My 4 Steps To Holiday Peace On Earth

by Kaye Wilson on December 1, 2016

babies' xmas

What is it about Christmas that can lead to so much stress?

As a  young wife and mother, I found myself tired, stressed, and often sick by the end of the holiday season. Looking back now, I can laugh about it, but early on I had some not-so-wonderful times.

Growing up, I believed that real women make things, especially at Christmas. I was determined to be the best wife and mother I could be, so one Christmas I headed to the local craft store, baby in tow, to buy something to make as gifts. I wasn’t sure what that “something” would be, but I figured such an enormous store would have plenty of inspiration.

By the time I’d settled on something, my baby was screaming, and I ended up at the car with a couple of items I hadn’t paid for–they’d been in a basket under the stroller and I had overlooked them at the checkout. I just sighed and loaded everything into the car, too tired to get the baby out and make the slog back across the parking lot to the store. It was the first and only time I ever shoplifted.

Gwen wearing xmas treeThen there was the year I decided the kids would help me make Christmas cards using tempera paint and potato stamps (bas-relief designs cut into a raw potato half). My helpers–an infant, a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old–were very willing, but not terribly able, and I eventually gave up. I put them down for naps, finished the cards myself, and cleaned up the mess just in time to get the kids up and start fixing dinner.

My eventual decision to forego craft projects didn’t solve the holiday stress problem, however. There were program rehearsals, special clothes, decorations, relatives, and all of the other holiday delights that so often don’t really delight us at all.

On top of that, I often felt guilty for being so materialistic. My children had more toys than they would ever play with, and yet they were looking through the toy catalogs, making lists for more. I couldn’t imagine how I would ever convey the “reason for the season” to them.

After some soul-searching (and some pretty stressful years), I came up with the following strategies for making this season more enjoyable.

Make a plan.

  1. Take a calendar, a pad of paper, and a pencil to a cafe or coffee shop. If you’re married, make it a date. Mark all parties, programs, and outings on the calendar. List every person or charity you want to give to, list what you plan to buy, and approximately what you want to spend for each. If you’re married, divide the list into who will shop for each item.
  2. Set aside particular times for wrapping gifts, enjoying cocoa by the fire, reading Christmas books to the kids, etc.
  3. Rather than taking the kids shopping with you, plan a trip to the mall only for the purpose of seeing Santa and all the decorations. For all actual shopping, hire a sitter or shop while the kids are in school.

Eliminate non-essentials

  1. Pitch the catalogs. They create clutter, waste time, and give kids way too many ideas. Besides, everything in a catalog is online anyway.
  2. If you love projects with your kids, terrific! If you’re like me and don’t handle that well, give them the materials to make their own decorations, or the ingredients for cutout cookies (assuming they’re old enough). They will not feel neglected, I promise.
  3. Spend a couple of hours gathering toys your kids never use. Bag them and put them in the attic, or donate them to the Salvation Army. If your kids protest, tell them you have to make room for new toys–can’t keep them all! Be firm.

    My daughter's table set for Christmas Eve dinner, 2015. No paper plates this time!

    My daughter’s table set for Christmas Eve dinner, 2015. No paper plates this time!


  1. Keep meals simple. If you’re entertaining, it’s not necessary to prepare the most elaborate cocktails, the most hip hors d’oeuvres, the fanciest meal or the most sensational dessert. Even consider buying part or all of the meal–frozen lasagna or rotisserie chicken, bagged salad, frozen pie, etc.–and maybe use disposable dinnerware! The important thing is to enjoy your friends and family.
  2. Use all one kind of giftwrap–all white with red ribbon, all brown craft paper with plaid ribbon, all gold with red, etc. If that’s not to your taste, fine, but it can make wrapping simpler.
  3. Go media and tech free a couple of evenings each week. Go to the library for special holiday books, turn the Christmas music on, let your kids work on crafts, and relax!

