Monday, February 8, 2016

Beautiful Souls: A Series on Parenting Pt. 3~ We Interrupt This Program (Practical Parenting Tips)

Today what was scheduled for my Parenting series -
Was: Why bother with Baptism and the other Sacraments?
-the anticipatory act of Baptism
-the comprehension that we are changed by the Sacraments
-learning healing from the Grace of God

However, I'm interrupting the regularly scheduled programming to share a fun little quiz/interview I did with my kids and to just give you a few practical parenting tips.

Many of you probably saw this quiz floating around Facebook a few weeks back. I thought it was cute, so without any prompting, I asked these questions of my kids (Frances- 5 and Madeleine-3) and recorded their answers.

1. What is something I always say to you? You're beautiful. I love you. Annabel is so cute.
2. What makes me happy? Saying "I love you." Hugging us. Giving us bread.
3. What makes me sad? When we're doing bad things.When we're gone.
4. How do I make you laugh? Saying funny words.
5. What was I like as a child?  (Madeleine): Saying funny things, looking in the mirror, doing funny things when you're Mom said "Don't do bad things."
6. How old am I? 32
7. How tall am I?Frances: 5 ft Madeleine: 5 inches?
8. What is my favorite thing to do? Do crafts and do laundry
9. What do I do when you're not around? What?! I don't know!
10. What am I really good at? Laundry and crafts. And tearing paper off some food.
11. What is something I'm not good at? I don't know.
12. What do I do for a job? Take care of us.
13. What is my favorite food? Coke and sandwiches
14. What do you enjoy doing with me? Doing crafts with you!

Just for the record, Italian is my favorite kind of food.  Haha.  Viva la Roma! ;)

Anyhow... here are some practical parenting tips... just off the cuff.

As a mother of 5 children 8 and under with children 3 and under: How do you do it? How do you keep yourself together? How do you not go crazy?

Me:  First of all, each child is an individual. See them that way. Second, they are all growing and deve(It goes without saying that all of this should be bathed in prayer)loping. Remember that every single day.  Third, they're adorable and cute and sweet. Embrace the mess and the trials, and overcome all of the hard with goodness and love. Fourth, and finally, how do I do it? Routine, routine, routine. All day long, everyday.


They tell you this, but until you have a child, there is just NO way to comprehend how a personality can come into play. Making it harder, sometimes easier, and all parenting situations so totally unique.  Some of my kids have been intense, with proneness to stubbornness. Perhaps you have a high-energy child like this, and a cross like this to bear. Consider, though, that these kids are often gifted and talented in many areas. (Believe me!;) As they mature and blossom, the difficult aspects of their personalities are redeemed by many, many wonderful gifts in many different areas. After having my fifth, I can attest to this. 

Then, some kids are really laid back. As a parent, they seem easier to parent (almost too easy, in comparison!) However, these kids (not naming names) can tend to be more lazy. It can be harder to motivate them to do something. So... don't compare! We all have crosses to bear when it comes to parenting and personalities. And I have to remember: I can't parent my fifth the way I parented my first!

This does not go into the ins and outs of personalities, and believe me, I'm certainly no expert in this field. But just remember, if you're struggling with a child and have a feeling it has something to do with their temperament, be patient and give yourself grace.

~Growth and Development

When a child is trying to put on their own tennis shoes, and freaking out, that means they're on the cusp of being able to learn to do it by themselves. See each and every single tantrum as a clue to you, Mom.  What is on a Monday a falling-on-the-floor-explosion is on Friday an "I-Did-it!" If you see it that way, you will have a reservoir of unending patience.  Imagine if a woman goes into labor, and instead of saying, "Every contraction will bring this baby closer to my arms," she said, "OW! This hurts and I'm done" and just forgot she was in labor and went to the mall. Well, before long she would be surrounded by blood and a baby ... but her labor was traumatic and filled with random, foolish missteps.

As babies grow and develop into toddlers, every cry means something. Hungry, tired, teething. So too, a toddler's every cry means something.  They want to learn how to crawl, to walk, to talk. They want to make decisions. They want to express their own thoughts. They want to put on their shoes by themselves.

Everyday, every single day.

If they come to you wanting to play with your lipstick, it probably means they want you to play make-up with them for a while. Put down whatever you are doing and by all means, go play make-up with your toddler girl!

