Those Three D-Words in Parenting


D-wordsRecognizing D-words

I didn’t consider those D-words when I became a mom. When we became parents, we didn’t sit down and discuss the things for which we planned to discipline our kids. I think we knew we agreed on the important things, but it might have helped had we isolated behavior into three separate categories. You take care of those three issues, and you’ll have your ducks in a row. Except when the ducks get out of a line, of course. Then you have to get them back in a row. It’s called parenting.

I think, had we actually “itemized” those categories, it might have helped me figure out better how to deal out consequences, which behaviors to zone in on, and the end goal in mind. By the time most of our kids were raised and we became foster parents, we had behavior categorized.  We’d also figured out that it was not wise to allow a kid to be in charge. I discovered that it helped our kids when we explained which of those D-words they exhibited when they crossed the line on good behavior.

Non-D-word behaviors

There are some things kids do that don’t fall into these categories. When that’s the case, you don’t need to come at them with both barrels. Recognize that kids are kids and allow them to make mistakes. I’m talking about spilling milk on the floor, knocking over a glass that breaks, forgetting to close a door, or accidentally tearing a page in a book. None of these infractions involves the D-words.

You know your kids, and you can pretty much tell when something is intentional and deliberate or whether it really is an accident. As parents, we know if a child is clumsy because he’s in a hurry or because he’s not developed enough physically. We also know whether the un-closed door is laziness on the part of a kid or if he doesn’t realize he didn’t quite get it closed tightly. We must recognize that we ourselves at times spill milk, put a slight tear on a book page, fail to close the door tightly, or knock over a glass mistakenly. That’s why we give grace.

On the other side of unintentional is the attitude of deliberate intention. That’s when we need to zone in on discipline and consequences. With our kids, there were three areas we did not tolerate (except when we failed) , and you shouldn’t tolerate them either.


  • de·fi·ance
 open resistance; bold disobedience.
This D-word happens when a child knows exactly what is expected of him and he refuses to cooperate. Recognize it as disobedience. This can involve doing what he should not do or not doing what he is supposed to do. He puts his foot right across the line and refuses to budge, daring you to do something about it. Don’t let him down. Do something about it. It’s better for you to do something about that attitude of defiance now than to get a phone call from a principal or officer of the law years down the road. If he does not learn to submit to your authority, he won’t plan to submit to anyone else’s, either.


  • dis·hon·es·ty
deceitfulness shown in someone’s character or behavior.
Lying is another D-word. It is as common and natural as the sun rising and setting. This involves telling an untruth or giving an implication without so much as saying anything. Embellishing truth is telling a lie. When we can’t trust our kids to tell the truth, we can’t expect anyone else to believe them. What employer wants a dishonest employee? There’s no such thing as a little white lie, because all lies becomes bigger and blacker as times goes on.
Squelch lying first of all by being truthful yourself. When your kids hear you tell lies to others, they think it’s okay for them to lie, too. (Why shouldn’t it be?).  So many parents have habits of untruthfulness or embellishing, but can’t see it in themselves. When your child lies, he needs to experience consequences. But if you’re a liar yourself, don’t even bother because you can’t expect something of your child that you don’t do yourself.
Lying leads to defamation and others being blamed for what we have done. Scripture speaks strongly against dishonesty. We should do the same. When your child is dishonest, he must be taught to quit lying and become honest. This takes work, and it takes time. Don’t be a lazy parent; do the work necessary to help your child become a person of integrity.


  • dis·re·spect
lack of respect or courtesy.
“growing disrespect for the rule of law”
This D-word, disrespect, involves not only people, but property and things. Not taking care of something we own is disrespectful. Rudeness happens so frequently in our society. Showing respect for older people, females, and children is a lost art in many communities. Children need to be taught to be polite and accommodating to those who are older, weaker, or handicapped.
Respect is also evidenced in the way we speak to others. In the south, children are taught to say “Yes, sir,” or “No, Ma’am” when spoken to. This shows respect and honor. Sassy speech, arguing, or using foul language is disrespectful. We know what is respectful and what is not. It’s all too easy for parents to ignore disrespect from their children. As Barney Fife says, we must “Nip it in the bud!”  Sadly, many parents refuse to do the work necessary to nip disrespect in the bud. We allow our kids to talk back to us, sass us, and refuse to obey – all of which are signs of disrespect.

Figuring it out

If you are going to discipline your child or deal out consequences, you have to have a plan. Don’t wait until something happens and then quit before you get started because you don’t know what to do. When you’re dealing with a child and you’re not quite sure what to do, ask yourself a question.  “Does what my child just said or did fall into any of the three D categories? Was he disobedient, dishonest, or disrespectful? If your honest answer is “Yes!”, then deal with it.

If your child is defiant, dishonest, or disrespectful, he must receive consequences for his behavior. Don’t make excuses. Don’t count to three. He doesn’t need to hear, “Next time . . . “.  He needs to see you follow your plan, and to experience parents who follow through.

pinterest D-words

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