a "been-there" mom of six offers encouragement
to wives, young mothers, and those not so young,
and simple common-sense approaches to
the "ings" of life:
child-rearing (hints and helps), homemaking (all areas),
cooking (simple, cheap, and do-it-yourself)
making (toys and gifts), preparing (for the unexpected),
maintaining (sanity and peace in this increasingly crazy world) and more---
all aspects of making the most of making do on little---
and having fun in the process.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Combating the War Against the Family Part 4 continued

Applying Consequences --- Teenagers!

If you think dealing with teenagers is a whole different ballgame, it really isn't----- 
or doesn't have to be, if you take the time to establish clear ground rules and follow through with clear consequences.

If you haven't read last Tuesday's post, please take the time to read it first as the basics are all there and are basically the same for all ages.


If you want responsible children you need to give them responsibilities. Part of giving them responsibility is they have to make choices. If you give them responsibilities and they do not make the correct choices to follow through, you must be prepared to follow through with consequences.  This is how we all learn.

It is important to recognize the difference between discipline and punishment:
  • Discipline helps a child learn
  • Punishment helps a parent who is mad or has been hurt to feel better
When dealing with any child at any age it is important to remember that you are the parent, not a peer or friend.  This does not mean you should be a dictator. Parents should be loving, respectful, and fair, not vindictive or judgmental. 

When implementing consequences, parents should focus on 
  • being in control of their own behavior rather than on controlling their child
  • telling the child what they, the parents, are going to do, not what the child will do (which is beyond their control
  • being consistent

"Watching television (or playing a video game) is a privilege that is earned by being responsible. If you do not do your chores (or finish your homework, etc) you are not being responsible so you lose that privilege."

"Use of the family car is a privilege that we give to family members who get their jobs done. If yo choose not to do your chores, the family car will not be available to you."

We were quite strict with our children (maybe even too strict) and the three boys in a family they were best friends with had parents that were very lenient.  While totally different in our parenting methods, we were each consistent.  Their children and our children knew "what to expect" when discipline was necessary.  On the other hand, with another friend's parents there was no consistency. John never knew from one time to the next how his behavior would be handled by his parents.  This left John in a constant state of uncertainty and confusion. 

Some of the most effective steps in setting up rules and establishing consequences is to have the family together to discuss them.  Isn't everyone more willing to comply when they understand the rules and even more so if they help establish them?

It is vitally important for parents to be in agreement.  If something comes up where the parents are not immediately "on the same page" they, the parents, need to take a time out to discuss the matter and hopefully come to full agreement, before they hand down their decision to the child. 


Chad was a fun-loving, headstrong, impulsive child. While his  parents taught him about, and respect for, family and societal rules, he had trouble adhering to them.  

The family lived in the country, a long way from town and Chad loved to make those trips with his family. Returning home after one of the outings his mother discovered some playing cards and three pens and asked 9-year-old Chad about them.Chad admitted that he had stolen them. 

The mother and father privately discussed the situation and agreed on the following:
  • Chad's father took Chard and the merchandise back to the store  with the understanding that Chad would tell the store manager what he had done, return the merchandise, apologize for his actions and accept whatever consequences the manager would require.
  • The manager listened intently and thanked him for returning the merchandise and admitting what he did. He said he hoped Chad had learned a valuable lesson but took no further action.

  • For the next two weeks, Chad's parents left him at home whenever they went to town, asking him to think about what he had done and assuring him they would take him to town again, allowing him further opportunity to show that he could obey.
Many other infractions came over the years, such as fighting with siblings, experimenting with tobacco and alcohol, violating curfew, and skipping school. In each instance, Chad's parents imposed logical consequences to help him learn from his misconduct. Finally, after time, Chad began to follow the rules.

Over the years, on several occasions Chad thanked his parents for the discipline they provided; discipline that helped him become a responsible, law-abiding adult and good parent.
                                                                                            from Strengthening the Family

Parents need to make sure family rules are clear and that rewards and punishments are consistent and prompt. Teenagers will question many things they formerly accepted.  In discussing curfew you may want to explain that a midnight curfew on Friday’s is based upon parental knowledge and judgment, not upon opposition to dating or social enjoyment. It is important, and very helpful to all involved, to have these rules in place before a situation arises where they are needed. But if that didn’t happen, it is never too late.

Karen was asked to go on a double date on a Friday night, 50 miles from home. The dance ends at 11:30 so the teenagers cannot get home by midnight, Karen’s usual curfew, unless they leave early. Karen is frustrated and the following lively family discussion takes place.

Karen: You don’t trust me. I go to church. I don't smoke or drink or do drugs. I get good grades in school. I do what you want all the time. Now, when I want to do something you won’t let me!

Mother: You are a fine person and we are proud of you. We trust you enough to let you go so far away on a date. The problem is the curfew. Didn’t we all agree in family council that midnight was fair for weekends?

Karen (grudgingly): Yes, but this is special. I have earned it.

Father: You have earned many things and we appreciate your efforts. But you are arguing about something different. It is your safety we are concerned about.

Karen: Dan is a safe drive. You’ve never objected to his ‘safety’ before.

Father: It is the other drivers we worry about. Late on Friday night there are many drivers who are on drugs, or are drunk. It is them we fear. They could harm you.

Karen (sarcastically): Anytime I go out there is danger. Why don’t you just ground me from all fun?

Karen’s tone hurts her parents, but they weigh her usual cooperation against the emotions of the moment and do not become upset. 

Mother: Karen, I can understand your disappointment. It is too bad there are ugly things in this world.

Hoping that her mother’s obvious sympathy is a breakthrough, Karen asks Just this once, please? Responding for both, since Karen’s parents have previously discussed this privately, the father replies.

