The Parenting Battles We Should Choose To Fight

 

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Tonight I made a parenting decision that I’m not sure would score high on the “How To Do Parenting” scale (where can I find that by the way?).  Yet, I am glad of the decision.

I forced my thirteen-year old daughter and fourteen-year old son to watch the movie Little Women.

Yup, forced. Laid down the law.  Made butts sit on couch next to mine.

This typically isn’t my parenting style, but I had just reached my limit of You Tube “Tutorials” and “Epic Fails.”

It is actually a compromise on my part as I see it, since I have been completely unsuccessful at convincing my children that reading classics is well worth their time.

So a movie it was.

There was dissension and moaning, which my realistic mind realizes is normal for this age group when asked to do something mature and good for the intellect.  That they would desire to be well versed in the romantic story line of Meg and her courting of Laurie’s tutor or to be excited to understand the historical significance of children trading “limes” at school and the family’s struggle to make ends meet during war times is just too much to expect…but I still do!

Virtue over wealth! Pushing against confining gender roles—oh the themes!

And then I am disappointed when my two teens keep calling to the dog in a high pitched squeal over Jo’s soliloquy of her newly written manuscript.

But wait, during the final minutes of Beth’s life a question is asked by my daughter with hushed silence in the room,”Why didn’t the other sisters who got Scarlet Fever as young children die of it then?”

And somehow I feel like I have won, this little tiny victory. My children will be able to speak of with some knowledge when met with future commentary or reference about Scarlet Fever and Mary Louise Alcott’s classic.  Possibly with a little scarring. But they will remember it.

And all the other battles I fight or choose not to this week will be okay because of this small champion. History, family, modesty, poverty, love, pain, perseverance, joy—all in a story.  It’s worth it.

Often in parenting we feel like we are fighting our children, when really we are fighting FOR what is good for them.  It feels like a battle we choose against them because their natural tendency in the teen years is to push back.  We must remember that the battle is not about us winning and them losing, but about the things that are good and virtuous and right winning over in their lives.

And for you, what will you put your stake in the ground this week as your parenting non-negotiable?  That is the battle you must choose.

Roll the credits.

 

5 Bad Mom Habits I have

There is nothing like being a parent that exposes your weaknesses.  I actually (always in hindsight) am thankful that I have little people who say things daily to help me be a better me, like:

“Mom, your roots are showing.”

“Mom, why are you talking to me like you’re mad?” (uh, because you just dumped all the clean clothes from the dryer on the floor looking for your missing cheer gear and then walked away….but you’re right, I should try to have a more calm tone when I call you back in to the laundry room, yes.)

“Mom, you just went through a red light.” (barely)

“Mom, you have flabby arms.”

“Seriously, you can’t help me with my Trigonometry homework mom?”

“Mom, how come I can’t have a soda but you have one every day.” (um, good point)

“Mom, you are having BSS again” (They have coined this term BIBLE STUDY STRESS  as I get dinner finished and the house ready to host bible study each Monday)

Yep, I love it.  Not in the moment of course, but later as I process, it really makes me think about how I’m speaking, thinking, acting, modeling my life for my children (and reminds me to schedule an appointment with the hairdresser).  Our kids are also very sweet and loving, but bantering and respectful honesty is something we have permitted in our home–keeps us in check and helps us all learn how to take some constructive criticism, laugh a little at ourselves, and hopefully be less defensive in life.

Through this process of “child imposed awareness” I have discovered that I have developed some mom habits that are not so appealing:

1. I EAT MY CHILDREN’S FOOD

This is not food off their plate, but mainly candy they have stashed in their dresser or closet that I seek out when I realize after lunch that there is absolutely no dessert in the kitchen.  I try to only eat enough that I satisfy my craving, always promising myself that I will replenish their supply.  Which I forget to do 100% of the time.  And I get caught.

2. I HIDE MY FOOD

In the converse, I hide the sweets that I buy for myself because with three teen/pre-teen’s living here, anything really good to eat disappears faster than a water droplet on a hot rock.  Often my stash is found, but I get to stretch the York Peppermint Patties out a little longer when they are in the VERY back of the fridge behind the tall milk and OJ containers.

3. MY PHONE

I haven’t really developed enough guilt  regarding the first two bad habits to make any changes, but this one I am actively working on. My phone has become a rectangular not so soft attachment of me.  I find myself annoyed at how much my kids are on their phones, yet as soon as I pull into the garage I have to check my messages and email.  And while I’m cooking and doing laundry. And sometimes at a stoplight (see, I do stop at red lights).  You get the picture.  So, I am trying to not touch my phone unless I have to when my kids are around.  It stays in my purse or my pocket so it is visually out of sight.  This is harder than it seems when we all seem to have the habit of “checking” our phone as much as we….well I can’t think of anything else we check as much.

