Monday, April 04, 2011

Parenting 505: Life with Bedlamites

To do lists vs. To be list.  "As a parent, when can I check my child off my list as 'done'? We are never done being good parents, and one of the most important things we can teach our children is how to be more like the Savior.  When children misbehave, we often misdirect our discipline on what they did, but the do is only a symptom of an unseen motive in their heart. What attributes if understood by the child would correct this behavior? How do parents teach these attributes to our children?"

[paraphrasing and thoughts] Discipline should not be done in anger, but meekness and love. It is teaching, not just punishing. They learn of consequences connected to behavior, but they also need to learn doctrine of the spirit so they can become better people, not just act better when we are around. The sword only focuses on behavior, or the do, not on the be.

Those with meek and gentle children are enrolled in parenting 101. Those with children who push the limits of our patience are enrolled in parenting 505. "Consider the more challenging child as a blessing. Could it be possible that you need this child as much as he needs you? Be careful to not say things that imply that their behavior is who they are. They are God's children. That is their eternal identity and potential. Bad behavior is an act, not identity." Elder Lynn G. Robins, April 2011 General Conference (Watch it, it's super great!!)

This was probably the most poignant talk out of the 10 hours of  "church instruction" for me this General Conference. There were tons of wonderful talks, but this was the one that seemed written for me. He spoke of being vs. doing and how we need to have both aligned together or we are hypocrites if we outwardly do but aren't inwardly converted or self-deceived if we think we have faith but our actions are not in line with the Lord's will. Such a fantastic talk. I need to read/watch it 5 more times now. Every sentence had a little nugget of wisdom I could ponder on.

The terrible threes are in full swing at our house. Dean has been acting out physically quite a bit at home, preschool, and church. I have witnessed him hitting, kicking, body bumping, stealing other kids' things out of their hands, and pulling hair.  I have been told of him throwing things at other children (including a brick!), as well as the afore mentioned things. I have been called to pick him up early from preschool, and he's been taken out of Sunbeams and brought to me because of bully behavior. It's easy to start thinking of him as "the bad child" (and Walter as the "good child") or "the bully."  But really, I'm doing him a disservice to follow that thought since his behavior is just an act, not necessarily who he is.

Today at the grocery store, he wanted a gift card while we were returning an item. I said no, and he started throwing a whiney fit and then hit me. Yes. He hit me, and the cashier gasped. He lost his computer, tv, and wii privileges for the day. But that obviously wasn't the key to stopping his behavior. When we came home, he continued kicking Walt and even went so far as to hit Walter on the head with a cooking pot.  What am I to do???  On bad days every interaction that doesn't go exactly as he thinks it should results in a major flailing melt down. On good days those melt downs are limited to maybe 4 or 5.  It definitely tries my patience.

So I re-watched this talk from conference yesterday, and there are so many helpful truths in this talk. While I do try to teach him to recognize how his actions affect others, a lot of our discipline in our house focuses on behavior, and truth be told, a lot of it is done with an angry, frustrated voice. Bullying is something I despise, and I can't stand watching him hurt other kids. Yet, disciplining in anger is just another form of bullying to try and get him to behave better. Parenting is definitely the hardest endeavor I have ever undertaken, but I need to learn and re-learn, and remind myself daily that this is the proving ground. This is how we are tested and tried. This is how we learn to become more like our Savior. I need to refocus my perspective, respond with more love and meekness, and remind myself to not only act as the Savior would act, but be who he wants me to be. The more my character and actions reflect the Lord, the easier it should be for my kids to do and become more like him as well.


AmyJane said...

I think every mother (and father) I know needed that talk desperately. Parenting is HARD stuff. It is. And three year olds? The hardest. Seriously. Two year olds are still innocent enough that the tantruming and misbehavior is bearable. But three is a challenge. The year Patrick was three I was convinced that he would grow up to be a deviant, if I didn't kill him first. The closer and closer he got to his 4th birthday though, we started having whole days where I liked him again! (Always loved him, hard to like him for awhile in there...) And then age 4 was a serious breath of fresh air. While he still has his moments, I can honestly say that from about2 3/4 to about 3 3/4 was the hardest year I've had with him. (And yes, my daughter is right at the beginning of this age. And yes, it's just as bad!)

Sam said...

This is the one talk during conference that REALLY moved me. The one that is JUST for me. I have listened to it now multiple times and still tear up. Riley is 13 now. And it is very challenging. Katie is turning into a YW and Ellie is nearly 10. It is almost like having large toddlers. Some days I am not quite sure what to do with them. Maybe we should have gotten dogs? I love my kids, but man, parenting 505 is tough. But love is tougher.