Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Parenting has been on my mind for the last few months.  I wonder if we're doing it right, if we're inflicting some kind of damage to our kids, if you can over train a child till their will breaks and they loose their spirt, and uniqueness in the process.  I wonder if our girls are truly happy and care free.  Or if they should be.  Is it more important to teach them to obey without question, or to learn how to reason and inquire?  Is it more important to love on them or be consistent in discipline?  Should they be allowed to argue their side or should they do first and ask why later?  

My current parenting philosophy lies somewhere between To Train up a Child and Why not train a Child.  As you can see these Ideas are pretty conflicting.  

-Overall I would say I don't agree with the Pearls'. They have some great thoughts... for example: The Church (as in Churches, not the actual body of believers) is for the sick.  Go in, do your ministry, and get your kids out. I know for a fact that many children have been abused in church, so I see that as sound advise. As far as some of their discipline tactics, though, they seem borderline torturous. They also talk about parenting as the most important role which I don't think you can support biblically. -I really haven't read much by them, though, so feel free to comment your thoughts.

-The other side. *sigh* I really like the idea of parenting gently. The idea of guiding with words and not punishment. I love the idea of it, but I'm unsure about the application. I know that people have argued that well behaved kids shouldn't be our goal (we should be "Teaching kids how to think, no merely what to think"...quote from Hippie Housewife), but good behavior does have it's place, doesn't it, shouldn't there be some type of consequence to trowing a fit over not being able to have candy in the store? - for those of you practicing this type of parenting please help me out!

I'm at a loss and I see many great parents that parent many different ways.  I just want to do what God would have us to do, but there is so little instruction in the bible that I find myself totally, and utterly confused.  Not only that, but, it's not like I can stop parenting until I figure it out, right?


How do you parent?


Hippie Housewife said...

These are great questions. I think you got the heart of the matter in your closing paragraph, though: There are many great parents that parent many different ways. There are things that I believe to be wrong, always, but the specifics of parenting are so unique to individual families. A one-size-fits-all approach cannot work.

I believe that the best we can do is know our children and sincerely seek to raise them in a way we believe to be God-honouring, with much prayer. I often look to the fruits of the Spirit when evaluating the best way to approach a situation with my child: Is my approach (words, actions) kind? loving? gentle? patient? self-controlled? good? faithful? Will it bring joy and peace?

I am, of course, no fan of the Pearls. I believe that any time the literal application of your teachings result in the deaths of children, there is something seriously and fundamentally wrong with what you believe and teach. I am certain that the Pearls are sincere in their beliefs, not out to intentionally cause the immense pain that they do, but their sincerity does not excuse the damage that they have done in the lives of so many.

Regarding your "throwing a fit over not being able to have candy in the store" example, I think that you can parent gently while still allowing a child to experience the consequences of their actions. A fit thrown means no candy. That is the consequence. The permissive approach would be to give in and let the child have a candy, thereby reinforcing the idea that throwing a fit will earn them what they want. The punitive approach would be to add additional punishment onto that consequence, such as spanking the child or taking away a privilege, with the intent being to "teach them a lesson" by making them experience something unpleasant. The gentle approach would be to stand firm on the boundary (no candy), teaching them that your words have meaning while also providing them with the tools they need to express their disappoint in a more appropriate and healthy manner (by providing scripts in the moment and talking with them later when things are more calm). There's nothing inherently wrong with being disappointed when you can't have what you want, particularly for an immature child. Teaching them how to handle that disappointment and work through it will provide them with important and useful skills for the rest of their lives. Punishing them for expressing their feelings teaches them instead to stuff those feelings, a lesson they will also carry throughout their lives, much to their detriment and often the detriment of those around them. Looking at the long-term lesson often provides great perspective.

Brittney Harmon said...

Ok, so here's the question, then. It would seem that she wouldn't be getting the candy either way. Wether she's throwing a fit about it or not... it doesn't seem like you're dealing with the attitude at all. Or is it all in the scrips, and then later talking about it?

Hippie Housewife said...

The attitude is dealt with in the script (giving them the words to express their disappointment in a more acceptable manner), in the talk afterwards (giving them better tools for next time) and in the reinforcement that tears and tantrums will absolutely not be rewarded with what they want.

The rule in our house is, "if you whine, the answer is no". If he wants to discuss things calmly with me, I may reconsider his request (or I may not). If he's going to ask repeatedly, whine, or throw a fit, too bad. The answer's no. End of discussion.

