October 15, 2019

It’s about Relationship

A mom in a large homeschool group I moderate recently posted this anecdote:

Today, I am "that weird…mom." I didn't ground my son from video games or whatever normal people do. No, I banned him from paper for the day....

I [verbally] corrected him…about his chores while he was holding sheets of paper he was going to draw on, so he angrily threw them to the ground. I immediately told him to pick them up, so he [did]. [But then he] crumpled them up, which he also knew better than to do. So, I told him he was banned from paper for the rest of the day.

He whined, "But what if I need it for my schoolwork?"

I just replied, "You won't," and went back to what I was doing.

So, no paper...No drawing, making airplanes, or crafts of any kind with paper for him today. I feel kind of bad taking one of his favorite hobbies
from him for the day since he's so creative, but that's part of trying to raise good people, I suppose.

The story is a perfect illustration of what Kathy Koch advises in Chapter 6 of Start with the Heart: “When you think about what logical consequences, treats, and bribes might motivate and help your children, think about who they are.”

For many kids, banning the use of paper for a day would be silly and irrelevant. But for this boy – whose mom obviously knows him very well and understands the need for consequences even when issuing them makes us uncomfortable – losing the ability to have paper for the day was logical (and also somewhat natural, given that he’d crumpled up and essentially wasted at least a few sheets).

Over the years as I’ve parented, I’ve seen lots of “parenting systems” come and go. Generally speaking, these systems promote using the same techniques delivered in the same manner with every child, promising “well-trained” children if the parents dutifully comply with all of the system’s precepts. This view treats children as if they’re robots or, perhaps, products on an assembly line instead of uniquely-designed human beings. I get angry with those promoting such lies and grieve for parents who buy into them.

Consistency in parenting is important. However, that doesn’t mean subjecting our children to a sterile, inhumane “system.” Good parenting is much more complex than that. Good parenting means taking the time to know each of our kids so intimately that we’ll learn when to most effectively teach, when to coach, when to cheer, and when to referee. It means we’ll come to understand what motivates a particular child at different stages of his life and then be consistent in the application of what is logical for him in that season. And it means we adapt our parenting techniques as each child grows and matures. It’s not about a system; it’s about relationship.


Photo Credit: Valerie

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