Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Yikes

Today I took the girls up to the mall to meet some friends and enjoy the air conditioned in-door play ground. It's an outing that is usually fun, but not without it's ups and downs when it comes to ideal behavior. I think anyone who has a child or has witnessed a child (that should be all of us) can agree that the public domain is not always a place where manners shine and obedience is at the forefront of the mind. Today was no exception, with two particular situations standing out in the midst of an otherwise pleasant experience.

The first happened at the play ground. It gets crowded fast when the heat index is over 100, so before long there were kids everywhere. Marianna and I have been talking a lot lately about the importance of taking your turn in a line, so I was watching carefully as she stood to wait her turn to go down the slide. So far so good until Marianna got to the top of the steps and the child behind her shoved her hard enough to propel her forward, face and hands first, onto the slide. Keep in mind that the slide is no higher than two feet off the ground, so there was no serious danger, but she was scared and a little hurt nonetheless. That kind of thing is almost to be expected in the high-energy environment a busy playground engenders, but what was surprising in the incident was the subsequent action of the mother of the offending child. She had run over when she saw him push Marianna down, but not one word of rebuke came out of her mouth. She simply helped him sit down and encouraged him down the slide with no mention of the behavior whatsoever. No doubt she wasn't happy, but for whatever reason, she chose to do nothing at all.

It was nearly an hour and half later when the second snafu occurred, and this time it was Marianna's turn to shine. We were in a store and I had asked her to try on a pair of pants. She did it gladly. What she did not do gladly was to take the pants back off. When that request came she reared back and did every mother's nightmare - she started to wail at the top of her lungs. I can honestly say that doesn't happen often at all, but that doesn't lesson the degree of horror when it does. I immediately tried to hold her to calm her down, but that made her scream louder. I whispered in her ear that she would be punished when we got out to the car, and again, that only made it louder. There was no way I was backing down once the battle lines had been drawn, so the pants eventually did come off and Marianna returned to her seat, but not before I was reminded how humbling it is to be a parent. It's difficult to stay cocky about parenting abilities or styles of discipline when a display like that pops onto the radar and won't go away without a fight.

I'm zoned in on this kind of thing right now because I've been reading a book by Dr. Dobson on the responsibility of the parent to bring up a child with both consistent love and consistent discipline. I believe with all my heart his assertion that permissive parenting is no favor to the child, as it creates a human incapable with dealing with life in a reasonable way. I also think that the Bible lays out a plan for parenting that stands in direct conflict with the permissive philosophy. God put me in my child's life to be her compass and to set her boundaries. If I fail to do anything when she goes off course or crosses the line, I've done her a great disservice! It's so hard to have a swift consequence in public in this day and age when the spanking spoon is akin to the plague, but I guess we all know that parenting isn't a walk in the park! Some days are easy and some days are hard, but what I'm asking God to do right now is to help me teach Marianna how to have a heart for God above all other things. And at this age, it all starts with obedience. Sometimes the task is daunting, but it is a responsibility I don't take lightly. When it comes down to it, I guess the most important thing is to pray and ask God to give me the wisdom to deal with each situation as it comes, even when that happens to be in public!

8 comments:

friedrichfamily said...

This is not advice by any means. I don't believe in giving parenting advice, because it's not my place! Time outs work for my 2 1/2 year old daughter. She hates time out, and I always tell her (when she's making bad choices) that everywhere has a time out. For example, at lunch today (in a restaurant), she was sticking her tongue out and spitting. I gave her a couple of warnings, and then told her the next time it happened, she would be in time out. She looked at me, thought for a second, and then did it again, laughing. (Don't you love the toddler stage?) Anyway, I told her I was sorry she'd made a bad choice, but she'd have to sit in time out. I put her a few feet away from me, facing the wall, and told her to stay there, then I returned to our table. She did scream for about 15 seconds, but then she grumbled under her breath. I made her sit there for about 90 seconds, then invited her back to the table. I know some people might look at us and think, "Why is that lady letting her child scream like that?" but I also think that EVERY parent has been there, and they will understand the importance of disciplining swiftly and efficiently. I'd rather have my children scream because they are suffering consequences, not just because they want to. My daughter doesn't like time out, so it works for us. Not every kid cares. Again, not advice - just telling you what works in our family! -Allison

Karen Rhodes said...

