Heart Pondering

The ponderings of one Christ-following mom on raising preschoolers

Addressing attitudes: a watershed June 29, 2010

Filed under: Parenting,The heart,Training — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 5:38 am

Last week was a week of revelations, parenting-wise.  In life I find that God tends to reveal truth to us layer by layer as we become ready for more – the old, tired “onion analogy” – and the same seems true in the parenting journey.  Suddenly you see more of the picture, and fuzzy thinking becomes sharpened.

The connection between our daughter’s sneaky behavior and her covert rebellious spirit was illuminating.  Identifying it was a first revelation; a second revelation was seeing how much addressing the rebellious spirit head-on changed the dynamics in our house.  Both got me thinking about attitudes and how they impact behavior.  If a little girl’s defiant spirit (in part) causes her to try out sneaky mischief… then why wouldn’t a little boy’s prideful spirit contribute to his bickering habit with his sister?  Quickly I became aware of the feeble and incomplete nature of my efforts to address my children’s negative attitudes.

I’ve long understood that what we’re after in godly childrearing is the child’s heart, not their behavior.  I get it that the heart, the wellspring of life, needs to be reached and transformed into Christ-likeness for anything truly fruitful to occur in the child. But I ‘ve not actually believed that I could reach my children at the attitude level to any penetrating degree.  I haven’t believed that it’s within my power to get them to fully drop the bad attitudes (selfish, pouty, demanding, etc) and thus have settled for their complying, behavior-wise, with my requests.  Working with actions is finite; success is clear. (more…)

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Sneakiness: a study June 25, 2010

Filed under: Authority & obedience,Behaviors,Correction,Parenting,Sibling interactions,The heart — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 4:45 am

We’ve been in a rough patch with our delightful daughter, age 2 3/4.  Six weeks ago she transitioned to a toddler bed, and ever since things haven’t been going well.  She’s a willful child with a serious stubborn streak – now clamoring for independence, wanting to do everything herself.  She’s also a toucher, a kinesthetic learner.  I find myself telling her not to touch things (the chapstick on the counter, the cheerios on her baby sister’s tray) dozens of times a day – and then repeating myself.  I also find that a good portion of my daily energy and effort have gone into little skirmishes and behavior management with her.

Lately a new pattern began emerging: she started to behave in a sneaky way. She took her brother’s dessert donut while he and his dad were in the back yard for a minute, watching a passing plane. She’d draw on his coloring paper  when he left the table, feigning igorance (fooling neither me nor him).  Visiting friends on Tuesday, she climbed a chair and helped herself to a cookie on the dining room table that I had explicitly told her – moments earlier – was off limits till after lunch.  An hour later she was in the bathroom pumping mounds of liquid soap into her hand while everyone else was eating.

I was perplexed.  Sneakiness causes appeared to be: 1) she enjoys doing what she knows she’s not supposed to be doing; 2) her tactile nature and strong temptation to touch things; 3) her blossoming independent, “do it myself” streak.  If I were “this behavior is a normal part of development” type of mom, I’d shrug it off as just an annoyance to be managed and endured till she grows out of it.  But I’m not.  Yet correcting the infractions was bearing little fruit, and I was stumped.  (more…)

 

“Redeeming the time”: kids in the car June 21, 2010

Filed under: Authority & obedience,Behaviors,Materialism and entitlement,Training — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 3:47 am

If you had to rate, on a scale of 1 to 10, how much you typically enjoy time in the car with your preschoolers, what number would you pick? For most moms it’s not the most fun place ever to be.  Getting out of the house is often harried; sibling bickering between seats is common fare and difficult to police while driving; there’s no way to soothe a crying baby from the front seat.  It can be a “let’s just get through this” scenario.  Everyone’s strapped in and immobile till the destination’s reached; if things aren’t going well it can feel like jail.

