Thursday, February 13, 2014

Loving Our Kids on Purpose, by Danny Silk

I have to confess that I had An Attitude towards Loving Our Kids On Purpose: Making A Heart-To-Heart Connection, by Danny Silk. I was not at all sure of it because of the ministry which Silk is connected to. But! A friend bought it for me after listening to me talk about some parenting issues we are/were having and gave it to me so that I would read it and glean. She gave it to me with a note that said she knew I'd probably disagree with the Introduction but to press on and read it anyway.

As I've already mentioned, I feel very pressured to read books (all the way through) which are given to me as gifts. I feel certain there must be something in them which I will either benefit from or will help me to understand the giver of the book just a little bit better. I had to read this one even if I was suspicious.

My friend was right - I hated the Foreword by Bill Johnson who makes the following statement:

"Although it is no secret that the family has been in crisis, it is also known that the restoration of the family is high on God's list of priorities. That means that Heaven is banking on our success."

To which I had the thought, "If Heaven is banking on my success . . . DOOM!" Gratefully, the battle is already won and Christ stands as the victor. It's just that I'm still in the process of fighting it out. That said, I refrained from throwing the book against the wall out of respect for said friend (who knew I would feel that way and gave me permission to express it!). I moved on, determined to glean. And glean I did.

Silk is a big fan of the Love and Logic method. I reviewed Parenting With Love and Logic over at 5 Minutes for Books back in January, 2009. I'm cracking up at myself in re-reading that review. My opinions have changed with additional children and time spent parenting them. (I still stand by my statements about the six month old though.) Cracking up!! {Wiping tears of laughter away.} What did I know then? I had one kid who was two years old. Now I have three children and they are not all the same. What worked with my oldest does not work with my middle child or my youngest. A bit of panic has since descended upon our household as we have tried to figure out how to "get through" to the second two kids who are not as predictable and/or easy going as the first one was/is. We have most definitely been stretched and grown up as parents and - I suspect - we have more growing to do still. That said, Loving Our Kids On Purpose entered at the perfect time.

The idea of Loving Our Kids On Purpose is largely the same concept of Love and Logic which is to present one's progeny with choices, allowing them to make wise choices or otherwise. Silk gives a theological argument as to why this is important, pointing the reader back to Genesis wherein Adam and Eve had a choice to make. One thing that Silk makes very clear is that children need to learn to make their own choices and better that they learn how to make wise choices inside the home as opposed to outside of it. Through use of his methods he would hope that children would be trained to make the wiser choices for themselves instead of having requirements be "shoved down their throats" as it were.

Another notable aspect to his advice is that parents should not take their children's decisions and behaviors so personally in that if the kid sins you feel as if you have also. I have a major problem with this myself and so reading his encouragement and admonition not to accept their faults as mine was a breath of fresh air. Usually when a child "acts out" I feel personally guilty for their behavior as if everything they do is entirely within me to correct and improve. While I'm in no way excusing my responsibility to train my children, I am saying that I have felt massive pressure (and so have imposed pressure onto the children) to be adults in children's bodies so as to make them acceptable for society. I have felt guilty that that they aren't perfect enough. There seems to always be something that needs work. (And while it's equally true that something always does need work, it's not all on me to perfect them. I mean, some of it's gotta be on Jonathan, right? *wink*)

I finished reading the book and wondered if applying some more free choices to my kids would relieve some of the Tension to Be Perfect and would create a more peaceful atmosphere, especially as applies to one of my kids who is more of a free spirit than the other two. We're given plenty of opportunity to experiment with our training methods (ahem) and so it happened that the very next day we were afforded the opportunity to try out the "Love and Logic" approach.

The child began ramping up to defy. I could see in Child eyes the irritation and the desire to challenge me. And so I laid out a choice, "You can do the work I'm giving you quickly and happily or you go to your bed and lay there for a bit until you feel ready to do the work." Child choose to go to bed. Child stayed there for a long time and I wondered about the success of this. But then! Child exited the bedroom and came and did the work assigned. Child's delay caused them to miss out on a family activity which produced tears and sorrow but the work was done, the child cried (and I didn't!) and there were smiles in the end. The next time I assigned work, it was done happily and quickly. I'll chalk that up for a success! I'm praying as we go (because that's the very best that one can do).

Since trying this method I can't say that I think it should be applied to every single situation. Some things need more pointed correction more quickly. However, there are many times when I know that if I press a point and demand obedience, a major battle is likely to ensue. The Love and Logic approach did manage to keep things calm for us. The job I had assigned was done. The next time action was required on the part of the child they chose prompt action so as not to miss any additional family activities. Smiles stayed on faces. The household was peaceful.

