Sunday, 20 March 2011

To clean or not to clean, that is the question!

My wonderful husband is not only a wonderful husband but also an amazing dad. Usually very even tempered and fair, there is only one thing that tips him over the edge when it comes to our girls’ behaviour. And that is Molly’s ‘floordrobe’.

It does make me sad also that every single article of clothing she owns is strewn over her bedroom floor and that the wardrobe and chest of drawers sit there redundant; their doors and drawers fully open in a begging ‘fill me’ stance. Yet I know that when I was her age my bedroom floor looked exactly the same! When I ask her to tidy the clothes and give me her dirty washing she does so, some of the clothes make it into the drawers, and the rest are screwed up and shoved in the bottom of the wardrobe. They stay there for 24 hours max. I have learnt to pull the room door closed and have chosen to ignore it; sadly Steve struggles with my decision.

I have just read a great book called ‘Boundaries with Kids’ which affirmed my stance on the ‘floordrobe’ situation. We tend to parent in the present without thinking of the future, dealing with the problems at hand; forgetting that the main goal of parenting is raising our children to be responsible adults. If I were to clean Molly’s room every week, putting away her clothes for her, picking up everything she dropped what would that teach her? Would her future husband be happy with having to pick up after her? I would love to see Molly lying in bed each night in a beautifully tidy bedroom. However my helping her to keep her room tidy would not be ‘helping’ her future. She could develop a character in which she could feel entitled to everyone else’s help. This character trait could also end up playing out in other aspects of her life. Tidying after our children will not teach them how to be responsible for themselves and have respect for their belongings.

When you are a parent, you help create your child’s future. The patterns children establish early in life (their character) they will live out later. A character is always formed in relationship; never underestimate your role as parent in developing this character. As it says in Proverbs 22:6 “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it”

I can’t recommend this book highly enough as it tackles all age groups, from infancy to teens. It looks at issues such as inattention to parental directives, defying authority, whining, aggressive behaviour, school problems, conflicts with friends, sex, drugs and gangs. This book is not ‘problem centred’ but ‘principle centred’ in that it is organised around key concepts that will help children take ownership of their lives.

The suggestions it makes are geared much more towards how we as parents behave with our children than toward educating our children. Learning boundaries has a lot to do with going through experiences, receiving consequences for that behaviour and therefore learning to take ownership of one’s actions. As we learn to require responsibility from our children, they learn the value of being responsible. The process begins with us.

‘No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.’ Hebrews 12:11

Boundaries with Kids – Dr Henry Cloud & Dr John Townsend Zondervan ISBN 0-310-24315-7

Also one for us adults which is a great read too!

Boundaries – When to say YES and When to say NO to take control of your life - Dr Henry Cloud & Dr John Townsend Zondervan ISBN 0-310-24745-4

I will be getting copies of both books for the Barney’s library.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Hugs, cuddles and love!

We are stuck in a blur of evening school meetings at present. Last week choosing year 10 GCSE options for Alice, this week A level options for Molly and next week Alice’s parents consultations. Still I can’t think of anything better to do on a Thursday evening that hear from other people about how wonderful our girls are, it’s a lovely treat.

It was interesting this Thursday, as we got out of the car, to hear from Molly, our 16 year old “OK parents, today there are rules; Dad you can’t hold my hand, Mum you can, but I would prefer if you held my arm. Dad please don’t say anything embarrassing, Mum please don’t let him! Once we are inside school no physical contact unless I initiate it OK? I know that you love me and I love you too, but those are the rules”

Oh how they are growing up. Touch is the first expression of love that goes beyond words. Touch is your first communication with your baby, and throughout life it remains our most vulnerable and tender connection with each other. I am a physical contact person, I love hugging and being hugged; just a touch or squeeze of the top of the arm can convey your love for someone. Molly has always been the kind of child who would love to be inside my skin if she could, physical touch means so much to her. However, it now seems we have reached the stage where it is totally uncool to be seen in public holding Mum’s hand!

Every touch has a feeling that comes with it. A light soft touch expresses your warm feelings for a person; it says “I like you”. A warm gentle hug conveys “I’ll take care of you”, an affectionate embrace says “You’re safe”.

Have you ever noticed when someone takes your hand or touches you with love and sensitivity that a wonderful phenomenon occurs? Stress and tension dissolve. Fear recedes. Babies fall asleep in such soothing arms; children unwind and calm down with a gentle reassuring touch.

And a word to the wise: experts agree that premature sexual experimentation stems from a hunger for loving touch. So hold and cuddle your child as much as you can. As they grow, give affectionate hugs when they are near, snuggle up on the sofa watching movies or reading books. Hold hands if they will let you. But remember, never force a touch or a hug on a child; like all of us they have a right to maintain a comfort zone around their own physical space - as we were informed on Thursday night!

Molly didn’t want me to hold her hand, but I caught her leaning into me, sitting close to me; her way of touching without too much closeness, but maintaining the comfort levels she needed from me. When a child gives you the go-ahead, it’s ok to reach out with tenderness so that your touch is a compassionate source of comfort now and always.

‘Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God.’ 1 John 4:7 NLT

Friday, 4 March 2011

Just where is Tiredsville?

“I am tireder than I tired thing from Tiredsville!”

In order to substantiate this statement I guess we first need to know:

· what a tired thing is
· just how tired the tired thing is
· where is ‘Tiredsville’
· how tired do you have to be to be more tired than the tired thing
· and just what on earth am I rambling on about?

Parenting brings on these moments of tiredness that are totally indescribable. Mainly because you are unable to string two words together because you are so exhausted and your brain has turned to mush.

I remember when my girls were first born, those first few months of every three hours, night and day, that were so totally debilitating. It was a real struggle moving from Saturday and Sunday morning lie ins, with a newspaper and a cup of tea; to the overnight total lack of regard a small person has for their parent’s rest and relaxation routine.

I longed and fantasised about the day when I would not feel tired anymore. I knew that then my life would be great. I even started recognising different types of tiredness:

· the foggy tiredness, when you move and act automatically and are somehow unable to make decisions beyond the next 10 minutes, the next hour, the next day.

· the intense bodily tiredness where your entire body feels as though it is wading through porridge. It takes an enormous effort to walk, bend down, get up, even blink!

· the tension tiredness, where you neck feels tight from the base of your skull to the tips of your shoulder blades.

· the numbing tiredness when you can't feel anything. Not happy, not sad, not upset, not excited, not guilty or encouraged.

· and then the tiredness where you feel everything at once. Sad and happy and angry and scared and laughing and crying.

I still long for and fantasise about the day when I will not feel tired anymore. The small person drops the night feeds, sleeps through, but still gets up early. The older they get the later they go to bed, but they still get up early and your day gets busier with running them here and there and running after them here and there. What you gain in sleep you expend in energy. The even older they get, the even later they go to bed and it has been known on more than one occasion recently for my two girls to ‘tuck me in’ at bedtime. The good news is they then sleep in until midday, the bad news is you are up early bringing them tea and a newspaper in bed – the good news is you get to wake them up to give it to them! Ha ha! Revenge is sweet (tee hee).

I’m off to Tiredsville to find out what a tired thing is. I guess I am looking for something that looks a bit like me. I will start my search by looking on the inside of my eyelids.

Hope you all have a restful weekend, sleep well x x x x