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

Could We Have Done Something Right?–Part One

Hello, all!

I am FINALLY launching the second series of parenting posts I promised. As always, thank you for taking the time to be here.

NOTE: These essays originally posted starting 11/11/2013, for a total of six articles, right around the time my boys were turning 17 and 15. Very special thanks to Doctor Lori and Ms. Paula, for unknowingly inspiring me to pull together the rest of the Could We Have Done Something Right series, and subsequently, my workshop.

Here is Part 1:

“You realize we’re both hating you right about now,” said a new coworker, a few weeks ago. She, myself and a student’s assistant were discussing kids and getting them to do their chores without it being a struggle.

I’d happened onto their discussion, just in time to hear the assistant saying she was tired of “paying” her teenage kids before their chores were done, then having to argue about it.

Interestingly enough, this conversation took place a few days after Hubby and I decided to leave the dinner dishes and go hit tennis balls before dark. Younger Son (who at the time, was a few weeks shy of his 15th birthday) had cleared the dishes, but there were still pots to be washed, the counter to be wiped down…you know.

Aside: This Italian was raised to NEVER do the next thing—God forbid, something fun—until the house is clean. Somehow, Hubby got infected with this disease and looked at me like, You want to go now? Leave this mess? (I assured him it would be there when we got back.)

Well, Hubby and I took off, had some fun and headed back home. (So glad I went! I happened to have an awesome day on the court–for me, anyway. Just sayin’.) It was still just light enough for a walk, so I opted to sneak in a short one before it got any darker. “Oh sure. Leave me with the kitchen clean-up,” Hubby grumped. (Not terribly.)

“I don’t know why we own Younger Son,” I answered. “There’s no reason we couldn’t have asked him to do it.”

Lo and behold, we entered a FULLY CLEANED KITCHEN. It was like the Cleaning Fairy had dropped in for a visit.

This is pretty much the point where my co-worker expressed hate. And when I mentioned the episode to someone else a day later—hey, I’m still every bit as amazed as the day it happened—another coworker overheard. She did the slow head turn, eyes wide: “What foundation did you lay for something like that to happen?”

BTW, on another night, in the vicinity of that time, Younger Son did something similar—washed the few dishes in the sink without being asked.

And a few weeks after that, when I picked up my mom from the hospital, and I was tied up helping her transition from hospital to home, and I hadn’t made it to cleaning the kitchen (Hubby was away), and it was 10:30 PM, I walked into the kitchen while Older Son (who was pushing the ripe age of 17) was doing what had to be done, without anyone asking.

And on another occasion close to that, when Younger Son had an orthodontist appointment at 6:30 PM—don’t ask why anyone would schedule that time when after school is so much more convenient at my house—and Hubby wasn’t home, and both boys and I were scrambling to leave the kitchen clean before taking off, Older Son casually said, “You guys go. I’ll finish this.”

Mother does the glance askance at Older Son. Huh? (This is the same kid that would step out of his shoes in the middle of the doorway and keep walking. At least he slips out of them to the side of a step these days, with one shoe pointing outward every time, which is pretty much how the kid walks, and still proof that he literally steps out of his shoes, lol.)

“What foundation did you lay for something like that to happen?

My co-worker’s question really got me thinking big-time. Next time, I’ll share some of the thoughts her question provoked.

Your turn: if you have kids, have they left you flumgubbered enough to wonder what YOU might have done right? Take a minute and tell us about it, please! Feel free to post a comment below, share on my Facebook page or email me (if you’re shy 🙂 ). Or simply help share the content by clicking one or more of the buttons below!

back-light-black-background-business-907486
Photo by Sara Wether from Pexels

Have a spectacular day!

Joanne

©Joanne C Timpano, content and images (unless otherwise specified), 2019.

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

Getting Back to that Parenting Stuff…

Welcome back! T’is the season when I’m going to be more patchy than at others—depends on how much paperwork there is to do for the day job. Just for today, I’m as caught up as I need to be, so I want to get back here and post!!!

So… I started this around December and got sidetracked with Christmas, keto, reports due. As per Sir Elton John’s lyrics from Circle of Life, there will always be, “more to do than can ever be done.” (I got teary-eyed the first time I heard it. What do you mean, I can’t do everything I’ll ever need or want to do?????)

