Opinion Saturday

A few weeks ago something ‘mysteriously’ got broken at our house. I narowed down the suspects to two, but could not get a confession out of either child. This was frustrating for several reasons: first of all I wanted to know who deserved the lecture, but even more important, I want my children to be truthful.

Both children stubbornly denied the wrong-doing. Finally in a flash of inspiration, I said, “Here’s the deal, kids. I need to know who did this. If neither of you confesses, you will both be spending the afternoon cleaning out the garage. BUT if the person who did this is honest and confesses, neither of you will get a consequence.”

Ten seconds later, I had an embarrassed confession, much to my relief. I was able to have a serious talk with the guilty party, AND I got to thank the child for choosing to tell the truth. It was one of those moments that left me thinking, “Wow, THAT went well.”

SO here’s your Opinion Saturday question. Do you have a moment in parenting like that? A flash of inspiration that gave you an effective solution to a troubling problem? It can be something as small as getting a baby’s diaper to fit better or as big as supporting a depressed teen, or anything in between. Now’s your chance: brag about a flash of brilliance you had that made you feel competent as a parent, if only for a few minutes! 😉

You have until Wednesday evening to share your best tidbit of parenting genius. The person sharing the best tip will win the Golden Keyboard Award. So come on, hit me with your best thought!!

{ 18 Comments }

  1. Carolyn says:

    Many years ago my daughter who was then 14 and who now has two children (and may read this) lied to me about where she was going and with whom. She was not yet allowed to date at 14 but went on a double date with her best friend and two older boys to a professional baseball game no less. I felt betrayed that she had broken trust with me which had not happened before this. I decided that the issue truly was trust and that she needed to realize just how important trust is. So I didn’t punish her in the traditional sense but told her that because I could no longer trust her I would need to start checking on her everywhere she went until she regained my trust. This was truly harder on me than her but she never knew that at the time. For weeks I called school, church her friends homes everywhere she went to ask if she was there. I did try to do it in a manner that was not embarrassing for her being aware of how tender are the sensibilities of teens. I think it did make an impression on her about the issue of how important trust is and that it has to be deserved. She’s now one of the finest women on the face of the planet so something went right!

  2. There are many moments I can think of but in order to fit this into a small paragraph I will tell you my latest inspiration which I may or may not have blogged about I do not remember… Anyway the boy who is 15 had begun swearing A LOT which was really bothering me. He was sort of doing it in that unconscious way that teenagers sometimes do, I guess to be cool or whatever (I wasn’t sure where it was all coming from)? I would constantly call him on it, but it continued unabated UNTIL I had an inspiration. Every time he swore, I would say the exact same word but using its actual definition. so if he said “F***,” I would say “sexual intercourse”. If he said “Sh**, I would say “feces” and on… Worked like a charm. I couldn’t believe it actually, but he was so grossed out by hearing me say those correct terms right at him (sort of the way I was grossed out by his vulgarities)that it truly stopped the swearing. Now he is almost vulgarity free (at least around me) and since it appeared to have been a sort of a habit, I have a feeling he is not doing it as much around his friends. Also he knows that when his friends are around, I will do it in front of them if I hear him swearing, but I promised him a warning first so as not to be too embarrassing.

  3. “…made you feel confident as a parent, if only for a few minutes.”

    Isn’t that the truth! I know I have lots of good moments, but they are so quickly overtaken by those other kinds of moments that it’s hard for them to even get registered in my memory– or so it seems from my inability to think of a whole lot of possibile answers for your question! (On a related note, I loved that post you nominated on “Perfektion”!)

    I honestly just have to give direct credit to God for most of my moments of inspiration, such as the following. A few months ago we had to begin homeschooling my oldest boy on an emergency basis, earlier than we had planned to make this move. (This is my guy with high-functioning autism, OCD, some developmental delays and learning disabilities that lay overtop an otherwise very intelligent mind.) His “self-esteem” was as low as it can go.