Prioritize Your Health

  1. Stress, crowds, lack of sleep, and lots of rich holiday food can lead to sickness. In addition to limiting stress by doing the things listed above, be sure to get plenty of sleep, drink a lot of water, and try to not eat too many sweets. You’ll feel so much better!

I can look back on my early days and laugh at some of the stress I created for myself. I meant well, I promise! But the stress was hard on my health and well-being, and created stress for everyone around me as well.

This holiday season, give yourself and your family the gift of  less stress and more peace and goodwill.

B under tree

Do you have some great strategies for coping with the stresses of the season? I’d love to hear them–share them with me, and I will share them in another post!



What Did You Expect?!

by Kaye Wilson on November 28, 2016

Mac in kitchen drawerAsk any child-training expert what the key is for training kids, and nine times out of ten the answer will be “consistency.” I was always told this, and it really is true. However, there was one thing that consistently got in the way of my being consistent–my expectations. I expected my children to understand my reasons for not letting them do certain things. I expected them to want to obey me. I expected that they would want to avoid getting in trouble. I was wrong.

My kids hit each other, ate toadstools, lied, threw tantrums, and did just about any other misbehavior you can think of, regardless of the consequences! To be fair, they also surprised me with gifts, hugs, and expressions of gratitude, and provided a steady stream of joy and delight. Even so, respectful behavior was something I was always working to cultivate in them.

When I coach parents, I give them a plan for addressing specific behavior issues with their children, which they are asked to implement between sessions. I always remind them of two things: 1)Change takes a long time–weeks or even months. 2) Things will probably get worse before they get better.

Most parents either don’t really hear me, or don’t really believe me. They expect the same things I did–quick compliance, problem solved. Nearly always at the next session these parents tell me either that the plan “didn’t work” or that this week was unusually busy and they weren’t able to use the plan. The reality is, they tried it a couple of times, their child(ren) tested them, and they gave up. No matter how many sessions I have with parents, if they don’t adjust their expectations and commit long-term, they will never gain much ground.

brook dishwasherNothing in life can be changed instantly; whether it’s building muscle, losing weight, learning a new skill, or what have you, you have to do the work to get the result–no pain, no gain. If you expect to keep doing what you’re doing, you will not see change, period.

Change only happens when you clearly understand what it’s going to take, and commit yourself to it, with the expectation that there are no shortcuts.

Think of it this way: when you enroll your child in kindergarten, you don’t expect him to have a highschool diploma by the end of the year; you know it’s going to take every single one of the years from kindergarten through 12th grade to achieve that goal, so you aren’t surprised when you have to go through the annual ritual of enrolling and buying school supplies each August. You just expect it.

Here is what to expect in the area of teaching children how to behave:

  1. Kids do things you don’t expect, all the time.
  2. Cultivating good behavior (not perfect!) is a long-term process; it’ll take every minute between now and when your child leaves home.
  3. Your child will resist and test you in various ways, all along the way.
  4. If you stay calm and firm, things will be much easier for both you and your child(ren).
  5. If you stay the course, you’ll have done everything in your power to bring your child to responsible adulthood–and that’s all anyone can expect.

There is no magic formula to “getting” your child to behave. Well-behaved children can only be found with parents who don’t make excuses, who have realistic expectations, and who are willing to embrace a steady, consistent approach to a process that will take a lifetime.

Read more about ParentCoachOKC here.

Brook with purse

Take A Load Off

by Kaye Wilson on November 14, 2016

img_1524Five kids. For a young, insecure mom, it was a lot. I felt the weight of their dependence on me, and my responsibility for them, keenly.

I often lay awake at night, worrying: Was I doing enough for them? Was I being too strict? Too lenient? Was I giving them enough individual attention? Was I neglecting anyone?

Homeschooling only intensified this; I felt pressured to get everything right, felt it was my responsibility to teach them everything. As much as I loved it—and I really loved it!—it was a lot. Any academic, social or spiritual lack, any bad attitudes or habits, how well they did their school work or their chores—in my mind it all came down to whether or not I was doing enough, and doing it well enough. There was always more that I could be doing, or doing better.

