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Discipline vs. Control–Part 4: An Opportunity to Learn

Good day, everyone! This one is short, but it remains a powerful example of what happens when I stand back and let things play out.

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For those of you wanting to catch up:

Discipline Vs. Control–Part 1

Discipline Vs. Control-Part 2

Discipline Vs. Control-Part 3

My younger guy—the now eighteen- and then thirteen-year-old I occasionally give up for Lent—is still a tad inflexible in his thinking. Once he has an idea in his head, he’s often difficult to redirect.  I can also tell you, he’s sometimes not nice when he doesn’t get his way.

Like his mother, he likes order and visually pleasing spaces. One evening, he wanted to hang a curtain in the doorway between the laundry room and the semi-finished area of the basement where he hangs out to play video games. I hung the brackets for a rod there about 8:30 PM and gave him an idea of how to thread the curtain onto a rod. (He got one from my bedroom closet about an hour later.)

I’d just sat down  to check email (circa 10 PM) when he started calling for help with the curtain rod, which he didn’t know how to get onto the brackets. Long story short, he started throwing a typical fit when I told him I’d help him the next day.

Rather than react—a.k.a. yell (and please don’t ask me where I get this stuff)—I told him he was putting me in the position of being a ‘bad parent’ if I went down to help him when he was behaving in such a manner.

He blustered some more then all got quiet downstairs. Next thing I know, he came up, gave me a hug and said, “I figured it out.” (Maybe I’ll give him up for only part of Lent.)

Had I reacted and started yelling, lecturing, etc, we most likely would have ended up in an argument and/or power struggle. In that moment, I learned, that by sitting back and sticking to my simple limit (“I’ll help you tomorrow”), I created a scenario that pushed him to problem-solve. Since he tends to be inpatient by nature, his desire to not wait for me until the next day willed him to find the answer on his own. I’m thinking he felt empowered by being able to do so, and maybe hugging me was his way of saying, “Thanks for the opportunity to learn, Mom(?)”) 😀

Back to your experiences. What’s worked for you? What hasn’t?

Next time, I’ll take this one step further: how to start over when you’ve really lost it with your kids.

A request: if you like what you read here, would you kindly take a second and click the Facebook, Twitter or any of the share buttons below? (Any others you like that might not be represented here works too!) Reblogging is equally nice, and helps get word out to others in cyberspace. By working together, we can make the ideas available here out to that many more people. Mega-thanks!

Enjoy the week,

Joanne

©Joanne C Timpano, 2017, content and images (unless otherwise specified).

Posted in Uncategorized

Discipline Vs. Control–Part 3

Happy Valentine’s Day! If you’re new or behind in this parenting series, here are the links to catch up with Part 1 and Part 2.

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Parenting–the never-ending work-in-progress puzzle 🙂

Today we’re picking up with the fruits of discipline. When my kids were younger, I was blessed to watch first-hand a great example of how my son and his friends utilized their available repertoire of fishing skills. I must say, I was quite impressed that day!

During the middle and high school years  mine was usually the go-to house, the one where kids often congregated. They’d hang out in the kitchen while I got dinner ready, cleaned or did whatever a parent tends to do. (That was before the DL’s became part of the kids’ lives. Now they’re working, or off in far more interesting places. Never knowing how many we’d have for dinner on any given day was occasionally stressful, but I can honestly say I miss those hopping times.)

Back then, the kids and I often engaged in conversation, and I took every opportunity I could to teach. (I hope I did so–and still do– without being preachy and/or without showing surprise, shock or disapproval for what the kids knew then that I had probably just begun learning at their age. They kept coming back, so maybe I did something right? I also happen to love middle- and/or high-school-age kids. If/When they don’t feel judged, they can be pretty open and a whole lot of fun to have around.)

Back to the fruits of discipline:

Older Son’s ‘core crowd’ was over on a Friday evening. One of the boys grabbed his coat when his girlfriend’s mother (the one whose dad is said to be strict) came to pick her up. He wanted a ride to a party to which he’d been invited by another friend who wasn’t present at the moment.

From the day kids started hanging out at my house, I’ve always told them the same thing: “When you’re here, I’m your parent.” (I still do, and have yet to come across one who doesn’t appear to appreciate it.)

Translation: I went into mother-mode and started asking questions.

In short, the boy couldn’t come up with the better responses any parent hopes to hear when a kid is off to a high-school party. The boy who invited the dude at my house was reported to have met the party host, a senior, earlier that day. (The inviter–to this day–is not known for sound judgment.)

At that time, I was dealing with freshmen. Parent or not, I was not in a position to tell the invitee he couldn’t go. I made that clear as I plied him with queries for details of where he was headed.

The core crowd of kids at my house chimed in, advising this guy to not go (for all the right reasons, too). He put on his jacket anyway and left with his girlfriend.

In five minutes’ time he came back, opting to hang out at my house for the rest of the evening. (A little while after that episode, that boy joined the wrestling team, and frequently voiced liking how it kept him out of trouble by being busy after school. I since learned that boy has TWO parents who struggle with serious addiction to this day. We’ll talk about us being the only parent-figure some kids have in a future post.)

Could I have asked for better? No way. This was peer pressure at its most positive. My older son’s core crowd of friends is far from perfect, but that incident gave me hope they were on their way to making more sound decisions as time went on. (Fingers crossed they continue to be! :D) The crowd has grown some, but the core group is essentially unchanged. Makes me feel good to know these are the kids my son is with outside the house.

