playpen brought peace

How a Playpen Restored Peace in our Home

playpen brought peaceA disclaimer

Dave and I raised our kids in a two-parent home. This is the best way to raise kids because it’s God’s original plan. I’m grateful to God for giving us this privilege to raise our brood together.  I’m not sure I would have made it on my own.

Because sin entered our world, we now have death and divorce that sometimes forces kids into a one-parent home. I recognize that parenting singly is difficult for the parent and for the kids. If you’re a single parent, I admire you.

How amazing it is that God steps into the emptiness and becomes a Father to us when we are lacking. I know this because I grew up in a single-parent home. If you’re raising kids alone, remember that He gives power to the faint, and to those who have no might, He increases strength. May God give you courage. Claim the Fatherhood of God for your kids.

Who knows best?

When it comes to parenting, it is important to remember that Dad is as much the parent as Mom. Certainly, Mom is the nurturer and the predominant care-giver in the first weeks and months of a child’s life. She’s especially dominant if she nurses the baby and stays home with their offspring while Dad goes off to work. In addition, Mom has carried this child inside her for nine months. There’s a bonding that takes place with this child in the womb that does not happen with the father. We simply cannot change that fact.

Yet, we cannot negate the fact that Dad also feels a part of this unborn child, especially when he feels his movement and watches his wife’s body expand with the life growing within her that was conceived by him. He worries about the safety of his child and of his wife and is concerned about the delivery and added responsibility he will incur financially. Dad wants to (and needs to) be involved in his kids.

The mom

Moms feel they have a better handle on their child’s temperament and whims. That’s because they usually spend more time with the child than Dad. It’s also because women are nurturers by nature and more in tune to their child’s emotions. Caring for, sustaining, and providing nutrition, water, and sunlight are part of helping a plant grow. That’s what Moms do. They help their child grow by nurturing, and they do it completely differently than Dad because by nature, Dads are not nurturers.

Therefore, it’s natural for Mom to feel she knows better than Dad when it comes to handling emotional outbursts, testing limits, or even defiance. It’s natural to feel that Dad is too harsh, too strict, or too firm. This is her baby, her toddler, her child, and she’s invested so much that it’s hard for her to consider the fact that Dad’s ideas are not all bad.

The Dad – ensuring that a playpen restored peace

The other half of parenting is Dad. Dad is as much the parent as is mom. While his way of parenting is different from hers, he’s just as important in the growth of his child. Dad’s role as provider, stabilizer, and disciplinarian comes about because that’s how he’s wired. His way of nurturing is to provide, to challenge, and to push a child. Coddling is not a Dad’s way of being the leader or preparing his kids for life.

Conflict as old as the hills

Therein lies the conflict. Mom wants to nurture, keeping all her kids in the nest where they are safe and warm. Dad wants to make them reach, stretch their wings, and push them to become the best they can be. Both approaches help provide a balanced parenting.

I’m saying all of the above to help us understand how important the role of the father is. He’s objective and future-oriented. My husband proved that to me over and over, but especially the day he took things in his own hand and declared that a playpen restored peace.

How a playpen restored peace in our home

For months, I struggled with our toddler who was into everything. I turned the oven on to prepare supper and smelled something burning. The kid put toy cows and blocks into the oven when I wasn’t watching. When I went to put laundry away, the same kid grabbed clothes out of drawers in another room, toddled to the hall and threw them down over the landing from the upstairs to the downstairs. I spent most of my time putting out fires instead of trenching an area to keep a fire from spreading.

That’s when Dave went up to the attic and brought down that ugly, dated, green playpen. He set it up in the dining room, right next to the kitchen door. Then he chose a few toys that had to stay in the playpen, and gave me instructions.

“When you’re ready to fix supper, put him in the playpen. No amount of whining and crying gets him out of the playpen. He has to learn to be content and it won’t kill him to be in here for thirty minutes where he can see you and hear you in the kitchen. You’ve tried it your way; now we’re going to do it my way.”

You know what I thought? I thought he was too harsh. After all, the kid wasn’t even two, and if he wanted to be with me, he should. If he felt insecure, he had every right to be with his mama! So what if I had to keep taking toys out of the oven to keep dinner from burning with the blocks?! And if I had to remove wooden blocks from the front of a heater every time I turned it on, so what?! So what if I had to remove him from the counter top ten times while I was peeling potatoes?! He was just a baby, for goodness sake!

You know what I did?  I did it his way. Instead of fighting the idea, I promised myself I’d give it a try and then I could prove to him that his way didn’t work! [Yes, I’m blushing now.]

I listened to my man. Was it hard? You betcha. I put that kid in the playpen and listened to wailing and calls for “Mama!” over and over again. It was sooo hard. He cried so hard snot was running down his face, his eyes were glassy, and his sobbing turned into that let-me-catch-my-breath-heaving-choking sound.

The winner is . . .

That playpen restored peace. You know how long the whooping and hollering lasted? A day or two. In fact, each time I put my toddler into the playpen, he resisted less. In less than a week, he was lunging for the playpen when I picked him up to put him in there. I discovered that he rather enjoyed his little pen. He could see me and hear me, and he knew once dinner was on the table, he’d be out of his playpen. He felt safe and secure.

One day a few weeks later I forgot to put him in his playpen. Suddenly it was deja vu. I was putting out fires in my kitchen again. That playpen provided a perimeter of safety and protection, not only for my toddler, but for me, I suddenly realized. That playpen restored peace, but I had to make use of the playpen to get peace.

“Timmy, do you need to go into your playpen?” I asked.

He lifted his hands to me and said, “Yes, mama!”

So into the playpen he went. He reached for his favorite toys and was safe. So was my kitchen, and so was my mind.

On the other side of the playpen

Moms, it was hard. Yet my hubby was right. We forget that most times the Dad can cut right to the chase and recognize the problem because their rationale is objective and not thwarted by emotion and nurturing. Use that gift in your spouse to help you raise your kids.

Stop thinking he’s too harsh [unless he really is abusive] and try things his way. As Moms, we’d save ourselves a lot of hassle if we were willing to let  Dad help parent. Stop making excuses for your kid. When we put the word “just” in our reasoning, we know it’s just an excuse. These are some of the ones I used:

  • He’s just too little
  • She just doesn’t feel good today
  • He just doesn’t understand
  • She’s just tired
  • I just feel guilty when he wants me and he has to stay in the playpen
  • But I just want her to feel loved
  • He’s not crying because he’s mad; he’s just scared

You don’t have to tell me how hard this is. I know. Yet, I also know how much better life was in our house when I “allowed” Dave to help parent. When we worked together as a team, our kids were more secure. I’m so grateful for the man who went up to the attic that day and showed me how his idea ensured that a playpen restored peace in our home.

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