Outwardly I was positive and cheerful; as I said, I really loved homeschooling, and loved being a mom. But on the inside I was just plain overwhelmed. I would often go into the bathroom to cry, then dry my tears and come out as if nothing was wrong because I believed it would harm my kids to see me crying.

It seemed a cruel twist; the thing that gave the greatest joy and sense of meaning to my life—being a mother—was the very thing that was making me a neurotic wreck.

But was motherhood really the problem?img_1526

As I considered this, I realized the real problem wasn’t simply that my goals were unrealistic—even though they probably were. The problem was that I had assumed full responsibility for my children’s future. Forget circumstances or their own choices—I figured what they chose and how they handled circumstances depended on how well I did my job as their mom.

If you’ve read more of my blog posts, you may know that I eventually put the kids in a private school. In doing that, I had less control over things, and had to learn to trust God, other adults, and my children a lot more, which turned out to be less of a challenge and more of a relief than I had thought it would be!

I wouldn’t be a parent coach if I didn’t believe that a parent’s influence is of vital importance to a child’s future, and I can’t tell you statistically how that influence compares to other influences. But I can tell you this: The ultimate responsibility for any person’s life lies with himself alone.

For me and my kids, realizing this made for a better life. Sure, there were still times when I’d have to fight off fears of the future, or guilt for my mistakes. But having felt the freedom of knowing it wasn’t entirely up to me, I never wanted to go back. The responsibility for  a child’s future is a load no parent is equipped to carry. I took that load off, and it now rests where it belongs, divided evenly on the shoulders of my five grown children.FRANCE 2012 241

An Apology, And Grace

by Kaye Wilson on October 30, 2016

The last post from me was pretty horrible. It was smug, and implied that all you have to do is points 1, 2, and 3 to get some kind of perfect adult child who rightly recognizes it was your selfless wonderfulness that got them to this place of perfection.

My deepest and most sincere apologies, especially to my own children.

I’m not sure if there is an adequate explanation for that post, but I’ll try, and then I’ll end by saying something a bit more true and less pompous.

What you read in that last post is a pretty good representation of how I viewed life for a very long time. That is, if you do certain things, certain other things will follow.  I can’t blame this thinking on my own parents–I honestly don’t know what their thoughts on this would be, but regardless, nobody made me think in this way. I took on this viewpoint because of certain rules I learned through life experience, and certain deductions I made based on these rules.

Here are the basic rules:

  1. If you do what people in authority want you to do, you will not get in trouble, and you will get good grades
  2. If you get good grades everyone is happy, and you get approval
  3. If you are polite and people think you’re smart, you get respect, approval, and sometimes prizes
  4. All of the above can apply to all levels of education and also to jobs

Here are the deductions that I made from all of these rules:

  1. Everything functions in this way, including relationships: put in a, and b will come out
  2. Following these rules will prevent serious mistakes and large pain
  3. This is the best way to make sure your children end up okay

There is a serious problem here, though: life isn’t school, and you don’t get points for keeping the rules. Children are people to be loved, not creatures to be trained. Relationships are living things, not vending machines that give you whatever treat you want if you just put in the correct currency.

Through failure (which, by the way, I continue to experience fairly often in various ways) and thanks to friends and family who have continued to love me in spite of this kind of nonsense, I am learning that life is not a contest to be won, or something to be mastered. Sure, there are manners and life lessons you can teach your kids, but the most important thing is that they know you love them, no matter what. There is a place for goals, but we should never give our kids the impression that life will be smooth sailing if only we do certain things and avoid certain other things.

I did too much of this with my children, for far too long. They are grown, and by God’s grace, they still love me in spite of my tendency to reduce everything to a formula of rules. My daily prayer for each of them is that they experience grace–from me and from all those they love–because it’s grace and only grace that makes room for real life and love.




