Feb 24, 2010

Maybe I Should Read A Book On How To Solve My Problem About Reading This Book.

Today, I'm taking my cue from Gladiator, Spartacus, Ben-Hur, or any other movie where blood and soldiers were involved.

"You! Yes, you. You there in the bleachers. Third row, fifth from the left....come down here and fight me. Fight me like a man."

Okay, that may be a bit dramatic, but hey, I'm a bit dramatic.

But today I am calling out an author of a book I just finished reading. (*Let it be known that in the course of this blog rant I will not name said book. And you will not figure out what book it is because it is rather old and more than likely you haven't read it. And besides, the author is probably being held hostage in someones play room right now by a bunch of mama's who poured themselves some Sangria and are now tasering her with silly string. And laughing.)

But today I finished a book on child rearing.

This shouldn't surprise you. I read a different book on child rearing almost every week. I would be the same way if I were called tomorrow to fly on the next shuttle into space. That is how un-prepared for parenting I am.

So far I have read books on babies, toddlers, babies who take pacis, babies who won't take pacis, toddlers who scream, toddlers who cry, pre-k kids who argue like criminal defense attorneys, etc. etc.

Does it say anything to you that I own almost every book on parenting ever written and own even more spanking spoons? Does that tell you aannyytthhiinngg at all?

Before you go off half-cocked thinking that I really am that desperate for answers with my children, let me just say that "yes, yes I am." But also, I actually really like reading them. I have always liked books on marriage, families, child rearing and discipline. I find them interesting (who knows why) but I also find that I can say almost anything on those subjects now and people think I am an authority; and I use that small window to be both judgemental and condescending.

Weird. I haven't been invited to a party in a very long time.

But the book I recently finished struck a chord with me in a way that very few have. Now, let me say that it may be because I have been having some 3 year old struggles lately. And it may be because I tried to do all the lady said I should do. And it may be because my 3 year old laughed at me. Who knows. But here is the gist of the book: Teach your children about God.


I love the Lord. I love Him dearly. And I don't really need a book to tell me that I should teach my children about God; though I am thankful for the reminder because sometimes I get really caught up in my hair. But her message is that we should discipline our children by discipling the heart of our child and that the only way to do that is to teach them how Scripture would have them act.

Well, duh!!

Trust me, on more than one occasion have I wished that Remi would act the way Scripture teaches, but then on more than one occasion I have wished that I, myself, might act more like scripture teaches. Remi and I both fail miserably at times.

My question for you all today is: Is it just me or do you momma's find yourself disciplining children based off of the situation? Or are you able to stop, think, re-adjust and then discipline your child off of what scripture would have both them and you to do?

Let me give you an example.

Today I let my children go over to see their Nonie and Poppy. Going to see Nonie and Poppy should be a privilege and my children look at it that way. They ask from the moment the sun rises if they can go see them and although I almost always want to say "yes, yes, sure, go now, run, off you go..." I hold back and let them see Nonie and Poppy after they have been good, taken a nap, etc. But once it is time to finally leave Nonie and Poppies house? GOOODDDD FOORRBBIIIDDD. It is like the taming of the shrew. You have never heard such a racket. Kicking and screaming and yelling and rending of garments. Its really quite ridiculous. So, in that moment am I supposed to let my children scream and act like complete imbeciles until I can get them inside, pull out the Bible, read to a ONE and a THREE year old what Scripture says and then ask them to explain how they might do better next time.

Tell me honestly, is that what I am supposed to do?

Because if I were to write a parenting book it would be called, "As Soon As You Have Free Hand," because as soon as I have a free hand I jerk them in the house, remind them that going to see their grandparents is a reward for good behavior and can be easily taken away and then, well, in the south we call it "kickin' butt and takin' names." And that's what I do.

You see, today's post, though it sounds all "ranty" and "in your face," really isn't. I really want to know if what this author says is just book talk, or is it a method that many of you have found to work. It sounds hard to me. It sounds time consuming and like a lot of "talk" to my children. Whereas my goal has always been to teach them about the Lord on their level, at opportune moments, making Him the focus of our home and our hearts; and hope that the discipline I instill in them is a representation of our love and duty to Him. But to think that I may be doing something wrong because I don't pull out James 2 every time my kiddos are disrespectful left me feeling both exhausted and inadequate.

