Monday, November 8, 2010

Parenting thoughts

Okay, I absolutely must preface all this by saying the reason I need to read and think about these things is because I need to improve.  Not because I’ve already perfected the things in here.  Why when a person writes down their aspirations for others to see can it sometimes seem to those others like they’re already good at them?  Let me ASSURE you that this is not so.  I’m not already good at these things.  In fact, reading some of this makes me feel a little sick because of how poorly I do.  Hence, my posting it.  Okay, now that’s out of the way.  (Oh, and also, if after reading this you are inspired and decide you will immediately become a much more perfect parent today or tomorrow, be prepared for one of the worst days ever.  At least, that’s what happens to me on such occasions.)
So, I came across a blog and a few quotes recently that have really helped me want to improve my mothering –and all that that entails.  I don’t think there is anything new or different here, but they were helpful and timely suggestions for me, and I thought maybe someone else would also appreciate them.  So, here they are- just in a long list.  Read or skip, as you will.
This one was a comment made on a blog post that was talking about an article called ‘Are we raising a bunch of idiots?’   The comments started discussing all kinds of things, but this one really nailed how I feel (I can’t give credit except that her name is Michelle):
But the general point I think is that we need to parent with deliberateness. I think it’s too easy as parents to be passive (and that can show up in myriad ways). As I have thought about this, I have found that it’s so easy to be acted upon. I feel the Spirit more as a parent when I’m active. So I’m trying to be more deliberate, asking myself, “Why are we doing this? Why am I doing this? What is really the right thing here, given our situation, our goals, our kids, the big picture?”
This could go for pretty much anything. And it can also even boil down to simple decisions. Am I doing what is easiest, or am I being deliberate about taking time to teach and interact in those fleeting moments that come? How many times have I done something that I could have instead handed to a child to do so they could learn a new something.
It goes along with this quote:
"We hold in our arms the rising generation. They come to this earth with important responsibilities and great spiritual capacities. We cannot be casual in how we prepare them. Our challenge as parents and teachers is not to create a spiritual core in their souls but rather to fan the flame of their spiritual core already aglow with the fire of their premortal faith."
~Neil L. Andersen
The following quotes are ones I’ve just picked out here and there from a blog called Asking Jane.  I don’t actually agree 100% with everything she says, but she sure does have some great ideas.  And reminders about things like this are really good for me.  In fact, I should print them out and tape them on my walls I think.  The address is
You realize by now, that by "loving", I don't mean permissive.  I mean clear, consistent and firm.  But in a way that always communicates love.  In most cases that I've observed, anger comes when children feel dominated, forced and backed into a corner.  When they feel listened to, respected and securely loved, they almost always become more reasonable.
You can kill this sensitivity in your children if you are in the habit of using harsh punishment or discipline. It may take a while for their consciences to respond on their own once you instead take the time to help them really tune in to it. Ease up on the way you discipline, avoid force. Don’t frame things up with consequences “if you do that one more time….” but instead take in the situation, figure out what you are trying to teach, and patiently keep teaching it. You’re not allowing your child to run wild, but rather very actively taking the time to know your child and lovingly helping him to grow in positive ways.
This reminded me of something I read from a ‘compassionate parenting tip’ I get in my email once a week or so.  (To be honest, usually I delete it after a VERY quick skim, if that.) 
"As long as I think I "should" do it, I'll resist it, even if I want very much to do it."
- Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D.
When you make demands of your child (or of anyone) you can expect some kind of resistance, either active or passive.
This is logical when you consider how important it is to all of us to more choiceful in our life, and to not be subservient to anyone.
If you wonder why your child is being "uncooperative," check to see if you have made a demand, or if he or she is perceiving a demand from you. You can ask yourself: Do I want him/her to contribute to my well-being willingly or to obey me out of fear?
And also similar to another quote:
"Each mother and father should lay aside selfish interests and avoid any thought of hypocrisy, physical force, or evil speaking. Parents soon learn that each child has an inborn yearning to be free. Each individual wants to make his or her own way. No one wants to be restrained, even by a well-intentioned parent. But all of us can cling to the Lord."
~Russell M. Nelson

And back to Jane:
My very wise uncle, who had raised a very large family said at the end, “I think the only time we really mess our children up, is when we become overly anxious about them.” A loving, accepting environment brings out wonderful things in children. Doesn’t it bring out the best in you? That’s why the golden rule is a good key. When you have to say no, say it lovingly. “ I know. I wish we could stay here at the park all day. But we have to go home and have a snack.” Then pick them up and soothe them to the car. In this way, even saying no can strengthen your bond. They feel understood and sympathized with rather than dominated.
But really try to connect many times a day.  Look right into his eyes and make sure he feels all of your warmth and love. -My mother's favorite piece of advice was "let them see the love light in your eyes". Just look right into their eyes and think "I love you" without saying it. They feel it entirely.
Teach him appropriate behavior.  We often tell children "no" without being really clear about what we want them to do instead.  Have him practice little good behaviors like sharing, touching people's faces softly and gently, coming right when you call and then reward him.  Praise even the tiniest success.
That's really why I write this blog--to tell you the great secret--that you are free to love and enjoy your children without worrying about ruining them.  When they sense your constant disapproval, they'll be discouraged.  When they feel deeply approved of and accepted, they will thrive.  Think about the way your husband treats you and what kind of treatment brings out the best in you.  Especially when you are undeserving.   It's a universal principle.
I've approached the Lord with confidence for help with my children and I've been blessed with ideas, resources and even miracles. Raising a family "unto the Lord" has made me feel a very strong and deep connection to him and a sense of purpose and mission that gives meaning to my everyday life.
Much like that, is this from Steph (

Every day I try to truly see my children - to get down on their level, look them straight in the eye and really listen to what they’re trying to tell me. Of course I don’t always succeed, my New Year’s resolution was to spend just one hour a day giving my full and complete attention to each of them. Every time I remember to pause for a minute and do so, I validate my kids and send them the message that they are important and what they think and do matters.

Other thoughts.
"Love doesn't just sit there, like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new."
- Ursula K. LeGuin
When kids can count on opportunities to express themselves and to be heard, they are less likely to nag and whine.
They can relax, knowing you will make time to hear them. Look for (and engage in) listening opportunities - long car drives, a walk after dinner or a talk while you're doing dishes.
And here’s another quote, not about parenting, but that I came across and thought was worth remembering.
A good marriage is a bit like a pet boa constrictor: either you feed it every day or bad things happen.
(Except, of course, that boa constrictors don’t have to eat every day or even close to it, but you just have to be forgiving and go with the analogy on this one.  :)  )


Kristine N said...

wonderful thoughts. Thanks for sharing. I admit, I'm usually pretty passive, not really considering the larger goals I have with regard to parenting. This is a great reminder that keeping my larger goals in mind will help me be more consistent, and I hope more loving.

nicole said...

I find myself not knowing when to start introducing spiritual things. My dad has said even babies feel the spirit, and I believe it, but it's a bit weird to bear your testimony when your kid is bouncing around oblivious to you.

Maybe I'm always underestimating my kids and what they can understand. That's something I need to work on.

Kris said...

Great ideas! I definitely needed to hear the quotes about punishing. One thing I recently learned was to focus on the GOOD behavior and reward those, instead of always the bad, which I knew, but needed to be reminded of. I need to sit down and think of rewards that may be little, but that will be something that will encourage my kids to be obedient and listen the first or 2nd time I ask them to do something. I think I have too high of expectations for them at times, but don't want to just let them get by with whatever they want at the same time, know what I mean? Anyway, thanks for sharing!

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