if i could speak freely...

>> Friday, April 10, 2009

Here's one of the posts that caused so much controversy on my other blog - this was written before I discovered I was pregnant::

This morning I was chatting with a girlfriend who had her first baby a couple weeks ago. Of course parenting came up, and we started sharing how we both hesitate to offer advice to others on how to raise their kids. As a new mom, she is rapidly leaving me behind on this.

Most parents don't like getting parenting tips from childless people. So I keep my mouth shut and mind my own beeswax, since there is that small but legitimate chance I might adjust my theories once I have kids. But I don't think so.

So I'm going to vent a little here. That's the whole point of a blog right? You can share what you wouldn't otherwise. A platform for all the free speech that bottles up inside you when you're in polite company.

Here goes folks. If I could speak freely about you and your kids, these are a few of the things I would say:

- there is no reason your normal, healthy 10-year-old can't sit through church. Period. George Washington taught himself logarithms at the age of 8. David Livingstone taught himself Latin at age 8, too. John Wesley's sister Kezziah could read the Bible fluently in Greek, Latin and Hebrew at age 8. All your kid has to do is sit still for 65 minutes. If your half-grown kid can't sit through church, it's not their fault. It's because you don't believe in your kid enough to make it happen. Or it's an excuse because you didn't really want to sit through church either. Shame on you.

- there's no reason you should expect any kind of remotely civilized behavior from your child at any age if you are feeding them unlimited candy.

- there's no reason you should expect any kind of remotely civilized behavior from your child at any age if you are letting them skip naps.

- there's no reason you should expect any kind of remotely civilized behavior from your child at any age if you are giving them no boundaries. Don't smack your kid for being cranky, crabby, hungry, self-centered or sleep-deprived. You have created your own monster. Deal with it.

- there is never any reason to haul off and hit or kick your child. Never. Not under any circumstances or in any situation. Period. Ever. Especially when you're mad. If you let them push you to the point of anger, that's your fault for not disciplining them earlier in the game. Don't blame your kid for going as far as you'll let them. That's not their problem - it's yours.

- there is never any reason to abuse your child. Spanking is okay. Hitting/kicking/pinching/slapping/smacking is not. Spanking is discipline. Everything else is abuse. Spanking is the calm, rational consequence when your child has exceeded a spank-worthy boundary. Reacting in anger is abuse. Spanking means 1)that any child old enough to walk was warned first - "If you do that, the consequence is a spanking!" 2)you take your child to a private place, 2)you calmly and firmly explain what they did wrong and why they are being disciplined, 3)you pray with them so they know that they are forgiven 4)you deliver the spank in a short decisive manner that leaves no bruises but is enough to make them apologetic instead of just more angry at you, 5)that you hug/hold/snuggle/rub the sore spot until the tears are dried and you have a happy, obedient, and affectionate child. Sound long and drawn out? Many times. But you're a parent - you don't get to bail out now. Long and drawn out is the name of the game. Unless you don't mind raising a holy terror.

- there is never any excuse for spanking your kid all the time. I see parents going around slapping their kids for every offense. Come on people. Spanks are for the very worst things. Defiance. Outright disobedience. Lying. That kind of thing. More often than not, little attitudes can be fixed with a tickle session and a hug.

- there is never any reason to drag your newborn baby out in crowded public places. I saw a family with a one-week-old baby eating out at Olive Garden at 9 PM. You have GOT to be crazy! That poor infant was wailing this weak little warble. Take your baby home, momma!

- there is no reason to take your child outside because they can't sit still in church. If they're fussy - unless they are ill (in which case you should never have brought them to church in the first place) - take them out, explain that "we sit still in church", deal with the appropriate discipline and bring them back in for the duration. Letting them go play when they fuss just programmes them to fuss so you'll take them out. They know they've won. They know you're not going to bring them back inside. And then you miss out on the best parts of every sermon or worship. Every time. If they can't manage to keep from screaming and fidgeting, there are things you can do. Get them a "quiet book" to keep 'em occupied. Practice their "sitting-still skills" every day at home to help train them.

- there is no reason your kid can't be polite when people say "hello". Shyness is not a legitimate excuse. If necessary, role play with them in the car before you arrive in public places. Practice what they are going to say to people who greet them. "And then you say, 'pleased to meet you' with a smile on your face, right?" Let them say it back to you. That way they can feel confident and prepared for the situation, instead of frozen in fear of what to say.

- there is no reason to beg your child to obey you. You are the parent. Set up the boundary and expect them to obey. They are far smarter than you give them credit. They know exactly how much they can manipulate before you snap. Besides, you give them a graduate course in it every time you aren't consistent. They'll only go as far as you let them. If your kid keeps pushing too far, go look in the mirror for the reason why. When you always have to beg and bargain with your kid to do something, you are handing over the parenting reigns and letting them run a dictatorship over you.

Yeah, yeah. The parents of monsters among you are getting your hackles up. But you see, this is what I don't understand. I know plenty of parents who have happy, well-behaved children - and they all implement some form of these concepts I just listed. Those are the readers nodding their heads in agreement with me.

You may shake your head at my theories... It's a free country, go right ahead. I'll be polite enough not to say "It figures" next time your kid pitches a public fit to your embarrassment and humiliation.

And this is what I can't figure out. I've done my share of being "Auntie" to dozens of children whom I love dearly. And with me, they may not be angels all the time - but they never act like they do at home. I think it's because of two things: they know I love them very much and we have plenty of hugs and tickles and healthy affectionate expression, and they know the boundaries. Clearly. Consistently. The same all the time.

And you know what? All that structure makes 'em happy. Safe. Secure. Loved.

Me? I'm just a random blogger who doesn't have kids yet. So what do I know?


Sharon,  April 16, 2009 at 12:09 PM  

This is such exciting news for you. I hope you feel better soon.

Sheila,  April 16, 2009 at 12:10 PM  

The scarier thing is to go through that first trimester with NO icky feelings. As awful as you feel, you can take relief in knowing that your body is producing plenty of those pregnancy hormones that keep baby going. :)

Svetlana,  April 16, 2009 at 12:10 PM  

oh, that's too bad, I hope you can feel better and enjoy your time being pregnant. Congrads!!!

Debbie Thompson Kippel,  April 17, 2009 at 11:03 AM  

I LOVE this! I couldn't agree with you more. I was raised this way and I sit still in church...and so will Baby Jack. :0)

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