Monday, April 18, 2011

Beaten into submission

We have a very peaceful home life here in the Lewis household.

Oh sure, we have our moments of drama, stress, and concerns. The cows escape their fences (drama). The gas tank is empty and we have to scramble to find a way to fill it (stress). Some customers are waiting for their tankards, which we haven’t finished making yet (concerns).

But those are the ordinary everyday things that everyone faces in their own way. You may not have cows, but perhaps you have a long commute. And gas prices and deadlines are universal issues.

So what makes our life so peaceful? It has to do with our family relations. In that regard, we have NO drama, stress, or concerns.

My dear English atheist reader Quedula made a passing remark on my recent Simplicity rant: “I find the term ‘well-disciplined’ applied to children rather ominous. Horses, maybe. I expect as usual I am the odd one out with this comment.”

She probably IS the odd one out (at least among readers on this blog), but nonetheless I thought it was good time to address this issue. I won’t presume to put words into Quedula’s mouth, but the unspoken implication so many people have when they see our well-disciplined children is that we must beat them into submission in order to get them to behave with the respect and self-control we expect. Sadly this presumption frequently applies to homeschooling parents, since of course we must be homeschooling to hide the bruises.

The best – the very best – book on child raising I’ve ever read was recommended to me by my friend Enola Gay, whose own five children (ranging from 21 to 3) are exemplary illustrations of beautifully disciplined kids. It’s called To Train Up a Child. Don’t bother reading it if you don’t have a religious suasion since this book is biblically-based. It is strongly influenced by the Amish methods of raising children, and I think everyone will admit that the Amish aren’t known for their snarky undisciplined kids. Nor are they known for beating their children into submission.

The title of the book, of course, stems from the famous verse Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” To quote from the book: “Train up – not beat up. Train up – not discipline up. Train up – not educate up. Train up – not ‘positive affirmation’ up. Training is the most often missed element in child rearing. A child needs more than ‘obedience training,’ but without first training him, discipline is insufficient.”

I didn’t know about this book when our girls were born, but by the grace of God and with the unity of a supportive spouse (probably the biggest factor), Don and I applied the principles of this book in the training of our girls. And now we are reaping the rewards of that early training in spades. With two teens in the house, conditions are ripe for drama and angst of the highest order – and yet we have none of it.

Oh sure, the kids have their moments – so do Don and I – but we have NO disrespect, backtalking, flouting of rules, or any other “typical” teen behavior. And it goes without saying we have NO issues with the more serious problems that afflict so many teens such as drugs, drinking, smoking, sex, etc.

Instead we have two charming, cheerful, happy young ladies who add greatly to our home’s peaceful atmosphere. The extent of their adolescent rebellion is when they grumble about their math schoolwork.

This training goes back to their earliest years. I recall an incident that happened when Older Daughter was about two years old. Don and I had gone into a store that sold, among other things, beads. This meant strings and strings of pretty shiny colorful beads were hanging from hooks, many of them right at eye level to a toddler. Concerned that she would start grabbing, I hitched Older Daughter up on my hip and let her gently touch the beads in a controlled fashion.

“Don’t let her touch them,” Don said. “She could damage them, and even if she doesn’t, it’s making the store owners nervous.”

“I’ll make sure she won’t hurt them,” I replied.

But Don stopped me from even doing that. “Let’s not be one of those types of parents,” he warned gravely.

What he meant was, let’s not allow our children to be the kind that cause shop owners to regard us with anxiety lest our undisciplined brats wreak havoc with the merchandise. You know the kind I mean. We’ve all met those types of parents, the kinds who trot ineffectually in their child’s wake of destruction, pleading “Johnny don’t, Johnny leave that alone, Johnny come back here…”

So I pointed out the pretty colorful beads to Older Daughter, but whenever she reached out a hand to touch, I gently pushed her hand down and reminded her, “No, don’t touch. These aren’t ours.” She didn’t touch, and because of that she got to look at the beads for a longer period of time.

And, not incidentally, the shop owner was able to smile at us as we left.

We decided this was not a bad thing to do on a regular basis – take our children into stores and show them how to look without touching, how to act respectfully while inside a place of business, and how to control their toddler and preschool urge to grab things. We would often reward them with a treat for their good behavior, such as ice cream or a small toy.

