Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"Yo-Yo Parenting"

My friend lent me this book last week and I dove right in on our trip last weekend.

Like any parenting book, there are some things I disagree with, but overall I have agreed with the foundation behind most of his ideas.

The second chapter was a toe-stomper! Leman was differentiating between authoritarian and permissive parenting. Two totally different extremes. As moms, we tend to judge the moms that fall on the opposite end of the spectrum.

Here's the thing though. A lot of times we often parent in the middle. Here is what Leman had to say about this: "...we wander inconsistently between the two - permissive to a point, then cracking down with authoritarian wrath. I see a lot of parents in this bind. They dangle their child on a yo-yo of inconsistency, and then wonder why the kid often acts like a 'yo-yo'."

For one reason or another we can't seem to find the common ground of authoritative parenting. There is a huge difference between authoritarian parenting and authoritative parenting and we so often miss that. "Authoritative parents do not dominate their children and make all decisions for them. Instead, they use...discipline, which is tailor-made to give children the loving correction and training of which the Lord approves." They allow their children to fail while teaching them to be responsible for their own actions.

After reading all of this I realized that, as I strive to be a more laid-back mom, the final outcome is this yo-yo effect. Here's what's funny, I couldn't have read this chapter at a better time. Josh has been gone all week at a camp, so it's just been me and my three. My Tuesday had gotten off to a rough start. For some reason or another Cai had been fussing ALL morning and following me around the house crying and whining. I know that when I have mornings like this I tend to take my frustration out on Rainy and Zeke. I could see that they were already sensing my anxiety at breakfast so we stopped and I asked them to pray for me.

They were both more than willing to pray to God "to help mommy to not be frustrated". They were the two sweetest prayers I had ever heard, and the Lord heard their sweet requests on my behalf.

The day was long from over, though. We took a trip to Wal-Mart to get a few things. I'd like to think that I allow my kids to have a good time on our outings so, when I'm feeling really adventurous, we'll look at all the silly greeting cards and stop by the music kiosk. I decided that this was a day we could just take our time. But, as soon as I went to the counter and checked out, I realized that I had left my wallet at home. I was feeling my anxiety rising again and knew that "authoritarian mom" was about to break out! I quickly remembered what this does to my kids. It makes them confused and frustrated and that is exactly what God tells parents NOT to do!

I can't even tell you how many times I was reminded of this chapter while on the verge of a freak-out moment. I chose to parent authoritatively, not based on my mood or circumstances. It's been amazing to see the kid's response to this!

The phrase of the week was "OK, mommy, I will obey you!" and "Yes ma'am!". I could hardly believe what I was hearing. My heart was so full of joy. Whether it was time to leave the pool, or time to take a nap, or time to share a toy, their reaction was the same. You better believe I took them to get ice cream after dinner and on a long walk to the park before the rain came!

Just try it. Next time your kids are seeing "nice mom" but you feel the ugly head of "authoritarian mom" rising up, remember that you have a choice! If your kids see consistency in you then you'll see consistency in them...most of the time;)
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