Okay, I have a confession to make. Somehow in the last few months I've become one of Those mothers. I always said I would never be one of Them. They were the kind of mothers that I would never be!
It started quite innocently. Things were actually pretty good around here. Josiah had gone through a period of open defiance and we'd come through on the other side. There were very, very few temper tantrums and overall things were pretty calm. In short, life was good. That's when it happened. I let my guard down. I underestimated the level of craftiness that could come from a just turned three year old little boy. Open defiance had been replaced by a more quiet form of disobedience.
A few weeks ago we were listening to a pod cast of Family Life Today. It's a great radio broadcast with lots of good advice on marriage and parenting. They were speaking with an author, Ginger Plowman, about her book Don't Make Me Count to Three. When I heard the subject I was feeling pretty good about myself and my parenting. I was thinking that this program might make me feel better about my parenting. Boy, was I wrong.
What I realized as I listened to her talk was that even though I wasn't physically counting to three I was doing the same thing with my mannerisms. I was one of those mothers. God really used this program to convict me that I wasn't doing what I should. Here's an example.
It's Friday morning. We're leaving at 9:30 for the park. At 9:15 I say "Josiah, go put on your shoes."
There is no response. Josiah is busy playing with his trains and doesn't want to be bothered. It's not that he hasn't heard, he just doesn't want to, yet.
"Josiah," I say a little more sternly, "Go put on your shoes, NOW."
This time he looks up from his trains. You can almost picture his thoughts. Sure, he needs to obey, but he has a few minutes yet.
"I can't find them," he says, looking around innocently.
"There under your table where they always are. Go get them and put them on. Make sure they're on the correct feet this time."
By now my voice has taken on a definite pitch and volume that lets him know that it is time to start taking some action. He gets up from his trains, gets his shoes and starts to put them on. Then he hears the dog scratching at the door.
"I go let Maggie in," he says, jumping up from the floor and racing to the door.
"Don't worry about Maggie, get your shoes on or else!" I yell, not even pretending to keep my voice down any more.
At this point Josiah starts crying, but puts his shoes on. I let in the dog, who seems bewildered by all the commotion.
Josiah comes out from his room with his shoes on the wrong feet. Why, because he likes them on the wrong feet. Not in the mood for another battle, and since it's ten minutes since we were supposed to leave, I give up and load him in the car. Of course, loading in the car is a battle on its own.
So we're listening to this woman talk about not scolding your children but speaking to them in a calm and serious voice. Hmm...I haven't been doing to well at that. Then she talks about how they obey, that they should be obeying the first time they're asked. Hmm...not doing to well there, either. Then she says how they should obey, with a joyful heart. Okay, okay, I get the point!
We immediately started teaching Josiah a saying. "Obey right away, all the way, and with a joyful heart!" When Josiah isn't doing what I tell him to do I ask, "Are you obeying or disobeying." Then I have him say the saying. If he's obeying, but with a rebellious spirit I ask him if he has a joyful heart. He'll put on a smily pretty quickly!
I started paying careful attention when I give Josiah a command. I make sure that he's looking at me and tell him exactly what to do, usually on his level. I then expect him to do it immediately with no whining. The first few days were pretty hard. It was painful for me to resist the urge to yell and replace it with a calm, quite voice. But it's getting better. On the second day I "yelled" at Dan to get it out of my system. I said "I've got to yell! Argh!!!" He laughed.
This week things have been better again. I think it's mostly that I have to be consistent and not get so wrapped up in my own thoughts that I don't pay enough attention to what's going on around me. I've heard it called "intentional" parenting.
I'm know I'll have my slip ups, but I'm going to keep trying not to be one of Those mothers!