Thursday, February 18, 2010

I'm About to Put the Hammer Down...

Convoy: by CW McCall

Was the dark of the moon, on the sixth of June
In a Kenworth, pullin' logs
Cabover Pete with a reefer on
And a Jimmy haulin' hogs
We 'as headin' fer bear on I-One-Oh
'Bout a mile outta Shaky-Town
I sez Pig-Pen, this here's the Rubber Duck
An' I'm about to put the hammer on down!

I love this song. The truckers vs. the police or "bears." It was the litmus test for our Spanish foreign exchange student to see if he really understood "American English." And I've been thinking about it all morning long. You see, every Wednesday, I go to a class held by Marie Ricks of "House of Order" fame. And last night we covered the topic of children. Helping them become obedient and self reliant. The short title would have been, "Parenting: Taking Back the Reigns."

It was NOT a comfortable class. The premise being that children will get away with as much as they possibly can; and that to teach effectively, you need to be PRESENT and CONSISTENT with them until they can manage age-appropriate tasks on their own. Here are some highlights:

"Children will push the boundaries of acceptable conduct their whole lives while they are under your roof. It is only when you stand firm that they understand where the edge is. You may have to leave the grocery store, you may have to go home from a wonderful activity, you may have to postpone or be late for your own meetings. But it is more important that they understand those boundaries so that they can self govern when they are older..."

"Of course this is time consuming and difficult - you are raising children, not dolls!"

"Children are about as obedient as you expect them to be."

"You don't need to be mean, you just need to be firm."

"You need to first model the behavior for the task, let them try, and then follow up with enormous amounts of specific praise... a child will not believe that he is "good," but he will believe that you feel proud of him for hanging up his coat nice and straight in the closet..."

Needless to say, this is a weak spot for me. I have felt tired and unmotivated to go, find the child, and wait for them to do everything that I ask. Let alone be patient and even tempered. My voice pitch and anger have just taken the familiar paths of escalation until I got compliance. Or... I just decide it's not worth the fight, and drop it.

But today dawns the New Day. Parents in Control Day. We have a standing rule that you don't go to school until your bed is made, you are dressed (in clean clothes), and everything is picked up in your room. The kids have made tacit attempts, but truly, neither of their rooms could be considered "clean" by any stretch of the imagination.

So we are starting again. Stating the rule beforehand in a calm, neutral tone: "You know, you don't go to school until your room is clean." Then watching over them - in their presence. I let Matthew pick his opponent first. He picked Benjamin - The Easy. I got Abigail, aka "The Hoarder." It has been a loooooooong morning. You can not imagine the surprise on my daughter's face as I plopped down on her bed and said, "Well, I'll help where I can, but you have a big task to tackle this morning..." In P.J.s, and patiently working things through, it only took from 7:30 am til 10:30 am. They are both late for school today.

And we're supposed to do this for A WEEK! Watch over, guide, neutrally react, and teach. "We hang those up on a hanger. Garbage goes in the garbage can. Dirty socks go in the hamper." Stating the job, not commanding or threatening! Being CALLLLM!

In the program, we then move to R&R: Return and Report. Where they know the standard, and they return to tell us that it is done, and we "reward."

Then move to SI: or Self Reliance. Where they do it without being asked, without reward, but understand that it is just expected in our home.

In the clean chapel with all those other women, I can visualize it in my head. I turn from the Ogre to the Sweet Fairy Tale Mother that I always wanted to be. Oh, no, I do not have delusions that this is a primrose path that runs by itself.

But I realize that sometimes, [and with parenting - most of the time], I have to put what I want on the shelf, so that I can take the time to parent. Yeah, sure it is easier to be lazy and yell, but that is not why we had children. This is not gonna be fun, but it will have to get done. Not because I'm a neat-nick, but because I need to prepare my kids to live on their own - and quite possibly teach, and have, kids of their own. Scary thought today.

Heaven help us all.

So to my Pig Pens, this here's the Mama Duck,
An' I'm about to put the hammer down...


Danika said...

So what happens when you are firm and consistent and have already put the hammer down (many times) and your children are STILL not self-reliant or obedient?!? That's the answer I need...

Katrina said...

Sister Ricks would say: "When you have Family Council, you talk to the children about the need to do "X" in your family, and have them commit to do it. Practice scenarios, and have the children come up with solutions.

Then, you - as a parent - follow up with them. They will test these boundaries their whole lives - it is an ongoing process.

But children who learn to self-govern in their youth are less likely to engage in pre-marital sex and drugs. If a child will not be taught obedience when they are 6, what will you do when they are 16? Now is the time to be obeyed..."

Meredith said...

You are so right. Mine are doing pretty well right now - knowing they were getting new Ugg boots on Valentine's day really made them be on their game. And the threat of taking the boots away...I just need to do it when their bed is unmade and all. It all comes down to mom being consistent. How can expect them to do it when I don't always model it???

Cyndie said...

Mine have self reliance in spades--it's the obedient/compliant aspect that we're lacking. Staying neutral is tough tough tough for me.

Unknown said...

"They will test these boundaries their whole lives - it is an ongoing process."

LOL Katrina, that's exactly what your parents say ;-)