Tuesday, March 31, 2009

More Parenting Thoughts

Apparently what I included in my last post wasn’t controversial enough to spark comments so what do you think about this – no second chance consequences. I have been contemplating the way that Heavenly Father parents. (His children are not perfect, but he is.) One pattern in his parenting is that he clearly states the rule/commandment/expectation and gives a consequence that is naturally tied to the rule. When one of his children brake the rule he goes through with the consequence even if it will cause the child (or him) discomfort. He didn’t say, “Eve, you shouldn’t have eaten that fruit, next time you do you will be cast out of the garden. I mean it this time.” I think there is a really delicate balance we must find as parents. I don’t want to be too easy on my kids, but equally damaging is being too controlling. As a mom I don’t want to watch my children feel uncomfortable, guilty or upset. (Not to mention that enforcing consequences usually punishes me too.) I think that a pattern with my generation of parents is that we are too easy on our kids. Either we are training them or they are training us.

Let me throw another analogy out there. What if police officers ALWAYS gave a second chance? What if every time we were pulled over they said, “You didn’t make a complete stop at that stop sign. If you brake another law while I am watching you, you will get a ticket.” If they always gave a second chance there wouldn’t be incentive to keep the rule in the first place. What do you think?

A couple of nights ago I started rereading the book “Christlike Parenting” by Glenn Latham. I must have been inspired to pick it off the shelf where it has been gathering dust with our many other parenting books for the past couple of years because it is giving me really good ideas right along the lines of what I have been thinking. I want to share one of them that I am going to try. He recommends making a list of the virtues you want your child to develop. (I am going to take my list from D&C section 4.) Post the list where you see it often. Then make a point to recognize when your child is exhibiting one of those virtues. Point out the specific virtue and praise the child. Instead of just teaching your child compliance this strategy should help to reinforce the development of admirable virtues. I am excited to try it.

Finally, if you haven’t read the article in the March Ensign that gives ideas for watching conference with little children you may want to. I am excited about giving some of the ideas a try. I will let you know how it goes.


Anonymous said...

As long as the rule and the consequence of breaking the rule were clearly understood beforehand, there is rarely a second chance for my kids. Now, if I feel they didn't understand the rule, or I didn't make the consequences clear enough ahead of time, then they'll get a warning first. But if they knowingly break a rule that has known consequences, then the consequences will always be enforced. No second chances.

It can be hard on the parent to enforce consequences that way. But I think that once the child understands the cause and effect of their actions, they begin to have more respect for their parents.

As for pointing out their virtues, I am absolutely in agreement with that. "Catching your child in the act" of being good goes a long way toward reinforcing the good behavior - and that's way more fun than punishing bad behavior, don't you think?

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Diane said...

This makes me want to dive into my "Power of Positive Parenting" book that Geoff game me. =)

Karlenn said...

I like your thoughts on allowing children to suffer the natural consequences of their mistakes. I just read an excellent book called Parenting with Love and Logic that talks about this very thing. I know that as a teacher (and I am sure you experienced this too), I had too many parents who would swoop in to save the day, keeping their children from experiencing any kind of consequences for not having done homework, messed around in class, etc. I think they were doing their children a huge disservice. Their parents were teaching them that there are no consequences. These same parents will be swooping in/enabling their kids long after their kids have entered adulthood. And that's a bad thing. Small consequences as children teach them to make better choices, so that they can make good choices as adults and don't have to suffer even more difficult and painful consequences for grown-up mistakes.