He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young
. {Isaiah 40:11}

22 June 2012

Proud to be Mean {Part II}

In case you need to be caught up, you can check back with Proud to be Mean {Part I} HERE.

So as I was saying... things were not going well with my two or three year olds. I tried to be patient. I tried to be "nice" though sometimes my attempts were fake because all I was doing was masking my true feelings in that moment. I got down to their level, physically, to be eye to eye with them and said things like "you're disobeying right now and you have a choice to obey or get a spank... go to your room... not go swimming... yadda, yadda, yadda..." I wanted to give them all the facts so that they could make informed decisions. You know what I found? The "nicer" and more patient I tried to be the worse it got and the more they whined.
It made no sense to me! I was doing everything I could to fix my kids' behavior, to be nice, to be friendly, everything I could think of to make them WANT to obey.

<Enter John Rosemond>
I was slapped in the face with some cold, hard facts about mistakes I was making.

Within the first few minutes of his seminar Rosemond told us that the problem with today's parents is that "they are looking for formulas when there are none". The problem that modern parents are having today is that their "expectations are not perfectly clear". 
I'm going to make my first stop right here...

When CJ was 4 months old Hubs and I began to use our own version of Babywise with our kids. The most memorable thing I took away from the series was a phrase "Start as you mean to go on." (Coincidentally, the only piece of marital advice that I remember being given was just about the same. "Don't do anything at the beginning of marriage that you don't plan to do for the rest of it {namely, breakfast in bed}.") In other words, the best way to be successful in your venture is to take the time to sit down and figure out what you want the end result to look like and make all of your decisions based on achieving that goal.
Hubs and I did this a long time ago. We discussed what values we believed are important to instill in our kids, how we want them to view and interact with others, and how we hope they will view God. What we didn't think to discuss was how we wanted them to view us; their parents.
Both of us came from homes with "tough" parents. I consider my parent's methods to be a bit more legalistic and "strict" than his but they appear to have been similar. My parents had anywhere from 4-8 kids in the home at a time, due to a previous marriage, and I have a younger brother {"Booger"} who was born with Cerebral Palsy who needed much of the family's time and attention. Hubs was raised in a home with just one younger sister so my upbringing had some natural restrictions and expectations that his did not. Obedience was not an option because there was no time for discussion and I heard the words "because I said so" more than I cared to.
I believe I came to our marriage and parenthood with a bias towards being "mean" but early on I was unable to explain why I had the expectations of obedience and respect other than "that's how I was raised" which made me an easy target for critics who thought I was unnecessarily mean, strict, abrupt, lacking compassion, etc.
I think it is because of the lack of clarity that I had that I began to slip into the idea of being our kids' friend. 
I heard and saw it everywhere. Moms all around me would get down to eye level with their kids and sweetly explain why Junior needed to "listen to mommy right now because that was the nice thing to do. Okay?" I slowly began to think that I needed to create a friendship built on love and mutual respect with our kids and that if my kids liked how I parented they would want obey, respect, and maybe even like me in return.
Looking back, I can think of a clear reason I should have known better...

Think back to your favorite teachers in school. 
Were they the ones who talked slowly and "below you" to be sure you understood? Did they repeat things several times in case you weren't paying attention or held your hand through the class all while trying to be "cool" by using your language and hanging out with you outside of class? 
My favorite teachers were ALWAYS the ones who expected the most of me and didn't let me take the easy way out. Thank you, Susan MacLeod, Kathryn Kay, Janice DeLong and Carolyn Towles! These women always held me to the highest standards not just in the classroom but in life. They simply did not accept "status quo" from me because they knew I was capable of more. These women did not hold my hand. They did not give me extra credit based on how hard I "tried". They did not curve my test scores so that I wouldn't feel bad. They gave me the scores I deserved and they were always willing to work with me if I came to them of my own accord. They always had time for me but they didn't do the work for me. I don't believe I will ever forget these women. 

As a parent, my job is not to be my kids' friend. God did not entrust these children into Hub's and my hands so that we could make them feel good about themselves or have high self esteem. God didn't even loan us these kids so that we could make them happy. NO! God gave us these precious lives to love, discipline, nurture, refine, mold, and shape so they could become Godly men and women who love God first and others second. He placed them into our care so we could train them how to be Godly husbands, wives, friends, sisters, brothers, neighbors, employees, bosses, and parents. The process of refining precious metals involves intense heat to remove impurities and the process of pottery involves "throwing", squeezing, pinching, and kneading to make the piece strong and useful. Why did I expect parenting a human being would be any simpler?

The problem was that I had slipped into the silliness that said that if I didn't make my kid happy or feel good about themselves then I was a bad mom. It wasn't a purposeful fall. It was a slow drifting away and what I was accomplishing was the opposite of what Hubs and I had set out to. My kids weren't happy because I wasn't expecting anything of them and I was getting angry a lot. Hubs was becoming stressed because I was stressed and coming home after work wasn't a treat, it was a chore. As for me... I was slowly losing my mind and feeling guilty.

* A note on how this affected Hubs and I...
Rosemond said something that cut deep about what is happening to modern-day marriages and why. I thought I was above this and immune but the following hits home...
Today's parents have become preoccupied with how their kids feel. (How happy they are. Their level of self-esteem.) This is how women have begun to take over their homes. If it is all about how our children feel about themselves then clearly women have the advantage over men because women work with a "box of 64 shades of emotions" while men are working from a "box of 8 and oftentimes more than one of those 8 'tips' have been left unused". This leads women/moms to become overwhelmed and in an attempt to "maintain control" they begin to micromanage their children AND their husbands. Sadly, men often respond by "rolling over" because it's not worth the daily battles and try to be their kids' buddies instead. 

Women, do not underestimate your power to emasculate your husband and take leadership of your home!

Part III is up next... I have given you the "What" and the "Why"... next is the "How"
Happy Weekend!

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