Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tailor Made

All of the AMAZING photos are by the Beautiful Brooke of Brooke Photography
I don't know about you but the most difficult parenting skill to learn for me is consistency.  I am not necessarily aiming to make everything fair or even for each child, nor do I always respond to an action with the same reaction.  What I do mean is consistently providing for each child what he or she needs at the time.  That could range from standing outside, in 32 degree weather, making sure those laps being run up and down the street are finished appropriately, to stopping cooking dinner for a family of eight, and  kneeling down to explain for the 20th time that she will be eating with in the hour, so a snack is not a wise choice right now.  Meeting a child where they are at and personalizing our parenting according to the specific situation and need is way easier said than done.

As I am sure you have figured out by now, the Hubster and I have had a wide array of parenting experiences.  We have children who would oppose correction with every fiber of their beings, children who quake in their shoes when a voice is raised slightly, and quite a variety in between.  Within our parental hearts and minds, being consistent is often confronted with guilt, impatience, as well as exhaustion.  Too often, I try to avoid the effort it takes to do the job right the first time, only to pay for it in the end.  (Ironically, I have had that talk with quite a few of my kiddos, some more recently and frequently than others) So far, five out of my six kids have brought me to tears because of my fatigue due to the repetition and tenaciousness of a situation with them.  The reluctance to follow through with consequences such as returning gifts or canceling birthday parties hinders many opportunities to train our children.   I can't count how many times I have witnessed an infraction that I "didn't have the time" to deal with, only to be presented, sooner than later, with another opportunity to follow through and sharpen my parenting skills.  This time though, I have to take on the previous groundwork my lack of effort had inadvertently laid.  Still, it is the Hubster's and my job to do what we signed up for, raise responsible, respectful, and reachable children.

Schulze Girls
So, how do we do it?  To be honest, I am not fully sure myself.  I do know we depend a lot upon God's wisdom, hoping we hear His Spirit speaking to our hearts. Our parenting consists a lot of fixing our mistakes and admitting we were misguided in our child rearing blunders.  Our kids learn about humility, how to handle mistakes as well as apologies.  Although, in certain situations, we need to stick to our guns no matter what.  At the tender age of five we could have sworn that our first born child was on the road to law school. We often could be found succumbing to his logic, only to shake ourselves and remind us and him just who the parent was.  Other children of ours are quite convincing with their untruths (OK, lies).  Our solution was to present the consequence to all six siblings in hopes the true offender would fess up.  One child in particular would stand her ground while her brothers and sisters joined her in the discipline du jour.  Although, Usually, the peer pressure helps the guilty party to cave. Occasionally, we have had to switch gears and confront our child with the blind faith that what our parental instincts were telling us was true.  

 Many times, the Hubster and I are not on the same exact page in a certain discipline matter, that is when we use the "fall back" method.  We usually move to neutral ground (our bedroom) and discuss our game plan.  After some agreeing and conceding has been accomplished we move forward in what ever plan has been generated.  We actually put this tactic into practice just a few hours ago.  I loved that we listened to one another, called the child into our headquarters, listened to him, dismissed him, constructed our plan, called said child to return, and laid the prospective program out for him.  No chaotic emotions at all.

One of my favorite tools is the "self created discipline".  One child, in particular had this "making things bigger thing" mastered.  For instance, trying to avert a massive breakdown, I instructed my son to go to his room, calm down, and then he could return to the rest of us.  As he STOMPED to his room he was easily heard shouting, "I DON'T WANT TO GO TO BED WITHOUT DINNER!"  To which I stated, "Hmmm, I hadn't thought of that. What a great idea!!! OK, when you are in your room put your jammies on.  You will be going to bed soon after."  Another of my children tried this tactic and realized, rather quickly, it wasn't for her.
Schulze Boys

The old, "Peanut butter sandwich and water" treatment works for three of our kids, but not for the other three.  I don't cook for people who are disrespectful to me so, someone else makes the necessary meal.  For half of my kids missing out on the regular meal is detrimental.  My oldest daughter would prefer that fare more often than not.  Her big brother is allergic, and her youngest sister could care less. 

Singing, hugs, hands on noses, foreheads on walls, holding hands, happy hats, sitting in on classes, random dancing, chores, writing, exercise, repetition, missing out, are all items we use to encourage our children to do the right thing.  

Preventative maintenance, though, tends to help all of the above be fewer and farther between.  Taking the time to listen to, snuggle with, and attend to my child minimizes his or her demand upon me and/or the Hubster.  Nightly dinners around our table are imperative.  We catch up on each other's days, reminisce, plan and bond.  Just by eating meals together we express how important our kids' thoughts and ideas are to us.  The kiddos' individuality blossoms around the table.  I don't know of a better place to get to know your family let alone anyone else.

With all of our strengths and weaknesses, successes and mistakes, similarities and differences, it just goes to show parenting is not a "one size fits all" venture. Good parenting needs to be "tailor made".