Anyway, dear parents, guardians and caregivers of children, please allow me to get back on track.

First and foremost:

Many, many thanks for spending your very precious time here! I am humbled, grateful, and indebted. As with my previous series of thoughts on children, I hope you find inspiration via my journey through motherhood, and perhaps some tips to help you feel empowered while you navigate yours.

Just a few reminders for those moments you wonder which alien creature took over your body and signed you up to bring people into the world and help them find their way into the realm of adulthood.  At the end of the day, that’s why we’re here, yes? (Yes???)

Anyway:

This parenting gig is W.O.R.K.

Hard work.

Long days of seemingly doing the same thing over and over, with little or no acknowledgment, let along thanks.

Efforts that often seem unrewarded, or worse yet, fruitless.

Please note: Given the correct circumstances—mind you I didn’t say “perfect”—those efforts add up, much like Aesop’s famed crow dropping one pebble at a time into that pitcher with an inch of water or so at the bottom, in order to reward himself with a drink.

So…

I am starting a follow-up to my Discipline vs. Control series. Ironically enough, several weeks ago (specifically, on the day after Christmas), I left the sink full of dishes and the kitchen to clean after I relaxed a little with Hubby after dinner. It was after 9 and Younger Son (who recently turned 20) had come in from the mall a little earlier. After his shower, he tends to grab food I leave on the stove and head downstairs, where he usually hangs out playing video games.

From the living room, I heard the kitchen faucet running. After it ran for a steady 10 minutes, I realized my “little one” was cleaning up my mess—unasked. (Whaaaat?? This from the same kid who hadn’t managed to wipe down one bathroom sink after two weeks of his ma asking him to do so. I had the perfect teachable moment planned when he started looking for socks fresh from the laundry. I was going to give him first-hand instruction on how to Google use of the washer or refer him to a YouTube video of the same. I’m holding off for now. 😉 )

And this evening’s episode, which catapulted me back five years, segues me perfectly into the next series of posts directly related to parenting. Please stay tuned. Episodes such as mine can be a reality in your parenting life too! 🙂

Go forward. Be empowered. And always remember, you can start your day or even your journey over anytime you choose to do so.

Your turn: has one (or more) of your children done something so awesomely unexpected that made your jaw drop? Please tell in the comments or share on Facebook!

apartment cabinet chair contemporary
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Have a wonderful day,

Joanne

©Joanne C Timpano, all rights reserved, content and images (unless otherwise       specified),  2019.

Posted in Discipline vs. Control, Parenting, Reflections, School-related, Uncategorized

Discipline vs.Control–Part 5: Election Day, Pumpkin Pancakes and “The Eraser Story” (or How to Start Your Day Over)

Hello! Yes, it’s been a while–far too long, in fact. Recently I’ve been popping images of low-carb/keto recipes I’ve been trying on Facebook. (Not my own, most from Pinterest). A friend/mom-of-five suggested I start a blog. Hah! I have two and none has seen much action in a very long time.

This segues me into today’s post, (i.e., I can start posting–we’re going to try for consistency–at any time 🙂 .) This is installment #5 of my Discipline vs. Control series. (Coincidentally enough, I left off at #4!** Election Day got me thinking about it for many reasons, partly because an Election Day episode with my kids inspired me to write it 10+ years ago. And pumpkin pancakes too, which I made this morning–keto, of course 😉 ).

IMG_1097

Okay, parents, or anyone who works with kids on a regular basis. We’ve all lost our cool and said or done something regrettable, yes? (Raise your hand if this applies. Come on, no one will know but you and your screen—and remember that confession is good for the soul!)

I’m sure I’ve lost my cool and composure in numbers approaching the triple digits. Comes with parenting territory, a place I’ve lived for about twenty years now. (My stepsons were eight, four and six when I met my honey, and they were regulars at my house for the first five or six years we were married. They then moved with their mom and her husband, but by then I had two full-time kids of my own.)

This incident took place with my full-timers, on Election Day (we’re off from school) when they were grammar-school age. I wanted to take them to IHOP for pumpkin pancakes, which had sort of become an Election Day tradition. Before we left, all I’d asked is that they make their beds (i.e., pull one measly comforter neatly in place onto their beds) and get dressed.

