Thursday, April 29, 2010

Minute To Win It.

Have you ever seen the parent in the store with the screaming child, who is begging for whatever or wants out of the buggy, and the mom has this panicked look on her face? You know... the one saying, "If you'll calm down, I'll get you an ice cream when we leave"?

Or, uh-oh... are you that mom?

Be of good cheer, my friend. Not only does it get easier, but it can get easier TODAY.

Wanna know what makes me want to puke? When I hear a parent say, "If you do that one more time, I will spank you..." and the little rascal does it three more times, and the parent says again, "I told you! One more time and I will spank you..." and the sweet morsel of love does it again... and the parent says,... well, you get the picture.

One thing I have learned about strong willed children is that they don't think they are so high and mighty if they know who really IS high and mighty. They respect someone who means what they say. To a strong child, empty threats equal a parent who isn't worthy of respect in their eyes... a parent who is weak. And even though the PARENT is the one who is dropping the ball, the CHILD gets labeled hyperactive or obnoxious, put on mediciation, and becomes a walking zombie. (Did I just say that outloud? Oops.)

I believe with all my heart that 90% of the time, the reason kids get into trouble is because they aren't sure of what's expected of them. We can head of ALOT OF DRAMA and frustration if we will do what I'll call the "Minute To Win It" plan. Yep. Like the TV game show, only you're guaranteed to win.


The MTWI plan is simply this. Before you enter ANY situation with your child, communicate in one minute what you expect from them, and what they can expect from you. Example. When I go shopping with Abi, we have a little talk on the way into the store, where I communicate to her what my expectations will be on this shopping excursion. For instance, I might say, "We are going in here to buy milk and bread. You're not going to get any candy today, so please don't ask. We're going in, getting what I need to get, and we're coming back out. If you ask me for candy, I'll have to take a dollar out of your allowance. Do you understand?" Then, I have her reiterate back to me our conditions. Once I see that she understands what I expect from her, we go for it. If she forgets and asks anyway, I will say, "Oops! You just lost a dollar out of your allowance." And then I actually FOLLOW THROUGH with that.

Know what happened? My "I-can-have-a-fit-because-we-are-in-public-and-you-can't-spank-me" child INSTANTLY started behaving. Because she saw that Mama meant what she said.

Another situation that MTWI helps with is interrupting. Let's say you're about to call someone on the phone. Take a minute and tell your little bundle of joy that you're going to be on the phone a while. Tell him that if he needs to talk to you, he can come up to you and put his hand on your leg or arm, and that will be the signal that he needs you. Then you will in turn touch his hand to let him know you are aware of his request. At YOUR convenience, answer him. But also tell him that if he chooses to be rude instead of polite, he will lose his tv privileges or his outside time.

And then... (drum roll, please...) Do what you said you would do! It's VERY important to mean what you say, and then follow through the very first time the behavior is less than what you accept.

I know there are some of you shaking your head, thinking I have lost my mind or have GOT to be the strictest parent in the world right now. But I gotta tell you... that's ok with me. I decided when I WAS the mom with the screaming Banshee that I could not win if the situation escalated to high levels of drama. I will not negotiate with terrorists. I finally decided it wasn't normal to have palpitations just pulling into the parking lot of Wal-Mart with my two year old. So, the day I decided to be the grown-up and establish the rules of engagement, the engagement actually disappeared.

Oh, and the old "1...2....3..." deal? Let me ask you this. Do you have time to count to three to get your kid to come out of the street when a semi-truck is headed for them? They have to learn that our word means NOW, not after we show off our abilities to count to ten.

Our kids are looking for two things in us. One, that we will set boundaries for them. And two, that we love them enough to enforce those boundaries.

You can do it!!!! Yes you can, yes you can!!!!!!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Manners, part 2.

Ok. Surely you knew I was going to revisit this topic. And let me be frank. If you read further than this paragraph, you are releasing me from being responsible for ticking you off, grating on your nerves, or making you want to punch me.

Here's the thing, young parents... (And by young, I mean those of us born in the 70s, 80s, and 90s.) We have TOTALLY over complicated our lives. Think about it. There are books for everything from how to get your child to stop eating pencil erasers to how to boost your child's IQ while they are still in the womb. We know how to do brilliant things like "reason" with a strong willed child, "rationalize" with a sensitive child, and "fortify" a child whose self-esteem is less than par. We can make our own baby food, grow our own pesticide-free tomatoes, and find 10,239 ways to reuse a Target bag in order to save the earth.