    I became convinced that the right thing to do was to hold him back a grade level. Though I knew he could probably push ahead with many subjects at grade level once he healed a bit emotionally, I also knew that he is really about 2/3 of his age developmentally, and this simply makes a big difference. I had subtly floated the idea a few months before, in less dire times, and the reaction I got then indicated that holding back was apparently the WORST possible thing you could do to a boy. (Even though grade level is less of a deal at home, he would realize the bump back he’d taken in curriculum, still see many people he knows in grade-divided activities elsewhere, and feel it later when, hopefully, he’ll be able to ramp back into a classroom situation for a couple of years in high school.) How could I present this again and make this somehow OK with him in his fragile state, without making him feel even worse?

    I prayed a quick prayer about it. Poof! Instantly it occured to me that we had, in a way, “held back” my 2nd son, who is, obviously to all including my eldest, EXTREMELY bright. He has a late August birthday, and we followed the school’s recommendations for not starting boys in kdg until at least 5.5, even though he could have started at 5 -even. Then it occured to me that one extraordinarly kind, cool, smart (you name it) boy in my eldest’s class who is admired and loved by all, including my son, has a birthday that indicates that his parents “held him back” by starting him in school quite late.

    I told my son that sometimes parents find that kids–especially boys– just do really WELL when they get the chance to start school a little later, and be a little older in their class. I pointed out how we had done that FOR our 2nd son, and how the parents of the admired boy at school had done that FOR him, and how we just really wanted to be able to do that wonderful thing FOR him, too. We talked about how we might handle some of the awkwardness of that and, miraculously, it was completely OK. Total peace in the whole thing. Thank you God, for the inspiration!

  4. ??

  5. Wow – I loved iagreewithme’s post! BRILLIANT!

    My kid is 3 and has to be force fed. This often times ends up being a HUGE battle of wills and is usually the most frustrating part of my day (WHAT KID DOESN”T EAT PANCAKES!).

    I found that she won’t eat broccoli or rice but she WILL eat cougar bites and Rhinocerus guts. So every meal now, I pretend she found some flamingo eyes or alligator teeth and that SHE IS EATING THEM—- OH NO! DON’T EAT THOSE DELANEY — NO! (insert histerical little kid laughter and joy of naughtiness here while she chows down).

    Works like a charm.

    Jamie

  6. GREAT topic, Mary. I did a post over at my place on this today: http://rocksinmydryer.typepad.com/shannon/2007/03/weve_been_clean.html

  7. Tina Roberts says:

    I just love this topic, and love getting new tips. I will be using the tip from Rocks in my Dryer in the near future!
    My tip is similar. I have lots of children, and sharing bedrooms is a fact of life around here. We have had as many as 5 in one, though that was temporary. As you can imagine, when it is time to clean up the mess, there is a lot of one kid waiting on the other to do it, and bickering. I learned years ago to send them in there one or two at a time, and tell them to just pick up and put away what they care about and don’t want to lose, because when they are finished, I will know what is to be sent to the garbage or thrift store. I do send the most guilty party in first, so he/she has to clean up her/his mess. I don’t let them just hide it under their bed! It has to be in a proper place. When they are done, I go through with a thrift store bag and get rid of what is still out, and then get them back in there to help me pick up trash, if any.
    Now, armed with the tip from Rocks, I can get those drawers and bins decluttered with less trouble!!!! Thanks!

  8. What an excellent topic! You can never have too many tips and ideas for the journey of parenting.I

    My tip concerns helping with household chores. I have two children and getting them to assist with household chores was becoming an enormous chore in and of itself. We have now instituted a plan we call “Commercial Cleaning”. On Friday nights after supper, we turn on a family-oriented television show, usually something that we have recorded such as “The Planets’ Funniest Animals” The chores for the each person have been written out by me. We sit and watch the show until a commercial comes on, then we all race to our tasks and do as much as we can during the commercial. Everyone is to be back in their seat by the time the commercial is over. This generates lots of fun and the chores go much more painlessly. This leaves Saturdays open to other fun activities. There is no nagging or complaining. We have a snack when the chores are done. Give this a try at your house and see if it works for you as well.

