Encouraging Moms and Passing it On

encouraging moms

What to do with a kid’s tantrum tears

I wheeled my cart to the front of the store and waited for the mom in front of me to finish putting her items on the conveyer belt.  Seated in the cart was a toddler, probably two or three years of age. She was a blond pixie, and cute as a button.  When she asked to get down her mother obliged.

Pixie’s cuteness left when she ran to the shelves next to the counter and begged for the small bag of chips. Her mom told her no. She asked for pretzels. The answer was no. Miss Pixie begged for gum, for candy, for anything else she could find and she touched item after item, begging. The answer was always no.

Finally, Mom told her to come back to the cart, which she did.

Now the tears came. Mammoth tears. Pouring down your face tears. Woe-is-me tears. Won’t-you-feel-sorry-for-me?! tears. Pouting tears. Buckets of crocodile tears.

Along with the tears, there was a lot of noise. Loud, moanful wails. Sobbing wails. Gasping for air wailing.

encouraging moms

One by one, customers and a clerk came by and asked the little gal what was wrong.  From their actions, one would have thought the child was in danger or in pain. Their glares toward the mom told me what they were thinking. Definitely, there was one side to this story, and it was not the mother’s side! How could a mother be so uncaring? How could she continue loading groceries into her cart while her child sat there crying?!

Because it was the right thing to do, that’s why.

Before the tears had ever begun, little Pixie and I had exchanged smiles. I’d said hello and she had smiled back at me.

When little miss Pixie turned and looked at me with those mournful eyes after the crying episode, I gave her another smile.

Seizing an opportunity, I spoke loudly enough for mom to hear.

“You have a goooood mommy. You are so lucky to have a mommy who cares about you. I saw that you begged and begged, and your mommy kept telling you “no”. I’m so glad your mommy loves you enough to keep saying “no” when she has told you “no” once. She didn’t change her mind because you cried and pouted. She’s a good mommy, and you really don’t need to cry.”

Her tears stopped at once. Eyes wide, she seemed to contemplate what I said. I saw a hint of a smile in her eyes. Uh huh. This kid knew what she was doing all the time. Her tears were gone. I find it interesting that when people offered her sympathy, her tears fell faster and her crying was louder. Perhaps, instead of encouraging kids to misbehave by giving positive reinforcement, we should try encouraging moms to “stick to their guns”!

When it was my turn at the counter, I turned my attention to the pile in my cart and started putting my groceries onto the belt. I’d forgotten about the conversation because all was quiet in the grocery cart now.

I almost missed it, but just as mom turned her cart to wheel the groceries and cart outside, she caught my eye.

There was a faint glimmer in her eyes as she mouthed the words, “Thank you.”

Certainly. Moms need all the applause they can get when they are doing it right.

encouraging moms

Applaud the moms who are doing it right.

I remember those days.

Folks critiqued our parenting when they didn’t even know our names. There was the senior citizen who told me that she couldn’t believe I didn’t care if my son electrocuted himself. We were in the doctor’s waiting room and he had crawled underneath the fish tank to see how it worked. She seemed to know more about it than I did.

Another day, a clerk in the store told me I just needed to whip my kid. We’d traveled for six hours with a toddler who had spiked a fever and was sick the entire trip. The young whipper-snapper was obviously too young to have any kids of her own, but she knew exactly what should happen. Somehow she missed a runny nose, pulling at ears, and feverish face of the kid whose head was on my shoulder. (You see how I remember this over a quarter-century later?!)

I especially remember the time an older woman gave me the encouragement I needed. I think she made a practice of encouraging moms, especially when they needed it. You can read about that here.

encouraging moms

What Fun it is to Pass it on!

On this day in our Food Lion, I paid it forward. Instead of nailing the mom (or the kid), I chose to affirm what was right and good. Encouraging moms is a wonderful way to empower them in their parenting.

