Sunday, November 28, 2010


Finally! After years of trying to convince Brytin that Legos are the best thing since sliced bread, we finally just bought him some. And guess what? He LOVES them!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I Love Being a Stay at Home Parent

I had hoped that this recession would change our country. I know that my way isn't necessarily the best way, but it is a pretty good gosh darn option.

I realize, of course, that the way we changed our family isn't the solution for everyone. I realize, of course, that not every woman wants to be a stay at home parent. I realize, of course, that not every family can make it work with one car and one motorcycle. And I realize, of course, that not every family is blessed to have two parents or a military paycheck with military benefits.

But in retrospect, me staying home was the best possible choice for our family. Rather than fretting about finding a new job in a HORRIBLE economy, I started focusing on our family. For the last year and a half, I have been available to Chris and to Brytin whenever they needed me. Chris could come home from a rough day at work and vent about it - or choose to forget about it all together and dive into whatever Brytin and I were mixed up with.

With me not fighting battles in the corporate world, the daily traffic and the constant need to be in at least two places at once, Chris and I didn't have to compete for who had the worst day. I could tend to the wounds the world gave him, allow him to relax and recooperate and help him off to face another battle the next day - renewed, refreshed and full strength.

At a very pivotal time in my stepson's life, I was there, every single day. From the time he was four-and-a-half to the present, I have been able to give him my undivided attention whenever he needs it. (Realize that does not mean he controls my time, but that when I see he needs attention/love/affection/discipline/whatever, I am able to be fully tuned in.) I was with him the entire summer before starting school, helping him understand that his life was changing. I was there to pick him up from Kinder every day and really truly listen to all the new experiences he wanted to share with me. And his first day of first grade, I was there to introduce him to his teacher, to help him remember his old friends and to encourage him to be the big boy he is :)

I am so thankful for a loving supporting husband who has allowed me this opportunity. I am so thankful that the downturned economy led me to this place. A stay-at-home parent is exactly who I was meant to be. I'm not perfect at it, but my family is better for it.

Somewhat biased, but rather interesting still is "Home Alone in America" by Mary Eberstadt. The book gives one woman's interpretation as to why our children are in the predicament they are in.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Have a New Kid by Friday" by Dr. Leman: Day Five

This chapter in the book is mostly a review. I would like to just give you some of the one-line principles from the book.

Let reality be the teacher.

Respond rather than react – close your mouth, think and respond with action.

B does not happen until A is complete. No matter what, the family comes first, so if there is a problem at home, do not look at life outside the home until the problem is solved.

Your child’s behavior serves a purpose in his life. (He’s getting what he wants, isn’t he?)

If you want your child to trust you, you must ALWAYS follow through on what you say you will do.

Do not give any warnings. (This is to say, “You’re so stupid, I have to tell you twice.”)

Do not take over what she should be doing herself.

Do not think that misbehavior will go away. (Do not nag, but do not ignore things that do not fit into the big picture.)

At the final piece from “Have a New Kid by Friday,” by Dr. Leman that I think is important:

“Do not let your child control your mood. An explosion of anger is like throwing up all over your child. The release in tension might feel good temporarily, but look at what you have done to the child. (Page 85)”

The second half of the book is actually a reference manual. It lists certain behaviors/actions of children and Dr. Leman gives his opinion on how the parent should handle the situation. The second half is exactly why every parent should own this book!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"Have a New Kid by Friday" by Dr. Leman: Day Four

The “Thursday” chapter of “Have a New Kid by Friday” struck home the most for me.

This chapter explains the difference (and importance) between self-esteem and self-worth. And it explains the difference (and importance) between praise and encouragement.

According to Dr. Leman, self-esteem is “feeling good about myself (page 69.)” And praise “links a child’s worth to what he does.”

“It is easy to make a child feel good – give him everything he wants when he wants it. You’ll create the kind of child who feels good about himself because his parents always took care of everything for him – there were no bumps in the road. Be forewarned, Mom and Dad, you will be stuck in that role when the child is an adult and unable to step up to the plate.”

Double that with a parent who continually praises their child’s good acts, and you’ve got one big fat mess.

Most of the time, praise is false or at least exaggerated to make them feel good. “It’s never a good idea to associate ‘goodness’ or ‘cuteness’ with how a child does a certain task. If the child did that task badly, would that make him bad or ugly?”

