Wednesday, April 15, 2015

5 Ways Modern Parenting Is In Crisis

I saw this article floating around facebook a super long time ago and I was in love with it.  I wrote out this whole blog as a draft but never posted it and even completely forgot about it.  I just now found it and remembered why I loved the article and decided that even though it’s a whopping year after the article came out, I wanted to post about it anyway because I believe in it that much.  I’m pretty big into researching parenting.  I feel like I’ve read so many books on helpful ways to raise kids to be respectful, obeying and have well tempered manners.  Some of them I agree with, some of them I don’t.  Some of the tips have worked WONDERS for me, some of them haven’t.  But when I read this article, I was amazed.  This woman literally summed up everything in 5 key points. 

Please keep in mind that as I discuss these things, you may not agree with them.  That’s totally fine.  I’m not writing this to have the final say on how to parent.  God knows I am still researching and reading trying to find out everything I can to raise good Christian boys.  But I know that when I read this, it encouraged me to change a couple of things that I was doing wrong and it also encouraged me to keep doing the things I was already doing.  To see the article yourself, you can click here.

1)  Parents have a fear of their children. The woman gives an example of a toddler that has a sippy cup of milk in a certain cup and throws a fit because they want a different cup.  The parent that fears their child takes the original cup, goes to get another cup and pours the milk into the new cup.  Now this is one I was doing prior to reading this article.  Carter used to be specific when it comes to bowls (he doesn’t care about cups), but sometimes he wants his cereal in the blue bowl instead of the green or yellow bowl.  If it wasn’t a hassle to me, I just obliged what he wanted to keep from having a meltdown.  As the British author of the article says, “RUBBISH!”. 

You just committed a parenting fail.  You feared your toddler was going to have a temper tantrum over something stupid, so you gave in.  If we keep doing this, it will only teach our children that we fear their temper tantrums, therefore, they will throw them in order to get what they want.  Before having kids, when I saw a child throwing a temper tantrum in the grocery aisle because mom wouldn’t buy them M&M’s, I thought to myself “good lord woman-buy the kid some M&M’s to shut him up!”.  Nowadays, I look at the mom that won’t give-in to their child’s tantrums and say “good job mom-hold your ground!  Let him know you’re boss and you make the rules!”.  Now that’s not to say that you should pick your battles with kids.  You totally should because otherwise your kid will cry and feel unloved 24/7.  Here’s how I do that with Carter.  Going with the cereal bowl example, I changed my pattern to asking Carter which bowl he wanted BEFORE I poured the cereal.  He could choose green or blue.  If he said blue, I’d pour the cereal and give it to him.  If he changed his mind and wanted green after I’d already poured it and put it on his table, well too bad.  If he chooses to throw a tantrum because of this, then he gets removed from the table until he calms down and chooses to eat.  I like giving him options (I never give him more than 2 or 3 options for things) because it does make him feel like he has some say and that his wants are valued.

2)  We’ve Created a Low Bar For Kids To Meet.  When our kids throw tantrums in front of others and you get “that look” from another mom or even someone that doesn’t have kids, our response is “well-that’s just how it is with kids.  Nothing you can do about it”.  I assure you that’s not true.  Especially in the toddler age.  Now when they’re still newborns or even around 1 year old, your expectations can’t be too high.  One of the books I’ve read said that once they hit toddler age (about 18 months) you should expect about 60% obedience.  As they get older and learn more about what you expect in certain situations, that percentage goes up.  Carter is almost 3 1/2 years old and I would say he obeys about 75-80% of the time. 

We started working on saying “no” to him around 10 months old.  I know that sounds early, but not according to the books I read.  By 11 months, we started using timeouts for about a minute each time.  Again, I know this seems harsh, but it’s really not!  They learn so much quicker than you think they do.  And for the record, a time out at 11 months old consisted of placing baby in the pack-n-play away from the thing you’re telling them not to do.  Carter knew what “no” meant by the time he was 1 and was already starting to obey me when I said it.   There are so many moms out there that just let their kids run rampant through a store or physically hurt other children (pulling hair or pushing them down when they try to play with certain toys) that say “well you can’t expect much out of a two year old”.  I’m calling BS friends!  They do those things because we let them.  We haven’t shown them what we expect.  We’re just now at the stage where Carter notices when he gets punished for something that he did that some other kid also did, but the other kid didn’t get punished.  This is beyond frustrating to explain to a 3 year old, but I do the best I can. 

I should also clarify what I mean when I say “punish”.  90% of the time, punishment means time-out.  We take a chair from the dining room and move it into the corner by the front door and he stays there for a few minutes.  He’s not allowed to get out of time out until he acknowledges what he did wrong and apologizes for it.  For example, saying “I’m sorry” isn’t enough.  He has to say “I’m sorry for throwing the toy car at Gizmo”.  Otherwise, he will learn that he just has to say “sorry” to get out of timeout without actually relating the time-out to what he did to get there.  Make sense?  If we’re not at home, punish means to remove him from the situation.  If we’re at church, I’ll take him to the bathroom to stay there for a few minutes and explain to him what he did wrong and make him apologize before we can leave the bathroom.  The other 10% of the time, punishment does include some sort of spanking, whether it’s getting popped on the bottom or popped on the hand.  I’m definitely not taking the time to discuss spanking vs. non-spanking.  It’s a choice every parent has to make and only you know your child well enough to determine how he/she takes punishment best.  So basically what I’m trying to say in these three paragraphs on #2 is that yes, toddlers will be toddlers and they will throw toy cars at the dog.  But we, as parents, are the ones that set the bar.  If we don’t punish them for it, they will always throw toy cars at the dog.  And even worse, they may throw a toy car at you or at a visitor in your home.  Raise the bar folks.  Lets teach our kids what we expect of them.