Well, boys will be boys (clichés are clichés for a reason, folks) and mine did…NOTHING…related to what I asked. After my fifth (?) or so time of repeating the direction, I lost my temper. BIG. TIME. Said things I’m fortunate memory loss mercifully washed away (can I blame hormones?) and wouldn’t dare repeat if I did remember. (In other words, when I couldn’t control the situation I got MAD.)

Rather than beat them senseless, I left their room and went downstairs. Most likely, I cried and wondered how in the world I’d undo my behavior (in essence, a tantrum—yep, grownups have them too). Luckily, I remembered an invaluable quote: Whenever I choose, I can ‘start my day over any time.’

As I stated in my previous post, don’t ask me where I get this stuff. For inexplicable reasons, I got three erasers out of the pencil drawer. I went upstairs and handed one to each of the guys. I then said Mommy had behaved badly; that a lot of ‘bad behavior’ had taken place in their room and that we were going to erase all the bad behavior away.

Well, we did just that–air erased all that ‘bad behavior’ away. I’ll be darned, that insane little idea changed the mood for the day. The boys got their acts together—as did I—and we had a great breakfast and a good rest of the day.

Next post: a few tips on how to make the parenting journey a little more manageable!

Back to you:

Have you lost it as a parent? If so, what did you do to ‘turn it around,’ as Hubby likes to say? What were the results? By all means leave a comment! And please SHARE the content on Facebook–or your preferred social media platform(s)–should you feel the desire to do so! That would be greatly appreciated by me! Thank you!

**For those who want to catch up on this series:

Discipline Vs. Control–Part 1

Discipline Vs. Control-Part 2

Discipline Vs. Control-Part 3

Final word: it’s Election Day! Get out there and exercise the freedom to vote! Every vote counts!

Thanking you for your time and wishing y’all a blessed day,

Joanne

©Joanne C Timpano, 2018, 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.”

person-red-sport-game-football

www.pexels.com

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. 😉 )

fullsizerender-1

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).

 

 

Posted in Discipline vs. Control, Parenting, Uncategorized

Discipline Vs. Control–Part 1

Welcome! A much-belated happy new year to all! Not one post in on the parenting series, and I’m already behind schedule!

Let’s go straight to some definitions.

According to Dictionary.com, discipline has several definitions; among those training, punishment and instruction to a disciple (i.e., student).  

Control, on the other hand, is to exercise restraint or direction over; dominate; command. (This one can give me the heebie-jeebies when I see it in action, or how its negative effects can manifest themselves.

Aside: Two quick thoughts: EVERYONE wants to be in control and NO ONE wants to be controlled by someone else. Just bear with me on this, parents. I’m not giving free rein to any child–no matter the age–just yet! 😉

Real-life story illustration (from 2012; Older Son was 16 years old): On the Saturday before Christmas we’d just gotten home around 8:30 PM from a family get together. Within the hour, I’m hearing kids’ voices outside calling out to Older Son. I figured they were coming from another friend’s, who lives three doors down from me. They came in for a minute then headed back out.

One of the girls in the group often complained about her parents being strict, especially her father. After the kids left, Hubby asked if that particular dad knew his daughter was out walking around at that hour. I had no clue.

Didn’t think much about it until the next day, when Older Son’s girlfriend dropped in, along with her mom. She was among those  who’d stopped by the night before. I mentioned Hubby’s comment about the other girl walking around at night. Older Son’s girlfriend’s mom went off a bit on her daughter, after she realized her daughter and the other friends wandering around the night before had essentially been stranded at a neighborhood restaurant (which amounts to a 25-30-minute walk from my house). Sounds like a disagreement between the kids at the restaurant resulted in their ride being cancelled by the boy whose dad was supposed to provide it.

My immediate thought was: my kids would never have thought twice about calling me to pick them up. The girl with the strict dad might have been afraid to call. My son’s girlfriend stated, “We didn’t want to bother you,” and the other boy who was with them rarely asks for a ride from his parents. (His stepdad watched his toddler brother while his mother worked on Saturday nights. His father lived about a half-hour away.)

