Thursday, February 28, 2008

Responses on Trenches

Wow--I’m amazed at the negative responses to yesterday’s post. You felt much more negatively about it than I did. So here’s some update and clarification:

On Misery
Okay, I did say several times in my post that misery was felt by all. My point is that the immediate aftermath of addressing the problem is misery. Like when someone is sad in time-out. But then, lessons are learned, new behaviors emerge, and everyone is much happier. In the real world of parenting, bad habits do creep up. A bad parent would continue to just deal with the bad behavior whack-a-mole style and be frustrated by it--like nag Logan again, every day to brush his teeth. In my view, a good parent sets up a system to teach and change the bad behavior, with short-term misery and long-term happiness.

Lazy way: Nag, get frustrated, holler at kids. Unwanted behavior will continue.
Harder way: Get in front of the problem. Make a plan. Brainstorm and problem-solve with child. Establish consequences, good and bad. Stand at the ready to deliver said consequences no matter what. After short-term hassle, good behaviors emerge and everyone is happier.

In short, I hate giving my kids negative consequences. But I gird up my loins and do it for everyone's long-term benefit.

On Love and Logic
I feel yesterday’s retrenchment is quite in line with Love and Logic. I shifted responsibility to the kids and offered positive and negative consequences for whichever choices they made. Which, again, though painful at first, is liberating for Mom and instructive for kids.

Here’s a little case in point from a conversation last night when Logan was looking at his list of responsibilities he must henceforth complete without prompting from Mom:

Logan [looking at one item on list]: Uh-uh. I don’t do that. No way.

Mom: Okay. Then you know what the consequence will be.

Logan: Urgh! [pause] Okay. [pause to compose retort] But you can’t expect me to just do everything all of the sudden, I mean, there’s no way to remember...

Mom: The list is right there.

The beauty here is that I’m neutral. Logan can choose to comply or not. Of course I want him to choose the right, but I won’t interfere with his choice. I’ll allow him to choose the wrong if that’s what it takes for him to learn (and for him, that is generally what it takes). And I’ll be there to administer the appropriate consequence, good or bad.

On Negativity
Like Mark (this is my brother, not my husband), I get impatient with blogs wherein Moms wallow in complaints and go on and on about the darker side of parenting. On the other hand, let's get real. Besides, there's a difference between complaining and describing how one works to address problems.

Anyway, maybe I should take the opportunity to tell you how much I love my kids. To me, light just shines from their glorious selves. And it's that love that gives me the energy to absorb their frustration without dishing it back, to let them hate me for a minute so they can learn and grow.


  1. I absolutely agree with Jessica in her comment to your "entrenchment" post. You did a great job or responding (or not responding, as the case may be) to the problems. But I also see Mark's side of it. I don't want my kids to some day read the blog and think "Man, Mom must have been miserable!" But I don't think that your post, or any of mine, will have them feel that way. I think/hope they will see a mother who is doing her best. And if writing and listening to responses, getting support, and learning to see the funny side of things helps me do that - I'm all for it. I am a better mother when I am a happy mother. I am a happy mother when I have outlets for my adult energy - like blogging, talking with girlfriends, shopping, etc. When I blog about Asher being a troublemaker or something it's not (usually) to whine but rather because, right now, that's who he is. And my blog is about my life and kids.
    Anyway - in conclusion - let's not get too whiney, but learning from each other is important. How's that old quote go?... Stupid people learn from their own mistakes. Smart people learn from other people's mistakes. ...or something like that.

  2. Angela, I think you're blog is not at all negative, and it's real. And, like Nancy said, I appreciate learning from your many years of parenting.....I don't know what I'm doing yet, and I have yet to meet with the challenges you face.

  3. Once again, Ang, you bring a tear. I just love your blog.

    Mark A., don't stop commenting!!!

  4. Well, the blog and your comments have been fun for your mother/mother-in-law to read. You are all great people and married great people. I enjoy re-living my life as I read of your situations with your families. I LOVE to hear the "I swore when I was a child that I would never make my kids have a chore chart" and the "I never want to hear 'Let us gather in a circle and kneel in family prayer' song again" and then see you coming around to using these methods in your homes. I am sure that you all have some negative feelings about some of my parenting . I am sure some of my parenting was bad. But I am also sure that lots of what you thought was bad when you were children has now magically transformed into wisdom.

  5. For the record, I love you, your kids, and your parenting style, Angela. I hope that I have learned something from watching you with your kids that will become part of MY style.
    And as Mark A's wife; he really is a wonderful man. Sometimes the things he says may sound gruff, or blunt, but he means them with love and practicality. After all he did say he is not yet (though hopefully not much longer) a parent. And I have the feeling his mind might change a bit in a small amount of time. Because honestly, I know that our sons are going to set fire, or blow SOMETHING up and we'll see what he does then!

  6. Ang I love to read your blog and my comment about negativity was directed at mommy blogs in general as much as yours. I guess maybe I picked your to post this comment because yours is most often an example of the bright times. Also I felt like I could comment on your parenting precisely because I find it unassailable. As you might imagine with my first only weeks away I'm thinking about this stuff. I would like to thank each of my siblings who have kids for the examples they are to me. I'm sure I'll be a better parent because I have seen you all in the trenches.

  7. Angela, I can just picture you "girding up your loins" (hiking up your pants) and barreling in there with all your patience and wisdom. How do you have the energy?

  8. I read your retrenchment blog and then found myself evaluating how I work within similar circumstances. I decided I'm respond very much like you do, however, my girls often turn on an emotional response that drives me crazy with impatience. Thus, I need to work on the love side probably a bit more.

    In terms of how I post to my own blog, I am much more apt to just publish events and photos, kind of scrapbook-like. In fact, I am due to write a D-news article about this new scrapbooking-type of blogging for the actual paper instead of just online. However, your blog goes beyond just a scrapbook and lends itself to more discussion, which I really like and I'm sure your children will appreciate. It is does remind me of the big women blogs (fMh, Segullah, etc.) in your discussion style.

    Ok, this one is for your bro:

    And I especially liked the twilight post. Isn't that awesome!

    Emily :)