I recently came upon a wonderful article written by the sibling of Montserrat Grasses, a candidate for beatification. We're given a glimpse into the life of a family with 9 children with a tight budget. A lot of us would think, "wow, I bet they were so deprived"...that couldn't be further from the truth. The author talks about how having less actually gave them more and help to build strong character. Now, I've never been the spoiling type of parent (ok, maybe a few Christmas's) and I TRY to not busy ourselves to the point of exhaustion...but these are daily temptations in our culture. "More, more, more" is our new anthem and yet we wonder why our youth has such a weak work ethic. It's so easy to cave to the lies of instant gratification, especially when you're outnumbered by 3 kids! Here's the article: http://reflectionsofaparalytic.com/?p=6454
I have a great deal of friends who practice "Attachment Parenting". With this style of parenting gaining so much attention I decided to look into it thinking, "well I breastfeed, co-sleep part time, wear a sling w/ my baby, delay/deny and stagger vaccinations"...the similarities stopped there. After reading the "mission statement" I was horrified over the fact that my kids would be growing up next to kids who were only disciplined with rainbows, hugs, and understanding. Basically Attachment Parents are trusting the child to make good decisions, no matter what the age and the word "no" is only going to stifle the child and make the child not feel understood. Well that's all well and good until Jr. runs out into the street or bites another toddler for the 23rd time during a playdate. Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for a nurturing environment with loads of understanding, but sometimes no means no and we're not going to sit down and have a sweet little heart to heart about it. No external rewards, no punishment? Really? How does this prepare children for the world where there are plenty of the both. God designed us to be reward seekers and to expect a punishment...uh hello, heaven and hell! So enough ranting about "peaceful parenting" and raising kids to become adults who say to their boss, "WHAT?! You're firing me?! But you can't do that, that's not peaceful! Why don't you understand?" Troubling.
I was introduced to another style of parenting by the blog Catholic Mothers Online called "Simplicity Parenting". Basically, less is more. Three simple words that I think are most definitely Christ approved. Less of self, less idol time, less greed, less possessions. I am reminded of Madame Blueberry of Veggie Tales. Madame Blueberry lives in a mansion tree house and fills it with every possible possession, thinking it will fulfill her until one day she sees a happy little veggie-girl who is truly fulfilled by love, family, and a simple slice of cake. Madame Blueberry is inspired with the girl's song, "...because a thankful heart is a happy heart" and decides to give up her possessions (both Christ approved and John Lennon approved) but before she can, her heavy house falls under the weight and yet she is thankful. I guess Miss Blueberry didn't know about building a house on a strong foundation. "He is like a man which built a house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock." Luke 6:48. Here's a little snippet of our dear Madame Blueberry: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwVNUBpvxXI&feature=related
I think instinct, prayer, and modeling after how our Heavenly Father parents his children, can be quite effective. He gives us free will to be obedient or to sin. With obedience comes reward, and disobedience -discipline. If we choose to continue to defy him, our punishment is severe. If we seek forgiveness, his mercy is infinite. Above all, his love is unconditional, even when we sin, and so is my love for my children...even when they're in the corner, or have a sore backside. Yes, we occasionally spank...shocking I know. I will now await the knock on the door from DFS.
I've taken the "Love and Logic" ( http://www.loveandlogic.com/ ) courses and am a huge fan of Dr. James Dobson's books "The Strong Willed Child" and "Bringing Up Boys". Both have profound insight and wisdom all based on Christian values. Both the courses and the books are wonderful resources for loving parents who understand that setting boundaries and using discipline are actually a huge part of being a responsible parent. Using negative and positive re-enforcement along with natural consequences are all great tools to use, depending on the temperament of your child. Different children require different kinds of attention when addressing behavior...we're still working out the kinks with our children and probably always will be because they are forever changing. I don't see the point in putting a child in a proverbial box...or a literal one...because that kind of discipline probably isn't appropriate, but God knows I've been tempted! (Insert laughter, I promise I'm kidding).
The fact remains though that I could always use a few pointers and tips based on true wisdom and I think "Simplicity Parenting" might be for me...it gets back to basics. But we shall see. Be expecting a book review soon...oh wait, I have 3 kids, nevermind.
Catholic Mothers Online article "Less is More": http://www.catholicmothersonline.com/2011/04/less-is-more/