The situation made me feel really good about my relationship with my kids to that point. When they were really young, I found it very tough and often terribly frustrating to manage (a.k.a. control)  busy boy behaviors. Seems like back then it was all about them getting to do what I wanted or expected, and I often felt resentful during those times they did not. (Sometimes I still feel that way, lol.)

Too many times, I grappled with whether I was being permissive or letting them make choices out of respect for them as people, especially after I’d set a boundary then found myself discussing/negotiating it. (That’s a supposed no-no in the way of effective parenting, or so I’ve been told here and there 😉 ).  Maybe what appeared to be negotiating then was my way of thinking aloud and making sense of the process as I lived it. (I still do that and my poor kids have to listen to it, lol. Good thing that older one is patient!)

Respect for my children—and for children and teens in general—is something that helps guide me in this process. We’ll talk more about this in the subsequent post. In the meantime, please go ahead and add your thoughts and experiences on this subject. Not an easy one, but one that is manageable with a shift in mindset.

One more request: if you like what you read here, would you kindly take a second and click the  Facebook, Twitter and/or any of the share buttons below? (Feel free to post share links at any site not represented here you feel might benefit from the content as well.) Reblogging is nice too, and helps get word out to others in cyberspace. By working together, we can each get our content and our names out to that many more people. Your efforts are greatly appreciated!

This article certainly appeared shareworthy. Check it out!

Have a wonderful day!

Joanne

©Joanne C Timpano, 2017, content and images.

 

Posted in Commitment, making time, Parenting, Reflections, Uncategorized

Spend Time With Them! (Part 3)

Hello, everyone. Let’s pick up where we left off last time. Also, if you need to catch up, here is the link to Part 1.

celebrate life plaque

Everyone is busy. Let’s own that.

Let’s also consider some fairly easy ways to work together-time into one’s busy day.

Sometimes, it’s a mindset. If whatever you’re doing is a necessity (i.e., making dinner), find a way to involve your kids. (And yes, sometimes it IS far easier–and faster–to get the job done yourself.)

Meals: Kids can tear lettuce for salad, count out baby carrots for snacks, fold napkins, set the table.

Laundry: Let kids fold laundry or match socks. (A direct, life-skill application of some of the skills kids learn in pre-k, or through pre-k aged activities—more on that in a future post.)

“Table Time”:  Have kids do their homework nearby (i.e., while you’re preparing dinner). Simple crafts a child can complete without a parent’s help are ideal at this time too.  (That’s a great way to work in fine motor skills too! Examples: Make a macaroni necklace, paint a page from a paint-with-water book, etc.) Allow a younger child to read to you while you’re engaged in something else.

Schedule a DOABLE amount of time for something you and/or they enjoy (i.e., snuggle time to read a book, play a game, etc). Even 15 minutes works, and sometimes, two quarter-hour slots are easier to find (or make) than that one 30-minute period.

When they were too small to walk, I’d hold them while I sang and twirled to show tunes I’d play on CDs. (It’s even easier to find songs with YouTube.)

When weather allowed, I’d take them to the school yard, walk behind them while they rode their bikes, dragged them to the tennis court. (Older Son still plays with me every now and again. BTW, this blog-post talks about working in fitness time. Use your creativity to make it work for you and your kids together!)

As my kids got older (i.e., middle school age), just sitting at the dinner table longer with them and their friends—vs. jumping up to get everything tidied up—often resulted in some of the liveliest, bond-building chats we’ve had. We still have them every now and again.

And this segues me right into a biggie: HAVE DINNER (or one meal*) TOGETHER AT THE TABLE, per day, if possible.

I understand parents’ work and kids’ school, homework and/or activity schedules don’t always jive. Even a meal together once or twice a week will suffice—and what’s currently happening at my house these days. (Older Son works until 7:30 PM at least three evenings/week. His commute is 30+ minutes, depending on traffic, and he goes to school all-day Saturday.)

For those of you with older kids involved in extracurricular activities, work, etc, hold the meal until later, assuming you can. Or, set the table and eat as a family with whoever is present. (Lately, Hubby and I are home alone. Most times, we’ll still sit at the counter and eat together, rather than plop in front of the couch while we eat.)