One more thought: Back then–and now–I had to remind myself that interchange was a just-for-today moment. But: I prayed–and continue to pray–everyday that they would string together more of these episodes on their road to adulthood. This particular group is just entering their 20s. Most of them are in the trenches now, away from their parent(s)’ guidance–assuming they have a parent or parental figure to begin with. (Sometimes, you might be all a child has, but again, that’s fodder for a future post.) These young adults are in a position to apply what they’ve been taught via discipline by exercising sound  judgment in their decisions.  If you’ve developed that open, unconditional, non-judgmental relationship with your kids, chances are they’ll be open to any guidance you offer, and even seek it too! (That’s gravy!)

Your thoughts? Experiences? I’d love for you to take a moment and share yours here. We parents are on an immensely challenging journey of raising kids to face a world far bigger and menacing than the one with which our parents had to deal. We can make this a forum for exchanging ideas and helping each other along the way!

Next time we’ll talk about the “opportunity to learn” that tends to be inherent to most situations we encounter with our kids.

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Sharing the ride,

Joanne

©Joanne C Timpano, 2017, content and images (unless otherwise specified).

Posted in Discipline vs. Control, Parenting, Reflections, Uncategorized

Discipline Vs. Control–Part 2

Welcome back! Hope your Super Bowl pick won. If it was the Falcons, I truly feel for you and them. Most. Amazing. Comeback. Ever. And what a catch by #11 Julian Edelman–I mean, how was that catch even possible???

Belief.  Drive. Determination. Motivation. Grit. (A miracle or two doesn’t hurt either…)

That’s what won Super Bowl LI for the New England Patriots.

And those same qualities are what parent(s) need to apply to “the journey.”

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Anyway, this should have run last week, but I somehow messed up scheduling the post. Hope you’ve had some time to digest last post’s discussion and are ready to delve in a little further!

Disclaimer: Please remember, these are my thoughts on these concepts, based on my parenting experiences. I do not equate myself with the title “expert.” I do, however, hope to be of service to others sharing this journey, by relating my experiences and what I’ve gleaned from them to date. (Not sure we’ll ever be out of the trenches, and that’s okay too! 🙂 )

I ended last time with this thought: Respect for my children—and for children and teens in general—is something that helps guide me in the process of discipline.

Back to Dictionary.com: Respect has multiple definitions, but I chose those that apply to this essay.

As a noun, respect is (1) esteem for, or a sense of, the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability; (2) deference to a right, privilege, privileged position.

As a verb: (1) to hold in esteem or honor; (2) to show regard, or consideration for (i.e., someone’s rights); (3) to refrain from intruding upon or interfering with (i.e., a person’s privacy).

I won’t declare I’ve always practiced respect in all my parenting decisions. I can’t aver that I inherently understood what it means to show regard for my children’s needs. I am, however, blessed by having internalized early on that a little person (and/or an older child) does have feelings that need to be considered.

This notion hit me very clearly one day, when my older son was about eight months old. We were on some multi-errand run and probably on, at the very least, our sixth stop. This means the little guy had already been dragged in and out of his car seat eleven times. Now mind you, my mini-man had always been fine with being in the swing or bouncer or stroller for as long as I needed him to be or was willing to go.  As I strapped him in for time number twelve, he started crying.

Chances are, I was initially irritated with his reaction, but luckily, compassion clicked in and it hit me: This boy is tired. He’s had enough and shouldn’t be subjected to dealing with his mother’s inability to slow down.

I’ve read parenting books—God knows, they abound—and then beat myself up over not being a ‘good mom’ because I couldn’t make the ideals depicted in those books happen. Luckily for me, a close friend (and mom) often reminded me that if there were ONE way that worked, there’d be a lot less books on the topic. (My favorite: Kid Cooperation: How to Stop Yelling, Nagging, and Pleading and Get Kids to Cooperate, by Elizabeth Pantley. I also remember browsing a bit through George M. Kapalka’s Parenting Your Out-of-Control Child: An Effective, Easy-to-Use Program for Teaching Self-Control. Thought I might gain some wisdom for dealing with my younger, somewhat anxious, reactive and much-more-of-a-challenge son. BTW, if anyone is interested, he’s often available through Lent. I’ve been known to give that one up every now and again. 😉 )

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Back to my point:

I learned, by reading those parenting books, that discipline is a form of teaching, as well as a form of living.

My job is not to make my kids do what I say (controlling), but to guide them to make the best choice available at any given moment (discipline).

Hopefully, they’ll exercise good judgment up front. If not, one could hope they take advantage of the ‘opportunity to learn,’ assuming the consequences of their action(s) aren’t overly devastating or life threatening in any way. (Elizabeth Pantley deals with how to use natural consequences—or create logical ones—very nicely in her book.)

This segues me to the old adage, Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach him to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.

When I fight for my way, or for that instant response to what I tell my kids to do–for no other reason beyond I want my way (Gasp! Controlling again!)– I’m not teaching them to fish. By guiding them to make wise choices today, I can only hope to be laying a foundation to make even wiser choices as they get older, especially when they’re in a position to make (big) decisions without someone more experienced at their side.

We’ll pick up next time with the fruits of discipline.

Any thoughts on all this so far? What have you learned on your journey relative to authority and kids? No, you don’t have to be a parent to join the discussion. All kinds of interactions count (i.e., those of teachers, psychologists, baby sitters, etc), so don’t be shy!

With you on the journey,

Joanne

©Joanne C Timpano, 2017, content and images (unless otherwise specified).