It’s so easy to sit back and make a judgment call about a behavior when we don’t know the whole story. It is so much better to find things for which we can applaud and then do it heartily.

Encouraging moms is more important than critiquing them (unless they ask). How much better to look for the good and begin paying it forward? It will make this world a better place. Plus, it’s guaranteed to give our kids better moms!

encouraging moms

Building Blocks of Parenting – Part I

Part One – Building Blocks of Parenting

Building Blocks of Parenting

When it comes to discipline or teaching children responsibility, one of the hardest things for a parent is to be consistently consistent.  Equally difficult to remember is that being a parent does not require that we are always our child’s friend.

Easier said than done, I know.  How well I know!  While experience is a great teacher, we can also learn from others who’ve already experienced what we have yet to learn. Sometimes we don’t even know what we don’t know.  That’s when getting advice from others who’ve been there can be helpful as well as encouraging.

If you were to ask me what I’ve learned in parenting six kids for the last thirty years, these building blocks of parenting are the first blocks I’d pull out of the bag. It’s not that I did it so well.  It’s just that I learned along the way what I could have done better or could have done differently from the very start.

Even though I’ve been there and done that, believe me when I tell you that I still struggle with some of these when I am parenting foster kids in our home.

The struggle is real.

Yet winning each battle is worth every tear and every prayer along the way.

building block one on parenting

 

Be a parent first.  Every parent wants to be liked by his/her child, but being popular is not the goal.  You are the parent, not the popular teammate. Start with being the parent.

Choose discipline, consequences, and rewards because you’re the parent,  not the friend. Be a parent first.

No matter what, you will always be the parent.  Your “discipline” needs to reflect that. Don’t let your kids make you feel guilty for being the parent and not the friend when it is time to deal out consequences.  Be a parent first.

 

 

 

building block two on parenting

 

I can be my child’s friend – sometimes.  Sometimes I’m their friend, and sometimes I’m not. Remember: always a parent, sometimes a friend.

Being a friend should not detract from my parenting even though it connects me with my child. Making memories is fun and important, and we did that a lot.  Friends make good memories. Good parents are also disciplinarians.

Make decisions based on principle and not popularity. Whether it’s deciding on a gift, a visit to a friend’s house, cell phone usage or an activity, we need to base our decisions on what is right and best for our child and not because we want to be popular. Ask yourself: why am I saying (yes, no) to this request? Is this what is best for my child?

 

 

 

Building Block 3 on Parenting

 

Defeat the 3 Ds. These are Dishonesty, Disobedience, and Disrespect.

If the infraction is not one of the 3 Ds, then it’s not a  hill to die on. I wish I had sorted through this principle earlier.  Some skirmishes can be left untouched. Remember that if we win the battles on the 3 Ds, we will win the war.

Start sooner rather than later.  Waiting only makes it harder on yourself and your kid.  If your child is old enough to be dishonest, be disobedient or show disrespect, then he is old enough to experience consequences.  Period.  Plus,  your kids will be prepared for life – whether it’s regarding relationships or responsibilities.

 

Success does not come without a price.

Good parenting involves time, teamwork, and tenacity. Hang in there.  Stay the course. It really will be worth it someday.

 

Pinterest Building Blocks part One

 

How to Let Your Husband Be The Captain of Your Team

let your husband be the captain of your team

The playing field of home can be fraught with frustration, especially when the coaches disagree and the players are uncooperative. It is rare to find parents who agree on how much discipline or what kind of discipline should be divvied out to their offspring.

More often than not, one of the greatest disagreements comes from how we are wired. Most two-parent families typically have a “softie” mom and a tough dad. Sometimes it’s the other way, but usually you’ll find moms collaborating that there are times when the dad is just “too hard” on the kids. I’m not talking about abusive, disrespectful, or unsympathetic rigidness. I’m talking about day-to-day discipline and consequences that parents deal out to their kids. Usually dad is stricter than mom.

let your husband be the captain of your team

There’s a reason for that. He’s more objective because he’s a male. It’s the way God made him. He’s also a dad. His desire is not to coddle and cripple his kids, encouraging them to just walk to first base. He wants to prepare them to make home runs and not just bunt to first base.

