Raising Responsible Kids: A Series

Responsible-kidsHomework battles, bedtime battles, morning battles, sibling arguing…  It seems like there’s no end to the battles the average family faces, and ours is no exception.  Mornings are always stressful with trying to get the kids out the door to the bus without losing my marbles, and lately homework has become a serious issue.  In a nutshell, we need a system.

When my first child was a baby, I read every parenting book that came down the pike.  I was obsessed.  Now that my kids are older, and our parenting issues have evolved from how to get them to sleep through the night to how to get the homework turned in on time, it’s time to go back to my reference books.  In other words, I NEEDZ HALP!

I had a great role model as a child.  My parents were loving and kind, but always in charge.  I don’t know why I struggle so with my own parenting skills, but it seems that I often resort to anger and sarcasm before I am obeyed.  I know that I need to implement consequences before it gets to that point, but too often I find myself at a loss for a reasonable consequence and so the downward spiral begins.  It’s gotten worse over the past few weeks, and sometimes I feel like giving up.  But no more.  I have tools now.  I have a plan.  And that, I’m learning, is half the battle.

The first book I read was Parenting With Love And Logic by Foster Kline and Jim Kay.  And now I’m reading an old favorite, John Rosemond’s New Parent Power! I read this book about 10 years ago and thought highly of the advice, but at the time my kids weren’t really ready for it.  Both focus on allowing kids to fail and learn from their mistakes while they are young and the stakes aren’t so high, in hopes that when they get older and decisions become more weighty, they will know how to make wise choices.  They differ a bit in the implementation, but I’m finding helpful advice in each.

I’m also reading Grace Based Parenting but I haven’t gotten very far in it yet.  And of course I’m open to your suggestions!

Last weekend I was lamenting with several other bloggers how few blogs discuss issues dealing with older children.  We were asking each other why that is, and we all came to the conclusion that we feel totally inadequate to give advice as we are in the trenches ourselves.  Never one to shy away from a challenge, I thought I’d do a series of posts on what I’m doing to try to get our family into more of a productive and positive routine.

First, I must caution you against using any one book as your manual. I like to read different perspectives, then I take what I like and leave the rest.  I like the basic premise behind Love and Logic (logical consequences vs discipline/anger), but some of the examples are too harsh for my tastes and for my kids’ personalities.  I also like the basic premise behind Parent Power (the parents’ relationship, not the kids, should take top priority) but I don’t necessarily agree with all the points he makes either.  So far Grace Based Parenting is heavy on philosophy and not so much on practical takeaway, but that may change as I read further.

Every family is different, and every child is different, so I can’t stress enough how important it is to read everything with discernment and make it work for you.

I’m developing a system based on the following principles:

1. logical consequences vs discipline and anger

2. choices vs commands

3. questions vs lectures

4. no nagging

5. no idle threats

6. no yelling

You see, when you allow them to experience the natural consequences of their choices rather than resorting to nagging, yelling, idle threats, and unrelated punishments, you put the responsibility for their actions on their shoulders.  Too often parents make their kids’ problems their problems.  Then the parents get angry and the kids learn nothing.  More on this in subsequent posts.

By giving them choices rather than commands, they don’t have the option to disobey.  The key is to give only choices that you can live with, and then to be willing to follow through.  More on this in subsequent posts.

Asking questions instead of lecturing encourages kids to think for themselves and be discerning.  You guessed it, more on this in subsequent posts.  🙂

In the next few posts, I’ll explain some of the new systems we have in place and how we’re getting the kids to pick up their toys, get to the bus on time, help out around the house, and get their homework done without drama.

See all posts in this Raising Responsible Kids series.

Disclaimer: I am by NO MEANS a parenting expert of any sort.  I am just sharing some things I’m learning as I navigate the muddy waters of motherhood.  I figure, if they work for me, they may work for someone else.  Good luck!

Disclosure: All links to books are Amazon affiliate links.