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― C. S. Lewis


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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Parenting AHEAD

                               (Both of my angels were adopted because of disruption)

I posted earlier about Children not being adults here.  I wanted to follow up with a few thoughts on Parental Leadership.
Our children, especially our children who have come home at older ages, have no understanding of leadership, or their need for parents.  Yes, they all want them, but they really do not know what they are. I love the Wendy description  of what a mother is:

For the child who has never had that tender hand, the whisper that bids you goodnight, the very thing they desire, can really frighten them.

Our children need our true leadership, through tender and gentle words of wisdom.  Do we catch ourselves instead yelling in the other room, "NO MORE TALKING! I MEAN IT!"   I did that once and one of the girls said back, "Anybody got a peanut?"  LOL... 
I was not taking leadership on that night. Instead, I was being lazy. 

Leadership does not mean being a boss hog.  It does not mean putting down an authoritarian dictatorship type rule, it means leading by example, and parenting AHEAD of the children so they can follow, NOT following behind, and complaining loudly the whole way as you can clean up the destruction from the path they made.

Tenderly guiding BEFORE the fact leads to SUCCESS!  "Before we do our kitchen chore, I want you to know what is expected. " Stick TO THAT expectation!  Don't make it too far out of reach, as in a goal they cannot keep, like I want the kitchen spick and span in 30 minutes and they are 5 years old.
Start with simple....
"I need you to fill this bag with all the kitchen trash!"  THEN. "Can you gather the silverware and put it in the sink for me?"  THANK YOU!  If you see them shrink back, then, tenderly helping... "Here, let me help you with that." If they are not ready, take them to the rocking chair and soothe them, then talk about what you are going to do when they are calm, and then try again. We had to do this with Anna and Alli many times.  And sing a song while you do it; it calms little nerves. :)

 And DO NOT GIVE UP until you are successful!
 I do believe thinking back on it, the first time Miss Alli had kitchen duty, it took several trips to the rocking chair, several times of me having to show her how to load the dishwasher and several little fits on her part before she finally listened. It seemed like  hours! But, she succeeded and it didn't happen again after that. 
She learned that mama was consistent and that she was safe.  When we finished, I praised her efforts and then we rocked.  During that calm rocking time I discipled her.  I let her know how much time she wasted by all that stalling and whining and melt down time, and how sad it was that now she didn't have the time she needed to play....(this is a natural consequence) I made sure she understood that I understood that she was new at this, but reassured her she would do MUCH better next time, and she needed to trust mama.  She agreed.  She also apologized and I forgave her. (This is not done in a condemning or critical tone, but a soft engaging tone of love)

When you go into the store, engage them in helping putting the cans in the cart. Get them to help you find the right products from your list if they are older. Or even organize the basket by food groups.  The next time, engage them in helping pick out the cereal of choice, giving them a voice, but make the behavior requirements the same.  Double engagement really helps to distract.  If you keep them busy, they forget about disobeying.  Stay 3 steps ahead.    If you see them headed for meltdown, divert, leave! This way, you are not reacting, but  be fully prepared to handle the hurt. When you get into the car, PRAISE THEIR EFFORTS ANYWAY (the ones they made) and tell them they DESERVE to be praised.You can talk about the meltdown later.
Parenting AHEAD, will help keep you from full blown issues both at home and out in public.

 ( For those of you with children who will recoil at praise, or will reject it and try to prove they don't deserve it,  Praise them ANYWAY!  PLAN ON FALLOUT.. and be prepared for the rocking chair.) 

It won't be long before it is normal to behave properly with little setbacks.   When those setbacks occur. DO NOT fall back on lazy parenting styles of warning, accusation, anger, parental tantrums etc.   ( the very things we accuse them of) LOL

  Reassure your child that they can be successful next time.This will make your child feel SECURE. 
They will know that you are not wavering in their dissarray, but you are the rock they need to depend upon. There is nothing more scary than a parent who is out of control.
But staying even keeled and tenderly leading them will help them begin to see that you have faith that THEY CAN HEAL, and that you are proud of their efforts, no matter how tiny the step.  Our hurt children NEED TO KNOW that we have even a smidge of FAITH IN THEM, so they can learn to trust us. If they think we view them as hopelessly flawed, hopelessly hurt and that they just need to be fixed, this will do nothing but cause them self doubt, shame and continual grief.

Speaking TRUTH into our kids is parenting ahead.   "I know you are kind" instead of "you are mean", "I know you are honest" instead of you are a liar, "I know you are respectful" instead of you are disrespectful, even if you have to say, "Deep down in your heart, I KNOW this to be true!" or "Inside you there is an HONEST girl just waiting to come out!" These are words of truth and HOPE, and just like in the orphanages, where all the kids long and HOPE for a mother and father; they can cling to the HOPE that someday they will be whole and honest and loving and kind and respectful and  secure.
Parenting Ahead, GIVES them that hope.  And it gives US that hope too. :)


schnitzelbank said...

This was a great message! "Parenting Ahead." It makes so much sense. This is actually what I try to do with my kids instinctively, and how I lead as a teacher, I just never gave it a name. I love this. Have you ever thought about giving talks to parents - at school PTA nights, or at a church? Your message is relevant to all sorts of audiences, not just parenting kids that have been through trauma.

Emily Minich said...

I love this post, and the last one, too. We always try to let the boys have a say. Usually if I don't want to give them a say it is just because I am afraid I will be too lazy to want to give them what they ask for. That is my fault, not theirs for having the guts to make a choice. So I try to always give them their choice. They pick their breakfast and lunch lots of times, they pick their next activity, and they have say at the grocery store, too. And they always pick their own clothes, etc.. They are doing amazing!

Holly said...

I like this post, it makes sense, but then again, you usually do! ;)

Michelle said...

What a great post! You have a great gift of understanding!

Goosegirl said...

beautiful post.
We are in a back-to-basics phase right now with Ahnalin. She got a hold of some Valentine candy at school with corn syrup and food dye and lied about it. These things are poison to her brain and body and she has been raging for days. Detoxing her is soooooo hard but the raging is so not worth her having even a taste of that stuff. I had sent goodies to share that she can safely enjoy, but she sneaked the other things into her mouth and hid more in her backpack. I wish her poor body could handle it, because I think her rages scare even her. I can't wait until those toxins leave her body again so at least we are working with the normal issues with her. When she has these things in her body, she will not accept rocking. She has to bang and crash and thump and slam. It is like the toxins overtake her sensory responses. I am praying that by this afternoon she is feeling better so we can do some snuggling.

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