But Lord help us... our generation cannot get our children to look at someone in the eye when they talking to them to save our lives.

To borrow a phrase from Abi- "I'm quit of it."

Part of our problem is that we are so stinkin' defensive about our children. We rush to their aid, choose their side in every conflict, and teach them to generate excuses for their poor behavior choices. And Jesus take the wheel if someone other than an immediate family member disciplines our precious angel! Listen. If Abi needs correction, for goodness sake, CORRECT HER! I can't be everywhere all the time, and I can't see everything from every angle. Ever heard that it takes a village to raise a child? I actually know several parents who have gotten FURIOUSLY angry when they have left their child with adult sitters/friends/relatives who had to discipline the child for whatever reason. Oh, by all means... let's set them up to believe that they only need to obey their parents. This will come in handy when they are in school, looking at speed limit signs, or working with a new boss one day.

I especially welcome someone else correcting Abi in my presence. *GASP* And why, you might ask? I want her to see that while her dad and I are the main authorities in her life, we are not the only authorities. I want her to see that we welcome the guidance of others, and we respect their input. Of course, the mom at the park that yells at your kid for cutting in line is not what I'm talking about. This is why it's important to have quality people we trust in our lives. You get the picture.

Parents, these are our CHILDREN. They aren't rabid Rottweilers. (Sometimes it feels like they are, but trust me...) They are scared, lost, confused little creatures with cute faces, messy hair, and dirty fingernails, and they need and want our boundaries. They will rise or fall to our levels of expectation.

So, by all means, skip the manners concepts and focus on growing organic papaya. But let me fast forward a few years and give you a taste of what you'll have to enjoy.

A young lady who rolls her eyes at her teachers. She will always be tardy, and it will ALWAYS be someone else's fault. She will cuss you behind your back, and will cuss strangers to their faces. She won't know how to engage in meaningful conversation with anyone, won't care about other people's needs, and will talk to you like you're an idiot. She won't care about her elders at all, and will think the world rises and falls on her command.

Or, you may have a young man who won't work and has to borrow money from you to take his girlfriend on a date. He'll be the kid who pulls up at her house and honks the horn. On the date, he won't open the door for his girlfriend, and will only buy her meal and not her movie. Oh, and the old lady trying to open the store door and get her cart out to her car in the pouring rain? He'll walk right by her.

Manners are a forgotten virtue in our generation. We allow kids to talk however they want, respond however they want, and treat others however they want. Not in my house. I firmly believe that by drilling manners so hard, I am setting up Abi to have GREAT favor through her whole life with people. Have you seen the look on a server's face when your child says, "Thank you for bringing our food to us?" I have. They are speechless every time. (and let me tell you, I've never asked her to do that... she "caught" that concept.) See, Rod and I want Abi to actually think of the PEOPLE behind the food we eat. The PEOPLE behind the counter at the toy store who actually stock the shelves so she can spend her allowance. You may say, "But they are getting paid to do their jobs..." True. But the payment they receive from a grateful child means more to them most days than the money in their pocket. Someone respected them. Someone who is less than 4 feet tall.

Don't get me wrong. It's a constant effort, teaching manners. And Abi can have six weeks of impeccable manners and then be as rude as a little warthog when she wants to be. That's why it's called parentING. As in action. As in long-going and consistent.

On an ending note, ever watched Andy Griffith? How about Hannah Montana? Ever compared how Opie and Hannah talk to adults?

Old School rocks. ;-)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My man.

(This is Rod, standing across the river from Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, at floodstage. One of my favorite pics and favorite moments of all time. He was SCREAMING and laughing.)

Ok. Here's a shameless plug for my man.

I married the best man I know. He's the perfect mate for me. Sweet Rodrick knows how to be the perfect blend of stubborn and sensitive... he has put up with alot from this emotional wife of his... through many years of trying to get pregnant, weight loss and weight gain, hormonal fluctuations, missing mental functions, impatience, impulsiveness, and countless other lovely imperfections I have brought to the table in these 14 years of marriage. This man works harder than any man I know. He's constantly mowing something, repairing something, bettering something, and yes (sometimes) breaking something, all to make our home function well.