By this method we trained our girls to exercise self-control.

I remember when a friend once called with a question about her toddler. The girl was in the habit of climbing the kitchen chairs and onto the kitchen table. My friend’s solution was to place the chairs far enough away from the table so the baby couldn’t reach the table top. Her husband’s solution was to sternly tell the child “No!” and remove her from the chair whenever she tried to climb onto the table. My friend asked whose method was correct.

“Tim’s, of course,” I answered. “With your technique, you’re merely removing temptation. With Tim’s technique, he’s teaching her to control herself.”

See? It’s training. There’s no need to beat kids into submission. Training makes all the difference. I believe training includes an occasion swat on the bottom for particularly grave misbehavior, but it doesn’t have to go beyond that.

One of the biggest things Don and I insisted upon when the girls were young is respect for us, their parents. Once again this takes training. One illustrative incident happened when Younger Daughter was about five years old.

The girls had friends over, and in an effort to show off, Younger Daughter did something inappropriate (I don’t quite remember what – I think she backtalked me). Whatever the offense, I sent her to her room for a few minutes (their bedroom was right off the living room). In a high temper she stomped into her room and disappeared from view for a second or two. Then she stomped back to the open doorway, stuck out her tongue at me in an act of blatant and utter defiance, and once more disappeared from view.

Quite literally – and I do mean literally – I vaulted furniture and shoved other kids aside in an effort to reach the door. I roared into the bedroom and swatted that child on the tush. Then I took her by the shoulders, got right in her face, and told her in no uncertain terms that she will never disrespect me like that ever again.

And she never has.

We laugh over the incident now, but this was something the kids understood at a very young age: parents are the authority figures in their lives and, just as parents respect and obey God (OUR authority figure), so they must respect and obey US.

The book points out that the secret to training anything (toddlers, dogs, whatever) is – are you ready for this? – consistency. It does no good whatsoever to do something once and then never enforce it again. It merely teaches the child that he can ignore you without repercussions. Everyone knows parents who are like this – parents who do not act with consistency and so have out-of-control kids. (In fact, please write down your experiences and post them in the comments section for everyone to read.)

I remember an incident about two years ago when I was visiting my friend Enola Gay. We were chatting over tea. Master Calvin (who was a year old at the time and barely walking) was in a fussy mood and kept wandering over to his mother and wanting to be held. Each time she told him, “I won’t pick you up until you stop the whining.” The third or fourth time this happened, he stood in front of her and hushed his whining. Enola then rewarded him by picking him up and cuddling him. I remember being amazed anew by how so young a child can learn to control his own behavior.

Constrast this with a woman I know who is raising thugs.

Training is as different from discipline as night is from day. With discipline, you force your children to bend to your will. With training, you teach children to control themselves in a way that is acceptable to you.

This has the happy side-effect of children who behave well in public. If a child gets out of hand, a quiet reprimand from you is enough to bring him back into line. If he doesn’t, some additional training is necessary in that particular area when you return home.

The funny thing is, once this concept is instilled in children at a young and tender age, they never depart from it. We didn’t have to beat the girls into submission in order to train them to behave properly. We trained them.  As they mature, we allow them more freedom and independence, and because we (the parents) know how disciplined and self-controlled they are, we aren’t worried that they’ll “lose it” when they become independent adults. They won’t descend into a hedonistic and destructive lifestyle because they’ll be mature enough to understand the ramifications of it. It’s a wonderful thing to think that a couple of years of firmness and consistency as young children will quite literally last them a lifetime.

Jails are full of undisciplined adults who no doubt started life as undisciplined children. We don't want to follow that road.

I could write endlessly on this subject, but you get my drift. We don’t beat our children into submission. We train them up in the way they should go. And when they are adults and walking their own road in life, we confidently expect they will not depart from it.


  1. Good article. I am always astounded when a parent comments that they can't take their children out to eat, shopping, to a public event etc. That's something we always did with the expectation that they would behave. If they could not they were quietly removed from the situation until they were able to use thier manners. Simple things like clearing their dirty dishes and picking up their clothes are just good sense training. I am not sure why so many parents are afraid to have reasonable expectations of their children.

