Real Men

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I nominate my dad for sweetest and handsomest dad and my kids nominate him for best grandpa ever.

If I had to describe my dad in one word it would be “kind.”

I said to my kids (not telling them my word), “I want you to tell me the first word that comes to your mind to describe your grandpa.”

“Stalwart,” Rebekah answered.

“Kind,” said Seth.  “That’s the first word I thought,” Hannah agreed.

I think those two words are what every dad and grandpa should be:  kind and stalwart. 

And if he has giant dimples and an ever-present grin, well that’s just gravy.

Fathers, (and Mothers) Provoke Not Your Children to Wrath

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My motives are pure:  I love children.  They are of exceedingly great value in my eyes.  Therefore, when I see them, as in the grocery store not long ago, screaming at and hitting their mothers, I am more than grieved, shocked, and appalled.  I am mystified.  Or was.

I drove home sick at my stomach.  “I don’t understand, Lord,” I prayed.  “Why would a mother put up with this?  How does this happen?”

And insight came:  She hasn’t done the nurturing, she knows deep inside she has no right to admonish.  Ah yes, Ephesians 6:4, KJV–And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

That child was provoked to wrath, in this case I surmise by the mother as well as the father, because of the absence of balance.

I, for one, have always preferred nurturing to admonition.  John (my husband) told me long ago, that if I had to err, my children would be better off with a little less nurturing and a little more admonition.  My response was that I don’t have to err, not if my nurture and admonition are directed by the very Spirit of God Himself, and that I will nurture my children until their cups runneth over, thank you very much.

I secretly thought I would just leave most of the admonishing to him, and I know I have plenty of sisters who think this way.  Not good.

My daughter is acquainted with a young woman who said she wished her mom had married someone else.  This is a family where the mom never disciplined, so the dad had to be the bad guy.  Not fair, not healthy.

We must all be brave enough to examine our parenting in the light of scripture, and let our child’s behavior be the indicator of where we might be missing it, be it nurture, admonition, or simply complete disregard for the author and finisher of good parenting–that would be our child’s Creator.

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Just a Little Spanking for You, Mommy, Should You Choose to Accept it

For kinder, gentler parenting advice and admonitions, go directly to the end of this post and read about Sally Clarkson’s book, The Mission of Motherhood.

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Counting to three.  Counting to three loudly.  Counting to three with threats (or rather, promises about to be broken). Is there anything sadder, sillier, more tiresome, or less effectual than a counting mommy?  I think not.

I ask myself, “Why?”  I ponder the questions, “Why can’t they see it doesn’t work?” and “Who is responsible for this parental drivel?”

Hell.  Hell holds the reason, the source, the blindness, and the responsibility.  Worst of all, the outcome is Hell–the Hell on earth of frustrated and angry parents living with bratty kids, and frustrated and angry kids living with witless parenting.

And books from Hell, written I surmise by:  men, or women who have nannies, or perhaps women who have never had a child, and yet, unbelievably, think they have the tiniest clue what they’re talking about.

What are the clues for me, the reader, that such authors have no clue?  A listing of some of the most glaring offenders begins with “The Fairness Doctrine,” reminding me that yes, there is something more tiresome than counting.  It’s grown-ups (well, in age at least) whining, “It’s not fair,” and teaching their children that fairness is their birthright, that everything and everyone should bend over backward to make sure they get their “fair” share.

Perversely, Fairness advocates, having taught their children greed, and disrespect, will insist they share and even give away favorite treasures to the neighbor’s even greedier get, or a whiny sibling. The child with the strongest will and weakest mother will win (and lose) in such encounters.

Fairness Doctrine devotees are also often proponents of “reasoning” with their little geniuses, and vehemently opposed to spanking.  I can hear it now, echoed by more than one lily-livered mommy, “Spanking is violence,” she says with pious horror and superiority.  “We don’t hit,” she adds in that valley girl affectation which makes real women squirm.  And yet, these children are often violent–screaming at and hitting their parents and siblings, without the slightest beginnings of the self-discipline necessary for life.  I submit to you where there is no natural order (that would be parents, rather than children, in charge) the most tyrannical and least qualified will rule.  Yes, there are households where two-year-olds reign.  Could anything be more ridiculous?

Yes.  We progress!  There is yet a further level of ridiculousness in today’s anti-logic parenting mantras.  They don’t spank, but they whine, wheedle, gripe, groan, endlessly and mindlessly repeat themselves, raise their voices, scream, and even cry.  “You made Mommy cry,” she blubbers.  PA-THET-IC!  Very probably she isn’t smart enough to spank.  Indeed, if she thinks spanking is violence, if that is what it is when she does it, perhaps she’s at least right in this one thing–she should not spank.

“Boys will be boys,” she smirks.  And criminals will be criminals, Mommy Idiotica.  Anything, it seems, is preferable to training your son that the world wasn’t expressly created for his amusement and debasement.