Has any book or any piece of wisdom ever made you feel that way?

I'm sorry this post has been so long, but I have been wanting to get this off my chest for some time now. I'm sure some of you are turning your noses up at me right now. Perhaps you're concerned that I carry a spanking spoon with me to Home Depot, that I have Super Nanny on TiVo or that I use grandparents as a method of bribery. That's okay. But I'll be thinking of this poor author and her kids the next time I discipline mine and three minutes later we are playing, hugging and holding one another. Whereas she is still knee deep in Revelation and the explanation of the seven seals.


Crazy Sister said...

I love this post, especially the last few lines!

Tricky question. I guess, like all problems, you have to do some prevention and also some reaction. Bringing your kids up in the Lord takes time and patience and good talks at the right moments.

On the steps at the grandparents' place while you're holding a casserole dish and searching for your keys, I think the only way to get through to a tantrumming kid is with a wallop on the rear. You're doing it right!

Katherine said...

Dear Melissa -

I am ready to pre-order a copy of your book. I would suggest you add the sub-title: "Spank 'Em All and Let God Sort 'Em Out!"

I have seen the monsters my sister-in-law is creating by refusing to spank her misbehaving children. You CANNOT reason with a toddler! They don't have the skills yet!! Honestly, no adult's reasoning skills are good enough to make a toddler understand beyond "If I do that, something bad happens."

My children are 14 & 12. Pray for me as we are just inside the doorway of the hair-trigger, hormonal teenage years. Know any good parenting books for that age?

Leigh said...

HAHAHA! Loved the post! I wish I had parenting advice for you, but I am new to this parenting gig (17-month-old mini-dictator running things around here). I completely understand your frustration here. It's not quite the same, but I have a friend/neighbor who luuuuvs to criticize under the mantle of "being friendly and concerned." (She's a Yankee...'nuff said)

Anyway, I got an earful about not reading to the Little Dude. Look, I love books. I come from an over-educated, over-read family. Little Dude has more books in his room than some small-town libraries. BUT. Little Dude will NOT sit still to be read to. Now...do I do the "right" thing and restrain him, so that he will be read to? Or do I let him run around and burn off his energy and hope he develops a love of reading down the road? Because it seems to me that when you try to force kids to do things they are not developmentally able to do, you're asking for trouble.

Maybe the Scripture-discipline will work for you...in a few years. I think for now, the Free Hand technique might be your best bet!

Good luck!

Deanna said...

You teach to the age and 3 year olds ain't ready for the King James version.

I borrowed your spanking spoon theology and we now have one in three different rooms in the house (oh wait, there's only four rooms in the house and a spoon in the bathroom just doesn't seem right). And I wonder where all of my wooden spoons are when I'm cooking....

Bonnie said...

Yeah... self-help books aren't so helpful when they leave you feeling like you're a screw-up. I don't want to leave a book for my comment although this post has me wanting to write a novel here in response. If I were face to face with you I could say what I'm thinking MUCH better than writing it and it would take less time.

Proverbs 13:24. Two things: - 'he who spares the rod hates his child.' HATES his child. Tells me I wouldn't be doing him any favors if I skipped the "rod" part. Part 2 of that verse: 'he who loves him is careful to discipline him.' I'm supposed to be careful in my discipline. Spanking isn't bad, just don't beat 'em half to death and don't use it every time they goof.

Toddlers don't reason, don't logic - they are all about "ME". That defiant will we all have isn't expressed via well worded phrases at 3 - it's expressed in a temper tantrum. Spanking might be all they can "hear" right now anyway. Do what Mommy said not to do = Mommy spanks. Logic can come as they get older.

How I pray you don't feel exhausted or inadequate!! I think that paragraph you summed up exactly what you are supposed to be doing as a parent and I think you deserve applause and HUGE gifts for having it thought through and worded so succinctly. Sure sounds like you've got a great grasp on what parenting looks like.

Sorry - novel after all. I think that particular book might make great fire starter. Or maybe send it to some crafty woman who can turn it into a wreath... If her advice is making your burden heavier, it certainly doesn't sound like it comes from Christ who promises His burden is light when you are yoked with Him... right? You have been given a GREAT gift of discernment. It's one of the reasons we love reading you. :) I'll shut up now.