  2. WE raise our children much the same as you. i cant count the times we have bin leaving a cafe or diner or market and have the owner/mang come to us and comment on how well behaved our children are (5 boys 1 girl), some have asked how we do it, we just smile and tell them we beat them.. now of-course this is not the case, but it does get across to a few that its the instilled self-control we expect from our children, nothing more, nothing less.... HB

  3. Your smug British atheist friend adds so much to the discussion, doesn't she?!! LOL Her trite little catch-phrases are so predictable. She worries about the words and overlooks the substance. I'm sure her own children are classic examples of atheistic permissiveness.

    Lewis family: while you all rock, I'm sure Q's family is all stoned! (Pardon me while I laugh out loud at my own joke.)

    Anonymous Patriot

  4. Phyllis (N/W Jersey)April 18, 2011 at 11:25 AM

    Great article, Patrice. Good pics with it, too. Loved the last one - gate open; the path of life ahead. Because of the values and faith that you and your husband are teaching your daughters, you know the girls will be able to handle the many bumps and ruts they will come across in that rocky road called life.

  5. I completely agree with you Patrice. From following your posts I believe that you are not only teaching your children the correct way to behave, but you are developing a lifelong relationship with them. A book I like to recommend is Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours by Dr. Kevin Leman. Also, I love the quote by Josh McDowell, "Rules without relationship leads to rebellion."

    It takes time and effort to teach a child which many parents today are just not willing to invest. You have to spend time both building that lifelong relationship and letting them know their boundaries. It is not always fun or convenient.

    I remember being in a restaurant a few times when my kids were young and one of them would pitch a fit or behave inappropriately. We would warn them once. Then we took turns removing the child from the restaurant and sitting with them in the car until the other parent and their sibling were finished with the meal. They were not allowed to play, but had to sit bored in their car seat. This was also not fun for the parents, as one of us ended up eating a cold meal out of a to go box. However, we followed through with our stated discipline and our children know that we mean what we say.

    Our kids now reap the rewards of being well behaved. Because of we homeschool and due to the nature of my husband's work, we often travel. Our friends marvel that we are able to take our kids to certain destinations because they say their little monsters would tear the place up. (Their words, not mine.) We are closer as a family because we have shared these experiences together. We enjoy spending time with our children. My friends pray for summer break to end quickly so they can send their kids back to school. I feel the effort we put into our kids is well worth the outcome.


  6. If only we could tell our Federal Government 'NO!' to overspending; you don't have the money 'NO!' They should have learned it a LONG time ago. Now the whole wall of beads or toys of our economy is going to fall... on all of us.
    K in OK <><

  7. I re-read that story about the woman raising thugs. I've worked in retail several times and that experience has solidified my determination to raise well-behaved children. No one looks approvingly on the parents of the little boy who steals your $1600 handheld computer from the cutting counter and then shoves $40 a yard bridal silks in his mouth, or the 14 year old girl who has a rolling-on-the-floor tantrum prompting her mother to literally drag her out the door (I kid you not). In their efforts to avoid "stifling" their children with proper manners, they are actually doing them a huge disservice. When they go out into the world, they are going to get a big slap in the face when they realize that not everyone is a push over like their parents. They will not succeed in life like the well-mannered hard-working adults who were raise to have self-control.


  8. Hi Patrice, I LOVE your blog. Now I haven't read the book....but I just looked at the reviews and there is quite a few negative reviews. Stating the authur recommends "whipping as young as 4 and 7 months old". Is this true? I love to find books to add to my parenting shelf, but curious as to your response to these claims. Please understand it was many, many reviews stating it wasn't a good book. I don't worry about one or two silly New Age parents review. :)

    Awaiting your thoughts....Prepping in PacNW

  9. Three examples - extremes in both directions and the middle one

    Too harsh - I can understand Quedula's concern a bit. I was the product of an overly disciplinary father. He was a child psychologist who worked at a school for juvenile felons and brought that training home. I knew I did something wrong - but never what or why as part of the method was inconsistency. To be honest, I'm still scarred by that uncertainty 40 years later. I feared my dad. Once I went to college and was suddenly out from under his discipline, I went nuts. Drank, partied, smoked & flunked out of my first college. I learned fear and external control, not self control. Fortunately I wised up and straightened up as an adult!