Thanks to this man, I never have to worry about my car not running correctly, my tires needing to be replaced, the air conditioning not being cold enough, or creepies trying to get me in the night. He's strong, capable, and quick. Thanks to him, I have never paid a bill, filed our taxes, or balanced our checkbook. He doesn't complain if my hair's too short or too big. I often fall asleep with his hand on my back, or wake up in the night to hear him say, "I sure do appreciate you, babe," as he turns over. He never winces at a new outfit I bought that's not his favorite color, listens when I have dump my deepest and most reserved thoughts on him, and tolerates chick flicks with a smile on his face. He automatically finds my hand when we're walking across a road, through a parking lot, or in a crowd of people... an instant defense to protect his woman. When I told him I was driving through the neighborhood to find our stolen swingset, even if it meant knocking on doors and getting back what's mine, he asked me to stay home and let him do it... and when I chose to go anyway, he chuckled instead of chewing me out.

And then there's his little girl. Abi's poor husband... the bar has been set so high. I have a feeling that if she's honest, she will always measure him by her daddy's love and skill set. But what a good ruler to measure by. Rodrick romances Abi every day with his words. He's constantly affectionate. She gets his undivided attention on demand... all she has to do is say, "Daddy?" and he stops, drops, and rolls. He dates her. He knows she takes extra butter on her popcorn. He makes little silver dollar pancakes for her when she requests (almost daily), and he calls her "My Sweet" instead of Abi 90% of the time. She blushes when he brags on how pretty she is, and he's long-suffering through her "ovarian spasms," when she's crying for no reason and every reason all at the same time. He brought her a dozen long stemmed pink roses for their first date. He kisses me in front of her and brags on my cooking, so she'll look for a man who will do the same one day.

Is he perfect? Nope. He leaves the dish rag in the sink next to egg shells. He is hard headed. He has to be dying to go to a doctor. He can be a tad messy. He's a burly manly man who often does gross things and eats gross things. He frustrates me, makes me mad, and irritates me.

But let me tell you. This man was hand-crafted by the Master Craftsman for me. I'd marry him again today, tomorrow, and the next day... and over and over again. He's my pick. The love of my life. The best friend I have ever had and will ever have.

Why the plug for Rodrick today? What does this post have to do with parenting?


All I have, I owe to our union. He's the other half of me. When I fail as a parent, he finds a way to succeed. He backs me up, gives me confidence, and stands by my decisions as though they are his own. Could I parent without him? Sure. But the ride sure is sweeter with he and I in partnership. And I just figured today was as good a day as any to broadcast to the world how good he is. Mamas, maybe you need to do a little broadcasting for your man. And men, maybe you need to give her something to broadcast!

Am I saying we're perfect, I'm perfect, he's perfect? HAHAHAHA... funny!!!! *regaining composure* Um, no. But what I have in my husband I would not trade for anyone else's version of perfection.

I love you, Rodrick. I always have. I always will. xox

Monday, April 26, 2010

Pickin' and Grinnin'...

Did ANYone see Abi's outfit at church Sunday? ANYONE?

Sunday was one of those days when I was so very glad I had decided that clothes will not be a battle I will fight with Abi.

For those of you not fortunate enough to experience her glamour, let me describe it for you.

First of all, you need to understand that Abi had friends over, and when the girls all emerged from her room, dressed for church, the two friends had on adorable outfits that were matching from head to toe.

And then Abi announced herself. "MOM! Look at this OUTFIT!"

She was wearing gray and white striped pajama bottoms. She was wearing a dress that she literally got when she was 3... This dress used to go down almost to her ankles. Now it barely covers her rear end. It's black, with pink, yellow, green, and blue polka dots ALL over it. And to complete the ensemble, she had me pull her hair into a pony tail and she adorned her head with a BRIGHT yellow headband. Oh, and let's not forget the silver glitter shoes.

Another mom saw her at church, looked at me, and gave me the "God help you, I understand" look.

But here's the thing. I had decided months ago that as long as her hiney, her chest, and her belly are covered, I will not argue with her about her clothes. (Oh, and for the record, she attends a charter school, where she wears uniforms everyday... but she wears yellow or pink leggings under the skirts in the winter and bright colored head bands in the hot months... that girl can't take monotony. Where DOES she get that from? *cough*)

Another battle I won't fight with her is the pajama battle. She won't wear them. Dora? Cinderella? Snow White ones? Nope. She'll take shorts and a t-shirt, thank you. And I'm not gonna argue.