Three Steps To Our Kids’ Future

by Kaye Wilson on October 27, 2016


We conscientious parents take our job very seriously. We understand it’s a img_1574big responsibility, and that we’re supposed to bring up our kids to be ready for the future, whatever that means. If we’re honest, what we parents really want is to enjoy our adult children, and for them to want to spend time with us. We want to get along with them and not have to bail them out of trouble–we want our adult kids to be good people who other people respect and like, with a healthy life of their own. But how does this happen? Our kids are babies, or toddlers, or in middle-school–how do we get there from here?

To get from point A to point B, we have to do three things:

  1. Locate B
  2. Leave A
  3. Keep moving in the direction of B, even if you make stops along the way.


The way you locate B, your end goal, is this: Ask yourself how you would describe the kind of person you want your child to grow up to be. I think in the long run you’ll find it has very little to do with attending a particular college, playing a particular sport, or having a particular career. It’s a person’s character that makes their life what it is. That’s the goal–to help them become a certain kind of person. When you’re clear about what that person looks like, do a careful self-examination; is the way you’re doing things in your family likely to cultivate the qualities you hope your child eventually possesses?

For example, say my goal for my daughter is for her to value and contribute to her family, to learn self-discipline and good study habits, and to learn to manage her money well. Terrific goals! However, what if I have given her a smartphone and a car, and each week I give her cash to spend with her friends at the mall? She doesn’t do any chores, I have no idea who her friends are or how she spends her free time; she’s too “busy” to spend time with her younger siblings, and resists joining the family for dinner. Hmm . . . does this fit my stated goal? Definitely not! img_1590

That’s where step 2 comes in–leaving A. There is no way to bring your goals to you, you have to go after them, and you have to lead your kids there. Going toward your goal–B–means leaving behind what you are currently doing–A. The photos here were taken at Bandelier National Monument in NM, a place where a group of people found a home hundreds of years ago. They somehow saw what they were looking for in these forbidding cliffs–not on the ground. They had already walked hundreds of miles from their original home because of threats to their way of life; now that they had found a good location, they had to continue by leaving the valley floor to climb this rock face and others like it for the sake of preserving the things they valued most.

In the example above,  A –the way I’m bringing up my daughter–is comfortable, it’s easy, and my daughter and I both are used to it. Not only that, but there is very little conflict–she’s pretty much free to do whatever she wants. But I want better things for her; I want those things I listed as my goals. To get those things, I have to leave behind this easier way–I can’t have both. Like the settlers at Bandelier, there are things more valuable than comfort, things I’m willing to work to achieve. Because I want more for my daughter, I’ll commit myself to putting up with attitudes and dealing with the conflict that will inevitably come as she tests my leadership. The easy way doesn’t lead to what I’m really after.

Look around where you are–are you in a bog of things and ideas that are keeping you from moving toward what really matters to you? Are you hanging on to relationships, jobs, habits, or ways of thinking that you’ve grown comfortable with, but which are ultimately harmful to your family? Are there fruitless ways of parenting that are easy–being too indulgent, making excuses for bad behavior, too many electronics, and so on–but would be better left behind for your kids’ sake, even though they may resist the change? Turn your eyes to that lofty goal, and leave what’s easy and comfortable behind.

The third step is to just keep moving in the direction of B. Your progress may be slow, the path may become obscured along the way, and you may even come to a halt and have to re-establish your bearings. In fact, sometimes you may think you’re on the clear path to B when you realize you’ve become disoriented, or simply that you’ve dragged too many things from A along with you–toss them and move on. If sometimes it seems it would be better to just go back, to head in a completely different direction, or to simply stop and stay indefinitely, especially if the way has been rough and you are weary, pause for a moment to remember the long view–remind yourself of what’s really important, and that it really is worth whatever it takes to get there.

Never lose sight of your goal. You will fall and you will fail, just don’t quit. Keep putting one foot in front of the other, grabbing that next handhold up, and don’t give in. Eventually you’ll be there, looking back at where you came from. Oh, and your children will be standing next to you, thanking you for getting them there.img_1600

You Can’t Lead From Behind

by Kaye Wilson on October 18, 2016

gramma brookI am a Leadership Parenting Coach. I coach parents through the process of leading their kids to adulthood.