  9. as a mother of 6 and with 2 more here most of the time I feel that this type of event happens quite often. I am not sure what they think will happen if they confess to the deed without prompting. I have raised the children where they know the two things I hate is lying and stealing. They know better but will confess best if they are talked to in the same manner you did

  10. My tidbit of parenting genius is….*drumroll please*….talk to the man. Yes, that is to say, the Husband/Father figure. This bit of hideously shameful “weakness” is the most brilliant solution to troubling situations that I have found. My DH has so much wisdom, and so often I plum forget that he’s there, that God has given him to me to be my sounding board and my guide in this parenting gig, and that he often has far more patience, insight, and scriptural advice than I do myself. Often he has been able to discern what the “real issue” is behind the surface problem and then together we can present, as a united front, a strategy for dealing with the offender(s).

    So often as moms, and especially if we are stay-at-home moms, we work ourselves into the positions of The Great and Powerful Oz, and our husbands are simply the Men Who Sleep and Eat Here. If we involve them in the childrearing decisions, both painful and pleasant, then our relationships with them, and our children, are strengthened.

    This probably wasn’t what you were looking for, but your question sparked a real introspection in me, and I realized that I am guilty of shutting DH out when he is, in fact, my biggest blessing in times of crisis, both with the kids and otherwise.

  11. This may not be brilliant, but it just came to me out of the blue, and it worked. It happened just this morning. My daughter didn’t want to get in the bathtub. It’s Sunday, we were supposed to leave for church in an hour, and she NEEDED a bath. She was being a real stinker. Hubby already had the other 2 kids in the tub. Finally, I took a look at her and said, “C. You are NOT going to win this one. You will take a bath. So either you walk in there and willingly get in the tub, or Daddy will put you in kicking and screaming, but either way, you’re going in. So I suggest you decide to take a bath and be nice about it.” Well, wouldn’t you know, it wasn’t five seconds before she was stripping off her nightie and stepping in the tub. Score one for Mommy!

  12. My flash of brilliance was when I started reading this blog:
    http://www.parenthacks.com/

  13. soluis (granpa to 3)

    This may be sounds strange, but it is the truth. Since I ever remember my Father never asked me about school results or whatever. However, He was always talking to me about how he had spent his childhood, how difficult it had been and so one. Results? I think they were good, because I just followed this very same method and everybody in the family thinks and acts in a nice way. Lies or reprimands – what for? No way…

  14. Wow, how often do we have the chance to reflect on the proud parenting moments? How nice!

    I teach my kids to say “no”. I think it’s an important life skill–to recognize your intuition and set boundries.

    So, when my 4-year old doesn’t want to hug everyone in the room goodnight, I encourage him to say “not tonight. Goodnight everyone!” Or when my 6-year old has had enough of a tickle-fest, she has the right to say “no, stop!” and we will respect that.

    My hope is that this skill will be useful to them as teens and young adults, when they are faced with more dangerous situations.

  15. Wow, how often do we have the chance to reflect on the proud parenting moments? How nice!

    I teach my kids to say “no”. I think it’s an important life skill–to recognize your intuition and set boundries.

    So, when my 4-year old doesn’t want to hug everyone in the room goodnight, I encourage him to say “not tonight. Goodnight everyone!” Or when my 6-year old has had enough of a tickle-fest, she has the right to say “no, stop!” and we will respect that.

    My hope is that this skill will be useful to them as teens and young adults, when they are faced with more dangerous situations.

  16. Wow, how often do we have the chance to reflect on the proud parenting moments? How nice!

    I teach my kids to say “no”. I think it’s an important life skill–to recognize your intuition and set boundries.

    So, when my 4-year old doesn’t want to hug everyone in the room goodnight, I encourage him to say “not tonight. Goodnight everyone!” Or when my 6-year old has had enough of a tickle-fest, she has the right to say “no, stop!” and we will respect that.

    My hope is that this skill will be useful to them as teens and young adults, when they are faced with more dangerous situations.

  17. Yes to teaching your kids to say NO.

    Dawn & John, you’ve really got something there!! Sometimes we get so hung up on teaching our kids to respect us (and grandparents and teachers and the lady at the supermarket) that we neglect teaching them how tp respect themselves and their own bodies.

    Thank you for putting that out there.

    My “aha” parenting moment came while reading Alfie Kohn’s “Unconditional Parenting.” Love your kids all the time and act like it all the time.

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