Sunday, November 7, 2010

Puzzle Pieces of Parenting...Part Two

We just ended a wonderful family weekend together. As Jeff and I are relaxing in the quiet it seems like the perfect time for me to begin sharing ideas I think helped to shape our family. Understand, we by no means believe we handled every situation correctly. In fact part of our discussion/laughter throughout the weekend was reflective of certain instances with each child when arguing/disobedience/reaction to discipline occurred. But I must say I truly like my kids! I really liked each stage of their growing up. Each stage poses specific levels of challenge but specific levels of joy as well. To help through the journey it seems that one child may be on auto pilot while another is causing you to regroup on a daily basis! ( that is a nice way of expressing the need to scream, pull your hair out, or hope they get on the wrong bus and end up in someone else's house for the afternoon! ) Think of it like a scale. The goal is a balance and arranging your efforts will create what you and your child needs. One of my favorite life words is "normal." How do I get to that normal place? I can do normal! Everything doesn't have to be perfect, " normal " will do just fine! The list of ideas will not be in any specific order, they just popped into my head in my brainstorming session with myself. You can shuffle them around or recreate them in a way that will better fit your child/family. I hope to challenge you in a way that revs your parenting engine! This can be a fun ride with some bumps or chug holes along the way but staying the course and keeping your engine finely tuned will provide a more successful outcome for you and your children!

1. Allow and promote open communication. If you are going to be at fault let it be on the over communication side. Create an environment
where your children are not afraid to tell you what is going on with them. This also means you must stop and listen or you will give the
appearance that what you are doing is more important than what they want to tell you.
2. Answer each question as honestly as is age appropriate to establish your interest and availability and to reinforce that the lines of
communication are always open.
3. Practice keeping your eyebrows down for the times your child tells you what they heard on the playground or asks you questions you
prayed they never would! Eyebrows up are a guarantee they have set off your alarm and they will be less prone to come to you in
the future.
4. As parents, do not argue with your spouse in front of the child about decisions concerning that child. If you are unsure how you should
handle the situation, just say you need time to think about it. Don't let your child create a wedge between you as parents.
Work together to keep a firm and united appearance on the home front! If you are a single parent you need time to know how
making a certain decision will effect you and your child. Ask a close friend or family member you respect to talk through the
situation with you so you feel more confident about your decision when you approach your child.
5. Commit when your child is a toddler that it is a priority to teach them to respond and obey. This is no easy task but the sooner this is in
place the smoother every day will be for you and your child. Children will respond to boundaries but you must commit to enforcing the
boundaries so you aren't sending mixed messages. Don't tell them to do or not to do something if you don't plan to follow up. This is a
sure fire way to let them know you don't really mean what you say. If you are not in the mood to follow through, let it pass. Try to be in
the mood to enforce the desired behavior more often than not!
6. It is a good thing for your child to have a healthy fear of you. This will help confirm the boundaries you have set. You can't and shouldn't
try to reason with a toddler, preteen, or even a teen for that matter about everything. Your words should initiate a response toward
obedience. Of course there will be times when discussion takes place regarding certain situations but you can't reason with a toddler and
and shouldn't set the precedent that everything is up for discussion. Make your expectations clear and enforce them. It is not your goal to
be your child's friend. There will come a time when your relationship will reflect certain images of friendship and it is a great thing but it
occurs way down the road!
7. Truly live/model God first, spouse second, children third, family/friends fourth. Verbally teach the order of relationship and make it part of
your prayers for them that they will apply this order in their adult lives.
8. Hug and kiss your spouse appropriately in the presence of your children. This will give them a sense of security even though they
will exclaim, " ooh dad, get a room!" It also teaches them how to interact with their spouse should they choose to marry in the future
9. Say I love you everyday.
10. Hug and kiss your child even when act like they don't you to. Not in a public way that would embarrass them, of course. You never
want that type of interaction to feel awkward so if you never stop it never will.
11. Avoid being effected by eye rolling and sighing from your child when they disagree with you. They will use this tactic
so be prepared!
12. Enforce the practice of making your children call their siblings by name, not by how they feel in the heat of battle!
13. Ask questions you really want to know the answers to and avoid asking too many that are unnecessary. This involves thinking
and discipline on your part.
14. Laugh as much as you can together!
15. Surprise your child occasionally with a treat. This means you cannot buy them something every trip to the store.
16. Let your child feel the pleasure of giving to others by asking them to choose a good toy to give away.
17. Live by the philosophy of saving some things for when your child is older, pace yourself. If you do everything too early you may get
yourself in an expensive situation. It shouldn't be your goal to keep up with everyone else.
18. Have home birthday parties as long and as much as you can. Celebrations don't have to cost a fortune and especially younger children
are thrilled with cake, ice-cream, and friends.
19. Invite families/friends for meals at home. The dynamic is different than at a restaurant.
20. Allow your house to be a gathering place for adults and children. This is a lost art so help bring it back!
21. Pray daily as a family before meals you eat together. Yes this means in a restaurant! This doesn't have to be limited to mom and dad.
Allowing your children to pray not only provides you the blessing of hearing their sweet voices and thoughts but will assist their
comfort zone to pray out loud in front of others. Just choose one family member per meal. It's a good idea to hold hands as well
to provide your children the opportunity to touch their sibling in a peaceful way. They won't like it at first but so what!
22. Clutter Cleanup. Set the timer on the oven for 10 minutes and have everyone pick up their things and put them away. It's amazing
how much neater your house can become in a short time!
23. Sunday Lunch Choice. Initiate a system where each family member gets to choose which restaurant. This will drastically improve
the time it takes to come to an agreement, plus everyone complains less since they will have a turn at some point.
24. When planning a big grocery shopping run, ask family members what they would like to eat at the evening meal. This will cut down
on time deciding what to have and ensures everyone gets their favorite dish. You can also have each person help in the meal
prep. By doing this you get some one on one time with your child plus you will be teaching a lifeskill as well. ( Taken from
Multitasking for Moms, 101! )
25. Indoor Picnics. For fun spread a quilt on the den floor and eat together like you would do at the park. This is especially fun for
younger children.



  1. Love, love, love this post. As soon as I read the first few lines, I was so excited to get to the list. I will have to revisit it many times as some are more natural for me and some are really hard. Thanks for living out # 19. Some of our favorite memories are the times when you and Jeff would have us over for Sunday lunch after we first moved to LR. We felt like part of the family and got to see many of these things practiced in your home- not to mention the yummy roast, rolls and no-bake cookies. Thanks so much for sharing this!

  2. Your home is a place I have always felt welcome and wanted. Your children have treated me like family. Of all the things you said in this post, the one about opening your home to others really stood out. You have been a faithful Mom in all these things, but your faithfulness in this has particularly impacted me and my family.

  3. Great post Nancy! Such great ideas...I'll be able to use some of these with my grandkids and/or at least share the ideas with my kids for their kids. Love the way you've always practiced hospitality! You've taught your kids well"

  4. Nancy, this is great. I am in the thick of this now, with our third (a boy) 6 weeks old, our daughter 2 years, and our son 4 years the day before the baby was born. Following through is my main challenge! Then I worry about the consequences I choose. God help me! And I know He is. I'll be having a picnic in the living room soon!