On Coming When You’re Called and Fear-Based Obedience

nervous

Yesterday I argued that we sometimes hold higher expectations for our children than we do for ourselves. One example I gave was when parents expect their children to jump up and come immediately when called while they themselves feel free to take a moment to finish something when someone else calls them.I grew up with parents who expected obedience to be "immediate, complete, cheerful, and without question." Anything short of this was considered disobedience. Half of my many siblings are … [Read more...]

When We Expect More of Our Children than of Ourselves

ipad

Some months ago Sally left the family iPad in a store. She had been reading interactive storybooks when it ran out of batteries, so she put it on the rack under the cart and subsequently forgot about it. We didn't realize it was missing until we got home. Needless to say, I was not happy. Actually, I was really quite upset. Sean took Sally back to the store to look for it, but they couldn't find it. I'm afraid to say that I was more than a little stern with Sally. I didn't punish her (after al … [Read more...]

Not All Days Are Easy Days

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One day a few weeks ago, Sally completely lost it. I don't even remember what it was about, but she just let loose. She was crying and screaming and yelling---and knocking over furniture. Sally knows that being upset is okay, but that hitting people and throwing things or being otherwise destructive is not. It was the evening and Sean was home and I was in the kitchen working on supper with things on the stove, so when Sally began flipping chairs I called Sean in as backup.Sean picked Sally u … [Read more...]

How Spanking Sounds to a Never-Spanked 5-Year-Old

girl-511880_1280

Have you ever wondered how the idea of spanking comes across to a child who has never been spanked? I wondered, too, and given that I have a never-spanked five-year-old, I thought I'd find out. This conversation is the result."Sally, do you think mommies and daddies should be able to hit their children?""No.""But what if their children do something wrong? Should parents be able to hit their children then?""No!""Why not?""They should use words, they're not … [Read more...]

In Which Bobby Tries to Communicate

Blond Boy Crying

Last week Sean and I decided to take the children to run a quick errand and then for ice cream after school. When it was time to leave the store and head for the ice cream shop, two-year-old Bobby resisted. He became upset, even when we told him the plan was to get ice cream next. Finally, Sean picked him up and buckled him in his carseat out front, kicking and screaming. I was about to broach the subject of skipping the ice cream stop when I realized what Bobby was saying. "My cars! MY CARS! … [Read more...]

But What If They Don’t Do What You Ask?

Piggle Wiggle

I wrote recently that I would prefer to teach empathy than obedience. As some readers pointed out, at issue here is also responsibility. If we focus on teaching children to obey their parents and other adults in their lives, we aren't teaching them to make responsible decisions for themselves. One of the things I try to emphasize to my children when teaching empathy is that they live in an interconnected world and their actions affect those around them. This is part of teaching responsibility as … [Read more...]

“I am so, so sorry, Bobby”: On Apologies

children-hugging

I was sitting on the couch reading when I heard a sudden altercation in front of me, a yelp, and then Bobby was crying. "Sally, do you need to apologize?" I asked. I immediately regretted the question---I should have first asked what happened rather than jumping to conclusions. I'm not perfect. But Sally's response was immediate. "Yes mom, I do," she said genuinely. "What happened?" I asked. By this time I was holding Bobby on my lap, stroking his hair and trying to soothe him. He was still c … [Read more...]


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