Ken Alexander, husband of Lori Alexander of The Transformed Wife sounds off this morning on how to raise kids with a post about his grandchildren. He claims that he and Lori raise them with joy, not allowing any emotions but joy. He even goes so far as to claim that they put any grumpy kids in the ‘Grumpy’ chair and that the kids go to it with joyousness. In the Alexander household not allowing children to own their emotions is Godly?
Here’s what Ken had to say:
Ken seems to completely miss that ‘Grumpy’ can also be code for ‘Unmet Needs’ more than a demonic lack of joy. Joy, geniune joy that is, cannot be manufactured upon demand. In many households in QF where parents insist on joy or else the children learn to quickly and effectively fake expressions of joy. Much like retail workers or customer service reps faking concern while effectively doing their jobs. Is that really a lesson you want your children to pick up?
Back to unmet needs. How many times have we seen children whine, cry or be just particularly unpleasant because they were tired, or hungry, or any one of a hundred other needs. Imagine trying to turn off meeting a genuine need by insisting that the child sit in what is essentially a ‘Time Out’ chair?
It’s a much better parenting mode to determine what’s going on and to deal in reality with the situation. Is the child crying because they’re exhausted, or perhaps coming down with a cold, or hungry? Putting a falling down tired kid down for a nap is kind, merciful and good parenting. Putting them in the time out chair for having needs is cruel.
Parenting in Evangelical Quiverfull seems to believe children are mini adults, having the same expectations you would have with a genuine grownup instead. Kids aren’t always effective in expressing why they are out of sorts, and assuming it’s some sort of grumpy demonic rebellion is thoughtless, needlessly cruel and abusive parenting.
I guess we should be grateful that Ken Alexander is not advocating Debi and Michael Pearl’s advice about enforcing attitude with a 1/4 inch piece of plastic plumbing pipe applied liberally to the bare buttocks.
Heck, even adults can benefit from looking at what needs are being unmet when their attitudes shift negatively. I know now that if I get suddenly unreasonably angry that I have a bad asthma attack on deck within 30 minutes. I have learned that I must stop, medicate and go lay down for a few minutes until it passes to keep from being an enormous jerk to others and ended up in asthmatic distress.
Many of my friends have learned that they must do self-care when their moods shift or to prevent a situation. One might have to do certain things before spending time with problematic people. Another I know well knows that if she starts feeling certain emotions that it’s not a sin, that she stops and does her self care ritual to shut it down.
When my youngest had her health struggles with her immune system issues it didn’t take much to make her fearful, or dealing with the emotions of being sick, or the treatments. I remember so many times when she acted in a way contrary to what an Evangelical would deem acceptable. I’d usually get her to lay down in my big bed, on top of the comfy feather mattress topper to watch a favorite video. I’d bring her cocoa and a snack. Usually that little break, a time out from the crisis was enough to have a smiling and calm little girl emerge after the rest and snacks.
Plus this is not at all how you should use a time out, not to force joy. You’re better off using it as a time of reflection the child, which is an important tool in the arsenal of self-regulation tools taught at places like childrens residential treatment centers. Teaching children ways to deal with their emotions is much better than any amount of punishment.
I’m sure the Pearls and the Alexanders would view this as ‘spoiling’ a child instead of showing kindness and mercy in the midst of pain and worry.
If adults struggle with emotions and moods it makes sense that children with their imperfect control, growing selves and inexperience with life would also struggle. Be kind, gentle, merciful with them. Meet their needs. Teach them self regulation in a non-blaming way. Don’t put them in time out for having emotions.
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