I have had numerous people say to me in the last month (and also in the past) that I must just have easy kids with easy personalities. So, I personally think my kids are awesome and I am proud of them. But they are not somehow super easy and we just sit back and watch while they happen to turn out great. It's actually offensive to me in some ways. While these people's children run around acting like hyena's that cannot control themselves, they look at my well behaved kids and note that mine must just be easy. If only...
My kids are selfish, irritating and a pain in the tush just like all kids (and adults) are. They are not amazingly easy. We practice "get off your butt" parenting. Parenting from the couch or being so absorbed in what's going on in your own life that you can't take the time to deal with your kids will not result in a very desirable outcome.
Dave and I are on the same page. We do not contradict each other on discipline issues in front of the kids...EVER. The kids understand that they can't "work" one of us to get what they want. We do not argue over who gets to handle a situation or care for the kids because we are a parenting team.
We avoid any kind of "adversarial" parenting. Like I said in the last post, my kids are not someone I have to win against. I need to help guide them. God has entrusted Dave and I to raise these 4 children. That's a big and important responsibility. We try to keep in the forefront of our minds what kind of adults we want them to be. I think this post from Adventures in the 100 Acre Wood describes well our thought process. I love Tim's words to live by.
While I want to have a great relationship with my kids, I am not their buddy. We play and tease and the kids know they can talk to us about anything. But they also have a healthy dose of "fear" about our response to bad behavior. By fear, I mean a bit of awe, not a cowering, scared fear. They respect us. Respect is earned, and I think we've been able to earn their respect so far. They do not like to disappoint us.
We don't practice classic "Gentle Discipline". I am not always gentle or positive. For me personally it's not a reasonable method. While I want the kids to have great self esteems and never be fearful of me or Dave, I also have a certain level of good behavior I expect from them.
We don't spank, slap, flick, use physical punishment or traditional time outs. We take the kids lead on what type of discipline they need. A couple of them need firmer boundaries than the others. Ephraim is going to be one that will test us often, but we will not just say he's "strong willed" and work to "break" him or even shrug our shoulders because he can't control himself. Dave and I will be patient and work through what he needs to help him to be the best he can be. Even when my kids are very small, I don't have to run around keeping them out of trouble. Through being aware and alert, I learn how to stay on top of them until they understand what kind of behavior is correct.
I'll end this post now and pick up tomorrow with some specifics of what we do. I hope this is helpful for someone that is struggling. It is hard for some to merge the thought of well behaved kids with a lack of spanking. It's doable, trust me. And it's not because God gave me perfect little angelic babies...though they are fantastic and beautiful. I could not have asked for more blessings than the Lord has given me. I am so grateful.