This head coach is just as much the parent of your kids as the assistant mom coach. Authentic dad coaches know a whole lot more about raising kids than many moms give them credit. How do I know? I’ve seen it in other families, and I’ve experienced it myself.

dad is the captain of the team

What’s the playing field like at your house?  Do you agree on these things?

  • Having or helping with chores, including the age a child should begin
  • Picking up toys and straightening up the mess he/she has made
  • Table manners and food consumption
  • Getting dressed by themselves when they’re old enough and what age is “old enough”
  • Completing homework or other responsibilities before bedtime or before doing fun things
  • Helping with housework, laundry, meals, or chores
  • Going without lunch or an assignment due at school because the child forgot to take it.
  • Behavior in church and church attendance
  • Traveling without fussing and complaining
  • Sleeping in his/her own bed and in his/her own room
  • Bedtime and bedtime routine
  • Getting up time and morning routine

on the playing field, dad is captain of the team

Disciplining in anger is wrong. Abuse is wrong. Yet that’s no excuse to withhold discipline. Sometimes moms fail to admit that discipline which is done in the right way and at the right time can promote a healthier and more cooperative player. That’s because moms tend to feel that dad expects too much of his players.

your husband must be captain of your team

Children can be taught to do a lot more than is often expected of them. Children can be trained to be obedient and not whine, even when they are tired and feel restless. Fathers are good at this training – if the moms, aunts, and grandmas stay out of the way.

How many times have you seen a dad throw his child into the air and catch him while the aunties or grandma exclaim that he’s too rough and not being careful enough? Ever hear other men say that to dads? Of course not. This is what dads do. It’s fun, and it teaches kids to trust them.

in work or play, let your husband be the captain of your team

Our mothering instinct causes many of us to think we have a better handle on raising kids than our spouse. We’re usually the ones who spend the most time with them, so we can “read” them better and understand them better – or so we think. We tend to not want to give credence to the fact that our spouse has an insight we don’t have. Moms want to coddle and keep the babies in protective gear while dads think it doesn’t hurt a kid to get hurt once in a while; he’ll learn better how to dodge balls if he doesn’t have all that padding. Moms want to keep their babies in the nest, and Dads want to encourage their fledglings to fly.

let your husband be the captain of your team

Therein lies the conflict.

Whether it’s with tussling, playing games, or chores, dads are usually the aggressive ones and encourage the tussling, insist on chores, and make sure their child doesn’t always win in a game. It’s a father’s way of helping prepare his child for life.

It’s time we allow dads to take back their rightful place in the homes.  Before you think that you really know best, give the guy a chance.

let your husband be the captain of your team

So you think he’s too strict in what he wants from his kids? Try it his way for a month. Every Single Day. Do it his way. Don’t let your kids know (by sighing, rolling your eyes, or some other body language) that you don’t agree. Get behind him 100% and see what a difference it makes. When you discover he was right, acknowledge it and thank him for helping you become a better parent.

Remember that the dad is as much a parent as are you.

He loves his kids as much as you do. He might not show it the way you do, but he’d die for them just as you would.  He’s fiercely protective and loyal to his offspring, and he wants them to grow up to be successful.

When we as moms fail to allow dad to be the dad, we are emasculating him.

We are treating him as our oldest child and not a parent-coach.

Moms, your role as mommy is so important. No one can nurture, cuddle and create a haven like you can. Yet the role of the dad is every bit as important. He needs to be encouraged and allowed to fulfill his role. He’ll step up to the plate if we back away and make room for him in the batter’s box.

Since you want your spouse to allow you to nurture as only a mommy can do, let him be the dad and father as only a father can. That’s his role. Don’t diminish his role, and don’t emasculate him.

dad must be captain of the team

Together, you can make quite a winning team!

