually they would be so worn-out afterwards, I could get some rest. πŸ˜‰

  13. December 22, 2008 9:14 am

    I was glad to see Darla post first – two families mama and I have got to see in action are yours and Darla’s – both families are very special – you are doing things right. I love this post. WE love your families.

  14. December 22, 2008 9:47 am

    i love all your suggestions and already do many of them… so encouraging to know since you have such GREAT kids!

  15. December 22, 2008 9:53 am

    This was great… Especially getting down on their level and talking softly to them. I like that. Will add it to my collection of “what to do if I ever become a parent.”
    πŸ™‚

  16. December 22, 2008 10:03 am

    hey guys!

    we do so many things wrong too as parents. the most humbling thing is admitting to your child you’ve screwed up. i should write about those times 😯

    we have a looong way to go still! we just pray we will remain in His will, on His path and all raised up to be the family that He has intended us to be.

    i wanna hear more parenting tips from you tho. even if youre not a parent – you must have something?

  17. December 22, 2008 10:39 am

    I have one!

    It’s ok to have disagreements (not a yelling screaming ridiculous fight, though) in front of the kids, because it teaches them how to work through things in a mature way. Plus, if they never learn that even a healthy Godly marriage does have conflict, they will think their own marriage is doomed at first sight of disagreement…

  18. December 22, 2008 10:44 am

    i am having to learn with my husband that little girl hearts are different than little boy hearts – we have girls and i think my husband often wants to parent them like they are boys. we have to keep in mind that at the age they are at, we are their “view” of how God loves us and if we think that way, parenting becomes an even greater responsiblity.

    good post, tam.

  19. December 22, 2008 10:56 am

    the 4th and 5th paragraphs were highly helpful ideas for me. Olivia’s been struggling with being extremely fearful lately to the point that she follows me everywhere and won’t go to the bathroom by hereself. I’ve stuggled at times with handling it properly because quite frankly, it gets annoying after a while. But I have to remind myself that just as you stated, it IS real to her even though I know there is obviously nothing for her to be afraid of.

  20. December 22, 2008 11:13 am

    Oh, this was so good to read through. Soooo good.

    Little girl is almost three but something that has been important to us is honesty – always. That doesn’t mean she needs the whole story – it gets whittled down to what’s age appropriate – but always honest.

    It drives me crazy when, say, she reaches for a sweet treat and the closest adult (who knows she shouldn’t have one right then) says, “Oh, you don’t want one of those. It’s yucky.” Well, no. It’s not yucky. It’s actually quite yummy. And you can’t have one because you haven’t eaten dinner. Harder to say but at least honest.

  21. December 22, 2008 12:03 pm

    I have no kids and did not have a close family enivornment when growing up. The biggest thing I can think of is that we rarely spoke to each other. I don’t ever remember sharing a hug with my father.

    It is very hard to be a family when parents and children don’t communicate with each other though words and hugs.

  22. December 22, 2008 12:28 pm

    Well I mentioned the ‘negative’ so let me speak of the ‘positive’…

    We affirm our boys – often – and tell them we love them and we’re proud of them when they do well. We are always telling them that we love them and shower them with kisses and hugs. Gotta get them in now, coz when they get older they’ll be too macho for them πŸ˜†

    All in all, my boys are happy and they know they are loved πŸ™‚

  23. December 22, 2008 2:35 pm

    HA HA HA! What worked for me? I am still doing it. I will have to post in like 10 years for wisdom. Still in the trenches.

  24. December 22, 2008 2:56 pm

    about the apologizing to them…

    I’m ALWAYS doing that b/c I am (more often than not) wrong in the way I’ve handled something. I have mixed feelings about that sometimes b/c my mom ALWAYS apologized…so much so that I often wondered if she was sincere. I try to make sure it was a clear wrong on my part and not just apologize b/c they are mad at me and I feel bad. Jake and I differ in opinion on this sometimes but for the most part, we try to acknowledge when we’ve handled something wrong. *sigh*

  25. December 22, 2008 6:36 pm

    i have really enjoyed reading through all your comments. so much wisdom. i knew there was a reason why i loved you all so much! πŸ˜‰

    it takes a village to raise a child. i agree with that totally. we can all learn from each other. we all have something to offer in advice from our experience and we all would be wise to take that wisdom into consideration.

    so thank you for sharing so much of it here. it is invaluable to me!

  26. December 22, 2008 6:45 pm

    I have many memories of our visit with you – but one that has been running through my mind happened at TRF that Saturday night. After service mama and I were literally almost knocked off our feet when Kota ran up to us and wrapped his arms around us both – he learned that kind of love from a very special dad, mom & sister. Dang, here I go weeping again – I gotta stay off this blog! I can’t go back to mine either, even mama is picking on me for being a stinker! 😯

  27. December 22, 2008 7:52 pm

    great post!!!

    Really great reminders. I’ve recently been so busy with the newborn, I forget to take the time to get down on Chance’s level and have him repeat my words. I used to be good at that… and I need to be good at that again. *sigh*

    I agree with Mandy. Brian and I let our kids see us disagree and sometimes even disagree LOUDLY… but we make sure they watch us resolve it as well.

    Also… we try to say “Yes” to as much as possible so when we actually say “No”, it REALLY means NO.

    You should post more stuff like this!

  28. December 22, 2008 7:52 pm

    Hey Tam,

    Ohhhh I miss you! Its been way too long. I just wanted to jump on here and wish you and the fam a Merry Christmas!!

    Gretchin

  29. December 22, 2008 8:02 pm

    These were great.
    I especially liked “watch little johnny blow a snot bubble, cause thats his area of giftedness. . . ”
    But really, my parents did a lot of this.

    My parents allowed us to be who we were for the most part (which is why I’m STILL a bit on the tomboyish side I think), but they weren’t good at demonstrating that your emotions are okay.
    I grew up with parents who hushed their emotions, especially anger- so I didn’t really learn that anger was:
    1. Natural
    2. Okay for girls
    3. How to express it

    I wish my parents would have been better at that.

  30. December 23, 2008 4:00 am

    i hope i would never do a thing differently, Tam.

    Clearly it works very well for your kids.

    I would add: re:being parents – be UNITED (without being ‘identical’ – each parent has gifts and strengths to impart to their kids, be the kids male or female) Don’t be divisive and one parent say/do one thing while the other parent shows them a contrary set of values.

    Kids are incredibly intelligent and will learn to ‘work’ one parent against the other to get the result they want. A unified approach to parenting will produce the best results.

    Love your kids but try not to completely cocoon them in ‘cotton wool’. Teach them both good and bad exists in this world and help them develop strategies that help them deal with both effectively by allowing them a wide range of experience appropriate to their age. Trying to remove ALL evil from their lives is not being fair to them in later life – they need to be able to understand why being ‘good’ is important and why some people who might seem ‘good’ can sometimes do ‘bad things’ and learn to act appropriately – even when on their own and ‘Mom’ is not around to protect them.

    Hard to do when they are under 7 or 8 years old, but many kids develop their learning ability before this age so what you teach them early can affect how they learn after – tricky thing to get ‘right’.

    Here’s hoping you and Brent continue getting it right πŸ™‚

    Oh – and remember to duck! πŸ˜‰

    <B

  31. December 24, 2008 5:50 am

    I tell Levi, “when you start paying rent, we will be friends, but until then, clean your room!” πŸ™‚

  32. January 4, 2009 7:16 pm

    Good stuff, Tam. I know I’ll need (Holy Ghost) help when I have kids. Some things I can do … others …. I’m a little nervous.

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