I picked, and now I'm grinnin'.

See, before I had Abi, I would see those moms in Target who were dressed so nicely, and see their son wearing cowboy boots with swimming trunks and a sweat shirt in December, and I'd think, "There's no need for that!"

Then, God gave me Abigail.

I've taken her out in public wearing a Little Mermaid outfit, complete with fins, along with her pink cowboy boots and my old leg warmers. She has attended church with a Belle costume and flip flops. And let's not forget about the Sunday she wore a boot and a flip flop with her frilly blue dress.

But here's the deal. Yesterday, as she is standing in our kitchen, wearing this bizarre outfit, I asked her, "Are you gonna wear that to church?" She said, "Yes, ma'am." In that moment, I had little flashbacks from the last few days. Over the weekend, I saw her wrap her arms around a friend who was brokenhearted and crying, and console her. At an important meeting the other day, a business woman asked her if she would like a drink. Abi said, "Yes, ma'am. Coke, please." I remember two nights ago, hearing Rod call Abi, and hearing Abi respond, "What, sir?"

And I remembered that there are bigger fish to fry than mismatched clothes.

Don't get me wrong... she's not perfect. After all, she's my child, poor thing. But I have discovered that I'd much rather have a child whose clothes never match and has manners than a child who has no respect for others and is dressed like an Old Navy catalog model.

So, moms and dads... focus on what matters. Be armed before you step in and make a stand on something. Major on the majors, and minor on the minors. And most importantly, be ready to follow through if you commit to an issue. Are things like pajamas and flip flops worth the conflict? Nope. But things like rudeness and nastiness are.

One more piece of the puzzle in place. That's a small victory. ;-)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Nuggets. (not the chicken kind.)

Dear Abi,
Here's some things I wanted to write down for you. Partly to get them off my head, and partly because one day, you'll need to know these things. Humor me, please. And stop rolling your eyes, because I'm sure that by the time you are reading this, you'll be at least 12, and eye rolling will be automatic by now when you think of me.

Nugget 1. I am not your friend. I have no desire to be your friend. I'm not your buddy, not your peer, and not your equal. I will never dress like you, have the same hairstyle as you, or ever be as current as you. I am old. Get used to it. And while you have and will cost me many hours of sleep through my life, I will never lose sleep over the fact that you don't like me.

Nugget 2. My job is to protect you from yourself. This includes, but is not limited to: screening your friends, snooping through your drawers, and intercepting your texts and emails. You won't like this at all. But thank God, you have a Mom who doesn't care and doesn't need your acceptance.

Nugget 3. You will not always get to participate in what your friends are. For example... just because last year, $1.6 million was spent on thong underwear for girls aged 7-12 does NOT mean you will be one of those young ladies with a wedgie. You are not guaranteed a license at 16, and we have no idea when you will be allowed to date.

Nugget 4. You will not be handed luxury items like a car, a college education, and new clothes on a silver platter. You are not our only expense in life. So, in order to train you to become an independent and realistic young woman, you will need a job if you're actually going to put gas into the car you are paying for.

Nugget 5. I know that you won't always like school. You'll have teachers that don't like you. You'll have courses you will never in this lifetime use. Suck it up and give it 100% of your efforts. Even though Algebra is stupid and teachers are mean sometimes, both are training you that life isn't always fair, but you are always capable of handling it.

Nugget 6. If you want your life to be torture while you're under our roof, lie to us.

Nugget 7. You are not allowed to quit. So, whether that means playing a sport you signed up for and ended up hating, or babysitting the brattiest kid in the world, if you sign up, you fulfill your commitment. We will not bail you out... so choose wisely.

Nugget 8. You're a little bunny, playing in a field. Boys are the foxes in the bushes. Neither one are bad... they just are true to their nature. This will make sense to you when you're 25.

Nugget 9. Your clothes will always cover your rear end and your chest. There is no negotiating this fact. Your alternative is to wear a nun's outfit, so before you whine, understand that I mean it when I tell you that black polyester is really hot in Florida. Oh, and this applies even if you're 50. As long as you're my daughter, you won't dress like a hoochie.

