Cooking is definitely NOT one of my favorite things. I love to eat – but getting things from a handful of ingredients to completed food on my plate is a struggle for me. Somedays I only see a bunch of ingredients – not the finished product or what it could be. I look in the refrigerator and give up before I even get started. “Pizza it is,” I want to say! LOL I have great admiration for people who love to cook and make it look so simple!!
In raising children, I have found a couple of similarities to cooking. I love children and teenagers. I love my own children and grandchildren as well as other people’s kids. However, sometimes getting them from “ingredients” to fully grown is hard and not always pleasant. I enjoy the end result – but the day to day of getting there can be frustrating and overwhelming.
Correcting a child for the one hundredth time each day gets tiring. There were days while raising kids and disciplining them, I will admit, that I just did not want to do it anymore. I wanted the result – well behaved and respectful young adults – but getting there was so.much.work!
When the kids were small, we said the word, NO, a LOT!!! At one point, we even nick-named one of my sons “No-No” because it was said so frequently. Sometimes, I just wanted to let them run amuck and hide in my room alone because I was tired of repeating the word “No” over and over for the same things each day. I remember telling one of our kids to stop touching the woodstove and attempting to play with the handle. No matter how many times I said no, or picked him up and moved him to another part of the room, he kept going back. It was exhausting!! Why didn’t I just give up and let him play with it? I mean it was summer – it was not hot – it was not going to hurt him… at THIS moment. The fact is, I knew it could hurt him later. There would be a time that this behavior could result in a severe burn. Taking the time to correct the behavior (no matter how many times it takes) prevented my son from having great harm later.
As children get older and turn into tweens and teens, the behaviors and privileges may change, but the rules and consistency cannot! The rules in our home never changed: Obey the first time you are told, be respectful to authority and to each other, accept responsibility for your behavior, apologize when you are wrong, and clean up after yourselves (I liked this one a lot, 5 kids can make a big mess!). My husband and I figured this pretty much covered all the things and we could add “addendums” to those basics rules as we went and as the kids got older. We repeated rules often, reiterated them to each child when a mistake was made. We reviewed why the incident or behavior was wrong and then gave them consequences to their choice/ behavior. There was ALWAYS a consequence, never a ‘pass.’
These rules were our ingredients and the recipe for our final result: Responsible, respectful adults. It did not happen by accident. We, as parents, made mistakes along the way! When we did, we got back on track, sometimes apologizing to our children for our mistakes, and then pushed forward. Just like I cannot throw ingredients in a bag and shake it up to make a meal, or leave an ingredient out of the recipe and expect the cake to taste delicious– I cannot be inconsistent in my parenting or the rules that we set for our home and expect our kids to become what we hope for them to be.
Many parents come to my office asking for assistance with their child in regard to behavior, grades, etc. I always come back to the one key thing in parents: BE CONSISTENT.
In other words, let your yes mean yes and your no mean no. Do not waiver. If a behavior is wrong last month, and wrong last week, let it be wrong today. Correct the behavior EVERY TIME. Encourage & celebrate right choices and the positive behavior, too!
You may need to correct the same behavior multiple times per day. You may be in the middle of raising kids and feel like you are saying No to just about everything that they ask or do. Don’t give up!! Remember the goal and use the recipe that God gives us in His Word. Refer back to the Bible often for encouragement. Hang in there…. The days may be long today, but tomorrow is looking bright!