4. REMINDING

This is definitely part of my controlling nature, but I remind my kids about an awful lot.  This shouldn’t be the case as my husband and I are well versed in the Love and Logic parenting style, which frowns on any reminding.  But, it is in our nature to prevent our kids from forgetting something, or not doing chores, because it makes more work for us to enact consequences.  Yet, I know that it is when I choose not to remind, even when that means stepping over a sock, wrapper and backpack for two days as I go up the stairs, my kids learn faster (because then they earn an extra chore or pay me money).  So, I am trying to REMIND LESS.

5. IGNORING THEIR BATHROOM

So this is one I just choose to do because I’m in denial.  With three mixed-gender hormone laden kids sharing a bathroom, you would think nothing would surprise me.  Well, think again.  A month ago I walked into the bathroom (my fault, I should know better) to this:

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Yep, that is a PLANT growing out of the sink!  I stood there befuddled for about 10 minutes.  How the heck? ? ? Then, my motherly detective brain kicked in and I remembered that my son has birds which we feed bird seed, and for some reason he thought that it would be okay to send the bird seed remains down the sink instead of the trash.  The most scary part for me was that it took long enough for a plant to germinate for me to look into their sink.

So this goes on my “bad mom-habit” list.  I need to pay more attention to the goings-on of my children’s bathroom.

While I’m sure there are many more not-so-desirable habits I entertain, these ones currently stand out.  Hopefully this gave you a laugh or at least an encouragement that motherhood is a work in progress!  I try to remind myself daily to have grace for myself and my parenting journey, while trying to seek excellence as much as possible.  With God’s help, both these things are possible!

On another note, I would greatly appreciate you sharing this link, or asking your friends to “like” this on FB if you are a fan of this blog.  I am trying to grow it this year!

Have a great day,

Amy

 

Kids And Chores? 3 Great Ideas!

How motived are your kids to do chores? I wanted to share three parenting ideas that may help solve some of our most common struggles as moms.

Two of these I have done myself, and one I just learned about today from a good friend.

1. This first chore “helper”  is GREAT for little ones, and it actually became something my kids asked for.

It’s called THE CHORE BOX.

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Here’s how this simple tool works.  Make a list of household tasks that you would like your kiddos to help with.  Write them on strips of paper and put in a tissue box.  Gather the kids around when you have a half hour or so, and let them draw a strip of paper from the box.  My kids would giggle or playfully groan when they picked a chore, and then race to complete it.  As soon as the chore is complete they race back to draw the next one.  I would throw in one or two “Pick a piece of candy” in the box to make it really fun.

Caveat:  This won’t work as well with older kids–not quite as enthusiastic…

2. The second chore helper works when the kids get a little older, maybe 3rd grade to middle school:

It’s called CHORES FOR REWARDS

I created this chore motivator a few years back when I felt like the daily expectations for the kids around the house were well, kind of being ignored.  Lights were left on, food not put away, etc.  We needed a tune up!  So, knowing my kids were all motivated to earn money, I tried this system.

~ First, find two small bags.  In one, the “money bag”, put cards with coin amounts written on them–$.25, $.50, or whatever you are comfortable with.  Put several  quarters in the bag also.  In another bag, write the daily chores that need to be “sharpened up.”

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~ Next, gather the kids around in the evening.  Pick a task out of the bag, such as “Made Bed.”  Whoever has completed that task successfully for that day gets to pick out of the money bag.  So, let’s say two out of your three kids made their bed, they get to pick cards out of the coin bag.  And depending on what they draw, they can reach back in and gather that many coins.

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~ I would not do this every night, but maybe two or three times a week.  It was a great way for the younger kids to earn a few extra coins each week! (oh, and I threw in $1.00 cards every once in a while)

~ On one money card, I wrote “PRAISE”, and if the kids picked that one, they received verbal praise from me (usually a tackle hug or something fun too).  Even though this was not quite as fun as money, I wanted to teach them the value of praise and that it could make them feel great too!

 

3.  The final idea for today is for middle and high school kids, shared by my friend Heather this morning.

I don’t know what it’s called, so I’ll make up a name!  PROTECT THE LOOT

With this chore motivator, each of the kids gets X amount of money (whatever you might give them in monthly allowance) at the BEGINNING of the month in one dollar bills.  The bills go in a container in their room.  The goal is for the kids to not lose any money during the month.  “How might they lose their loot?,” you ask?  Well, each time they don’t do a standard, expected chore (in my house this would be something we have told them about, umm, 431 times), they lose a dollar.  Like, putting their wet towel from the shower back on the hook instead of on their bedroom floor.

So, will they choose to protect their loot or not?  I can’t wait to give this one a try!

 

 

What You Say Matters

Hello Friends!

Wow, it’s been a busy summer and I can’t believe it’s almost time for the kids to head back to school.  Speaking of kids, I came across this article by Dannah Gresh.  She is a wonderful author who writes books for parents of teen boys and girls:

 

DOES YOUR DAUGHTER LISTEN TO YOU?