To a child, linking his worth to what he does translates as, “If I don’t do something ‘good’ all the time, then I’m not worth anything.”

“Feeling good is a temporary thing. It is based on feelings that change from moment to moment. (Page 71.)”

And truthfully, I am mildly concerned that I may be doing this to my most amazingly awesome sweet smart stellar boy. Not that my praise is false, but that I’ve associated good works with worth…

So what should I be doing?

True self-worth, according to Dr. Leman, is developed thru experiences that teach responsibility and accountability. It is based on acceptance, belonging and competence.

Encouragement (rather than praise) emphasizes the act, not the person, thus encouraging the person to continue make good choices.

For example, instead of saying, “You’re such a good boy! You got an ‘A’ in math; that is just wonderful!”

Try: “You earned an ‘A’ in Math! I know you have been working really hard in that area and it has definitely paid off!”

The difference is so subtle. But if the first leads my son to think he is only worth something when he feels good or when he does good, I definitely want to learn to encourage rather than praise. I definitely want to develop his self-worth rather than his self-esteem.

Children want to be accepted by their parents.
Children want to belong to a family.
Children want to have competence.

How can I help my son accomplish these things?
1. Make my expectations clear.
2. Expect the best.
3. Never do for him what he can and should do for himself.
4. Do not repeat my instructions (because it implies I think he is stupid).
5. Do not praise, encourage him.

Monday, November 15, 2010

"Have a New Kid by Friday" by Dr. Leman: Day Three

Now that you can understand a little better why your child acts like a buffoon, now that you can picture what exactly you are looking for in your child’s attitude, behavior and character, now you are ready to see why it is important to change you.

Many parents don’t realize that the child’s goal is to please the parent. Your child wants a relationship with you, not a friendship, but a partnership that leads to developing a human that has a healthy respect for his self and others. They don’t want to be bullied into submission. They want your guidance, but they want to you to help them develop into an independent thinker. Being happy all the time isn’t real life – it’s Disneyland. And if you lead your child to believe that real life is like Disneyland, you are doing him a great disservice, and probably going to end up with an adult child living with you…

On the opposite end of the spectrum, of course, is the parent who is never happy with their child. Eventually, your child will give up trying to please you…Thankfully, if you stop nagging/complaining/yelling/etc, it is very easy for the child to return to wanting to please you.

My most favorite line in the book came on page 54: “What your child thinks of you at this particular moment is not necessarily what they will think about you for life.” The author doesn’t go into great detail about this weighty line, but does say “If you are calm, you are consistent, and you always do what you say you are going to, you will earn their respect and trust.”

If you are not an adult your child can trust, there will not be a connection. If there is not a connection, you cannot be surprised when a toddler embarrasses you in a grocery store or a teenager listens to an iPod at dinner or an adult child never calls…

If you have the end in mind (10, 15, 20 years down the road), it is easier to decide what to address in your child now. Find the things that do not fit into the big picture and address those.

And this is where I encourage you to buy the book (or rent it from the library). The book has so many great tips and details and insights that I cannot possibly lay out for you. Please, if you have ever wanted to pull your hair out because your child is ridiculous, please read this book.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

"Have a New Kid by Friday" by Dr. Leman: Day Two

“Rolling of eyes, talking back, stubbornness, poor manners, being a know-it-all, whining, the ‘me, me, me’ syndrome, defiance, throwing a tantrum, choosing not to cooperate with family members, showing disrespect, etc. Where does all this attitude come from?"

In his first hint that his book is really about changing YOU, Dr. Leman points out that “the key to changing your child’s attitude is changing your attitude. (Page 39) Attitudes are caught, not taught.”

Dr. Leman explains that character is the foundation for attitude and behavior. “Character is taught through life lessons. Good and negative characteristics need to be addressed. Character is who you are when no one is looking. (Page 46)”

“Does your child have good character? Is your child respectful of you, of others in the family and outside the family – including teachers – and of your faith? Does your child have good phone manners? Does he tell the truth? Is he self-motivated to do homework (or does he wait for you to jump-start him)? Does he care about being on time? Is he bothered when others cheat on a test, or does that seem ‘normal’ to him? Is a ‘gimme gimme’ kid who has a Christmas list the length of the expressway? Is your child kind? Does he stick up for others smaller or weaker than himself on the playground, or is he the bully? Is he respectful of his sibling’s special things? Does your child take no for a no or push until he gets what he wants? Does he use language that your grandmother would approve of? Is he the kind of young man you would hire to work for your company?”

