Friday, August 11, 2006

Dull Knives

Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

I'm helping out with the kids this summer at our midweek church service. That night has always been a disaster, partially because it's been understaffed, and partially because of the inertia in the fact that it's always sort of been a free for all. My friend who is leading now has done a great job of giving them some structure, but also let them have some fun. It's a smaller group and the problem (with teaching) is that it's ages 3 up to 11 or so.

So, during the course of the Bible story video they were watching, I moved a couple of children around who were talking or otherwise distracted after initial warnings didn't deter them. After the video when the teacher was trying to discuss it, I made eye contact with Amanda and let her know that she'd be moved if she didn't stop. Not only did she talk again, but she then got up and walked around and picked something up right behind the teacher and was playing with it. So, I told her to move to a chair away from anyone else.

"No, I'm sitting by E."

"Amanda, go sit over there. You got a warning."

"No," sitting down beside E.

I moved out into the hall. "Come out here with me."


After a little more refusal, she finally came out. We discussed her behavior. She stayed out there a bit, then rejoined the group.

So, on the way home from church, we filled Daddy in. She sobbed and sobbed. I asked why she was feeling so badly. She said, "I feel worse right now than I did earlier. You make me feel like I did something really bad--worse than what I did."

So, apparently my parenting skills have been so lax of late, that saying no to your mom is not deemed as something "really bad." So, I am accepting responsibility. And I feel okay about the whole situation. Because I did stand firm then, and we discussed it on the way home, she now knows that it is absolutely not acceptable, and we have set the bar. We've told her that she will be penalized or punished each time she tells us no or refuses to do what we've asked her in reasonably short order.

As the iron that complements her iron, I have let her get dull. Her conscience is dulled to the fact that "just disagreeing" is disrespectful. I need to keep her sharp. I have always noticed when she slips off the deep end in this area, it's because I've let things go. So, I'm gonna take a knife to her. (Figuratively speaking of course).

I would also like you wise readers to take a knife to me. I do know that talking back and disrespect is best banished when it is dealt with consistently and swiftly. How do you deal with it in your own homes? How did your parents respond to it? How does a mom you know with respectful kids handle it?

Come on, sharpen away. My daughter and I need it.


Rhonda said...

I don't know.
I'll be watching to see what others have to say. We owe it to our kids to keep them sharp.

Laurel Wreath said...

OH boy. Having "soon to be teenage boys" this is really an issue for us. It has gotten better.

But just constanst comments like "I do not like the way you are speaking to me." My husband gets on the boys if they sas me saying "I don't ever want to hear you talking to your mother like that."

But if the sassing continues, it would be cause for a time out. "If you can not talk respectfully, then you need to be seperated from us for a little while."

I always tell the boys "I will listen to you, I may not agree with you, or I may not like what you will tell me, but I will always listen. And in doing so I respect you, and in return I expect the same treatment".

It is just something comes and goes in waves. We can have a good period, and then something brings it back.

Anyhoo, that is my two cents.

Katrina said...

This, for me, is one of the hardest areas to set and enforce limits. It is so easy to allow one, "But why do I have to do that?" slip by. And then before you know it, you're engaging in lengthy "conversations" in order to get obedience. During my good weeks, we have an "obey first, ask questions later" policy, and I inflict consequences (usually time out these days, since he hates them) promptly (although I admit I still usually tend to give two chances instead of one - kind of like, "Sit down."... "Camden, you heard what I said..." and then consequences.). I should be more consistent about immediate obedience/consequences.

Anyway, back to the topic. I clearly remember my mother washing my mouth out with soap one time when I sassed her. Yuck! I think it helped me restrain my tongue though (for a while, anyway).

I think some important keys are: 1) An attitude of respect shown in the home by everyone, 2) A zero-tolerance policy for disrespectful behavior/talking toward parents (or others), 4) Praise / reinforcement when they are respectful and obedient, 4) Pray a lot!!

I don't think I can sharpen you much, because I have a long way to go myself, but just reading this encouraged me to keep working on it.

Dianne said...

I know nothing about kids (well, not really, having none of my own) but where knives are concerned, my gram always taught me to never wait until a knife gets dull to sharpen it. That's when you're most likely to get cut. In other words - you gotta constantly be sharpening them. Maybe that's applicable here?