Lindsey Stelly said...

"I DON'T CARE IF JESUS SAW ME HIT MY SISTER!!!!!" Is what my 5 year old yelled at me in the mall the other day....After I asked him if he thought Jesus would like him hitting his sister.
Imagine what he'd do with that book if I tried to sit down & read scripture with him.
I have a big red spatula from Williams Sonoma. My husband says our kids are going to be adverse to the color red when they get older. I say "look at 'em jump to attention when I take it out."

cndymkr / jean said...

Growing up, all my mother had to do was rattle the spoon drawer and we would go running. She only used the spoon on my brother but even she would say that it didn't work.

Your kids are way to young to get the Scriptures. I'm too young to get them sometimes! It sounds like you are doing everything a good parent needs to do. Chuck the damn book and have some chocolate. Great post as always.

A Musing Mom (Taylorclan6) said...

Being that I have a master's degree in Educational Psychology, I can turn my nose up and be all snooty for you.

It's that small window to be both judgmental and condescending.

Now let's talk timing. Had you asked this question 15 years ago, I'd have been able to give you an extremely articulated answer based on valid research some respected sources.

Just because I am so book smart, have some letters following my name, and condescending.

My dad, a well respected and experienced child psychologist wrote a parenting book. People raved about it.

Now, here we are in real time, 2010. I am a mother of four amazing, terrifying, loving, irritating, exasperating and distinct souls. I now have 15 years of life experiences to draw from.

Here's my answer:

Hear that? I got nothin'.

Ashley said...

I think there is a time for scripture... but it is not in the heat of the parenting moment (in most cases) I have found that I can share scripture with my two oldest (9 and 7) but I would be wasting a lot of breath on the rest. Not that we don't... it just is hard to hear me speak about words being honey to the soul when they cannot hear me through their open mouth screams.

I like giving options (Taken from Lisa Welchel Creative Corrections book and Bible study) Like today when I told my 3 year old in the parking lot of Target "You have 2 options... you can hold my hand or I can hold your hair" and she knows I will do it... so hand it was =)

Next time try a little preventative action. Tell her that if she throws a fit when leaving Nonnies then her punishment will be "x" but if she walks away without a fit and how you expect then her reward will be to "x" (go back the next day maybe). Doesn't always work, but I have found that my kids know I will follow through with whatever punishment we decided was coming and momma don't forget. =) Good luck! I have also found that my 4 boys (well okay 3 since Cruz does not count yet) are a lot more submissive than my sassy 3 year old when it comes to discipline.

Carrie said...

I love A Musing Mom's comment - yeah, my oldest is two, and I also, have nothing. We use spanking, but it's so hard in this day & age, because you can't do it in public, or even talk about it for fear that someone will misconstrue it as abuse (at least here in Yankee country). :) So as we're going through the grocery store, Z is screaming, just for fun, at the top of his lungs, and I am hissing at him that he should 'think of others' and all that...

I know, I'm really big on the philosophy of discipline coming from the Bible, like, "You have to obey Mommy because the Bible says so"... my son's only Bible verse he has memorized is "Children, obey your parents", but yeah, we usually discuss that AFTER the spanking. :)

oldwomaninashoe said...

Throw that book away!! As a mother of many children, all as different from each other as can be, I'm here to tell you there is no pat answer when it comes to parenting. Do I spank? Yes. Do I reason? Yes. But it depends on the child and the situation. I have learned a few things over the years....
Never listen to the grandparents when it comes to spanking. Either you don't do it enough or you shouldn't do it at all. In any given situation, you're going to be wrong. It's the law.
There is always someone who has a child "just like that" and all they had to do is take a toy away and that child was perfect from that day on. Bull.
Melissa, you're a good mama. And some day when an orthopedic doctor tells you your shoulder is plain old worn out and Remi tells you it's because you whupped on her so much ( like I told my 86 year old mother this week...no spoons, ping pong paddles were her choice of weapon), you look at her and see the wonderful good fearing woman she hopefully is and know you've done good. Even though her bottom is a little flat.

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