3)  We’ve Lost the Village.  You know that old saying “it takes a village to raise a child”?  Well back in the day, that was true!  Actually it is still true.  As parents, we can’t be around our child 24 hours a day.  Sometimes grandparents babysit overnight.  Sometimes they’re at school with teachers.  Sometimes they’re with a babysitter.  A parent can only control the raising of their child when they are with them.  Other times, they depend greatly on whoever is taking care of their children.  Back in the day, parents depended on these other caregivers helping correct their child when they acted out.  These days, however, parents get offended when someone else tries to correct their child.  As the author of the article says, we should all be working towards the same goal-raising proper boys and girls. 

If Carter is acting up at school, I don’t just want to hear about it, I EXPECT to hear about it.  I want to know what he did so that I can keep an eye out for him doing it at home too.  I want to know, so that after he gets a “talking to” by the teachers, he also receives a “talking to” by me and Justin.  I want Carter to know that all of us are on the same team.  Teachers, grandparents and babysitters are all supposed to be the eyes in the back of mom and dad’s heads.  I never want Carter to think to himself “oh mom and dad are out of town and I’m staying with Nana and Papa or Gigi for a few days.  Time to act out to get what I want!!!”.  We have to help eachother out!  Friends that are reading this that are around my child, if you see him do something he shouldn’t be doing….PLEASE TELL ME!!!  I want to make sure he doesn’t do it again and I can’t punish or correct what I can’t see!  On the flip side, don’t be offended if another parent tells you that they saw your kid do something wrong.

4)  We Rely Too Heavily On Shortcuts.  We are so bad about shortcuts these days!  Technology is great y’all, don’t get me wrong, but it can be awful too.  We live in an age where our toddlers expect us to entertain them by giving them the iPhone or the iPad.  I don’t mind doing this with Carter, but we only do it for so long.  As it turns out, my child is extremely active and would rather play with things in the floor or outside than sit down and watch TV.  I take zero credit for this….this is how he’s always been.  He won’t watch TV unless he’s strapped in his car seat (we do have a DVD Player in the car).  Otherwise, he’s running around playing with any and everything he can get his hands on.  As the author states, if we allow our kids to take the iPad to watch television shows so that we can have an hour to ourselves, then we better expect to take that iPad everywhere we go.  Bottom line, children need to learn patience.  And handing them an electronic device whenever they’re bored isn’t teaching them patience.  It’s all about balance.  By all means, let your kid play with the iPad, especially if it’s a game that helps them learn their ABC’s or counting, but let’s not allow them to spend all their time on it.  There is a lot of value in kids playing with actual toys.  They learn from those too!  Another example the author gives are always rushing to your toddler when he falls to pick him up and make him feel better.  Toddlers have to learn to pick themselves up and just “shake it off”.  They will never learn to do this if you swoop in and come to the rescue all the time. 

5)  Parents Put Kids Needs Over Their Own.  As parents, we are internally wired to dedicate all of our time and efforts to our children.  To putting their needs first.  Now this isn’t a bad thing necessarily, but the author makes a point that we’ve taken this WAY too far in recent years.  Clearly our children’s safety should always be first priority, but the author isn’t talking about safety.  She gives an example of a kid at the zoo with her dad and the kid wants something to drink.  The closest place to buy drinks is across the other side of the zoo so instead of telling his daughter to just wait until they pass a water fountain or until they come to the next concession stand, he runs as fast as he can over there to get her what she wants.  This also ties in with making them learn patience.  If we’re always running to get them what they want when they want it, they won’t learn patience.

These are all things that I am having to constantly remind myself.  I didn’t blog about them because I’ve mastered them and want to teach other parents “how it’s done”.  Gosh…I’m still learning myself!!!  But I loved the article so much and believe so much in these 5 things that I felt the need to put it out there in case anyone else was interested in changing their parenting ways.  I don’t think it’s a secret that we’re starting to see a transition from the hard-working baby boomers who had to do everything for themselves to this new, recent generation who expects a trophy just for participating.  If we want to stop this trend, then start it in your own home!


Brenna Langham said...

Amen!!! I agree with everything you said. I teach school, and I cannot tell you how hard it is to teach kids when you're having to teach them manners and respect and so many other things that they have no experience with. Kids know that getting in trouble at school will result in their parents not doing anything at all or swooping in to save the day and take their side. It's amazing what the parents tell their kids about teachers and what they're going to do to us if we correct their child. We're getting labeled as the bad guys when all we are trying to do is do our jobs and the jobs of the parents. It's really a sad time that we live in. I could talk to you all day about this. Colby tells me how hard he thinks I am on Landry, but I told him that I will not let him grow up to be like some of the kids at school because I didn't do my part. We implement all of those things you listed, and I started at a very young age with Landry as well. He learned to be obedient very quickly because we were consistent and stood our ground. I want him to grow up to be a respectful, God fearing young man one day. Thanks for posting this!

Brenna Langham said...

And on the spanking vs. not spanking, that's definitely a choice that parents have to make. As a teacher though, you can tell the difference between a child that is and a child that isn't. Spare the rod, spoil the child.

Stephanie said...

This was great to read, thanks for sharing. I am guilty of a few of things, mainly giving in to D to ward off a tantrum and probably too much screen time with C. It's always good to learn new ways though and see what may or may not develop if you parent a certain way.