If not, Dr. Leman suggests letting reality be the teacher. “Let nature take its course. When nature doesn’t take care of the problem, you help nature along. Do not rescue kids from the consequences of failed responsibility. (Page 48) Warning: parents have a tendency to rub their child’s nose in what he does wrong. In most cases, letting reality be the teacher is enough discipline in itself.”

Besides “Reality Discipline,” Dr. Leman offers two additional strategies for successful development of good character:
Respond rather than react. (For clarification, consider the differences in these two sentences: “You’ve reacted to the medicine I prescribed.” versus “You’ve responded to the medicine I prescribed.”)
B doesn’t happen until A is completed. If child does not do whatever you told him to do, you do not do whatever he requests of you.

All three strategies are profound, important and at the same time E-A-S-Y to integrate into your daily life.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

"Have a New Kid by Friday" by Dr. Leman: Day One

As promised, here is Day One of Dr. Leman's 5-day plan:

On Monday, you gain an understanding of why your child acts the way he does. Hint: everything a child does is for attention. Their brains do not care if the attention is positive or negative. Children inherently think, “I only count when people notice me.”

On page 32, I learned a great response to behavior I do not like. “Do you need some attention today? If you need a hug, all you have to do is say so. Just come over and ask for a hug. You do not have to (fill in the blank) to get attention. That kind of behavior is not acceptable.” By responding to a child’s misbehavior in this way, you let him know that “you know exactly what happened and why he did it. You are in control, not him. So, he does not have a reason to do it the next time.”

Another helpful point in this chapter is to “say your words only once. Expect your words to be heeded. There is no backtalk, no argument. You mean what you say, say what you mean, and now your child must obey.”

A lot of times in the book, Dr. Leman points out that the underlying message in some of the choices we make as parents implies that we think our children our stupid. When we say things to them more than once, it reads, “You’re so stupid, I have to tell you twice.” Are you doing things that are actually condescending to your child?

Friday, November 12, 2010

"Have a New Kid by Friday" by Dr. Leman

“Have a New Kid by Friday” is a five-day manual on how to be a better parent. It sells itself as a quick scheme on how to change your children - a line that many are willing to buy into and then get schnookered into changing themselves :)

To the unsuspecting individual, this is not obvious until the epilogue when the author begins his diatribe on the natural tendency of humans to WATCH other humans.

“Your children learn how to live life by watching you. How do you cope with anger, sadness, and disappointment? How do you prioritize? How do you treat others and yourself? Intimidating? Yes, but all together stimulating, too.” You see, until we are the type of parents we want to be, our children cannot be the type of people we want them to be.

In his book, Dr. Leman, bases his entire strategy on the assumption that our children act the way they do, because we as adults have chosen to be friends rather than parents.

From page 26, “Today’s parents often do not act like parents. They are so concerned about being their child’s friend, about not wounding their psyche, about making sure their child is happy and successful, that they fail in their most important role: to be a parent. They snowplow the road, smoothing all the bumps so their child never has to be uncomfortable. And why should he? He is used to having things done for him. Mom and Dad have become servants, doing the whims of the children; rather than parents who have the child’s long-term best in mind…Today’s children are held accountable less and less and have fewer responsibilities. To them, family is not about what you can give, but what you can get.”

His solution is simple: hold everyone in the household accountable for their choices.
“Nothing in life is a free ride. The sooner children learn that the better. Every person is accountable, regardless of age, for what comes out of their mouth. And homes should be based on cornerstones of mutual respect, love and accountability. There is no entitlement. If you allow your children to feel entitled, you’ll create children who think they’re in the driver’s seat of life’s car. Children who think their happiness is what is most important in life and that they are ‘entitled’ not only to what they want, but anything and everything they want – when they want it. (Page 18)”

Dr. Leman sets out a five-day plan for changing your child’s attitude, behavior and character. This plan changes how you parent into a method that encourages a deeper, truer relationship with your child on a level that is consistent and respectful.

Over the next few days, I will review the five-day plan.

Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four
Day Five