Father: There is too much risk, especially on that narrow road. We love you too much. We will take the chance of agreeing to the date as long as you are home by midnight.

Karen(a little calmer now) Isn’t there some way?

Mother: Your father and I are in agreement. You agreed in family council to this rule.

Father (with humor): Karen, you are in a tough spot. We’ve been through this with your older brothers and sister. We’ve had a lot of practice discussing this kind of thing.  (Then, turning serious) We love you too much to change this family rule.

Karen leaves the room unhappy but with her self-respect intact. Even in her frustration she cannot deny that her parents care. She cannot ignore the fact that she had previously full discussed and agreed to the curfew rule in a pleasant, calm family council. Remember to be honest and objective in your parent-child discussion and hold your children responsible for rules they have already agreed upon. 
                                                                                           from Strengthening the Family 

Unfortunately, it is a fact, no matter what we do our children don't always respond like the two examples above. At least not immediately. When a person chooses to disregard the rules the very best help we can give them is to let them be responsible for their actions---to let them be accountable.

"Lance, a young adult living at home, was doing just about everything wrong. He lied, stole, cheated, and used drugs and alcohol. He was unchaste and seemed completely indifferent to how his actions affected his parents and other family members. His mother and father had tried everything they could think of to help him. For several years they had been patient and forgiving. Next, they convinced him to see a profession counselor, but after a session or two he refused to go back. He would not meet with his church leader. Finally, Lance was arrested.

The phone rang at Lance's home, and his mother answered. "Hi, Mom. this is Lance. I'm in jail, and they won't let me out until you come and get me. Please hurry!"

Lance's mother was shocked, even panicked, but didn't say anything. Lance pleaded again, "Mom, please hurry! This is not a nice place!"

She didn't say anything for a long time, then quietly asked, "Lance, are you guilty of the charges?"

"Well, Mom, I really wasn't as involved as the police say I was."

"Lance, are you guilty?"

"Well, Mom, I guess I am."

Then, with all the courage she could muster, she replied, "I'm sorry that you are. I guess you will have to work through this by yourself. Call me when you get it all worked out." She hung up the phone and fell apart.

Two very long days passed. Finally, Lance called and his parents went to the police station to pick him up. A few more days passed and the phone rang again. Lance's mother answered, and this time it was a attorney.

"Hello. I am Mark Johnson. I helped Lance with his legal problems while he was in custody. I just wanted to speak with you to see how you wanted to work out my compensation for helping Lance get out of jail."

At first Lance's mother was troubled. Finances were tight and the call took her by surprise. She paused a moment, then said, "Mr. Johnson, I appreciate what you did to help Lance, but you are talking to the wrong person. I did not hire you. You did not help me, you helped Lance. If you want compensation for your efforts, I think you ought to talk to Lance."

Some time later, Lance came to his parents asking for help to pay his legal bill but the help did not come. Lance had to go back to the attorney and work out a pay-back plan. After many months of payments, Lance paid his attorney in full.

Lance will tell you today that the actions of his very brave and very frightened mother helped him turn his life around.

excerpted from an article in the Ensign magazine and included in The Best Help is No Help written by my husband

Parenting is the most expensive - in time, money and effort -- activity in the world. It will do more to take your energy away than anything. Why? Because it is the most important and the most rewarding.

Perhaps you've made many mistakes or for years have done the wrong things, but the very next breath you take, the very next word you say, the very next step you take can be in a different direction than the ones you took previously.

  • Do not give on on each other. 
  • Do not give up on yourselves. 
  • Do not give up on your child. 

                                                                                                    from Family Answers DVD

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Give Your Kids a Priceless Weekly Gift

OR . . .

How to have an "only" child

When you have several children it is difficult, and often seems impossible, to find time to spend with each child individually. Yet we felt this one-on-one attention was extremely important and looked for various ways to accomplish it.

We came up with simple ways to recognize each child on special occasions and I'll post those another day.
But, for on-going "only" child time we settled on. . .

Night's Up!  

During the week (Monday through Thursday) each child had an assigned day where they stayed up one-half hour later than usual, spending time with either both parents or mom or dad (usually their choice). When they were all young, this was time after the others had gone to bed. As they grew up the older ones would read, bathe, or do their own thing while a younger brother had his night up. When we had more than four kids, the ages were such that we could have the time with the younger one --- and then the older one would reappear for their turn. Occasionally, because of an activity or because of a meeting or other adult commitment, only one parent spent time with the night-upper but usually it was both of us.

During this time we played or did whatever that particular child wanted to do on that particular night. We have played many games, innumerable times, sometimes over and over and over. (I do not like Chutes and Ladders---you are finally almost finished and BAM!, back to the bottom to start over! Naturally, and probably for the very same reason but with different motives, they loved it!)

We crawled around the floor playing with Fisher Price farms and garages and castles and hid tiny green toy soldiers behind books and chair legs. We colored, we painted, we played with clay and silly putty. We read and we played Atari. Heidi learned the basics of putting on make up and fixing hair when she selected that activity. She usually wanted to be the beautifier and I was always the willing model. All I had to do was sit!


Our children really looked forward to their night of the week. We tried very hard to not let anything interfere with those times. We knew it was meaningful for them when they wanted to continue it well into their teens, until they got so busy with school activities and jobs that it was no longer possible.

We learned just how important years ago when we came home to find the following on our answering machine. We are guessing that our then 22 year-old son called when he knew we wouldn't be home. We are not a real demonstrative family and this was an easier way for him to say what he wanted to say:
"Thanks you for night's up, soccer games, (teaching us) tithing and missionary savings, helping us clean the club, alligator bread with chocolate chip eyes.     I love you guys."

We couldn't have received a more meaningful gift!

 I am Simply Gail and over the past 50 years I have learned that little things really do mean a lot.