*MAKE FAMILY MEAL TIME A DEVICE-FREE TIME. Parents too! No TVs on, phones or tablets at the table, etc—except, of course, when the US Open Tennis Championships are rescheduled to Monday b/c of rain. Then this Mom is allowed to tune the iPad to the match and have it on nearby while we eat. Being flexible is important! 😉 .

Relative to social skills and the autistic student whose family studies during meals. (I mentioned him in Part 2.) Family meal-time isn’t necessarily magical, but opportunities for sharing with potential resultant bonding, closeness and—yes, life-skill-learning—abound. And for some children, particularly those with special needs, that social piece might wind up being more key than the academics. Just MHO. (Perhaps I’ll talk about that in a future post.)

I hope you found some ideas here. And please keep this reminder: Don’t allow this write-up to make you feel guilty, that you’re not doing enough, etc. (Society will imply that from all angles. Reality is far different.)

So what are some ways you spend (or have spent) time with your children? Don’t be shy! Someone might be inspired!

Until next time,

Joanne

©Joanne C Timpano (content and images), 2016. All rights reserved.

Posted in Discipline vs. Control, New driver, Parenting, Uncategorized

Don’t Assume They’ll Stop

Good day, everyone. Not sure how the end of the calendar year has crept up on once again. Thanksgiving and hectic–I mean holiday 😉 –season around the corner. Wow.

This is geared toward the parents of teens, in particular, those with driving permits or brand-new licenses.

Yes, we do hand kids the keys to a lethal weapon, don’t we now? But in the interest of letting go, this is a B-I-G piece of the package. Sooner or later, most children in our society benefit tremendously from that monster shift in independence. (Under the correct circumstances, parents do too. Trust me. They LOVE running errands when that DL is shiny-new.)

That, to me, is the parents’ role: prepare them to function independently in their worlds.

BUT:

Any parent who’s made the lateral move from his/her vehicle’s command-post to the passenger side of the front seat knows the nail-biting experiences to which I refer. Being a second-son veteran of this coaching process, I can assure you it (usually) improves as the child’s experience improves.

Having said that, the most important defensive seed I can plant in my child’s mind is this: DON’T ASSUME THE OTHER DRIVER WILL STOP.

Forget who has the right of way. I can’t speak for other areas, but in my suburban neighborhood and surrounding towns (an urban and suburban mix) the STOP sign seems to have gone invisible.

I remember being taught to stop about five feet before the corner, and then slowly and carefully inch out into the intersection before making my move.

Around here, on a good day, a driver will approach the stop sign at full-speed and maybe come to a complete stop a good three-quarter of its length past the corner. Others just go through, especially when they’re turning right. (That left or straight through is even scarier. Just yesterday, Hubby was almost hit, when someone blew off the sign at a very busy 2-way-stop intersection a few blocks from our home.)

Oxymoron--yes?
Oxymoron–yes?  (Image courtesy of Flickr–by Daniel Ramirez)

Another biggie I’ve come across with Younger Son: What does a yellow light mean?

I emailed this link to my current driver-in-the-making after one of those we’re-turning-the-car-around-right-this-second moments. He sped up at least 10 feet from the yellow light then hesitated before making a left turn against the red!!! (We went straight home from there. It took a few days, but my stubborn one finally acquiesced to: “Maybe I ran it.”) A little humor helps to illustrate the point, especially when dealing with know-it-all-teens—part of their developmental stage. (I wasn’t humbled out of my own-who-knows-more-than-moi-about-kids until I gave birth to this one in particular, after enduring 13 months of constant crying, but that’s a story for another day.)

Which brings me to the most important point: DON’T BE AFRAID TO IMPOSE LIMITS, especially relative to driving.

Hopefully, doing so has been part of the parenting process all along. There are no guarantees, but if children have been raised with the consistency of parent(s) setting and enforcing boundaries when the kiddies are little, the better the chances that older children will respect your say-so when they’re way too big for me to drag to their rooms, lol. And it’s not like I can jump from passenger to driver side either.

Have you started driving with your teens? What is the most important thing you want them to remember when you’re not there to guide them? What is scarier–driving with them, or them taking that monster machine on their own? Do you have any fingernails left?