The operative word is “lead”–it means to get in front of someone and start moving in the direction you want her to go so that she can follow you. If you’re standing behind someone (see picture at left), you can steady her, encourage her, push her, or chase her, but you can’t lead her.

You’d never think about going somewhere with your child without taking extra diapers and a snack and/or bottle, would you? And yet most of us do nothing to get ourselves and our kids ready for the situations we face every day. When the meltdown occurs in the checkout lane of the grocery store, we try snacks, toys, distractions, blankies, anything we can think of, while trying not to get too angry and embarrassed. This is an example of trying to lead from behind–trying to get your child to behave in a certain way after the trouble has already begun.

Leading from the front means teaching your kids in advance how you expect them to behave. I don’t mean a stern warning of punishment just before entering the store, I mean really instructing them how to behave. When you’re at home with no time crunch or agenda, take your child(ren) aside and explain something you plan to do in the next few days–go the store or the mall, visit Grandma’s house, go to church, whatever–and the reason for the excursion.

Then explain how “we” behave in this situation. “We keep our hands to ourselves at the store” or “We sit quietly in church” or “We give Grandma a big hug and ask permission to play outdoors” or whatever it might be. Add the negatives as well:  “We don’t whine or beg for toys or treats at the store” or “We don’t go into any room where the door is closed at Grandma’s house” or “We don’t run in the hallway at church.”

Next, you act it out for them. Show them what the behavior you want looks like, and show them what the behavior you don’t want looks like. Then, tell your child(ren) to join you in acting it out–this is nothing more than practicing! Practice two or three times that day, then a few times the next day, and the next. When you’re ready to actually embark on your adventure, tell them where you’re going, and what you’ll be doing, and ask, “What do we do at Grandma’s house?” “What do we not do at Grandma’s house?” Ask your child(ren) to act it out one more time, then, just before you get out of the car turn and say, “Remember how we behave at Grandma’s house!” or something similar. When you go home, look your child(ren) in the eye and tell them how well they did and how pleased you are!

This won’t guarantee you will never have an issue with your child in the situations you’ve practiced, but it really, really helps. See, nobody wants to go into a situation unprepared. When you go someplace without preparing your kids, you can’t expect them to behave a certain way and then get angry and embarrassed when they don’t! However, if you get out in front–if you lead your child–he learns how to behave! It gives him confidence and a sense of being more grown-up. (It also brings compliments to you and your kids, which is a nice reward for all your hard work and practice!)

Terrific Mac!

Give your child the gift of confidence, and yourself the gift of enjoyable outings (and compliments)! Lead from the front!















Read This Book!

by Kaye Wilson on February 23, 2016

Featured in This Month's Book Review

Featured in This Month’s Book Review

In her book Bringing Up Bebe, Pamela Druckerman, with a good dose of humor and insight, describes the differences she observes between French and American children while living as an expat in Paris. I love this book because, while Druckerman is neither religious nor a traditionalist, and seems to have no preconceived ideas of how kids should behave, she confirms old-fashioned parenting attitudes and practices.

As Ms. Druckerman relates personal stories and anecdotes, she deftly conveys the angst that is all-too common among American moms about everything from safety issues and getting kids to eat, to getting kids into the “right” school so they’ll have a successful career.  She describes parents hovering over their children at NYC playgrounds, trying to get them to “experience” certain things and eat bizarre health food snacks; she contrasts this with French moms who pay far less attention to their kids at the playground,  and typically offer snacks to their children only at what seems to be the “official snack  time” of 4:00 each afternoon.

