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Thursday, March 19

ABC (Jackson 5)

The 123s:

THINGS I wish I had understood better before I enrolled in Parenting 101, twenty-eight years ago:
     Be a parent first.  Every parent wants to be liked by his/her child, but being popular is not the goal.  Choose discipline, consequences, and rewards because you’re the parent, not the friend.  No matter what, I will always be the parent.  My “discipline” needs to reflect that.
     I can be my child’s friend – second.  Sometimes I’m their friend, and sometimes not.  Being a friend connects me with my child – but should not detract from my parenting.  Making memories is fun and important.  We did that a lot.  But whether it’s deciding on a gift, a visit to a friend’s house, cell phone usage or an activity, we need to choose because of principle and not on popularity.  Ask yourself:  why am I saying (yes, no) to this request?   
There are 3 Ds that need to be defeated:  Dishonesty, Disobedience, and Disrespect.   I wish I would have sorted through these earlier.  Once I figured out that if the infraction wasn’t one of these three, then it probably wasn’t a hill to die on, life was easier in our house.  I think if we win the battles on the 3 Ds, we will win the war.  Plus, our kids will be prepared for life – whether it’s regarding future employers, marriage, friendships, or other responsibilities.

 The ABCs:

 Ask yourself:  Is this a hill worth dying on?  If it is, then do battle until you’ve won.  If it’s not, then call a truce.  Maybe you’ll need to admit to your child that this isn’t working and you’ll come up with another plan.  Sometimes calling a time-out until you can figure out what to do will provide grace and save face (for both of you).  Claiming the hills you’ll die on helps keep you focused in the right direction.  Giving in when it’s not that I’ll die on this hill
                     makes life easier. Plus, it’s a win-win for everyone.
Be sure to make the punishment fit the crime.  Before dealing threats and consequences, figure out a consequence that fits the crime.  Match ‘em up.  I surely failed at this those first years!  If your child keeps watching a DVD without permission, time out or a spanking won’t send the message like turning the DVD off for a day.  You can be sure the next time she thinks about putting in a DVD without permission, she’ll remember what happened the last time. 
Comraderie and Communication:  working alongside a child when he’s young is better than sending him to do a job by himself (raking leaves, not cleaning the mess he made in his room).  It gives time for chatting and communication.  You get the job done together and you connect with your child.  It’s one time when being a friend is a positive thing.  Hanging up clothes on the clothes line was one of my favorite ways to nab a kid for some one-on-one time.  Working side by side brought secrets to light better than trying to get a child to tell me what was troubling him over a glass of iced tea.  Together, we sorted life’s problems, one load at a time.

Gert is a wife, mom of six (ages 18-28 : 4 boys, 2 girls), and MIL of one.  She is a writer, nurse, minister’s wife, and foster mom, and has been married for thirty years.  You can find her over at My Windowsill.
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