I have been reading Elizabeth Krueger's book Raising Godly Tomatoes and just picked up on some Wonderful Morsels of parenting help. Wanna glean from what I learned??
Emotional Issues in Children
I have three boys so I don't deal with much of a variety of complex emotional outbursts (usually we just deal with anger), but when I do I am never certain how to handle them. I mean, I am a girl, and I have emotions, and I know how powerful they are, and how difficult it is to work my way out of them...if its so hard for me, what can I possibly expect from my child?
Here is one thing she said: "It is not wrong to have emotions, but unbridled emotions are dangerous and potentially devastating. Adults who feel righteous indignation upon seeing the innocent suffer, or children who grieve the loss of a grandparent, act properly and nobly. But not all emotions, displayed freely, are good. Both the adult who loses his temper when frustrated, and the child who throws a fit to get his way, are equally reprehensible. Emotions are attributes of God Himself, engendered in us when He "created man in His own image". The challenge is not to eliminate emotions, but to manage them in ways pleasing to God and in accord with His image."
She goes on to explain what a disservice we do to our children when we do not train them to correct their thinking when their emotions get the best of them. When allowed to melt into a puddle of pity, sorrow, or anger, it only leads to incredible (and growing) self-centeredness. The Bible speaks only negatively about our selfish nature, and allowing our kids to wallow in their own pot of emotions denies them the opportunity in those instances to consider how others in the situation are feeling. She goes into great detail about all sorts of types of emotional outbursts (from genuine fear to sadness to defiant anger) and how she suggests handling them here. I have paid particular attention to the section on how to deal with a child that has woken up on the wrong side of the bed. (I can't wait to test her advice!!)
Note: she also has a lot to say about crying and whining and about temper tantrums, which she rightly lumps in to emotional issues.
Spanking, and Other Non-Controversial Subjects :)
This one debunked something I have wondered over long and hard: should we spank our children when they have hit. My gut has said yes, spank. But the fact that I could not put my finger on why that is ok bothered me enough to give me doubts as to whether or not I was on the right track. Elizabeth said it perfectly succinctly, so I will just quote her: "Beware of the popular definition of spanking as "hitting", deceptively implying child abuse when proper spanking is nothing of the sort. ...Any child can tell the difference between a just spanking and hitting. The simple, all-essential difference between hitting and spanking is this: Hitting is done in anger and it’s goal is injury and retribution. Spanking should never be done in anger, should never injure, and has the goal of training for the good of the child." Bottom line: whether your child has defied your direction or has slugged his brother, if you are spanking properly, your child will not be the least bit confused at the message you are sending in correcting their misbehavior. Carefully examine your thoughts and attitudes regarding spanking. If you have defined it even in part as hitting, examine your methods. Elizabeth offers many possible scenarios of wrong thinking, all of which gave me pause. Here is one I thought particularly useful: "With their hearts telling them to discipline, but society constantly making parents feel guilty about spanking, many have chosen the middle ground by purposing to use spanking “only as a last resort.” This is a serious error. When this practice is adhered to, what we wind up with are parents who hold off spanking until they are overcome by anger and frustration. Then they lash out in rage and vengeance. That’s never the proper way to spank. Not only is it cruel, and damaging, it is also ineffectual, as it shifts the issue from the child's misbehavior to the parent's lack of self-control. Those spanking in anger must examine their parenting to see if they have allowed misbehavior in their children to go too long uncorrected. Never defer spanking until you've lost your temper. Watch your children and correct minor disobedience and bad attitudes early, with a spanking if necessary, and you won't have to deal with the frustration caused by a child who provokes you to lose your patience and temper. Do not spank only as a last resort."
I cannot tell you how many times throughout the read of this book (and I am not done yet) I have had to stop and praise the Lord for the wisdom spelled out so thoughtfully and plainly in this book. I have also been forced to really look carefully at where I can make changes to significantly improve my parenting skills. I want every mom on the planet to experience the kind of encouragement and help that I have received.
So, at the risk of looking like a fool who thinks there are more people reading my site than there really are, I am going to copy JoyInTheJourney's idea and do a free book giveaway. (Think of how good your chances will be on my little site!) Anyone who comments on this post will qualify and I will send the winner their own paperback copy. Maybe even two people will win. All I ask is that you purpose in your heart to read it cover to cover. It's just that good. (Ming, you are first in line to borrow my copy.)