This is personal experience, not really advice. I am almost done raising 2 girls (now 17 and 19) and both are wonderful young women. Someone said this to me when I was a young mom when talking about public disobedience:
"if she broke her arm in the grocery line or the dressing room, wouldn't you stop everything and deal with that immediately? well, a broken character is much worse with longer lasting effects". It doesn't matter where you are, there is usually a restroom, and with a "rod of correction" always in the purse or diaper bag, it can usually be dealt with immediately. It's an exhausting task to raise children, oh but the joy it brings when they finally learn self-control and eventually spirit-control.

Jill said...

AMEN to your post Angie and to Karen's as well!

I'm in the midst of a very busy season of quick 1st time disciplining at our home with six small children!

I don't allow for second chances - you get one chance to listen. 1st time obedience is a must - because as you mentioned, the bible is very clear with God's directives for us as His children. The ONLY response He desires the first time He calls upon us to change or act is Yes LORD! He is the God of second chances and full of mercy and grace - however, that is NOT His perfect plan for our walk with Him.

As I stated today on my blog - how will a child learn to listen to a God they can't see if they don't or won't listen to parents they see daily?

Love and blessings - Jill

Devin said...

Angie,

I am a few days late in commenting, but I wanted to just thank you, over and over again, for your post on miscarriage.

What you said is exactly what I experienced in December. I have commented on your blog several times before....I found you just shortly after you lost Poppy, and your walk with Christ and faith in Him through that situation helped me heal through what was an incredibly difficult time of loss of my own child. I have been a faithful reader ever since, though I do not comment quite as faithfully :).

You hit the nail squarely on the head--miscarriage is a silent sorrow. Unfortunately, many people do look at these losses as nowhere near of a big deal as say, infant death; I can say that before December 12, 2007, I was one of those people.

Even watching my own sister-in-law (she commented on your post after I told her she HAD to come here and read it!--Rog & Aimee) walk this road twice, I still didn't "get it". And, I must agree with your other commenter--I truly do not believe that until you go through a miscarriage, you ever will understand how difficult it really is.

Miscarriage was sooooo much harder than I EVER could have thought. In fact, I was surprised at just how difficult it was. The pain is very, very real, but for some reason, most people do not give any real weight to it.

As Nate Lawrenson said recently on his blog, I wouldn't go back and change anything that happened to me. The Lord has brought me leaps and bounds past where I was, faith-wise--he has stretched me to lean on Him for absolutely everything, and, though I would never have chosen this to happen, I can honestly say that much good has come from it.

I am a different person now. I praise the Lord for changing me, even though it had to be in this way.

But, I believe that we--the group of women who have had to walk this road--(and the numbers are much greater than anyone thinks--I read that it is one out of three pregnancies that miscarry)--need to reach out and help our "newcomers" of the "group".

You, by writing this post, have done just that...thank you so much for sharing your heart with all of us.

Jennifer said...

Hey I wanted to mention that I am reading an awesome book that you might be interested in. It is called Grace Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel. It is quite refreshing.

So Blessed said...

Keep praying, Angie...I have every confidence that you will do a great job at parenting your children because you are grounded in God's word. A wonderful book that you might want to add to your future "read" list is "Boundaries with Kids" by Cloud and Townsend. I did a year long study with my Bible Study group on the first book they wrote called "Boundaries" and it was excellent. When my younger sister's husband died unexpectedly their children were 7 and 11. I read the "Boundaries with Kids" book, then passed it along to my sister. (I don't like to give books I haven't personally read).
Both are biblically based. I wish I had had this one to read when my kids were young. I did read Dr. Dobson when mine were young, along with "How to really love your child". Anyway, sorry this was so long...you just keep praying and loving those precious girls...God holds each of you in His hands.

Lindsay said...

Oh you are SO not alone in the tantrum department. Don't let it discourage you from going out in public because that would be a great diservice to you both. As hard as it is (especially with two in hand) they need to learn a lesson. I think what you did was great and what I typically do myself. Consistency is key in every aspect of parenting, especially discipline. And you're right - the litle buggers have an awesome way of humbling us, for sure. Keep it up - you ahve a beautiful family.

Anonymous said...

Discipline is a gift for children. They crave boundries and look to the adults they love for that safety.
And consistency is key.
My question as I read your story was this...
You mentioned that she was even more upset when you told her she would be disciplined "later."
If someone told you that when you got home, the things you feared (double the bills, 20 extra lbs, marital problems, infertility) would be there, wouldn't you be upset? Of course she was more upset!!
I challenge you to keep that in mind next time. Bc there will be a next time.
As hard as it is, be prepared to offer consequences, but limit fear and threats. You want to be who she turns to when she is afraid, not the person she fears.
Best wishes on your journey!!