Tag Archives: discipline

What Are Your Children Hearing?

me anna

It can be easy out of frustration to say things to our children that tear them down. “You never listen” or “you are so lazy” or any negative words that directly tell them who they are or who they aren’t. Sometimes, parents can also use negative words thinking they are manipulating their child’s behavior to change. We can say things like, “You don’t care about your room,” or “You don’t care about me and what you are putting on me.” We think we can manipulate or guilt them into changing a behavior. These kinds of speech and motives are never beneficial. And, while guilt may work for a while, it’s not sustainable and affects their self-esteem and how they feel about themselves.

It’s not that you ignore behavior or pretend it’s not there. But when we address it, address the actual behavior. Not the person. Don’t say “you are selfish” or “you are being” this or that. Start your conversations with “let’s talk about what happened” or “can you share with me what’s going on or how you’re feeling.” This creates trust that you as their parent really care about them as a person and not their performance. It’s what builds your relationship with them.

Recently, one of of Jett’s teachers told me he was struggling to pay attention and focus in class. I asked her if he was talking to his friends beside him, and she said “Some, but it’s really just kind of like…..” I finished her sentence, “he’s in his own little world?” She responded with a resounding YES.

One of the things I know about Jett is that he is always thinking and imagining and coming up with ideas in his head. It’s one thing I don’t want to squelch. But, I do need to help him channel and navigate it. So, when I talked to him I asked him, “Are you having a hard time listening and staying focused on what your teacher is saying?” He told me yes. I didn’t say, “If you don’t start paying attention, there are going to be serious repercussions for you.” Instead, we talked about our imagination and how God gave it to us to create and how important it is. But, we also talked about how important it is to focus on our tasks at hand. Since I was driving, I asked him if he thought it would be okay if I stopped paying attention to the other cars around me and just started imagining sitting on a beach somewhere. He said, “No, mom!” I told him sometimes, I have to pause my imagination and focus, too. Then, we talked about ways that might help him stay focused. He bought into the discussion. As a matter of fact, when we were going through TSA security at the airport a few weeks ago, I wasn’t paying attention to the agent ask us to remove anything larger than a cell phone from our bag. Jett said, “Mom, take out my iPad. It’s larger than a cell phone. See how I’m paying attention and staying focused?”

Had I just told Jett “You don’t pay attention in class” or “You are going to get in trouble if you don’t get your act together” then all I would have addressed is who I think he is. And, that’s all he would have heard. And, I guarantee you the conversation would not have been effective, at least long term, nor would I have been building a relationship with him where we can continue to talk about it and navigate through it like we did at the airport.

Whenever I am asked for my most crucial parenting advice, I always encourage parents to build a relationship with your children. Relationship is everything. EVERYTHING. In a relationship, you allow the person to be who they are. You allow them to have differences of opinion or beliefs. You don’t force who YOU are onto them. Instead, you ARE the very things you want to see in that relationship. And, you speak them. Whether it’s with your spouse, your friend, or your child. These are the keys to any successful relationship.

And when you do tell them who they are, make sure it’s always positive. Tell them the wonderful things you see in them. And, for those things you don’t see but want to see, don’t tell them they don’t have that trait or it’s not in them. It is, because the Creator of the universe is in them. Instead, talk about the behaviors in a way that’s not threatening or demeaning. And, when you pray for them, thank God for that thing in them that you want to see manifesting outside of them. When my children were little and I would put them to bed, I would always say the same prayer. But, then I would pray thanking God for all of the things I saw in them (who they are), and I would also thank God for all of the things I wanted to see. Anna heard me thank God for her sensitivity and compassion for a long time before I started seeing it manifested. But she heard me say who she already was….not who I wanted her to be. And, she became it. And, now, you won’t find a more compassionate, accepting human being than Anna.

Your children will become who you tell them they are. Make sure you are telling them good things. And, when in doubt, ask yourself, “Is this conversation building our relationship or is it hurting it?” Teen years are coming if you’re not already there. And, I can assure you that relationship is going to mean everything.

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Filed under gratitude, imagination, Kid Stuff, Motherhood, parenting, prayer, Relationships, Uncategorized

Playing the God Card.

It’s no longer easy clothes shopping with Anna Takle.   Not that it ever has been.  But, friends, it’s harder.  Much, much harder.  I had to try to resuscitate Kris after Anna asked for a bra.  In every store, little bras hung, and Anna clung to them like that little undergarment would make her world complete.

