This last week we went through something that could have been devastating to our family depending on how it was handled. My wife and I do old-fashioned type parenting and we do things that a lot of parents have lost the power to do – we have rules. We figure that parenting is difficult enough without trying to be our child’s friend. Friends can’t make rules for friends, and kids don’t function well without rules.
Anyway, one day this past week was pajama day at our daughter’s elementary school. It was book fair week, and the pitch was wear your pj’s and curl up with a good book. Allie (6 years old) decided as my wife was ready to pull out of the garage that she wanted to wear pajamas. My wife’s response was “it is too late to go back and change.” She had an appointment scheduled right after she dropped Allie off at school.
Allie’s response was one of anger and she said “I’m going to find me a new mom who doesn’t have rules and will let me do anything I want to do.”
Now, if I had handled this, I would have probably lost it. I may have been mean, may have grounded her, who knows.
My wife, the super intelligent women that she is, played things just right. She calmly told her “Okay, good luck with that”, and took her to school.
That afternoon, she went to pick Allie up at school. She said that Allie acted a little different as she approached the car. As Allie got into the van Suzanne asked, “Did you have a good day. By the way, did you find a new mom? I’m just asking, because I need to go through your clothes to make sure you have enough to take with you.”
Allie softly said, “No.” She was quiet for a few minutes and said, “I’ve changes my mind. I would like to stay with you and dad forever.”
My wife responded with, “Well, good. Because when we adopted you it was forever. And, we want you to live with us forever. Do you still want me to be our mom even though I’m still going to have rules and tell you what to do?”
“Yes,” she said. The rest of the day went pretty good.
Yeah, I would have totally messed that up. As I think back at around 35 years ago, we had a similar conversation with another daughter. I don’t remember all the details, but she decided not to leave either.
In regards to raising kids this is what I know:
- You must have rules. Say what you mean, mean what you say, and do what you say you are going to do. Suzanne’s mom told us this.
- Discipline with love, not anger. Tell your kids you love them, every day. Remember, they will decide what nursing home you will go to someday.
- Parenting is tough. Whether you birthed them or adopted them, no one can raise them like you can. God chose you, so you have big expectations to live up to.
- Pray. When you don’t know what else to do – pray.
***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Cody’s Rescue adventure at the Zoo, and Oliva’s Sweet Adventure.