When our first child was about two years old, we developed the habit of talking to him very regularly while driving to keep him engaged and distracted, so that he wouldn’t melt down.  We would frequently point out diggers, motorcycles, police cars, and he became accustomed to us keeping him continually occupied. Our goal was to keep him happy and prevent all of us from having to endure a potential meltdown that his boredom or dissatisfaction might elicit.  My father pointed out the dynamic to us and suggested that perhaps less frequent engagement from us would ultimately be more helpful for all, but at the time we weren’t ready to hear it.  It wasn’t till much later that we started pondering America’s entitlement mindset (here: our son believed that the car ride was all about him) and how it relates to parenting. (more…)

 

Thoughts on mothering love June 13, 2010

Filed under: Blogging — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 9:11 pm

A few weeks back I posted about a mother’s love – what it is and what it’s supposed to be.  Today I read a post by one of my favorite bloggers, Jess of Making Home, who rarely blogs anymore but offers gems when she does.  Her latest post, Labeling vs. Loving, was certainly that… inspiring and convicting.  Full of truth.  

Hope it encourages you too.

 

Childrearing ‘top 10’ – my current June 9, 2010

Filed under: Authority & obedience,Culture,Parenting,Training — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 4:08 am

Yesterday I read a fantastic post called Once-and-for-all-Parenting in which author Katherine (whose five children range from kindergarten to high school) says this:

“I spent much of my early years trying to do everything perfectly. Somehow I got the idea that if I did everything right – if I love my kids enough, use just the right discipline techniques, if I train them well enough in how to behave – I would never have to struggle in parenting them. My delusion even somehow included the idea that conflict would even disappear from my home, because I was doing everything properly. My kids would naturally want to obey me, sit at my feet and hear my words of wisdom, and, like Cinderella, my home would be a ‘happily ever after’ kind of place. I had ‘fixed’ them.

It was a delusion, alright. An arrogant, fanatical, un-Biblical idea, that I could singlehandedly purge the sin-nature right out of my children! If only I had known it is not so much about being perfect – and the guilt and exhaustion that inevitably accompany it – as it is about not giving up.”

Perfectly stated… and I can so relate.  When I’m not careful I can adopt the mindset that my parenting methods could produce sinless kids and a perfectly harmonious household – fall into that lie of the enemy. From there I repent and re-embrace the “faith not formula” truth about child-raising – that it’s about relationship, unconditional love, and the cross; that we are sinners raising sinful children.  This will not be easy, or always pretty, for any of us. It’s not supposed to be. 

So that’s the context. Discipline techniques and methods vary; none are perfect or always “work” (to produce the changes – heart and behavior – that we hope for in our child); this is a lifelong journey. That said, lately as I’ve been reflecting on my own parenting journey over the past 18 months since my husband and I started parenting intentionally, I’ve been trying to distill the principles that have best helped and guided us in the progress God’s allowed us to make with our children. There’s nothing magical or right about my (current) “10 top principles“… They’ll likely change a month or a year from now, and your list is probably different.  But I’ve found this exercise clarifying. (more…)

 

Of entitlement and toughness June 7, 2010

Filed under: Books,Culture,For moms,Materialism and entitlement — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 5:40 am

According to The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, “a key concept in Hasidic (Jewish) thought expresses the idea of balance: keep two pieces of paper in your pockets at all times.  On one write, ‘I am a speck of dust.’ On the other, ‘The world was created for me.’” This sentiment, poetic and profound, resonates with me.  Because it’s true, of course, that all men are dust– were created from and will return to dust… And equally true that Jesus loves humans individually to the point that He would die just for me if I were earth’s only inhabitant.

But keeping the two truths in balance is hard work.  Too much emphasis on “I’m a speck of dust” and we lose the life-giving love of Christ.  Too much emphasis on “the world was created for me” and we see ourselves as overly special, unique, deserving.  Other cultures – perhaps impoverished ones where folks routinely stand for hours to get  clean water – may readily identify with “I’m a speck of dust.”  But America?  We’re way at the other end of the spectrum.  As a society, we wrote the book on “the world was created just for me.”  L’Oreal (and a thousand other marketing messages like it) told us “You’re worth it!” – and darned if we aren’t going to take them at face value and clamor for our share of the happiness we feel is our birthright as Americans. (more…)