In France there seems to be a universal understanding of what it takes to have peaceful kids and happy grown-ups.  From the first requirement–to greet others with eye contact and a cheerful “Bonjour!”– to the assumption that children past a few months of age will sleep through the night (and they do!), there are unspoken rules of bringing up children that no one seems to question–rules that are practical, based on a generally accepted view of the nature and needs of children.  According to Ms. Druckerman, this is a result of the French understanding of a clear framework or cadre, of boundaries regarding things regarded as essential, with lots of freedom within these boundaries for things that are only regarded as small acts of typical childhood foolishness, or betises.

Picture 208

In Paris

She contrasts this with the almost obsessive need for American mothers to choose their own individual parenting philosophy, and comments on the sharp lines of disagreement  drawn in the US between different parenting camps, otherwise known as the “mommy wars.”   Whereas the French families she encounters all seem to share just the right balance of firmness and relaxed indifference regarding their children’s behavior, their American counterparts seem neurotically compelled to monitor everything having to do with their kids, filled with guilt and worry, and rarely if ever able to relax.

The French parents Druckerman encounters embrace the job of parenting with a relaxed and confident ease, and their children are, in most cases, far more well-behaved than any American kids Druckerman sees.  We completely identify with her embarrassment at her own child’s behavior in public and share her wonder at children who seem not to feel compelled to throw tantrums, and moms capable of savoring adult conversation without being interrupted by whining kids.  She does, of course, see children misbehave in France, but this is handled differently–more confidently and firmly by French parents, as opposed to anxiously or out of fear of psychological damage, as seems all too common in the US.

Picture 028

Little boy at a park in Paris

In her own words, ” . . .It is increasingly clear to me that quietly and en masse, French parents are achieving outcomes that create a whole different atmosphere for family life.  When American families visit our home, the parents usually spend much of the visit refereeing their kids’ spats, helping their toddlers do laps around the kitchen island, or getting down on the floor to build LEGO villages.  There are always a few rounds of crying and consoling.  When French friends visit, however, we grown-ups have coffee and the children play happily by themselves.”

The cornerstones of the French cadre are respect for all others, the ability to delay gratification and calm themselves–resourcefulness, and the assigning of various responsibilities within the home.  All of this is taught calmly and firmly, through repetition, modelling, and gentle coaching.  As Ms Druckerman learns and observes, she is amazed to discover that she can implement much of this with her own children.

This is an easy and fun read, as it points out many common misconceptions regarding child-rearing while making us smile, and portrays a happy, guilt-free parenting world that is within our reach!  Children really are happier, more confident, and more peaceful when their parents lead them with confidence and calm, and teach them the three R’s of Respect, Responsibility, and Resourcefulness.  And hey– if the French can do it, so can we!

Picture 270

Parent Or Politician?

by Kaye Wilson on February 4, 2016

B on slideMost people don’t know I used to be a politician.  I spent my days conducting opinion polls, canvassing voters, and working on “spin” for policies I knew would not be popular.  I was a tireless negotiator, willing to compromise when necessary but making every effort to hold to my principles and policies.

Sadly, my career was not particularly successful.  My constituency was never satisfied, and to express their ever-growing demands, they continually staged protests and riots. After years of failure to persuade the voters I knew what I was doing, I decided on a career change.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m speaking of the way I used to parent.  I eventually had five children, but even when there was only one, I did what most parents do–I tried to explain to my children why they should obey me.  They never caught on.  Not once did any of them ever say, “You’re right, mom! I see what you mean! I’ll do it your way from now on.”old man mac

I rarely told them to do anything. I asked, suggested, hinted, prodded, nagged, cajoled, and even begged on rare occasions.  Often I’d begin my request with “Let’s” or “How about” and ended with “okay?”  For example, “Hey, kids, let’s get ready for bed, okay?”  or “How about you pick up your toys now, okay?”  These kids weren’t dumb. They could tell there was no authority in what I was saying, I was just asking them nicely to do something. Given an option, they’d choose “no” every time.

I soon got tired of  “political” life, constantly testing the wind to see if they seemed in the mood to obey, the incessant attempt to spin my instructions to seem like something my kids would be excited to do, always bracing myself for the next “demonstration” or riot.