How about it, moms? Can you identify? What has your experience been?  Feel free to share this post with others. I’d love to hear from you.

My House, My Rules

We’re talking about rules at my house.

I realize this is going to cause some rankles. I can see the eyebrows rising already, especially when I talk about your kids at my house. So before you get too agitated, let me assure you that there’s a lot of give-and-take at my house even with these rules. Now that we’ve taken care of housekeeping, we can get started.

All of us have different rules at our house: bedtime, mealtime, playtime, clothing, cleanliness, and behavior. There are different rules at any house and that’s okay.

Let me tell you, I got really tired of kids coming to my house and trying to be allowed to do at my house what they did at theirs. I’m not telling you what to do at your house; I’m just telling you what happens at mine.

It’s my house, so my rules RULE.

You are quite welcome to trump my rules for your kids if yours are more stringent than mine. Any rules that undermine my rules are not allowed. I follow the same when I visit your house because I won’t consider undermining authority, even if we might disagree.

 

rule 1 in globe I have this thing about wasting food. It’s because my mama grew up in the depression; you already know what that means. I can’t stand to have the time and money I spent on a dish be thrown into the trash with no regard for stewardship. Plus, there are all these starving kids in other countries that I heard about when I was a kid. There are still starving kids in other countries who would give anything for what is being thrown in the trash. Not wasting my money gives me more to share around the world in places where there really isn’t enough food. [See links below.] I agree with what my mama used to say:  “A penny saved is a penny earned.” When I throw something in the trash, it helps if I visualize that waste as actual dollar bills – which is really what it is.

Any kid who has room for dessert has room for the food on his plate. So at my house, the rule is that you get dessert when your food is gone. I’m not talking about gone as in “throwing it in the trash.” You may not be my kid, but if you’re eating at my house, that’s the rule.

We have another rule. Every kid has to taste the food he has never tasted, even if he just knows he won’t like it. He has to try a taste. Don’t tell me you don’t like some food if you’ve never tried it. Your Mama might not like it and your grandma might not like it. Your grandpa might never make you taste it, but at my house, tasting a new food is the rule. Surprisingly, no child has ever died from following this rule at my house. Even more astonishing, I’ve had two-year-olds eat cooked cabbage and broccoli – and beg for more. Yep. I was as surprised as anyone.

At my house, if you serve the food to yourself, it’s just tough if your eyes were bigger than your stomach. If you don’t want to finish it now, you can finish it later. It definitely won’t go in the trash. Certainly, you can have dessert, after your food is gone. You can have two desserts for all I care AFTER your food is gone. [Actually I don’t recommend double desserts, but I remember a time my five-year-old kid wanted a piece of pumpkin pie when everyone else was getting some. He still hadn’t finished his mashed potatoes. I was getting glares from other adults at the table as I insisted he finish his food. When he finally ate all his mashed potatoes, he eagerly ate his piece of pie. Imagine our surprise when the boy, who was too full to finish those mashed potatoes minutes before, suddenly had room for a second piece of pie! He got it, ate the entire second piece, and the glares changed to chagrin.]

 

rule 2 in globeAt my house, you can always drink water. You might not want sweet tea or milk. You might rather have a soft drink because that’s what you’re used to drinking at home or at your grandma’s house. However, at my house, nobody brings a beverage for you to have at my table because you’ve got to have that soft drink. Oh no! You can drink water or be thirsty. That’s ’cause it’s my house, and that’s the rule. Plus, if you’re a no-water kid, I don’t mind being given credit for being the Mean Mom who didn’t cater to your whim. [Actually, I don’t recommend a lot of sweet tea for kids (and I’m a whiz at diluting it half-and-half with water), but this is the south, and it’s better than a soft drink any day – and, as I said, this is my house. . . . ]

 

rules buckle up

rule 3 3 in globe

 

In my vehicle, you will be buckled with a seatbelt and/or in a car seat if required by your age or size. If you are under age twelve, you won’t sit in the front seat if there’s an airbag present. You might do that in your vehicle, but you won’t do it in mine. I really don’t care if your grandma or your aunt doesn’t make you buckle up. This Mean Mama cares, so buckle up.

