A question from a friend and my response:
Ages ago you sent me this question: That reminds me, I was talking to a friend that has a 9 month old little girl and she was telling me how she wanted to raise her girl with discipline, respect yet still have a sense of self and identity and I told her my friend Kelly knows all about that! I thought you might know some good books to recommend to her.
I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to respond. I’ve actually been thinking about it and pondering what I wanted to say.
First- Here’s a list of my favorite books/authors. As with all things, chew the meat and spit out the bones. I would not say that I follow any one book/method/author completely. It’s important to keep in mind that each family is different and it only causes difficulty to try to emulate another family exactly.
1. Raising Godly Tomatoes: LOVE the book, love the website, love the forum.
2. To Train Up a Child: The second book I read about child training and still one of the best. Their website is: http://www.nogreaterjoy.org/
I would highly recommend ordering a copy of their book. BUT- don’t miss out on the website- there are TONS of good parenting articles on there- lots of good meat.
*A word of caution: The Pearls speak VERY bluntly. They are easy to misinterpret so read carefully- don’t miss the JOY these parents have in their children. Now, personally, I think their theology is a little off sometimes but I just ignore that part and read the parenting stuff because the parenting stuff is GOOD.
A few of my favorite Pearl quotes:
“Rules and principles make good fences for a family, but not good glue. Joy is the best family glue on the market. A carnal family with joy will produce better kids than a “spiritual” family with tight-lipped, rigid , or stern-browed legalism. It doesn’t have to be either/or. The absolute best approach is joyful, disciplined spirituality founded on the solid principles of the Word of God and separation from the world.” -From Michael Pearl’s article “Training in Joy”
“I rule benevolently. Love and respect are my primary tools of persuasion. I lead, not command from a distant bunker.
“Parent, above all, you must cultivate that kind of relationship with your child. It is painful to sin against your best buddy.”
“Check yourself for balance by asking the question, ‘Do my children view me as a stern and severe disciplinarian or as a cheerful and wonderful companion and guide?’ Your judgments and punishments should be lost in the many hours of happy communion.”
3. Author: John Rosemond- anything by him. I’ve read several of his books and liked them. He really gave me a good sense of the parents right and duty to a biblical authority over our children. I like his no-nonsense approach to parenting. I do NOT agree with his ideas on supervision- he is very much into the 1950′s “send them outside to play and don’t come back until suppertime” type of mentality. I just skip over that because I think it is nonsense.
4. Under Loving Command: This little pamphlet is a GEM. Don’t miss it- spend the $1.50- it’s worth it!
5. Child Wise Chat: This blog is really excellent on getting the foundations down.
NOW, my thoughts on raising children “with discipline, respect yet still have a sense of self and identity”….
My VERY unpopular opinion but I think the KEY to raising disciplined and respectful children with a sense of self and identity is… keep them away from other children! Ha! I know that is contrary to what all the “experts” say.
Does this mean my kids are living in isolation and that we never allow them to see any other children? No, of course not. What it does mean is that we are very, very choosy about who we play with and what activities the children participate in.
We have a FEW other families that we get together with occasionally- I try to have a playdate or field trip once a week.
I want my kids to be free from the pressures of their peers to conform to whatever the “cool” thing is. I want them to be free to explore their own interests and their own gifts without worrying about what everyone else is doing. Not only that, I don’t want them picking up the popular attitudes of today. I do not think it is cool to have a sassy mouthed 3 year old and it is *mind-blowing* to me that most people seem to think it is cute yet don’t get the association between a sassy 3yo and an out-of-control, mouthy, disrespectful teenager. What’s cute at 3yo suddenly isn’t so cute in a 13yo. But by that time it’s mostly to late to change. Similarly, we’ve got 2 year olds dressing like street walkers and it’s “cute” yet these same parents are positively aghast when their 12yo wants to wear the same thing. With boys, there is either a lot of encouragement or excusing of aggressive behavior- “oh, well, he’s only 2yo.” or “he’s SUCH a boy!”. They don’t “grow out of it” and it’s not “just a phase”. You have to TEACH and TRAIN them or you have aggressive teenagers. Tasers in school, anyone??? Clearly it’s a problem in our society. The fact that police officers even see a need for tasers in school should be a clue that something is wrong with our children. Silliness is also a problem, especially in boys, it seems. (And we are struggling with this with Nathan right now). I’m not saying we should never have a silly or fun moment- but it goes to far- it’s a form of refusing to take responsibility and often, of refusing obedience.
So many parents these days are on the highest alert when it comes to their child’s physical safety. But, time and time again I see parents who give little or no thought to their child’s MENTAL safety. We want to guard very carefully what our kids are listening to, seeing & learning. A part of that is limiting television (although we do watch some Noggin and PBS but no Disney Channel) but we also need to be concerned with what they are exposed to by other children. Listen, as Sarah well knows, my kids aren’t perfect by any stretch. But here’s the thing- generally speaking (there are some rare exceptions) kids don’t influence each other for the good. So if my son struggles with whining and my friend’s son struggles with being a bully- what happens when they play together??? My son comes home having picked up some bullying tactics and her son goes home having learned a whole new level of whining. Again, we DO see other kids on occasion- but I am careful about who we socialize with. Young children are little sponges, soaking up every experience, always watching and learning and gathering bits and pieces to incorporate into their own life. So I am very careful about WHAT they are learning by monitoring WHO we are playing with and keeping a good eye on them while we are playing. We don’t do drop off playdates, ever. Period. (As an aside, you probably know that of the number of kids who are sexually molested, 93% of those are molested by someone they know. BUT- and this was shocking to me- did you know that of those kids molested by someone they know, 40% of them are molested by OTHER CHILDREN who are older or larger? Yet another reason we don’t do unsupervised playdates.)
In addition- as you will see once baby gets older- it is VERY, VERY difficult to discipline your children out in public. And young children needs lots of teaching and training to learn the proper way to behave and discipline for when they refuse. For this reason, we are careful about how much time we spend outside of the home. I really can’t teach and train effectively out in public. If my 2yo has a throw down fit in the middle of the store, I’m pretty well stuck. If she does it at home, well, I am more free to deal with it. And that doesn’t always mean a spanking. It might just mean OUTLASTING. Her world comes to a screeching STOP until she does what she’s been told to do. Until then, we sit right there and work through the issue. I give the command to pick up the block (or whatever), she refuses and has a throw down fit. I stand her up again, give the command, she refuses, etc. And we keep at it until she chooses to obey. IT’S NOT ABOUT THE BLOCK, it’s about:
1. She understands the command
2. She is capable of doing what’s been asked
3. She is refusing to obey
She needs to learn that she MUST obey Mommy and that is hard to do if you are out of the house, running around town with her all day.
If I can’t get her to obey at home and pick up a block when asked, then how can I be sure she’ll obey when it’s really important? For example, in a busy parking lot?
So I minimize the amount of time we are out of the house. I have a sitter that comes once a week for 3 or 4 hours. I go out to lunch, read my paper and have a personal moment. After that, I try to get all my errands done during that time so that I am not dragging the children out multiple times a week.
They do go out twice a week for Tae Kwon Do lessons and once a week for our playdate. If Kip or I go out in the evening or on the weekend to run an errand- frequently he’ll take one kid or I’ll take one. So they get out a bit then plus it’s 1 + 1 time. We go for walks and visit with neighbors often. I don’t want to give the impression that we’re completely isolated- we’re just very careful about outside influences.
Sarah- I’m sure that is a MUCH longer response than you expected. Sorry if I was a bit wordy… as you know, it is a topic that is near & dear to my heart.
Hope you are doing well and enjoying the holidays!