Tuesday, September 21, 2010

day 247: don’t leave your little one at mcdonald’s—say what you mean, part i of ii

As a mother of seven kids who has written over thirty thousand pages of curriculum and more in the past ten years, I find it difficult to get a whole lot done in our little fourteen hundred square foot house (that doubles as a small press publishing company and a family ministry to Christian parents/homeschoolers). Thus, two or three afternoons a week, I can be found writing away at my “remote” office known as McDonald’s.

Our McDonald’s was re-built a few years ago, and it is such a great place to write and edit—huge booths to spread out my work, unlimited drinks, and limited distractions. (Yes, it can be a busy place, but I don’t have a problem with noise—I can work with tons of noise (I have seven kids!). I just work so well there because nobody needs anything. I put on my headphones and dig in. Before I know it, a few hours have gone by, and I got tons of writing done.)

I often find inspiration for my curriculum AND parenting writing in unique places—a tree that could not stand strong against high winds; a milk shake spill that remains sticky until it is cleaned thoroughly with a very wet cloth—no dry cloth will suffice; a mis-spelled word on the “caution wet floor” sign; and even little kids who are not able to be controlled by their well-meaning mom, dad, or grandma. The latter is the one that inspired me today.

If I had ten bucks for every time I have heard an adult threaten to leave his or her child at my remote office, I would not be driving the non-air conditioned vehicle that I am driving this summer! We’ve all heard it (and maybe some of us have even used that tactic ourselves!), but upon closer examination, what is really wrong with the old, “If you don’t come now, I’m going to leave you here for the Hamburglar to get” routine? (Are you too young to know about the “Hamburglar” at McDonald’s??? Wowsie, I am old!)

Besides the fact that it is just plain mean spirited to threaten to abandon our children, it is evidence of a larger problem in parenting young children---not saying what we mean. Some of the best pieces of advice that our early mentors (Terry and Esa Everroad—I’ve written about them before) gave us were (1) Do not ask our small children to do what we want them to do –but to tell them what we want them to do; and (2) Say what we mean.

The first one was easy enough to change. No more, “Joshua, could you please, please, please, please put your coat on for Mommy?” Agghh….it never got results anyway. I mean, after all, we are giving the child a choice to do it or not, aren’t we? And how can we enforce his obedience when we let him decide whether to do something or not by posing it as a question? It made perfect sense to me to stop begging Joshua to do what I wanted him to do. It was just a simple matter of re-wording my instructions to him (since my question really was a statement with an emphasis at the end to make it sound questioning!).

The second one was harder to curb. Tune in tomorrow to find out why this tip is so important in parenting young children…. smile….

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