a conversation between the farmwives…
friends, help me here. we have managed to raise an amazing group of independent, capable children. these kids of ours are so wonderful, but you know the other side of strong willed hard working beings. the sass, the sibling rivalry, the “i know better than you” mouth. eegads. we try not to yell, we have learned the limits of the “time out” and we never have laid a hand on our babes, but how do you discipline? sometimes it is just past logic and i feel my role as referee wearing thin. any suggestions?
Cher says… Oh, dear! What a question! This is an enormous, daily (hourly) issue in our family as well. I used to think I was an incredibly patient person that didn’t get rattled very easily. What a joke. Keeping my calm wits about me while trying to maintain family harmony is one of my greatest challenges in my daily living right now. Sometimes I find myself offering to go and hoe the potatoes, just to get a break, if you know what I mean.
Our family doesn’t have any set rules with discipline, necessarily, just hands off and keep the yelling to a minimum (However much I would like to say “no yelling and screaming at all” here, I would be lying!) I do like to try to let my children work out their differences on their own as much as possible, without mama always intervening. Children are incredibly resilient and tend not to linger in emotion; they can go from blood-curdling screams to laughter in a matter of seconds. I am always at the ready to step in when needed, however… say, when one child is about to tomahawk a wooden bowl at the head of another, for instance! I have read many a book on the subject of raising kids and while there is so much useful advice to be had out there in regards to discipline, I have found that no situation ever presents itself in exactly the same way twice. Therefore, no response can ever be duplicated with the same effect twice. What works like a dream one time can be a complete failure the next time around. That’s why I don’t believe there is just one right way to discipline. It’s incredibly important to be flexible and to follow those instincts!!! As parents, we have to be equipped with many rabbits to pull out of our collection of many hats, so to speak! An open ear and a loving heart are better than all else!
Coree says… Parenting can be so shocking. No one could have prepared me. Here are these beautiful little creatures that we have nurtured and loved since before they were born. The babies are so sweet and dear. We soak in these baby kisses and invest countless hours into deep bonding. Then one day when they can walk and talk on their own, it seems just unbelievable that they could contradict everything we say and refuse our every request.
I’m not perfect, not even close, but growing as a parent has taught me a LOT about boundaries, and action. The way to achieve consistency is to be consistent. It’s so hard. I usually really don’t want to lay down the consequence/punishment. It really does “hurt me as much as it hurts them.” But over and over I learn to hold my ground. Sometimes, we use some ‘away time’, upstairs or outdoors to just cool off. Sometimes, time on the couch. Sometimes some kind of mitigating action – extra help on some chore. If things get really wild, a bed-time story or precious time with friends goes on the line. The quicker everyone can pull their act together, the more flexible we are.
I also learn a lot about my temper. As Cher said, I thought I had a pretty even-keeled temperament, until I had children. It’s an amazing test. A tight rope act. I believe they need to see that one of the natural consequences of whatever behavior is that they have an upset Mama on their hands. They also need to know that I am firmly, lovingly, holding the boundary to where they should not tread. So if some externally inflicted ‘consequence’ comes, I try not to dole it out in anger, but with compassion and a clear impression that I wish it wasn’t this way too. I feel like it sets a good example for them to see me pull it together. And the fact that it’s so difficult sometimes makes me certain that it’s good work, as well as an excellent opportunity to do breath-work, count to ten.
I agree with Cher too – that I try to stay out of sibling arguments unless they get too violent. Children are brilliant at working things out, if given the opportunity. Thank heavens for that!
No matter what kind of drama the day held, I kiss my kids goodnight and make sure they know that I love them.