Sunday, May 25, 2008

I've Just Gotta Share! (free book give away!)

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.)

Good Luck!


Anonymous said...

I would greatly love a copy to read through and share with others. That distinction between spanking and hitting is so important (that spanking is for training, not punishment), and I love how she puts it into words. - Rachel

Megan said...

So many of my confused thoughts are clarified in her words. The part about spanking as a "last resort" was exactly what I thought I was going to do (this was before actually having a child). The last resort spank never ever worked for me. I was always angry, and I do NOT want to be an (unrighteous) angry parent. When I am attentive to the minor (yet MAJOR) defiances, and I tend to them in a unemotional and consistent way, it seems to snuff out the future big stuff, and I see this more and more as Jenna grows up. I look forward to borrowing the book from you, though with how much you have talked about it I feel almost like I have already read it :) I can't wait to read the stuff about emotions. Dealing with emotional girls is something that I can't come to you for advice on!!! AHHHHHH!

Greg and Andrea said...

I could use some advice on how to deal with an emotional, dramatic girl! Also, I've noticed my kids respond so much better to being disciplined when they can see that I am not angry/frustrated.

Cheryl said...

Thanks again for sharing great tools to raise Godly kids. I have visited her web site and have booked marked it and want to spend time reading her thoughts and wisdom. I would love to read a copy!

breanna said...

coming out of the blog lurking shadows and crossing my fingers for the book!

Bronwyn said...

Ooh yes! I want to be in on the drawing...I've checked out the tomatoes website before when you mentioned it a while ago- great stuff! I appreciate how she defines spanking because like Megan, I originally was only going to use it as a last resort. We did Dobson's study on Effective Discipline before Emi was 2 and that helped...but now, I think I need some tomato juice to add to it!

Anonymous said...

I know you know that I "lurk" on your blog quite often. I love the tidbits you share about parenting. They inspire me so. I especially appreciate your honesty and sincerity about your parenting struggles, along with your very creative solutions. If I win your "drawing" I promise to read cover to cover and then pass along to another who promises to do the same.
Heather (Tiffany's friend)

keely steger said...

I recently entered into a conversation with another mom from my church about spanking, and she introduced me to the Godly Tomatoes site as well, asking my opinions on what I read there. I have a question and am interested in what you have to say about it. Why does discipline so often lead to spanking? If everything we do as parents, especially regarding how we raise our children, is to be guided by scripture, how does spanking come into play? Where is that taught? Just curious to hear your thoughts.

Pate Family said...

Lots of emotion issues at our house! Cyndi taught me to say, "You must hold your emotions up to the light of truth to see if they are valid" That has helped us so much because just like me, when Ainsley gets tired she blows things WAY out of proportion. Teaching her to recognize her emotions has really helped. One time she came in crying, "I found out somthing so sad, I learned that Daddy doesn't really care about me." She was tired and was blowing something up that was really little. Anyway- I would love to read this book one way or another! (can I borrow yours sometime...)Also-I'm growing my first actual tomato plant this year- it is dying. Hopefully my parenting skills are better than my gardening skills...

Jenne said...

What good questions you have. Certainly more than a blog comment can adequately respond to. (But I will try.)

First and foremost, we are called to not just discipline our children but to teach, correct and train as well. While discipline involves punishments like spankings, neither teaching nor training should involve punishment. Disciplining our children for direct defiance is only one facet of our parenting task. I make this distiction because of the statement you said, "Why does discipline so often lead to spanking?" There are many, many situations when discipline is not called for, only correction and/or training.

In response to your question "If everything we do as parents, especially regarding how we raise our children, is to be guided by scripture, how does spanking come into play? Where is that taught?" You can reference the Proverbs: 13:24, 22:15, 23:13-14, 29:15-17. But the Bible is full of the entire spectrum of parenting wisdom. The Bible has much to say about everything we do as parents, including disciplining. Before we go using the Bible as our reason for knockin' a kid's block off, we better stop and look at the Bible's entire picture of parenting. Deut 6 and Eph 6:1-4 are a few places to meditate over. Parenting is so much more than spanking.

Finally, Keely, I encourage you (and every parent) to become fully convinced one way or another BEFORE spanking (or not spanking). Be honest with the Lord about the reservations you have and ask Him to search your heart to make sure that there is not false teachings (or pop psychology) clouding your thought process. In every way, parenting should drive you straight to your knees in the search for wisdom. The issue of spanking is no exception.

Oh, one other thing... Elizabeth (the author) defines a few levels of spankings. Only one level of spanking (if I am remembering correctly) is meant to really sting. Many spankings are painless swats over the diapered and clothed bottom of a toddler. They are intended to just get the point across. I am using them with my 17 month old and he is learning quickly, never in pain, but really catching the idea that Mom has authority over him - he knows and does do as I ask: he comes to me when i call, puts his head on my shoulder when prompted, even stays lying down in his crib when I leave. Never (to my knowledge) has a spanking been painful to him...not to say that they never will be, but right now at this trainable stage, they need not be. (Always they are "just enough" to get his attention.)

I'd love to hear your thoughts. You can email me.
rjglover @ verizon . net

Anonymous said...

Oooh, count me in the drawing, I am LOVING what you have to write about this book!

Heidi Boos said...

Jenne.....hopefully I am not too late for the drawing. :) With three little girls (oh so dramatic), you know I need to read this book....! Ps. we leave for maui in one week! :)

Ginger said...

Oh Jenne, good stuff! Count me in too. I am at a loss recently on teaching A. to have self-control over the emotions.... oh, the drama! Count me in on the drawing! :)

Sooner Stout said...

Hi Jenne,
I have recently started reading your blog from Megan's link (I am another of Eric's OK cousins!). I am also the mother of 3 boys and I appreciate your approach to motherhood. Our family has also loved Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp regarding discpline. I have liked what I've heard about "godly tomatoes" from the bits that you have shared and look forward to hearing what it is like to add 4 to the family!

Alison said...

I'd love to be entered!

Alison said...

Maybe I should actually say who I am, huh? :) --Alison Gentry

Eric & Leah said...

Ohh, count me in. Maggie is in the running for the most emotionally charged toddler...ever...(or maybe just in our house, but either way she can drive this emotional mama nuts at times.)

:-) Leah

Diane said...

Hi Jenne,
I just met Ryan today, I'm a new patient of his. We got to chatting about Cornerstone, kids etc. He mention this book to me, I would love to read it as I have 3 kids and there are days (many) that I want to just run away and hide from them. LOL! My kids are 14, 10 and 6. Having a teenage son is an adventure. My middle child is very strong willed, my little one....she's a sweetie. Parenting is hard but I know that God is here to help me. By the way, we attend Abundant life church.