 

 

rule 4 in globe

 

There are words you might use at your house; but at this house, those words are not allowed. You probably know what some of those words are. We don’t care how or when you’ve heard those words anyplace else. If you use God’s name, you’ll have to explain if you were praying or cursing. We use His name in prayer, but not in cursing at this house.

 

 

You know why I came up with these rules?  It was because of my kids. You see, I had rules for my kids. However; when other kids came, I didn’t make them finish their food because their parents didn’t require that of them. Oh, did I hear about that! You see, the visiting kids got to eat my yummy dessert and my kids didn’t – because the parents had different rules. Of course, those kids were allowed to throw some of their dessert into my trash can which my kids weren’t allowed to do. My trash can* does not “do” unwanted food from kids.

You know what? I truly don’t have a problem with having different rules. I only have a problem when people try to bring their rules to my house.

Since I believe in being the fairest parent in the world, I had to make the rules for my house. That’s because I’m a mom, and moms look out for their kids. I did this for my kids.

The words, “At this house . . . ” made all the difference.

You can allow sugar-highs, no vegetables, and all the dessert you want at your house. You can allow your kids to be couch potatoes and veg in front of the TV for hours. [Oh stop fussing. I’m exaggerating; you should know that.] You can allow a no-bedtime rule. Your kids can ride unbuckled if it’s with you, and the words they choose are not my problem if it’s at your house. That’s your house. However; at this house, my rules RULE.

Oh please!  I’m  telling you the rules at this house. I’m not saying you can’t have it your way at your house. You just can’t have it your way at mine.

I’ve never told a child, “Your mama should make you eat all your food.”  I just tell him, “At this house, we get to eat dessert after we have finished all our food.”

I’ve never told a child, “Your uncle should never use those words!” I just tell her, “At this house, we don’t use those words.” Sometimes I tell her, “If you hear me use those words, you can, too. However; if you don’t hear me say those words in my house, then you can’t say them either.”

At my house, if your kid is visiting and you want him in bed at 9PM, even if that’s not the rule at my house, he’ll be in bed by 9PM.  Trumping your rule with my rule is wrong when your rule is more stringent than mine.

If your child is left in my care, I won’t undermine your authority and allow him to do something at my house that he’s not (for principle) allowed to do at yours. That’s because one of my rules is to not subserve the parents of any child in my care.

When kids come to my house, they know the rules. Normally they don’t question those rules.

Would you believe me when I tell you that the kids aren’t the ones who argue? The ones who have a problem are their adult parents.

Kids find there is security in having rules. They discover security in knowing what the rules are. There’s a whole bunch of “feeling safe” when a kid knows the rules and know they won’t change from one day to another. 

Go ahead.  No adult or child can argue with you when you say “At this house . . .”

Have a reason for your rules. Make those rules. Stick to them. You’ll find life is a tad easier all the way around. You might even be paving the way for some parents who are trying to learn more about parenting or need some extra encouragement along the way. It’s your house. There, your rules RULE.

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*Oh, you thought I never, ever, ever give in and require less because it’s a child who is new on my turf, is sick, or is too young to understand? Ask my kids. They still think I’m a wimp with other people’s kids. It’s the “regulars” who visit my house (or live with us temporarily) that need to learn the rules at our house. And, when Sunday lunch is served, everyone gets dessert after all their food is gone. Like I said, it’s my house . . . .

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If you’re looking for ways to help your children appreciate what they have, I recommend sponsoring a child in another country.  There are many organizations out there.  Be sure to research before you begin sending money. Here are several that I can recommend:   http://www.compassion.com/      http://www.onechildmatters.org/