tea time

a conversation between the farmwives…

Robin wonders

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.


3 thoughts on “tea time

  1. You are right that parenting can be a serious challenge. Sometimes it makes us do things we never imagined we would do. I had a particularly rough time with one of mine. He would basically refuse to do almost anything we wanted him to do most of the time. He was helpful to others, just not us. We finally set him free when he was about 14 or 15. Obviously he was still under our wing, but we ceased to ask anything from him. Today he is doing fine! He’s living on his own and finding his own way through life, with plenty of emotional support from us. Some children simply need more freedom than others.

  2. I’ve been parenting for 29 years now. I’ve parented children born to us, and children abused by others who came to us through adoption. 9 of our children are adults now, 7 married, 4 with children of their own. Our 16th blessing is just 16 months old now. I’ve seen the results of our parenting, and of friend’s methods. I’m no expert, and far from perfect, there is plenty I’d do over… but I am overall very pleased with my children’s level of both independence and loving respect for others. (Not mindless obedience or being a doormat, rather thoughtful choosing to put the needs of others as a high priority) My children are best friends as teens and adults, while still having close friends outside the family. We required that our children were kind to one another first, or there would be no outside friend time (“If you can’t be kind and loving here, no point in exporting that attitude”) I do believe that children must respect their parents. In every case I have watched grow up so far, children that were disrespectful to their parents became adults I did not want my children to marry. (My personal “gold standard” if you will) The attitudes that were permitted, laughed at or overlooked at 2 and 6 were unbearable at 12 and 16. The best form of guidance I’ve seen is what I’ve heard called “tomato staking” The child with wrong attitude stays physically close to mom or dad for several days, even weeks as needed. They can play, do school, whatever, but they remain physically close. When parent changes rooms or activities, child must go too, even to the point of sitting in the hall near the bathroom. When the offending behavior happens, or even starts to happen, it is immediately corrected. They are physically brought back to where they need to be, or held if trying to leave, required to say something correctly, etc. Yelling something ugly at a sibling was required to calm down, then say what they needed to using kind words. When the desired behavior is used, it is immediately praised. When it becomes consistent, the child is allowed more freedom. If the offending behavior returns, back to the closeness. I have seen a great need in children to train the behavior until the heart/mind/soul catch up or are changed by God. I’ll post 2 items here… I do not agree with all they say or represent, but I do think they have some wisdom. http://thesouthern.com/lifestyles/family/moms-with-no-boundaries-will-raise-kids-with-no-respect/article_018d74d2-6dfd-11e0-a3a9-001cc4c03286.html http://www.raisinggodlytomatoes.com/

    • Thank you, Tracey, for this. So much wisdom and experience in your words. The “tomato staking” method of behavior correction goes right along with my belief that when a child is acting out, they often have an unmet need. If you can be close, and give solid guidance and unwavering love, a child will respond.

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