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.

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