Nugget 10. You can hate me, spit at me, cuss me, scream at me, roll around on the ground like you're on fire, slam your door, wish I had never been born, wish I wasn't your mom, threaten to run away, threaten to never speak to me again... but understand this. I am your mother. I was your first home. And trust me when I say that I will be home to you for the rest of your life. So, fire away, baby girl. My love is unwavering. And though I don't always like you, I always am committed to you and will love you until I breathe my last breath.

That's why I'm the meanest mom you'll ever meet.

Love forever and forever and forever,

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Moments You're Not Prepared For.

Rod and I have been married for 14 years this year. We were married seven blissful years before Abigail came onto the scene. Out of those years, we pastored youth and children for all seven, plus a few years before our marriage. You'd think that working with, counseling, and training those children would prepare you for parenting. After all, we've seen other people's kids pee off of balconies, pierce each other's ears, drink a gallon of milk and immediately throw up... we've heard stories of abuse, shame, guilt... we've housed millions of teenagers in our home... that ought to count for something. Right?

Sure, it did.


I will never forget the moment Abi was laid on my chest after I pushed her into this world. Hormones and adrenaline were running high. It was a defining moment, for sure. The next two days were filled with visitors, balloons, flowers, congratulations, and camera flashes.

Then we went home.

Nothing prepared me for the moment when Rod went back to work, Mom had gone home, and I was left all alone with a newborn.

I remember sitting on the couch, nursing my baby. I remember that Dr. Phil was on TV, and all of a sudden, I burst into tears. It was such a plethora of emotion. I was happy. I was sad. I was scared. I was thrilled. I was lonely. I was complete.

But mostly, I was scared.

I remember looking at Abi's sweet face and thinking, "What have I done to myself? I am responsible for a living thing for the next twenty years!" This wasn't a puppy I could drop off at the pound. Not a plant I could stop watering and toss. This was a human being, given to me to shape and fashion.

Nothing could have prepared me for that moment.

I look at expectant moms, bursting with baby for the first time, and I think of those beginning days... how nothing ANYONE said could really prepare me for the magnitude of the task I signed up for when I held that pregnancy test in my hand. And though I know there will be moments like these for the rest of my parenting days, I have to laugh when I think of the moments I haven't been prepared for so far. Please feel free to add yours on here, or on facebook. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

I wasn't prepared for...

...the moment when Abi looked at me at 9 months old and rolled her eyes at me the first time. On purpose.

...the fever of 104 that lasted for a month and brought words like "spinal tap," "I.V." and "meningitis."

...the moment when I didn't believe her arm was hurt that badly from a minor fall at the park, and I made her get in the van... and her arm fell limply to her side when she tried to climb into her seat.

...the first, "I DO IT BY MYSELF." badly my heart ached when I left her here and flew to Africa for two weeks.

...the instantaneous weeping tears that fell down my face when I saw her at the end of that trip.

...when she asked me to lead her to Jesus while we were riding down the road.

...seeing her crawl into the bed with a dear friend who was literally dying, and hearing her whisper, "You won't hurt much longer. You'll see Jesus soon."

...seeing her at the casket of another friend, touching him and wondering why his arm was so stiff. (Yes, she was lifting his arm out of the casket... but don't worry... he would have laughed.)

...the night before the first day of kindergarten, when, with a quivering chin,she asked me to please put in her backpack a shirt that smelled like me because she "couldn't make it through the day without smelling her Mama."

...watching her sit at her desk at school the first day, as I'm trying not to die from the tears I'm choking on... and she winked at me.

...yesterday, when she said "What the hell" at school. UGH.

...the wave that hits me every once in a while of "I don't know what I'm doing."

...the wave of "I would throw myself in front of a train for you" that hits me every few days, often as I watch her sleep.

See, I know what's coming. I've seen enough to know that she'll come home someday when her first broken heart. One day, she'll hear someone tell her she's stupid. I'm not prepared for the first time I watch her drive off alone in my van. I'm not ready for her graduation, her move to college, her falling in love the first time.

I can't go there yet.

But here's the thing. The same grace that God has given me so far is the same grace that will be there when my heart is on the other side of the world fulfilling her mission.

So, new moms, you can prepare yourself... you can do the nursery, sterilize the bottles, and put in the car seat. But trust me on this. Prepare yourself to be unprepared.

Do the best you can. That's all you can offer on your very best day. And it won't be enough.

But somehow, it will be. ;-)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Just a little reminder...