Wishing all of you the best,

Joanne

Posted in Discipline vs. Control, Parenting, Uncategorized

Respond Vs. React (or Why Are You So Dumb?–Part 3)

Welcome back, all. Between less structured summer days and a laptop that needs a li’l TLC, I’m feeling a bit disorganized and out of sorts. Please forgive my delay in getting this post up. As always, I’m hoping all is well with all of you.

happy garden spot
The sunflowers in my yard have morphed into perennials. No complaints from me. 😀

The happiness of most people is not ruined by great catastrophes or fatal errors, but by the repetition of slowly destructive little things.— Ernest Dimnet…(from Don Charisma’s awesome blog–EVERYONE should take a minute and check it out. Just sayin’ 🙂 )

This is a great segue into where we left off last time. We were discussing shaming children in public, the possible consequences and a more positive way of responding (vs. reacting) to an incident I observed while standing in line at my supermarket. (Read Part 1 and Part 2, if you so desire, and please remember to come back! 🙂 )

The night before I wrote this post, I was doing a little cleaning on my enclosed front porch, killing some time while I waited to pick up Younger Son at a friend’s. Outside, the wind had picked up, strong enough to rattle the windows.

Behind me, I heard a loud thump. Attributing it to the wind, I turned toward the (glass) front door and startled BIG-TIME to a face behind the door.

Younger Son had gotten a ride home, saw me from outside and decided to have some fun.

“Please don’t do that again,” I heard myself say, in a calm voice that belied the heart beating and the short breaths going on underneath.

Okay, this didn’t take place in public, but I realized practicing my response over the years—with my guys, and with my school kids (lots of opportunities for practice there 😉 )—helped me to not react. (“Are you out of your ________ mind?” Are you stupid, crazy…?”)

I’m far from perfect, but it’s easier to lose one’s cool when one is behind closed doors–when no witnesses are around. If one has managed one’s behaviors under those circumstances, one can hope to have it even more together out in the world.

Here is an effective way to practice: next time your child does something outlandish that catches you off-guard…(drum roll, please…)

Do.

NOTHING.

What????

Okay, so do this instead: take a step back and then survey the situation.

Honestly, unless your child is in immediate and/or imminent physical danger….

Do. Nothing.

While you’re “doing nothing:”

Get your bearings.

Replay the scene in your head,

Imagine how you might handle the situation via more positive words, actions, etc.

If you need to, write down exactly what you want to say.

Rehearse it.

(Replaying the scene and scripting your response has its place—pinky-swear!)

Once you feel confident–or at least have an idea of what you want to say and how you want to say it, go to your child and address the issue.

“Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” Ephesians 4:29

Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Experience you’d like to share? Please feel free to do so in the comments, or by contacting me privately. You never know who you might help by putting your story out there.

Have a wonderful day and many thanks for your time,

Joanne

© Joanne C Timpano, content and images. All rights reserved. Continue reading “Respond Vs. React (or Why Are You So Dumb?–Part 3)”

Posted in Discipline vs. Control, Parenting, Uncategorized

Does Culture Determine Dysfunction? (Part One)

Hello again! I’m hoping all is well with everyone, and thanking you yet again for giving of your time to stop in!

Let’s go right to it:

“Dysfunction is dysfunction no matter what the culture.”

Someone said that to me at least 20 years ago, and I’ve never forgotten it. I’m not sure I agreed with the person then, and I’m still on the fence about it now.

I recently read, A Plain and Fancy Christmas, a novel by author Cynthia Keller. (BTW, this is not a review of the story.)

FullSizeRender (2)

In this switched-at-birth story, a young, Amish-raised widow (Rachel) learns she is the biological daughter of non-Amish (a.k.a., “English”) parents. About mid-story, Rachel takes her 10-year-old daughter (Katie) to New York City to meet their blood relatives.

They all go out to dinner. Rachel’s biological parents are thrilled to meet their only grandchild, and behave as “English” grandparents might.

Here is a snippet from page 168:

The waiter came over to ask if they were ready to order.

“Katie,” Gil (her grandfather) said, “do you know what you’d like?”