Then, she insisted on trying on a pair of shorts her father and I were not going to pay for.  They were just too short for our taste.  We let her try them on.  And, subsequently, we still told her no.  The bewildered look on her face to our opposition to the shorts let us know she thought we were being a little over the top.  She looked at me and said, “You just don’t get my style.”

I realize her intent with the short shorts is probably not to be a sexy little seven-year old.  So, what’s the big deal?  It’s probably not.  Not today.  But, it will be one day when her young innocence becomes a little more infiltrated with what society deems as beautiful for girls.  And, I’d just rather loosen the reigns later than have to tighten them.  So, I remain a stick in the mud kind of mom, I suppose.  Who doesn’t get her style.

I didn’t go into the conversation of “Anna, you are not the sum of your parts,” speech.  I just didn’t think it timely for her age.  But, I also didn’t tell her “Those shorts aren’t Godly.”  Because, that would’ve been a legalistic explanation, I’m sure.  I just told her that we didn’t think those shorts were the right choice for her today.

I think too often we play the “God card” with our kids.  It’s something I have recognized in my own parenting.

“How do you think it makes God feel when you are being ugly to your sister?”

“How would Jesus had handled this situation?”

“Do you think it makes God happy when you deceive us?”

The list could go on.

I serve a God who loves me no matter what.  Whose blood covers a multitude of my stupid mess-ups.  Who has an endless supply of grace that He lavishes on me.  So, who was this God I was teaching?  Not the One I cry out to.  Not the One who shows grace to me when I screw up as a parent.

I haven’t played the God card in every parenting situation.  There have been plenty of moments where pure discipleship abounded.  But, those times I’ve played the God card didn’t even rest well in my own spirit.  It just seemed convenient.  And, a quick fix.

So, instead of asking “How would Jesus had handled this situation?”  I might ask, “Why do YOU think it’s better to forgive?”  “How does it make YOU feel when you forgive?”

Because, friends….

Teaching our children to do right for the sake of doing right isn’t going to cut it by itself.   Through every life lesson, we need to do our best to tell them WHY His way is better.  WHY forgiveness is just as much for us as it is for the one who hurt us.

And, I have a life full of examples of why choosing to do things God’s way has made all of the difference in my own life.

So, share your own life examples with your children.  Tell them why it has worked for you.  Don’t make your children live in fear of not only disappointing you, but disappointing their Creator.  Instead, portray their King in such a way….live for Him in such a way….that they will TRUST that His ways really are better.

And, when they mess up, show them the same grace He shows you.  Discipline when needed.  But, let grace be the covering of it all.

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Filed under God Stuff, Motherhood, parenting, Shopping, Virtue

Geek Prayer Warrior.

Writing is a spiritual discipline for me now.  I know this.  I know this, because, I feel a sense of guilt when I don’t write.  Not a condemnation kind of guilt.  That’s not God’s style.  Rather, the kind of guilt you feel when you know you aren’t doing what God wants you to do in your life at this given moment.  I mean, obviously, I haven’t felt a GREAT DEAL of guilt about it in the past given my lengthy sabbaticals since kid three arrived.  Because, clearly, I’ve been able to still eat with this kind of guilt.

I guess it’s kind of like physical exercise.  You don’t always want to do it, but after you do, you feel so much better.  So, I’ve been thinking about ways to organize my writing time.  I figure if I make plans to write, I will.  Just like everything else in life.  We do what we make the time to do.  So, while, I am reading other people’s material and advice on how to help writing schedule, I thought I’d share with you how I make time to pray for people.  Or better yet, how I remember to pray for people and their specific needs.

When I someone asks me to pray for them, or if I commit to pray for someone, I pray for them the moment they ask.  The very moment.  Even if I’m in their presence, I make a conscious choice to pray silently right then and there.  If I read on Facebook or Twitter or receive an email that someone needs prayer, I pray immediately.  I don’t wait.  Because, then, I will surely forget.  But, once I pray that one time, something clicks.  And, that need someone has stays with me.  That need will continue to flow through my mind as the days and weeks come and go.  Then, whenever I think about that person, I pray for them. 

So, if you ask me, in person, to pray for you, and you suddenly think I’ve exited the planet, I’m still here.  It’s just my thing.  It seals that need into my memory bank. 