 “Safety first!” she mimes to justify keeping her listless, pasty-faced children indoors just because it’s nippy outside, as though it is actually good parenting (or even doable) to protect kids from any and all possibility of physical harm, even as she parks them in front of the TV at every opportunity, paying little or no attention to the mind-numbing and soul-bending messages bombarding their malleable psyches.

“Oh, kids are tough,” she explains as though she actually believes this lie, and also believes she possesses the wisdom of the ages.  Kids are humans, and therefore complex and beautifully fragile and sensitive beings, affected for good or bad by every single moment of their lives, and even more so, by every thought, word and deed of their parents.

These are a few of my (non) favorite things, and I have the credentials to talk about them–I have successfully raised world-changing (as opposed to weak, whiny, selfish, indecisive, crowd-following, world-destroying) children, and I have loved (almost) every minute of it.

P.S.  Villages are nice addendums, perhaps, but they cannot make up for ignorant, lazy, and irresponsible parenting.  Effective parenting is very hard work, so just accept that and get on with it. Prepare yourself for the long, long, long haul of teaching, re-teaching, training, praying, searching, paying attention, reading that same book over and over and over, praying, reading the Words of Jesus, and did I mention praying?  You don’t get overs on this, so live in the now–you have NOTHING more important to do than getting to know your child’s heart. Know that this parent/child training is ongoing and rigorous, and will stretch and grow you like nothing else on earth. Know also that the rewards are beyond compare and comprehension.  They are, as my daughter Hannah used to finish each night as we said her prayers, “peace and love and joy!”

P.P.S.  Should I write a book, entitled perhaps, “No One Loves a Brat, Be She Mother or Child”???  Speaking of books, the very best book on parenting I’ve ever read was by a woman raising world-changing children:  Sally Clarkson, bringer of great light via her masterpiece, The Mission of Motherhood

It’s “Raising Mannerly Children,” Not, “Ignoring Aggravating Miniature Terrorists”

Note:   This picture was taken Mother’s Day, 2015, but I am pairing it with an article written in 2010, as I consider it worth repeating.

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The Importance of RAISING MANNERLY CHILDREN cannot be overemphasized. Manners are, in essence, simply the thoughtful consideration of the needs and wants of others.

The Golden Rule is so named because if you learn it, all else of value follows.

And if you don’t . . .

A life of misery–for you, your child, your child’s spouse and children and coworkers, neighbors–is what’s in store if you don’t teach your children manners.

Or, let’s look at it another way: Teach your children to think of others and they will naturally have manners.

This is an ongoing task (see the article’s end for how to begin with ease and quick results), but the rewards are commensurate with the effort.

Seth, (a 10-year-old), has an excess of energy, and sometimes tears through the house like a dervish. Recently he raced past the girls and me, who were having a pleasant conversation, yelling and brushing against us.

It was time for conscious parenting. Time to heed that little voice in my head that said, “Stop what you’re doing, stop having a nice chat with your girls, and deal with this.” So I stopped.

IT’S MY JOB.

Not fun, but necessary. I will not be the mother of a hellion, who thinks the conversations and happiness of others beneath his time and consideration.

Yes, we all know someone like this. An adult. Not a pretty picture.

Remember: If you don’t care enough to teach your child to be kind and considerate, who will?

But how?  Where to begin?  An excellent place to start is with Munro Leaf’s books, those loved and still remembered by my kids–Manners Can Be Fun, How to Behave and Why, and How to Speak Politely and Why.

Fun, funny, great illustrations, and effective:  Munro Leaf.

School in the Trees

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Remember field trips–the best part of school?  It didn’t matter where you went, just that you got to go outside!

Since the kids were small I have seized opportunities to go outside–school on a quilt in the back yard; school as we pulled the littlest child on the biggest quilt in the red wagon.  We didn’t call it school as we ate dusty blackberries picked from the roadside to enjoy as we read Timothy Tattercoat by Maryel Chaney.

But oh, the lessons learned. Years later we didn’t call it school when we climbed and scooted and grunted our way to the top of the tallest rocks in the mountains behind our house, and stood reaching for the sky and talking of dreams.

I certainly don’t call it school when I demonstrate the ultimate in relaxation.  Sometimes, no matter how enthralling the book I’ve chosen to read on my quilt atop an aspen leaf/pine needle carpet, I fall asleep in the sunrays shining through the trees.  Whiling away afternoons celebrating the short but glorious Rocky Mountain summer is a lesson in, well, does it always have to be a lesson?

There is nothing difficult about any of this “schooling” – watching butterlies and humming forgotten tunes, telling stories of my childhood, experiencing my children. Perhaps more than wondering what the lesson is for my children, I should consider the message:  Life is wonderful.