I'm not saying "THIS IS IT!" but I am saying that I now recognize that this is a parenting method which can prove effective for particular personalities types. I do care that my kids learn how to make healthy, wise and God-honoring choices in our household. I'm more than certain (already) that they'll grow up into successful, well-loved, and amazing adults! I believe this to be true. I also believe it's a lot of hard work to get to that point, but that it's all worth it.

I think that Loving Our Kids On Purpose is a book to consider. Especially when it comes to excessively stubborn and strong willed children.

For the record, I was a very strong-willed child. (Also, I'm a very strong-willed adult if you haven't figured that out yet!) I know that I appreciate having choices and freedom, knowing that love endures even if I make a bad choice. I believe the same is true for my kids. I'm willing to put in the work so that they know that whether they fail or succeed, they will be loved no matter what.

Also, for the record, the friend who gave me this book does not have children of her own (yet). And this goes to show that no matter what your stage of life, being part of the Body of Christ makes you fully capable and able of ministering to those around you, regardless of whether or not you are in the same stages of life as they. This is just another example of the beauty of a kind heart, a listening ear, and the willingness to step out and minister to an exasperated mother. I'm glad she was brave enough to give me this book and to push me to read it.


Cassandra said...

Hmmm... lots of thoughts here. Thank you for sharing what has/is working for you and giving a concrete example! I love that it worked with the situation you shared and that smiles were eventually had by all. I'm going to add this one to my to-read list and see what I can learn from it.

I did read Love and Logic and liked the ideas presented. I'm still an arm chair quarterback parent so can't test anything for myself. ;) I've read some debate online about L&L and how it applies to adopted older kids who don't speak English when first at home. There is some lively debate about whether L&L works with that specific parenting situation. I'm curious to see what will apply to our situation.

Wow I'm feeling chatty this morning... sorry for all of the longer comments! ;)

Mirlandra said...

I'm excited for all your gleaned from the book. I think that even one single new tool that helps you and your child into a peaceful relationship is a victory for all concerned!

I think it is admirable that you are willing to be a teachable adult who is willing to be challenged and to continue to grow as you have more life experiences. I think it is very hard for us as humans to become and remain teachable but it empowers us to live amazing full lives.

I also want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for honoring those of us who do not have children but still have things to share. I often feel that I am told, "You do not have children - therefore you do not understand." Honestly I know there are many things I do not understand about having children but I try to learn. I listen with my heart when Moms talk to me. I read, read, read and I believe I do have some things to add to the conversation and some things of value to say to parents. It is so hurtful to be told my thoughts and ideas do not have any value at all. At the same time I think it is SO important for me to remember that parents get besieged with totally unwanted help from all sides and I do understand that is beyond frustrating.

So - with that being said. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for validating my voice in the world of parenting even though I do not yet have children.

Annette Whipple said...

For Mirlandra,I think Carrie is right on when she said in the post that her parenting opinions have changed as she has had more children. Every child has a different personality, so a person (parent or not) who understands a personality could be more helpful than me...the mom of three children...some more willful than others. :)

Carrie, I'm so glad your friend knows you so well and that you didn't throw it against the wall. It DOES sound like a book I would benefit from as well.

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

One thing I've learned: the more children one has, the fewer concrete ANSWERS in parenting one banks on. ;-)

Elisabeth said...

I'm putting this on my list! I can definitely relate to changing my parenting stratigies with the arrival of my VERY DIFFERENT child #2.

Carrie said...

Mirlandra was the one who gave me the book in case anyone is wondering. :D (I just wasn't sure if I should outright name her in the review.)

Yup, my parenting has definitely changed with the additional children. What works for one definitely does not work for the others (any which direction you are looking) and there is way more creativity involved in the process than I previously realized. NOT an intuitive journey, that is for sure.

I love growing in maturity.

I hate growing in maturity.

Cassandra - that's an interesting bit of info from the adoption world.

Amy - HA ha ha....yes.

Cassandra said...

Carrie - I finally remembered the "why" behind my comment enough to be able to try to explain it. ;) "They" say that L&L parenting works when children obey because they want to please you, because they love you. The observation with older adopted kiddos is that, until they are firmly attached, they don't obey out of love. You have to love them so that they learn to love you and then you can apply the L&L parenting principles. Does that make sense? I'm still only talking theory here because I have no parenting experience to draw from...

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