On days when you wonder why you:
**are saying no about the same subject for the 16,332nd time
**are the only parent who doesn't let their child participate in something
**had to give two spankings, three go-to-your-rooms, and four "help me Jesuses" before 9:30 am (all for the same child)
**even bother with trying to explain such abstract concepts as manners, rudeness, or nutrition to a five year old who was told that potato chips are vegetables
**make beds, wash dishes, and bathe children, just so they all can end up caked with filth again within an hour
**volunteered AGAIN to drive everyone wherever they needed to go, when you could be home taking a nap
**wanted YOUR house to be the hangout house
**endured yet ANOTHER ball practice, ballet practice, or spelling test practice...

look at what's highlighted in red and remember why.

The little lions need us. They need our boundaries, our toughness, our humanity, our imperfections, our commitment, our apologies...

Our young lions need our love.

They need US.

Don't quit. Tomorrow's a new day. ;-)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Old Fashioned Roles.

The title makes me think of those big, yummy yeast rolls we used to eat in school back in the day. But alas... I'm talking about roles. Not rolls.

I'm pretty old-fashioned. Now, don't get me wrong. There are some new school things that I wouldn't want to live without... Like air conditioning, my iPhone, memory foam, humongous earrings and rings, conditioner, and mini-vans. My life is quite full of technology and comforts, so before you think I live in a Laura Ingalls cabin with lanterns and that I harvest my own crops, know that I frequent Publix, and I live in a house with three bathrooms in it.

But really, at the heart of my family, there are old fashioned ways of doing things. Some of them I adopted from my own upbringing. Some from the fact that it just makes sense. And some from, *gasp*, the BIBLE.

Uh oh. I said the B word. The Bible. The long lost book of parenting. That few of us look to anymore for guidance. That's been around for thousands of years and has a 100% accuracy record.

Moving right along.

Anyway, recently, Abi was famished at dinner time. She was scooting her stool up to the counter to start fixing her plate. Now, this just happened to be on a day when I was home with her and Rod had been working all day and had just gotten home- keep that in mind. So, as she is getting ready to scoop her piece of chicken up, I said, "Abi, let's let Daddy go first." Abi said, "Why? I'm STARVING!" I said, "When you love someone, like your daddy or your husband, it's a show of love and respect to let him eat first. It's like you're thanking him for being such a good man." She moved her stool and waited until Rod was done.

Then, I noticed something special happening. She brought Rod a napkin. She went and got the hot sauce for him. She brought him water.

In essence, she got it.

Last night, we were sitting down to eat, and Rod was last to come to the table. I had Abi wait until he was seated before she started to eat. Why? Because he is her daddy and my husband, and the man we love most. It's a show of respect for him.

When Rod and I got married, I made a commitment to him of three things.

1. His house would always be clean and comfortable to come home to.
2. He would always have a nice meal at the end of a work day.
3. If I was at home and he was working, I would be working in our home.

Now, did he ask this of me? Absolutely not. But to me, it was the LEAST I could do for all of the work he did so I could stay home with our baby as much as I did. How deflating must it feel to work all day and come home to a wife who has sat on her rear end all day and watched TV?

Oh, but ladies, before you get all riled up on me, believe me... Rod has his role, too.

I will not do yard work. Not now or fifteen years from now. Period. I have never, ever seen my mom on a lawn mower.
I do not repair things. In any shape, form, or fashion.
I do not touch things that are greasy, covered in cobwebs, or in attics.
I do not take the car to get the oil changed, do not kill large insects, and do not shop at Home Depot for anything other than decor items.

Have I ever demanded these things of Rod? Absolutely not.

Bottom line: we defined our roles early on, and we stuck to them.

All you women's libbers, settle down. I'm not saying that women can't repair things. I'm raising a little girl to believe she can do anything, for crying outloud. What I am saying is that as with any successful team, families need clearly defined roles. Plain and simple.

Rod and I are equal partners. He is the head of our household, but like the old saying goes, I am the neck that turns the head. See, old fashioned roles go back to the Bible. In Ephesians, Paul tells us that the husband is to be the head of the wife. He continues by telling the husband to go all out in his love for his wife, and to protect her and cherish her... not bulldozer over her. He is to treat his wife as if she were the weaker vessel.

For a single man, Paul was pretty stinkin' smart.