Now, suddenly, I feel very much like the geek prayer warrior.  Which brings up another factoid about me.  I never title my blog posts until I’m half-way through writing it.  It’s at this point in my post I’ve decided to name it “Geek Prayer Warrior.”

And, the little snippet above has nothing to do with this post.  Of course. 

So, the next time someone asks you to pray for them, try my little trick.  Heck, it may not work for ya.  I’m just sayin’.  Try it.  I have learned the more I think about other people, the more I pray for them.  And, the more I pray for other people, the less I think of myself.  And, the less I think of myself, the more I think on Him.  And, the more I think on Him, the more He becomes center.

And, well, everything is better when He is center.

Amen? 

Amen???

Thank you.  A-MEN.

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Filed under prayer, Spiritual Journey, Writing

A Broken And A Contrite Heart.

I keep getting these e-mails about potential boarding schools.  I’ve yet to classify them as spam, you know, just in case.  Oh, I would never.  I could never. 

Could I?

No.  I love this insanely unpredictable saga I live with a husband, two kids, and a dog.  And, of course, baby number three forming as I type. 

Yesterday, I told you about our latest parenting issue with little Miss Takle.  But yesterday afternoon, I encountered a discipline issue with John Henry.  And, his response broke me.

He had mistreated his sister.  It was small stuff by most people’s terms.  But, we see treating each other the way Christ wants us to treat each other as big stuff. 

I sent him to his room.  I entered knowing that he would have to be disciplined.  After it was over, he fell in my arms, and wailed, “The things I did to my sister were wrong!”  His heartfelt repentance broke him.

It broke me.

I felt tears touching my shoulders, and I’m sure he felt tears touching his.  There are times when my children tell one another they are sorry, because we force it on them.  Then, there are moments like these where they are truly broken.  They experience true repentance. 

Later that evening, John Henry asked me to tell Kris what happened. 

“You want me to tell Dad?”  I asked him.

“Yes.  I want him to know,” he responded.

He doesn’t even understand the scripture of confessing your sins to one another, but he is already practicing it.  I couldn’t help but think.  When is the last time I felt that kind of repentance in my own heart?  Where I was really broken?  Am I that broken when I talk about someone behind their back?  When I mishandle someone?  When I sin against my Father? 

Lord, create in me a new heart.  Renew a right spirit within me.

Let me come before your throne with a heart of David.  And, understand, once again, the JOY of your salvation.   

The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.  You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.  Psalm 51:17

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Filed under God Stuff, parenting, Virtue

The NAV Bible (New Anna Version)

anna-pre-k-wp1

Last week, Anna got into trouble at Pre-School.  When I found out about it, I let her know that she was in trouble, and I would have to tell her dad about it.  John Henry, self-appointed Sheriff of Moral Order, also got involved.  Here is how the conversation went.

Me:  Anna, I’m going to talk to your dad when we get home.  This is unacceptable.

Anna: (Crying) NO!  Don’t tell Daddy!  Don’t tell Daddy!

Me:  Anna, I can’t keep this from your Daddy.

John Henry:  Anna, the Bible says we should not keep secrets from one another.  [A bit of a stretch on the truth shall set you free.]

Anna:  (Sobbing) Well, my Bible says different things!

I could not help but laugh.  Her Bible says different things.  Oh, how we all, at some point in life, pretend our Bible says something different.

Her quick wit didn’t save her from being disciplined. 

But, it almost did.

Have you ever been unable to discipline your child because of his or her wit?  I bet you have!

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Filed under Kid Stuff, parenting

The Negotiator

anna-negotiator-wp

Living with us is one little girl with some mad negotiating skills.  We have to stand our ground – all tough-like.  Anna, ahem, Angel can explain her way out of and into a lot. 

But, we’re onto her.

And her subtly cunning nature.

Take last night for example.  She futility attempted to talk her dad into letting her watch a movie while she “falls asleep.”  Yeah.  Whatev’. 

Enters Mom.  Before I begin her bedtime prayers, she says to Kris, “Dad, could you step into the hall, please?”  In other words, can you get out so I can usurp your authority by asking mom what you just said no to?  Or something like that.

Do you have a negotiator or sly one?  {Or not so sly in this case.}
How do you handle their attempts at negotiation?

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