More Than a Baseball Game
Obedience to authority is a fact of life. Consequences for not being obedient haunt even adults. Ever received a speeding ticket? Then you understand these simple truths. One of the goals of most parents is to instill this cause and effect reality in their children's heart. Simpler said than done at times. "One of the problems with obedience is that children often don't want to comply. They have their own agenda. Parents, of course, want to value their children's ideas and wishes. We want them to be able to make their own decisions and to be happy. But it's also important for children to learn to give up their agendas and follow instructions - even when they don't want to. Too many parents have ended up with children who won't follow the simplest instructions without discussing it" (Turansky). Does this sound like your child? Does your child argue, whine, question and complain over the simplest things? We have to do some occasional parenting checks to see if we might be setting the stage for this sort of drama to unfold. One of the ways we set that stage is by thinking parenting is like baseball: giving the child more than one chance to comply with standards and rules.
I hear the game played often at the grocery store. I've said it myselves, "Don't make me count to three. Come back to this cart right now!" The idea that we can give our children three chances or "three strikes, you're out" kind of time makes obedience a game. Parenting isn't a baseball game with your status lowered to that of an umpire.
So perhaps you've never counted to three. Ever had this conversation?
"Mom, I want that book."
"How do you ask?"
"I want that book, Mom."
"What about saying please?"
"Please may I have that book, Mom?" says the child with a slight bit of an attitude now because this is taking a long time.
Handing the book to the child, the mother replies, "Here it is, now what do you say?" And the exchange continues in a similar fashion with Mom trying to get the child to say thank you.This parent is still giving the child "chances" at doing the right thing.
One night at supper recently, my teen son said, "Hand me the milk." to his brother. My husband quickly intercepted the passing of the milk to our thirsty son. Everyone stopped, startled by Dad's action. My husband calmly set the milk on the floor next to him and said, "You can try that request again in a few minutes when you remember how we ask for things at this table." WOW! One swing, you're out, buddy!
I was encouraged by this interaction and saddened. Encouraged by the change in my son who has since used much better table manners following that logical consequence for not adhering to our family standard at the table. Saddened because I realized I wasted many years of his life giving him chances to "play" better, but not really teaching him the that meeting standards isn't a game.
Fox Catcher: Another great book Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes...in You and Your Kids! by Scott Turansky