By Patrick Showers, Elementary Children’s Pastor
Woodland Hills Church
I have four wonderful children whom I love very much. Each is a gift of life, and I enjoy their personalities, strengths, and weaknesses. However, there are times when I could blow my top out of frustration at their choices, behavior, and mistakes. Parenting is like a pendulum swinging from joy and to total frustration. I try to make the most of those positive moments and often take pictures to keep as evidence that my kids are really great people. Yet, when the pendulum swings the other way as my children misbehave, I struggle to retain my cool and determine a way to help them learn from their mistakes. Often, overreacting isn’t just their issues but mine, as well.
I learned long before I became a parent that I tended to overreact when I wasn’t prepared and caught off-guard. One technique I tried was to think ahead and prepare for reoccurring situations. Then I became a parent and the unexpected began to occur all the time. Just when I felt confident in my knowledge of my children’s behaviors, abilities, and development levels, they would grow and enter a whole new age-group complete with different abilities, characteristics, and challenges.
To keep my sanity, I researched parenting books and techniques looking for tools that would help me be prepared. I realized that, as a parent, I need tools and techniques to utilize in the various situations I face throughout the lives of my children. My parenting tools came from various sources. I gathered a few parenting tools from my parents, observed friends in action, read various parenting books, and landed on Parenting the Love and Logic Way.
Parenting the Love and Logic Way provides a host of general-use tools for a parent to utilize whether you have a toddler or a teen. Two of those tools really protected my sanity and equipped me to be prepared for the expected and unexpected. The first, realizing I need to provide my child with empathy before I launch into a consequence. Letting my daughter or son know that I feel for the situation she or he is in keeps the focus of the issue on the child and not on my anger while removing fodder for oppositional defiance. The second tool is setting limits I can actually enforce. Setting limits by describing what I’m willing to do or allow ensures that I can actually back up my words and consequences. For example, if my children are being disrespectful, I can say, “I am willing to help people that treat me with respect.” This also means that I don’t have to provide a consequence immediately but can wait to think it through or calm down first.
I also found that I could do things to build up my children and decrease some of the issues that might arise. By intentionally investing in my relationship with each child, I not only decreased some of the behavior issues, but I invested in a long-term connection that continues into adulthood. My wife and I have committed to giving each child at least five minutes of our undivided attention each day. We also schedule dates where one of us takes out one child at least once every other month. This can be a walk, getting ice cream, or a special activity.
Another proactive Love and Logic tool is practicing the art of sharing control. I watched for areas of our home life that my wife and I didn’t need to control. For a young child, this can be as simple as letting him or her pick between two simple options: “Do you want this shirt or the other one?” As our children have gotten older, we’ve let them have more say in family decisions, both small and large. They may decide what to have for dinner, vote on an outing activity, or even help to determine a consequence for poor choices.
Parenting is challenging and rewarding at the same time. Realizing that our children are wired to develop the skills to be independent of us when they become adults leads us as parents to realize that our job is to equip, empower, and guide our children through this process. We are fortunate that we live in an age with access to a wide variety of parenting tools and techniques. We have an obligation to develop our parenting skills whether we feel they work well or not. I was motivated because of my lack of skills and my aptitude for overreacting. You may be motivated by other reasons. Regardless, building our parenting toolbox will help us become master builders of healthy, confident, and wonderful children while decreasing our parenting angst.
Note: Heroes Gate, Echo, and Resonate have partnered up to provide parenting classes, milestone events, and skill builders. I like the Love and Logic approach so much that I now facilitate the class each spring at Cultivate. Watch for more details through any of these ministries and Cultivate. For more articles or information on Parenting the Love and Logic Way, go to www.loveandlogic.com