See, if a woman feels protected, valued, and cherished, she will have no problem letting her man be THE man. I'm a pretty head-strong woman. I know there's plenty of men who look at my tempermant, shake their heads, and say, "I could NEVER be married to that woman." (Don't worry, men. I say the same thing about some of you.)But let me tell you this. I married a man who values my work, values my parenting, values my heart... and as a result, I have absolutely NO problem submitting to his leadership and trusting him with my whole being. Take away my safety and value, and... well, let's just say it wouldn't be a pretty picture. At all.

On a regular basis, I pray for Abi's husband. He's somewhere on this planet right now. He'll have to be a manly man, that's for sure. She can't step on a bug to save her life. She has little to no technical abilities. Logic is not her strong suit. But let me tell you... the girl will romance him for the rest of his life. She will praise him, value him, and believe in him to the exclusion of everything else. (which, incidentally are a man's primary needs... to be respected and affirmed.) I pray for that young man, that his parents will begin grooming him, like we are grooming his wife, so that when the time is right, they will establish their roles and fit together like the puzzle pieces that they are.

In the meantime, am I a trophy wife who does it all right, 100% of the time? Nope. But I am looking for every chance I can get to wife well in front of Abi. I'm her number one role model right now. I'm setting the tempo for her marriage in the little things I do, everyday.

That's heavy. I need a cup of coffee.

Monday, April 12, 2010


Shannon gave me an article the other day that made me laugh out loud. Seriously. I chuckled, snickered, and snorted.

There is a feud going on between a mother and son in Arkansas. The mom saw on facebook that her 16 year old son had posted about driving 95 mph because he was mad at his girlfriend. She said some of the things he had been posting would, "make your eyes pop and your jaws drop." So, one day, she found his facebook account open, and got on, changed his passwords, and rebuttaled some of his comments publically.

The spoiled little brat is suing his mom.


So, of course, liberal parents across the country are supporting the boy, helping him vindicate his "lack of privacy." Here's the deal. You're 16. You don't get that kind of privacy yet. (First of all, he wasn't being private when he was posting this stuff... not the sharpest knife in the drawer, this one...)

From time to time, I have parents ask me what I think about invading a child's privacy... for example, reading their journal, their emails, their texts, etc.

Here's my feelings on the matter.

Abi is my child. Everything about her... every word she writes, every sentence she speaks, every place she goes... IS MY BUSINESS. See, privacy is earned. It is something that comes with trust and a proven track record. Privacy is not handed out like M&Ms, people. It comes with time, and it is very conditional. (And we can't forget that even if a child is 17 and angelic, SHE CANNOT BE TOTALLY TRUSTED!) They are children. Children require supervision!!!


Abi is a child that needs alone time. She loves to go to her room and have quiet time. I'm ok with that. However, our rules for privacy for her at this age are as follows:

1. Your door is to NEVER be locked.
2. Your door is to NEVER be shut when you are in the room with a friend... even if that friend is a girl.
3. I can enter your room any time I choose.

Granted, I do knock, because I expect her to do the same when I have MY door shut. (On a lighter note, I knocked last night and entered the bathroom just as she was wiping her rear end with a towel because she was out of toilet paper. I was just in time. Crisis averted.)

Kids need alone time. At times they need to cry alone, veg out alone, and play alone. But as with everything else in their lives, that alone time should be monitored by OUR standards, not theirs.

One of my favorite moms is my friend Amy. She has ten thousand children. (four, really... but three girls and one boy can feel bigger than it really is). Yesterday, she told me that her 5th grade daughter was chatting with friends through a school chat system online, and one of the guidelines that Amy and Roger have is that she is NOT allowed to chat with boys (or talk to them on the phone). Amy has all of her passwords, so she checks up on her girlie from time to time, and she discovered that her little diva had done just that... chatted with a boy without permission. This girl was LIVID that Amy found out, telling her that it was private, blah, blah, blah... to which Amy responds, "There is NO privacy in this house. I know your passwords, I check your email. Get over it."

Here's the thing. Kids are going to sneak around. I get that. And if we check their emails, texts, etc., they will find other ways to be sneaky. I get that too. But does that mean we quit putting boundaries in place, simply because they will find a way to cheat the system? HECK NO. They are smart. But we've been here longer. That counts for something.

