Orifices, Boys, and Family Values.

I’m taking an amazing class called “Simplicity Parenting” and I love it.

It’s really made me think about all aspects of my parenting and the message’s I want to send to my children by how I respond to situations and to them.

The most valuable so far has been around family values.  It’s interesting to actually sit down and write out the “values” that I am interested in fostering and protecting in our family and the actions I take or discussions that I have with the kids as it relates to the actions, behavior, or habits we develop in the home.  I’ve found it to be a starting point for collaboration with them and one that seems to be having an impact… at least on one of them.

Last night my son ( age 6) was enjoying a one way dialog on a subject I call “poopy” talk.  What is it with boys and poop, phart, pee-pee, burp, penis, booger, butt, smelly butt, “Ba”-gina and every other orifice and unpleasant word and function of the human body that requires constant hommage and reference?   My daughter has taken the high road in these situations and simply looks at him over her glasses in her oh so mature nine year old way and simply says:

“Really Shaw?”  in such a way that might create immediate shame and repentance in even the most criminal of behavior.

It simply makes him giggle with glee to have his discourse corrected by her and of course serves the purpose of having him ratchet it up a notch.  Giving him the attention he wants has a way of now making the one who is calling him out the subject the OBJECT of his affection making it a much more “personal” attack on the caller – outers orifice’s.  The talk turns to :

“YOU are a poopy head and YOUR butt smells….” ( for example)

I knew what was coming and planned on jumping in but I think she handled it beautifully:

“You know Shaw, since you are going into the first grade and still wet the bed it makes sense why you need to still act like a baby and use those words…. and, ….those words do not fit into our family value system at all… do they mom?”

Now… I find it fascinating that she used shame (which is not a family value) and blended it seamlessly with our family value system in order to pull rank in the situation.

But on the flip side?

It was effective – he stopped the potty talk in mid expletive, and she was able to divert his attention away from HER orifice’s and onto HIS.

Brilliant. That girl is going places.

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Desperately Seeking Discipline

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As a parent, I have to say that I am often completely out of my comfort zone when it comes to discipline as a practice.  How to discipline effectively, compassionately, and firmly.  I’ve been a complete victim to the awful advice of every conflicting child “expert” on the market- so much in fact, that I’m left with a head spinning, and a heart that feels overwhelmed and conflicted. At times I feel like a complete idiot as I scramble through pages to find the solution to an issue as if looking for ingredients in a recipe book.  Why is parenting so freaking difficult?  WHY oh WHY are we not required to pass a doctorate level parenting class before taking these little bundles home?

Give time outs- Don’t give time out’s
Give them choices- Don’t give them choices
Use rewards- Don’t use rewards
Praise your children- Don’t Praise your children

I’d been hearing about Kim John Payne for a couple of years, but I’ll admit, I’ve become a bit cynical.  What could he possibly have to say that has not already been said?  I mean, there is a reason my blog is called “alone” in the childerness? it’s because essentially – NO ONE has any real answers and as we all know, our babies don’t arrive with operating instructions.  The only thing anyone has ever said about parenting ( and I doubt they were an “expert”) that rings completely true is:

“Kids are like pancakes- you always mess up the first one.” (well there it is in a nutshell)

and then….. I signed myself up anyway to attend his workshop and hear him speak at our school this week, and…. I’ll be darned if I don’t feel like I actually have a good grasp on his concepts and more importantly (insert trumpeting heavenly horns) I have

HOPE

The talk was so great, and interactive.  I learned concepts that are both completely obvious and entirely counter intuitive! (love that combo!) It also did not hurt that he is side splittingly funny and had all of us laughing in that omg relief laughter that comes from knowing that where you once felt completely isolated and alone as a parent, you also realize that you are in fact part of a living breathing organism of parents who all feel exactly the same way:

CONFOUNDED

and utterly stumped as to how to do the very best for our own “unique” child/children.

Kim’s guiding principals are easy to practice, and completely effective (trust me I have been trying them out all afternoon!)

So, for what it’s worth – run, don’t walk to get a copy or find out when he is coming to a school or community center near you.  His new book The Soul Of Discipline is not out yet, but you can get his best seller Simplicity Parenting as a starter.

If as parents we all had the foundational tools his method explores and effectively demonstrates I think the change many of us seek in the world at large would be more readily available… discipline, I think, is an entirely rare commodity in America these days, and in finding the “soul” of discipline,  I think it’s possible that we may also find our own.