I guess when I look at the attitude, I know that even I, as an adult, feel disappointed and upset when I don't get what I want. Sometimes I'd like to throw a fit. Sometimes I do, in my own silent sulky way. My three year old has way less life experience than I do, far less perspective than I do, and far fewer tools and words for dealing with and expressing his disappointment than I do. Being sad that he can't have candy doesn't seem like something that needs to be dealt with to me. What needs to be dealt with is the way he expresses that disappointment. That's how I see it, anyway.

Talking with him afterwards would also give me a chance to touch on related issues, such as (in the candy example) greed, nutrition, money, etc. But I don't think I can punish the "greed" out of an immature self-focused child. I can make him too afraid to express his desires, but I don't think that's healthy in the long run. Selflessness will come with age, maturity, and lots and lots of modelling and talking (and even then, I don't know if we ever really lose all of our self-absorption and greed, not this side of Heaven, anyway).

erin said...

Its definitely a struggle to figure out just how to parent. We just went through a video series at our church by Paul David Tripp. It was awesome, and it really spoke to the heart of parenting and getting to your child's heart instead of outward conformity without any heart change. He does speak about spanking a child when they are young and while he does think its OK, he definitely speaks out against people like the Pearls. I'm not a spanker, we do time outs or take away something. Its hard, but I know its important.

Another book on parenting that I'm reading right now and can't speak high enough on is "Mission of Motherhood." It doesn't really speak on discipline but reminds me of why I do what I do and for what purpose. I can't put it down.

flyingfisher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
flyingfisher said...

I'm writing this in two parts since when I tried to post it I got an ERROR message that is was too long.
I got to your blog via The Hippie Housewife blog that I was reading this morning.
I see you are asking about parenting.

I am the mother of 3 grown children: 33, 30, and 24.
My daughter has said that she was the only one who had no complaints when friends at college were talking about their moms. She sends me beautiful Mother's Day cards with extra loving hand-written notes on them. :-) My boys are loving (they call ^^) and warm and they all have good relationships.

I think the big rule, acting out of love and with compassion is what applies. “This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you.” For me, yes, Jesus exhibited anger with the money changers, but told us to love and paid attention to people’s needs and help to meet them. Life when dead, wine from water, fish and bread, sight to the blind. Forgiveness. I don’t mean that I become self-effacing, or don’t try meet my own needs (exercise, getting out to do something special -- even though I can neglect myself ). I was glad to become a wife and parent as I found it a relief not to base my decision-making constantly on what was best for me every time, on what I was doing, what I felt or thought at that moment, and instead trying to see things from someone else's point of view and meet their needs if I could.
Giving out of love is satisfying.
I was glad to become a wife and parent as I found it a relief to not have to base my decision-making constantly on what was best for me every time. I'm not saying I should be self-effacing, or not meet my own needs, but the focus shifted from totally having to base everything on exactly what I was feeling/thinking at the moment, and instead try to see things from someone else's point of view and meet their needs if I could.

flyingfisher said...

It doesn't take long to find out many babies and toddlers when they act up are usually either hungry or tired. And a child whose feet are dragging really is feeling heavy and tired and not able to go on. They need to be carried if possible. And a little bit of carrying can renew them, and often they can get down and walk again.

I couldn't use the same consequences for my daughter as I did for my older son as they were such different people. Being separated from me in her room even when she was 8 was too much for my daughter to bear. She's a people person, and likes to be busy, and around others. My older son needed down time and playing with Lego in his room was renewing for him. He might have been misbehaving because he was frazzled or overstimulated.

Often a child won't obey because at that moment they can't for whatever reason. Yes, they need to be safe. If they need to stop instantly at the roadside to be safe, I'd want them to respond to "STOP!" But really, there are very few instances other than personal safety where I'd need them to instantly respond.

Children often need our help with transitions, some more than others. One child might need a quick reminder to be on his feet and heading to the bathroom to brush teeth; another might be so absorbed in what s/he was doing that first they need us to join them in their current focus to gently get their attention and redirect them. Yes, sometimes that might take a little extra time, and effort, but unless there is a pressing need to move on quickly, it's not that hard to do.
I also had a reminder on my refrigerator cut out from an article I read. It was “Say ‘yes’ whenever possible. “ That was good when they wanted to finger-paint and I‘d sometimes rue the mess that would come, but realized we’d all be happier. Then again, with my third it got easier to put on limits, to say no when I needed to, but with real love and compassion in my voice to matter-of-factly say, “Sorry, but that’s not possible right now; “No, I’m sorry, I wish you could , but you can’t do that. To ask a child to figure out his options in a situation. And to use a sense of humor.

This blog I saw on a friend's page helps to pinpoint a few things that seemed to work for me. http://www.transformativeparenting.com/category/blog/

The Trouble with Time Outs struck a chord with me. :-)