Let me tell you this. Old School Parents are not intimidated by children threatening us with lawsuits because our love for our children is greater than the methods of manipulation they try to fling at us. We have to become so sure of our jurisdictions and our overall goals that we have no problem squaring off with our child, whether they are 6 or 16, and winning.

Recently, we asked our middle schoolers if they felt that their parents had the right to snoop in their personal belongings. Out of 30 kids, only one said no. I was shocked at the responses.
"Everything I have, my parents bought me anyway, so I guess they can do whatever they want with it."
"If I know they are going to check up on me, I'm not as likely to do something stupid."
"They are my parents. I don't necessarily agree with them, but I know they love me."
"It makes me mad when they snoop, but it's their right."

And my favorite-
"I shouldn't have anything to hide! If I do, and they find out, it's my own fault... not theirs."

Oh, and that one kid who disagreed? After hearing her peers state their case, she crossed over.

So, sue away little boy. Your mama loves you. One day, you'll get it.

Monday, April 5, 2010


Can I rant? Who am I asking? This is my blog!!! Of course I can.

Listen. Every once in a while, I see children whose situations break my heart into pieces. Of course, it's a given that some of those situations would be obvious ones, like children with handicaps or terminal illnesses.

But what I'm talking about in particular are kids whose parents are, how shall I say this diplomatically... clueless. Yep, that's a good way to say what I'm really thinking. Let's move on.

Well, today is one of those ranting days. Could be that it's Monday... but it could be that every so often, I need to purge my system... release pent up frustrations. But before I do, let me clarify this. I AM NOT SAYING I AM A PERFECT PARENT. (Lord knows I'm far from it.) I AM NOT SAYING I AM THE ONLY MOM WITH A BRAIN ON THIS PLANET. (Though sometimes I do feel like I'm becoming part of a minority.) AND I SURELY AM NOT SAYING I HAVE NO ROOM TO GROW. (Part of this blog is me actually documenting my successes AND failures as a parent.)

Now that we have that out of the way, I'll start a list called:


1. When a teenage girl is dressed like she is working in the red light district of Amsterdam, with her parents knowledge.

2. When her parents say, "I can't do anything about it!" ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Strangely, MY parents always found a way to get us to do WHATEVER they were expecting of us. And let me tell ya, we were SUPER strong willed girls!

3. But worse still... when her MOTHER dresses like that! You're their MOM. Not a Barbie. Not a Bratz doll. And CERTAINLY not her peer!!! If you're over 25, please dress like you are.

4. When a child is having a full blown tantrum in a restaurant and everyone around them is having to suffer for the parents' lack of common sense. In restaurants, there are bathrooms. In bathrooms, there are stalls. USE THEM!

5. When a child says, "I want..." and the parent bee-lines to the store to make his wish come true. Um, yeeeeeah. Set them up for REAL life... because EVERYONE knows you always get what you want in life!!!! (sarcasm is my second language.)

6. When parents don't investigate movies before their children and teenagers watch them. SERIOUSLY? Just because something is rated PG-13 doesn't mean it's appropriate for a 15 year old! And PLEASE... understand that Chucky is not a movie about a baby doll! has a great resource called Plugged In that we use to screen EVERY movie for its content prior to letting the most valuable thing in our lives watch them. Just sayin.

7. We won't even go into the making them go to church thing. See my previous blog.
8. And about kids calling adults by their first names.

9. Parents who say lovely things like, "Shut up before I slap your *&#$ face," ESPECIALLY in public. (Not that it's EVER ok... but the look of humiliation on that child's face when they realize everyone in Wal-Mart is hearing this is unbearable to my heart.)

10. When kids completely flake out as teenagers, but SOMEHOW, it's the church's fault, the school system's fault, or the government's fault.

11. When parents demand apologies FROM their children but never offer them TO their children.

12. When children are underappreciated, undervalued, and underloved. Period.

Ok, ok. I'll settle down now. I feel better.

I know no one is perfect. And on any given day, you might see me and add me to YOUR list. But one thing's for sure. If I can keep myself open to correction from parents I admire, if I can admit my failures and shortcomings... if I can be open-minded and an eager student, I can keep from getting sucked into cycles of hurt and pain, and I can certainly shield Abi from destruction. But I have to remember that I am the parent. SHE is depending on ME to lead her correctly.

Whew. That's heavy. But His grace is sufficient. And thank God, His mercy is too.