Funny, I mentally started a post today with this exact same scripture, different emphasis though. So it was weird to open your post and read that first!

Praying for wisdom for you with Amanda. I think you're on the right track.

Belle-ah said...

I think it is important to take a firm stance when it is literal and willful disobedience. They will often push just to see where the limits are and sometimes I think they push just to be comforted in the fact that the boundaries are still firm. You are being a good Mom by staying aware and not letting yourself get lax. (((hugs)))

Aidan said...

I really like what Katrina had to say--obey first, ask questions later. I was terrible with talking back to my mom when I was growing up, so much so that my friends were shocked at how I talked to her. I think that actually just prodded me on to act worse. I struggle with it with Caitlin (my daughter) to a certain extent, but it tends only to be when we're out in public, NEVER at home. Even if it gets embarrassing to deal with it out in public though, I still try to do so immediately. Yank her away from wherever we are, demand respect, and end the activity if I don't get it (I say, I *try* to do this regularly).

I think the "zero tolerance" policy has to be enforced. They need to obey the first time when told something, and then immediately disciplined if there is any sass, disrespect, or disobedience. Otherwise we start down that miserably slippery slope until we find ourselves telling our children to do something 10 times before they "obey" (can it really even qualify as obedience if it takes 10 prompts and the threat of bodily harm before they acquiesce?). And then life is no fun for all involved!

Kailani said...

That is a good question and I'm interested in what others have to say.

As for me, I try to nip it in the bud. But at what point do you cross the line and become a nickpicker? I know they say you have to choose your battles but everything is a battle to me. Maybe I just expect too much from my child and need to relax a little. But what if I relax and she walks all over me? Oh, I don't know . . .

Jennifer said...

Thanks for all your great encouragement and real-life experience.

Laurel--I love it when my husband sticks up for me like that!

Dianne--your grandma is right. It's when things go unattended to with the attitude that it gets bad.

Katrina--thanks for your thoughts on this. I know it's a constant struggle, and I don't think any of us are masters at dealing with it.

Bellah--thanks for the encouragement.

Aidan and Rhonda--good to hear from both of you!

See, we don't have to be all perfect. You still like me, and I'll bet you even still think that Amanda is a good kid.

Lindsey @ Enjoythejourney said...

I'm waiting for good advice too. Know you're not alone!

Our battle right now is getting kids to obey us the first time before we have to raise our voice. I really don't like raising my voice, but somtimes it is the ONLY way they tune in and get with the program!


Something tells me when summer is over and we're back in our routines life will be a little easier in the discipline department.

Tammy said...

I don't have any great words of wisdom...only that, like you and most moms, I'm dealing with it, as well.

I usually demand a respectful tone and respectful words, but just this week, both of my girls (4 and 7) were not their usual, loving, respectful selves. When they act this way, I'm usually thrown for a loop!

I tend to speak once about it, patiently (usually!) them a chance to correct how they're saying something...then if the respect is still lacking big-time, they have one more warning...then a time out on the stairs. Usually, my girls are sorry from the very first correction...I mean, they really seem genuinely sorry. But I am not sure what was in their breakfast cereal this week because they were forgetting manners, asking over and over after I've said no, and they each had a day with a tantrum! It was pretty frustrating, to say the least!

Anyway, back to you...;) I do think it sounds like you are on the right track. I think children like to test us on occasion...and I agree with you- a flat-out no to a parent, not once, but more than once, merits some consequences! Good luck!

Magnanimity said...

This has to be one of my favorite scriptures, and one the least used productively in the body of Christ. Even in blogdom, so much of what is done is silly replies and constant "encouragement". I really expect and need to be sharpened in anything I do and say...yeah, there's grace, but as a whole, I love the stretching thoughts.

PS: I had to take my youngest of off class our first Wed. night midweek, too! Same problems. I think part of it is that he's learned to function well in our microsystem...but has forgotten, or has really never been taught how to function in a play group with other authorities over him. Very hard to teach that at home. I think some of our hardest disciplines HAVE to come in public so that they know they have to listen to what "big people say".

Good luck!

Rebecca said...

If only I knew what to do with sassing and disrespect. Some tips in the Turansky books have been helpful, and good food, lots of sleep, plenty of attention and hugs help everybody.

Kailani said...

Back again via Carnival of Family Life. And . . . I still don't know. :-)

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