Otherwise you'll be in a mess of anger, make-up, tears, and Mama frustration/Mama envy. ;)

I can't tell you how many fits I would have sidestepped had I known this with Molly. ;)

~Verbal Affirmations

Adorable, Cute and Sweet. We repeat these words a lot around here. Why? Because if a child is growing and learning and changing and developing everyday in an external way, so too, the baby becoming a child is changing and struggling in an internal way as well.  They need encouragement.

Our primary focus as Moms is so often just :
~make it through the day
~make sure our kids are warm and well-fed
(and it might end there)
~make sure our kids have plenty of playtime, Vitamin D, growing experiences, and opportunites for developmental progress and stimulation

That sounds good. But guess what? I have to tell you the truth. I would just call that Survival Motherhood. ;)

Even though it should be our focus to have lots of good meals planned out for them, and to let them feel the sand between their toes,  and the sun shining on their hair, so too we should see every little tantrum as an opportunity for internal growth.

What do I mean by that?

Well, it means that if a child throws their spaghetti on the floor in a fit of rage, parenting their internal life sometimes means forgetting about the force-feeding, and sending them to bed for a nap on an empty stomach.  This happened to me recently with my toddler, and I didn't feel bad because he had eaten two Grands biscuits a few hours prior, for breakfast.  When he threw a tantrum, I knew he wasn't starving; he probably just needed a nap.

If that happens to you, perhaps what they're learning that day is: I can't boss my Mom around, and it doesn't matter if I refuse my food in the process! (And I'm probably hungry/tired/teething).

Now, please know that this shouldn't happen very often, or it would be considered criminal! You shouldn't be taking away your child's plate every night because they don't like the food. If they don't like it, perhaps you should find and fix something they will eat. Don't starve them to teach them a lesson. (Good grief, please don't do that!) However, if it is an issue of temper, or if the child is demonstrating his or her sinful nature by exhibiting rage or a lack of self-control, correction is definitely, certainly needed!

How to go about that?  Time-outs, very occasional spankings, verbal corrections "Mommy will have to give you a punishment if you do not.... x, y, z." And tell them Jesus loves them. Through words, songs, prayers, and Mass.



Now, this is very important to mention.

If you aren't consistent as a parent, temper tantrums and other things aren't always necessarily the child's fault, amiright?

This goes without saying. If you always serve lunch at 11, but for some reason you decide to run errands for several hours around their lunchtime, don't come to me wondering why they are falling on the floor in a fit, at the final store you visit! That's not a lack of self-control on their part. That's your own fault as their parent.... And don't you know it!!!

And in my personal opinion, there is no hard and fast rule for TV and the internet.  Just make sure your kids know what to expect.  For a while, we only let our kids watch about 30-45 minutes in the morning and about 45-1 hr while Mommy was making dinner. Now because of their interest in other screens (such as iPad games), we've had to change it to nothing on weeknights, but more internet on the weekends. If you want to avoid screen battles, remember: don't hang it over their heads or blame them if there are no expectations laid out in advance. (!!!)

The thing to know about routines is: they change. But once they're established, you stick to it, and it's ok to expect that obedience from your kids, at that point. Changing your mind every day will make your kids want to scream. It will become a power struggle, and a serious fight for control, unless you make up your mind and hold your kids to it.  Only last a month? That's ok. That's a routine. Need to change it after a month? That's ok. Make a new routine. Just please tell me: You're holding your kids to your expectations, and not the other way around!!!

I feel like I should wrap this up with a little kick-in-the-pants reminder that GRACE and PRAYER are the all-encompassing aspects of parenthood. But until we grasp that they are

who are
~growing and developing
who need lots of
~verbal affirmation
and yes, a little bit, or a lot of

We can't just wrap it up in a tidy bow and say "Grace and Prayer... That's all there is to it!!!! ;)" knowwhatimean? ;)

Thanks for bearing with me on this post! I hope this illuminates things and doesn't leave you feeling more frustrated than when you came.  I just felt like we needed to interrupt the program to give you some background on where I'm coming from here.

Linking up with the ACWB and Tuesday Talk

Now, onto Baptism and the other Sacraments! Coming to a post near you.

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