I finally realized the ultimate authority himself–God–had given me my job.  That meant I didn’t need to win anybody’s vote!  My children were not the electorate, they were future adults in need of leadership–someone to teach them how to grow up, to set them free from the tyranny of their own selfish, antisocial  impulses. mac and brook

I stopped asking, and started telling, stopped apologizing and explaining, and started saying things like, “Yes, I know this is no fun, but that’s ok!  I’ll show you how.”  When I was unsure what to do, instead of agonizing over what was “right”, I just picked the option I was most comfortable with.  Yes, my kids were a bit taken aback at first, but they were much happier with a mom who at least pretended to know what she was doing than with one who was crippled by indecision.  Mistakes?  I’m sure I made plenty.  Hopefully none were permanent, but parents’ mistakes are part of the process of building character in children, right?

Weary of constantly trying to please your constituency? Change your job description! Stop polling your kids, giving speeches, and trying to persuade them to see it your way. They will never, ever agree with anything they don’t already want to do!  Find your voice of authority, and confidently show your kids the way to adulthood.Picture 142



“I’m The Adult, and I Know What’s Best!”

by Kaye Wilson on February 1, 2016

I had my first child when I was 26, so technically, I was an adult. I had been married for three years, taught piano lessons, and was a homemaker. I’d made all kinds of decisions about how I would parent, based of course on my vast knowledge and experience with children–just kidding! My ideas regarding parenting were actually based on two things:  Iphone June 2013 325criticism of people I judged to be doing an inadequate job–for example, “When I have kids, they will be quiet in church!” –and some kind of idealized combination of Bible stories and Little House on the Prairie.

Enter my first child, a beautiful and very strong daughter. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I was a compliant child for the most part, and was completely unprepared for a child who happily did exactly what she was told not to do, in spite of my sputtering and gasping protestations.

It’s hard to admit this, but when she so confidently went her own way, I actually questioned my own decisions, and even my “right” to tell her what to do. Sometimes it seemed that she knew how to be the Mommy better than I did!  When I gave paula-1146862-sinstructions,  it seemed I felt her critical gaze, and heard the questions going through her mind, “Is this really the best way to handle this?” , ” Didn’t you just tell little brother not to do that?” , ” Isn’t it really nap time for the baby?” or, “Do you really think that’s a good idea, right before dinner?”  When I felt those imagined questions I’d immediately re-evaluate what I was doing, and sometimes even reverse my decision–after glancing over at her to see if she approved, of course!

I was a bundle of anxiety much of the time, tied up in knots because I felt completely ineffective as a parent.  If I was always going to just cave to what she wanted, why was I even here?  Wasn’t  I supposed to lead her and teach her things?  How could I do that if I felt incompetent in the face of a three-year-old?  I searched books and articles by experts in parenting, and I think I gained some insights, but mostly I just got more confused and felt more defeated.

At some point I came across a book or column by John Rosemond.  He kept referring to the way “grandma” would have brought up her kids, with firm leadership and common sense.  He advocated being clear with instructions and expectations, and “dispassionate” in the way you communicated–no begging, cajoling, wheedling or threatening in order to get kids to do what you wanted, just calm, clear instructions, followed by matter-of-fact consequences for disobedience.  No need to agonize about making the “right”decision, he said, because in most cases any number of decisions B in cartwould be fine, and since I’m the adult, I automatically know better than my child what’s good for her!

I developed a new mantra. Instead of constantly asking myself, “Is this okay? Am I damaging my child psychologically? Am I doing enough for her?” I started saying to myself over and over, “I’m the adult, and I know what’s best.  I’m the adult, and I know what’s best.”  Instead of focusing on a particular behavior, I started looking more at the long-term goal of bringing my child to mature adulthood.  This put each individual situation into context, and helped me to see that “Learning to Respectfully Listen To and Follow the Person In Authority” was ultimately a far more important lesson for my child than “500 Ways to Eventually Wear Down the Person In Authority and Get What You Want” which was what I was actually teaching her.

