Thursday, October 7, 2010

Parenting Tip #1: Never Say Never

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The Parenting Breakthrough: Real-Life Plan to Teach Kids to Work, Save Money, and Be Truly Independent

Okay. You've done it. You've watched someone with her child and thought, "Gasp! My child will never behave that way!" You've done that more than once, right? And how many times have you found your child doing that exact thing?

Never say never.

Side bar--do you remember that show, An American Tail? I loved that show. "Never say never, whatever you do."

Okay, back to the point. In The Parenting Breakthrough (which I still maintain as one of my all-time favorite parenting books), Merrilee Boyack lists some of her parenting tips. Number one is Never Say Never. "I can almost promise you that hte minute you get that word past your lips, you will have set in motion a chain of events guaranteeing that you will face that situation" (page 2). Call it Karma, call it your pride getting in the way, whatever, but the idea that your child will never XYZ is something to avoid.

Children have minds of their own. So despite you deciding what your child will or will not do, it isn't really up to you in the end. It is up to the child. 

Now, I am not saying "don't have goals for your children" or "don't hope and instruct your children not to do certain things." You know what I hope? Lots of things. I hope my children never use recreational drugs. I hope they are kind. I hope they never stray. I hope they develop a strong faith in Christ...Can I guarentee these things? Unfortunately no. I can do my best to ensure it. I can put forth every effort. But I cannot say with confidence "They will never..." That is their choice to make, and hopefully when they come to that choice, I will have done all that I could to help them choose that right path.

And you know, thus far, I can actually think of things I have thought, "my kids will never" where I have been able to stick to it. One example is reverence in church. When we were pregnant with Brayden, I was a careful observer of those around me at church. There were some children who were so well behaved and others who were...not. 

One in particular had his parents right where he wanted them. He got bored in Sacrament meeting or Sunday school--understandably. They aren't exciting for a 18 month-2 year old. He would throw a little fit and get taken out to the hall.

The hall was a lot of fun! He got to chase balls (yes, you read that right), run around, eat food. These things were great fun for the 18 month-2 year old! I observed that other children his age and younger were able to be good in meetings (I later discovered upon inquiry these children were all Babywise babies). I vowed right then and there that I would never take my children in the hall and have it be fun for them. The hall would not be a fun place. 

And we have stuck to that. Sure, having fun in the hall would be a lot easier. But if my kids are taken in the hall, they get to sit on the parent's lap. And that is all. No talking. No walking. No eating. No drinking. No thing. In the meetings, they can do quiet, appropriate activities. So while the meeting itself is no amusement park, it is far superior to the hall.

But generally speaking, watch yourself when you start to say, "I will never" or "my children will never..." A major problem with this line of thinking is that it is usually accompanied with a great amount of judgement on the other parent. Boyack, in her always humorous way, says, "Frankly, I think the Lord starts to chuckle the minute we say, 'I would never...' and He sends us that very challenge" (page 3). Perhaps He does. Perhaps we need some humbling at that moment. 

So make goals for yourself and your children, but don't judge and condemn other parents in the process.

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Patricia said...

You make me laugh, it's reality. I used to be very patience with my girls, and don't like other mothers who just begin to shout to their children...well last tuesday i shouted to my big girl and i just realized that we can't judge others because we can have a bad action as well. Thanks for this reflection, humility it's such an important thing to teach us and our children.

Lonnie and Aymee said...

Hi, this is so true. I thought it was just me, but when people would ask the well-known question "is he sleeping good for you yet?", we would be like "oh yeah!, of course!", and right there, either that same day or the next one, Elijah would decide not to sleep for a nap or there would be a middle of the night issue. I can't recall a single time when it didn't happened. I even got so freaked out about it that I stopped telling people about his schedule or BW (and I consider myslef not to be supersticious, lol!) Now you made me realize that it was a humility problem, and I think it certainly was/is. I guess sometimes we felt that we worked so hard getting him on schedule that we forgot that is was God that was guiding all the way, and he is the one giving us strength to keep going. I have to learn not to judge other parents when I see their kids, but humbly recognize that God's help. I also heard once that when we see another child throwing a tantrum at the store, our attitude shouldn't be "that will never be my child", but to say a quick prayer for their parents' patience :D

Plowmanators said...

Thanks for your thoughts ladies!

lol Aymee. You definitely need to knock on wood huh! And good point about the prayer for the other parent. I don't think you can be a parent and not experience at least one public meltdown...unless you never take the child in public...:)


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