She’s really listening to me!? I know-I know, it might not seem like it since you have had to tell her to clean her room 23 times today – to leave her brother alone 34 times… But she is listening to you. She listens closely.
She listens when you look in the mirror and complain about your hair and your wrinkles. She listens when you say you are fat and ugly. She hears you put yourself down. She also knows that her mom loves her and wouldn’t lie. So don’t be surprised if she begins to believe the negative things you say about yourself. That’s what you’re teaching her to believe about herself when she’s older.
As James chapter 3 reminds us, our tongues – our words – are exceedingly powerful. This power could be used to revive and refresh a weary soul or it can be used to set someone’s world on fire. The real challenge comes when we are speaking to ourselves.

Society tells women that they are only as valuable as their external beauty, all the while setting a standard of beauty that is out of the reach of everyone – including the celebrities. No one is crueler or more critical to us than the reflection we see in the mirror.

 

This way of thinking and of speaking must stop. As women we have been made in the image of God. Perfectly Crafted. Wonderfully Made. Dearly Loved. How dare we insult God’s masterpiece – how dare we belittle His work in front of the eyes of our daughters!

 

You and I don’t wish to have this self-loathing mentality take root in our girls. Mom, we have to be her role model. We must believe what God says about our beauty – we must speak it boldly. Next time you look in the mirror say, “Thank you Jesus, I AM HOT!” Try it, I dare you!

 

We can accept the fact that we were created as a definition of God’s beauty. We are an example of His handiwork. Moms, we must honor and respect our bodies as they are perfectly crafted by God Himself. When your daughter looks at you, she sees beauty. She wants to be like you someday. Don’t be the source of the lies she believes about beauty. She’s listening.

Parenting Teenagers

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Jon and I just got back from a trip to Mexico.  This is a yearly trip that we take, one that I look forward to for months.  It always has a time of needed relaxation, marriage connection, and learning– in my bag I have my required reading of  a “fun book” and an “educational read.”  This year, however, was a little tougher for me to disconnect and settle into vacation mode.  This possibly happened for a couple of reasons, one of them being I just missed the kids, a lot.  They are getting older now, and although one would think it would get easier to leave them, it seems harder for me.

Our relationships with our children have moved from meeting their basic survival needs (goldfish crackers, stuffed animals, bedtime stories, clean diapers) to trying to build solid, loving, trust-filled relationships with them–in the midst of great swells of emotion–elation (a boy likes me!), sadness (I’m being picked on) disappointment (I didn’t do well on a test), jealousy (my friends got invited but I didn’t).  Then there is the challenge of  the testing of bigger boundaries, reactions to our “no,” and knowing how much independence allowed to them is just enough.

As a parent I’m always asking, “What is working?  What isn’t?”  My two older children bring the burdens of the day home, and then in the whirlwind of carpools and dinner and homework somewhere a word or sentence is thrown out in an unattractive tone returned by a sharp response from us.  It sometimes spirals into conflict and tears, sometimes we’re able to keep it from escalating.  Other times, they are just sad.  Their feelings have been hurt at school, or they are upset at themselves for handling things badly.  I want to fix it but I can’t.  I can just hug–which is sometimes wanted and sometimes not.  I heard a phrase recently that just spoke truth to me, “Moms are only as happy as their saddest child.”  Gosh, that just resonates with me sometimes.

As the plane took off, heading to another country, I sat and thought, gazing out at the miles separating me from my children, like a ball of string unraveling.  I felt like I wanted to fly back to them and hug them all, even if they wouldn’t hug back.

Instead, I stayed in my seat (really didn’t have a choice about that) and flew to our destination, where Jon and I soaked up some warmth. I spent the next 5 days reading The Five Languages of Love for your Teenager, by Gary Chapman.

9780802473134It was excellent.  I learned so much about why parenting teenagers can be so emotionally draining.  The author explained my children to me, and taught me how to respond to the feelings my kids are having at this stage of their lives.  Gary states that our kids have five languages (as do you and I) that speak “love” to us:

Words Of Affirmation

Quality Time

Acts of Service

Gifts

Physical Touch

If we are not speaking our kids’ primary love languages, then their cup is not filled, meaning they may be feeling “unloved” or lonely, even though we think we are showering them with love!  It is important for us to learn to speak our child’s love language.  There is a quiz in the back of the book for your child to take, and it gives us a great insight into what their love language may be.

Jon and I spent a good amount of time taking about what this book was teaching us, and how we could do a better job with our kids.
As we flew home, each mile bringing us closer to reuniting as a family, I was so thankful for the time away to reflect, process and read about how I can be a better mom.  I feel a little more prepared for each day, and hope to be loving my children the way they need.

Even though it was hard to leave my kids, it was probably the best thing I could do to gain some perspective and return with a little more understanding of who they are and my role in their lives,

and sporting a little tan too :).

Blessings,

Amy

 

 

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