Heart Pondering

The ponderings of one Christ-following mom on raising preschoolers

Kids, behavior, and the law of “sowing and reaping” June 28, 2011

Filed under: Books,Choices,Correction — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 4:05 am

A couple months ago I was at my wits’ end about my daughter, age 3 1/2, and her aberrant toileting issues.  She’d been potty-trained for 15 months and was as capable as could be of using the potty correctly; it had been over a year since she’d had accidents. But suddenly she started having them weekly, for this reason: she didn’t want to go to the bathroom when I told her to. It was a control issue for her. So this scenario repeated itself regularly: I’d ask her to go; she’d claim she didn’t have to. An hour later she’s suddenly wail that she had to pee, dash to the bathroom, and empty her entire bladder on the bathroom floor right next to the toilet because at that point she was full to bursting and could no longer hold it. It was infuriating.

I was commiserating with my wise next-door neighbor about the situation, expressing my frustration. She suggested I consider making the potty issue “her problem” instead of my problem. “Maybe you should tell her that if she wets her underwear because she waits too long, she has to clean up the whole mess herself and isn’t allowed to change right away out of her wet clothes. That scenario may be sufficiently distasteful to her that she’ll go when you ask her to.” Brilliant suggestion, I thought, and I immediately tried it. It worked amazing well, and the incidences of her waiting too long to pee and having an accident diminished from weekly to virtually never.

Prior to this situation, we intentionally utilized the tool of “consequences”quite  seldom. Oh, we use the quintessential, “You won’t get dessert unless you finish your dinner” deal, which I guess counts as a form of consequences. And also the “You will lose your toys if you don’t clean them up” routine. But beyond these, we generally handle disobedience in a much more straightforward and instantaneous manner than consequences often call for. Because in our culture choices can often be wildly over-offered, as we see it, we’ve been careful not to use them too much. (more…)

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Seeing childishness as God sees it June 23, 2011

Filed under: Correction,The heart,Training — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 5:23 am

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about these words of Paul’s in the epistles: “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.” Paul as a child was… childish. Just like every other human in the world. Nothing revolutionary here.

But I’ve been thinking that I so often balk at the childishness of my children. Their very nature as children can seem problematic to the mother who is seeking to consistently correct. Over time it becomes exasperating to continue to see the same sin emerging time and time again in my son or daughters… Shouldn’t this be trained out of them by now? Why are we still having this issue?

And yet Paul explains that children act like children; it’s part of God’s design. We should expect them to; we should accept this. The definition of childish is: “of, like, or befitting a child.” My children act childish. Yours, no doubt, do too.

After pondering this for a while and reading posts from other like-minded moms (moms who seek to train their children comprehensively and consistently correct sinful behavior) on a message board I follow, God helped me to finally articulate the conflict I’ve been having in my soul regarding my parenting goals. It’s this: I seek to train my children to behave in a godly manner in every situation, parenting with watchfulness and consistency to this end. I believe in high expectations and am intentional in my efforts… and yet simultaneously, my children go on sinning. The net result is that I feel frustrated and disappointed. More so, I think, than I would feel if I were not being quite so watchful and intentional about training and consistency. (more…)

 

Changing family dynamics: from overwhelmees to overwhelmers June 14, 2011

Filed under: Behaviors,For moms — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 3:43 am

When my husband and I moved to southern California from the northeast three years ago, we had a 2 1/2 year old and a 10-month old. We were also fortunate enough to have two good-friend couples, fellow New Englanders whom we’d known for almost a decade, living within an hour of the house we rent here; our three families meet up for part of a weekend every couple months. They’ve become like family — all the more since our actual families are 3,000 miles away.

There were three kids among the three families when we moved in 2008, two being ours. Today – three years later – we corporately have eight, going on nine children, all under 6. And let’s just say that the dynamics of our gatherings have changed. It used to be simple enough to put our kids to bed and enjoy a good meal that featured in-depth, adults-only conversation while we lingered over a bottle of wine. But those days are behind us.

I was reflecting on this last weekend as we ate a delicious meal at a perfectly set table… next to two kids’ tables and amidst continual interruptions by one kid or another every 60 to 90 seconds. Conversations were engaging… and absurdly fragmented. It’s a different season.

The couple in whose home we were dining have two girls, ages 23 months and 2 months. These cherubs were enthusiastic about the descent of six children on their home, and the toddler shared her toys with grace… but they were a little overwhelmed. Who wouldn’t be? And our crew of four kids were doing, in all fairness, the brunt of the overwhelming. Our two-year old hostess is accustomed to a fairly quiet, contained household and a high level of order; my children are certainly not. And while my husband and I work hard to keep our kids’ level of scrappiness as low as possible – down to a dull roar at best – there’s no escaping the fact that some scrappiness does in fact exist among our brood. With four kids under 6, some level of chaos is inescapable. (more…)

 

Combatting bedlam at bed-time June 8, 2011

Filed under: Behaviors,Materialism and entitlement,The heart — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 10:54 pm

Six weeks before our new baby arrived this spring, we put our eldest two children – ages 3 1/2 and 5 1/2 – into a bedroom together. We gave them three rules to follow: (1) no getting out of bed; (2) no craziness; and (3) quiet talking only. Things went surprisingly well for a while. The kids were pretty quiet after lights-out, and they fell asleep at a decent hour. And their being together in the early morning seemed to keep them occupied when it was still too early for anyone else to be up. We were pleased.

But then a few weeks after the baby was born, and more than two months after they’d moved into their new room, things started to go downhill. Big time. They were noisy and rowdy in the evenings; they didn’t fall asleep till very late (often more than an hour after bedtime); they came out of their room repeatedly for a host of reasons — to go potty; for a drink; to get “things they needed.” Because my husband and I were distracted by the needs of the new baby and sleep-deprived ourselves, we didn’t notice the situation creeping up on us. We were less likely at the end of the day, too, to be intentional about our parenting standards.

One evening, when I returned home from the grocery store around 8:45 to find our daughter out of her room for what my husband said was the fifth time, I suddenly saw the situation for what it was. Who had our family become? We had a problem here, and it wasn’t going away. It didn’t matter if we reviewed the three rules with the kids at bedtime or if we had them say them back to us; they were not going to abide by them. They just weren’t. Worse, I realized that they’d acclimated themselves to their time together in their room at night being unsupervised time, to the absence of Mom and Dad’s oversight. They could do basically whatever they wanted; it was a free-for-all! The disciplinary measures they were receiving for misbehaving were insufficient to curb the intoxicating pleasures of unmonitored life and general tomfoolery that bedtime brought with it. (more…)