Although I had to remind myself of this frequently, I began to learn that adults can handle fussy children and deal with tantrums.  Not only that,  the children of adults eat what they’re given, go to bed when they’re told, and don’t generally argue with their parents–they’re happier and more secure!  Because adults know what’s best for their children and keep the goal of maturity in mind, they don’t get undone when a child resists them,  don’t try to micromanage their child’s life, and don’t fear the teen years–they have confidence!  These same adults take things in stride, and enjoy a life of their own beyond parenthood.  This is true freedom.

Do you question your ability to parent well?  Do you always worry about making the “right” decision ?  Remember:  You’re the adult, and YOU know what’s best!Picture 129


Conversations With An Infant

by Kaye Wilson on January 25, 2016

with donutWhy on earth would you try to converse with an infant?  Or even a 2- or 3-year-old, for that matter?  They can’t understand what you’re saying anyway, so why waste your breath?  Well, there are a lot of reasons, actually!

Recent studies have demonstrated that being surrounded by a language-rich environment gives children an advantage when it comes time to go to school. In addition, it turns out that the most important period for a child’s brain and language development is the time between birth and age 3. That’s not very long! Fortunately, this is a season when many moms have the opportunity to spend lots of face to face time with their little ones, and the little ones are eager to do just that.  But what should you talk about?

The simple answer is, everything! Magic happens when you speak to a child who seems too young to understand, especially if you’re making eye contact with her. Tell her what you’re doing (changing her diaper, opening the window, enjoying a walk, preparing a meal), what you’re feeling (cold and heat, excitement, anticipation, dismay, enjoyment), what you love (the smell of rain, the sound of laughter, the warmth of sunshine, the colors of spring, the texture of a flower)–your options are endless.

When you speak to her in this way, as if she had the same vocabulary as you and understands everything you’re saying, several things are happening. Synapses are forming in her brain, she’s learning the cadence and rhythm of your particular language, she’s learning how the mouth is connected to the formulation of sounds and words, she’s learning the words themselves, and even things as complicated as closeup of Gwengrammar. She’s learning how questions are different than statements, how excitement sounds, and how your eyes change when you’re sad or frustrated.

Even more than all of this, she’s learning what it means to be human. You’re connecting to her on a level that is inaccessible to any other creature on the planet, establishing a bond with her on the level of the soul. As she grows, speaking will come naturally to her; she wants nothing more than to be like you! Knowing this makes it even more exciting! Recite nursery rhymes to her, tell her stories, and quote Scripture. Sing! All babies LOVE it when you sing to them, and they care not one bit about the quality of your voice!

Don’t hesitate to explain to her what is most important in life, what you value most–taking care of those you love, showing respect to those in authority, being reverent in prayer, being grateful for food and clothes and toys and friends. Tell her of your faith, call her attention to the beauty of the created world and how it shows God’s great love for us.  Tell what’s for dinner, when Daddy or Mommy will be home, and what he or she does to earn a living.  Honestly, there’s not much you shouldn’t tell her.

You don’t have to talk incessantly, of course; even little ones grow tired of constant chatter.  But don’t miss out on the obvious opportunities like diaper changes, baths, or meals.

Amanda reading to Mac

Your smile, your eyes, your face and your voice are the most important and effective communication tools you possess. Skip the TV and other screens–they will definitely rivet your child’s attention, but since they offer no response, your child’s brain remains essentially passive, which is why she’s so quiet when she watches.  This may seem like a good thing, but remember that 3-year window of time when connections are being formed in the brain?  This only happens in active minds, minds that are encountering things and people they can interact with.  When your child can see and respond to your voice and the look in your eyes, all kinds of connections are being formed, literally and figuratively.  Not only that, but passivity in human communication creates misunderstandings, and erodes relationships.  Your child needs to understand how to connect with people, not remain detached from them.

Start today. Look into your child’s beautiful eyes, give her a big smile, and begin a lifelong conversation with a very special person!


Brooklyn xmas