Rachel bit her lip. It was…not right for an eleven-year-old to be the center of attention this way, all the grown-ups fussing over her and allowing her to order her food first. This was not their way. She could imagine how upset her mother would be if she knew.

(edited for brevity) Rachel leaned over to her daughter, whispering in her ear to remember her manners, no matter how nice and casual everyone was to her.

This passage struck me immediately, and got me thinking about how our cultural backgrounds impact the way we raise our children and judge their behaviors.

What Rachel perceives as ‘wrong’ is based on her Amish upbringing.

The “English”—or those raised in a Western, American-type civilization—tend to openly dote on their children and lavish them with attention. The “English” often allow their children a voice, typically asking for input and offering them choices. We see it as part of helping foster the self-esteem and problem-solving abilities that ultimately result in independence as adults.

That brings me back to my original question: Is dysfunction culturally determined?

My gut, coupled with my education and life experiences to this day, suggests that it is.

Disclaimer: I am not saying anything and everything kids want is okay. (That applies to adults too.) Perhaps this is all my IMHO, but murder, hurting others purposefully—you know, meanness, in general—is a no-no regardless of culture, race or religion. (Certain religions, however, might disagree, but that’s not what this is about.) What I am saying is the “English” tend to be driven by “if it feels right” it’s probably not necessarily bad.

Our culture (i.e., social mores, etc) impacts how we live. When a family is raised with two (or more) cultural backdrops, rules, choices and opinions might conflict.

To keep from getting too long-winded in this post, I will reflect on this topic in more detail next time.

Until then, what are your thoughts on the initial question? Do you agree? Disagree? How much weight do you give your child(ren)’s input on a given matter? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, or you can always email me here: joanne@joannectimpano.com.

Have a blessed day,

Joanne

 

 

 

Posted in Discipline vs. Control, Parenting

What’s My Motivation? (Part Two)

Welcome back and thank you again for your time and support.

Summary of Part One: Younger Son was two hours shy of his Saturday basketball league’s first game. His brand-new, unused sneakers didn’t fit. I had gotten him that new pair about two months prior, at his request. He wanted to go to the store to make an exchange, two hours prior to the start of his game.

Dad honored Younger Son’s request AFTER I turned him down.

As I stated in Part One, had I been the only available parent, Younger Son would not have made it to the store that Saturday—but not because I wanted to make a point or zing him with the lesson.

My main motivation for not taking him to the store was honest. At that moment in time, I wasn’t in a position to do so.

Mind you, I’m still not completely sure about Dad driving him, but that was Dad’s decision to make. (We both try to be highly supportive of all—appropriate—choices Younger Son makes relative to physical activity. He struggles with his weight and used to be much more of a sedentary kid.)

What I’m saying is, I didn’t want my decision to be made out of spite or resentfulness that my son hadn’t “listened to Mom” the first time. (That’s about my ego, which we can discuss another time.) More occasions for shoe-buying will come up, and I can use this experience/life lesson as a gentle reminder behind a (firm) decision on my part that we’ll wait before picking up that next pair too far ahead of time.

Here’s a flip-side to that coin: Kids are pretty savvy. Most of them get ‘the bigger picture,’ and can read into a parent’s actions. They’re also pretty good at picking up the vibe(s) underscoring them.

Chances are (there are no guarantees here), if Younger Son sees my decision was made out of honesty and not b/c I wanted to assert my authority out of the motivations I listed above, he will be less oppositional and/or resentful of not getting his way. Fingers crossed—he will be more willing to heed his parent’s advice next time.

If he wants something that badly though, he might still put up a fuss. He is human, and as far from perfect as the rest of us. But he—like each of us—is a work-in-progress. And a lot of those life lessons are beginning to add up to a pretty likable 16-year-old. (Well, most of the time, anyway!)

Any thoughts on how Dad and I handled this? Would you have taken your child to the store? How might you have reacted to his or her request in a similar situation? Have you ever taken the time to examine the motive(s) behind the choices you make where your child(ren) are concerned?

I so appreciate your feedback. Please post comments and experiences below. I love questions too! Let’s make this site a community gathering place where we help each other by not being shy. (For those who are shy, you can always send an email via my CONTACT ME page.)

Enjoy your weekend,

Joanne

© Joanne C Timpano. All rights reserved.