Heart Pondering

The ponderings of one Christ-following mom on raising preschoolers

A mom after God’s own heart: proactive nurture July 2, 2011

Filed under: Authority & obedience,Behaviors,Books,For moms,Mothering role — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 10:04 pm

Lately one word, in the realm of the home life, has been kicking around in my brain, and it’s this word: “nurture.” According to Dictionary.com it means “to feed and protect; to support and encourage.” A definition of nurturing is “fondly tender.” Nurture, in a sense, is the positive and proactive component in parenting in which we intentionally show love and kindheartedness to our kids.

And I’ve had this realization: I don’t do it enough. I nurture my children on the fly – a goodnight kiss here, a quick after-nap hug for a crank, a fleeting expression of enthusiasm over the latest drawing. A passing slice of tenderness when circumstances demand. Usually, though, I’m too engaged in either 1) trying to diligently run my household, or 2) trying to consistently monitor and train/correct my children in what they’re doing to be proactive in nurture.

It called to mind this passage Elizabeth Kroeger writes in Raising Godly Tomatoes(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…)

 

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…)

 

Yes, no, or neither May 2, 2010

Filed under: Authority & obedience,Behaviors,Communication and speech,Correction,The heart — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 10:47 pm

Y’know how women have a reputation for not saying what they mean- saying yes when they mean no, and no when they mean yes?  This has been a source of conflict in countless marriages since the first one in Eden.  Husband asks wife if she’s OK with him goes out with his buddies on Saturday; she says yes — while hinting that she’s annoyed and/or inwardly seething because his doing so disrupts all her hopes and wishes for the weekend.  Etc.

I have other communication problems and sins, but generally speaking, this problem isn’t a biggie for me.  I’m pretty good at being honest about my needs and at speaking up about my feelings.  That’s why it’s been so strange for me to observe this tendency in an unlikely place: my 2-year old daughter.  When she disobeys or is defiant, it comes out in the most passive-aggressive way.  It started shortly after she turned 2… she’d say the right words in a given situation, like “Thank you Mommy,” but she’d yell them rudely at me.  Letter of the law, yes, but spirit of the law – no way.  Each time I’d work with her, outlasting her, to repeat the phrases till the tone and words matched.  But I began to see the same type of thing cropping up everywhere.  Her way of demonstrating to me that she would not accept my authority was by manipulating the situation.  She’d comply outwardly, but not fully – and certainly not at heart level(more…)

 

Defiance: getting in the game March 12, 2010

Filed under: Authority & obedience,Books,Correction — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 5:00 am

Our sweet, delightful, blossoming two-year old is coming into her own in terms of knowing what she wants and demonstrating intense commitment toward getting it.  Her intensely stubborn streak is one thing I love her for, but the defiance it calls out prompts a dance that she and I go through together daily – sometimes many times a day.  The dance of will.

Yesterday I was reflecting on this comment made by James Dobson in the Strong-Willed Child:

“Many kids are able to win the contest of wills because they devote their primary effort to the game, while we grown-ups play only when we must.” 

Well said. So easy for us busy moms to get sucked into a thousand other things that keep us from “playing” with focus and intentionality – to the detriment of our child’s character development and our own sanity! Back then, as often as is needed, to consistency and timefulness in addressing defiance wherever it rears its head – a renewed commitment that I will not be outmatched in this game!

 

The balancing act of mothering January 31, 2010

Filed under: Authority & obedience,Behaviors,Blogging,For moms — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 11:00 pm

There’s a great post at Pursuing Titus 2 this weekend called “‘Patience’ is ‘Not Putting Up With’” that spoke to me.  In it the blogger cites the cycles that we mothers can go through as we interact with our children, spanning the gamut between rigid and dogmatic discipline to overlooking misbehavior in the name of patience.  The post records the author’s realization that she had been overly “patient” with her kids which had become permissiveness – with negative ramifications for the tone of her household and her children’s character development.  I’ve been there. (more…)