    Too lenient - We have relatives that never discipline or train their children how to behave and it shows. Even my children don't want to be around them. For example, little "Jack" liked to pick up presents and throw them around at Grandma's house at Christmas - and I mean chuck them across the room! He liked to get in behind the tree and play with the electrical cords. The grandparents were aghast, the parents did nothing but whine "noooo, don't doooo that....". My husband finally picked the kid up, set him in the center of the floor, got down to his level and told him - "Grandma said no. That means stop what you're doing." "Jack" stopped while we were there then resumed his behavior as soon as we left. My daughter asked "Jack's" mom why he was throwing stuff at her and she replied "Oh honey, he's four, he doesn't understand that's wrong". ????

    Middle - I've tried to walk the center line between these two. I train my kids, but explain why certain things shouldn't be done. I point out examples both good and bad. I expect good behavior and they desire to show good behavior. And, no, I don't beat my kids. :o) I have removed a door from a room however. And I can totally relate to the "vaulting" having done similar before. Mama Bulldozer on the way!

    But it is training. Let me give a specific example. My son has autism. For most parents this means no trips to the store that aren't meticulously planned, no after school activities, no dinners out for sure. I (knock on wood) don't have that problem because I trained my son from an early age to behave in these situations and to enjoy them. Just yesterday we enjoyed taking a friend to Red Lobster and had a compliment on the way out on our children's politeness.

    For my son it is literally training. He wanted to to be able to go into our local gas station store and buy himself a treat. We had to break the activity into separate tasks and teach each task. It took me over four months. Son had to learn what he was allowed to buy, how to stand in line & wait his turn, how to hand the products over to be scanned, to wait to be checked out, to hand his money over to the cashier, to wait for his change (this one was hard!) then to say "Thank you" and return to the car. Now he is proudly able to go into a whole range of stores by himself because his parents took the time to train him in a behavior that could be applied elsewhere.

    Now it's not that complicated or long of a process for most kids and most behaviors, but it does show the mechanics of the idea. And the best thing of all is to see his smile when he can do for himself.

    Becky (not the troll) :o)

  10. Thank you for posting this,in my opionion a life lesson !!! If all parents would take a leaf from your book there would be much less sorrow in this world. Blessings jane

  11. I have had people tell me that my 6 children are well behaved, bright and very courteous. We get a lot of complements from church members who love talk with our children and even the older members give out hugs to our little ones. However, I had a experience recently that rattled me. A person I met through our church and has since become some what of a friend, actually mocked my way of parenting my children. The conversation basically went like this:

    Me: We won't allow our children in youth group. I don't believe it is good for them and I don't believe it teaches them anything. I don't believe my girls need to be by themselves without my guidance - not at such a age.

    Visitor: Don't step out the door girls, snicker, snicker. Don't ever leave home, snicker, snicker.

    And then went on to say that she was in her youth group. I then asked her where she met her boyfriend at (she was 16 then) and she said Youth Group!

    Honestly, I felt betrayed because she mocked me in front of my children but also vindicated because my 20 year old and 12 year old realized that I had a reason to keep them out of the youth group. Not to mention that youth groups seem to promote the dumbing down of America. Recently I overheard our Youth Group leader's wife speak about what they did recently. Apparently she went online and bought jelly beans that come in such wonderful flavors as "Rotten Egg" and "Barf". She went on to tell how some of the girls got sick and one even actually did vomit over the nasty jelly beans. She thought it was funny. I felt sick to my stomach. What does this teach anyway?

    My husband has told me to cast all my worries aside. In 20 years if our children are criminals then I can wonder if it was lack of Youth Group. Until then, just keep on keeping on. By God's grace and much training and discipline, people can raise wonderful children.

    Mommy G

  12. I really enjoyed reading both this article and the earlier comments. I do have one suggestion to pass along, however. When you see children acting badly in public, as long as the parents appear to be responding correctly at the time, don't assume that they aren't "consistent" in their approach and that's why the kids are acting out now.

    Here's why: My wife and I adopted our youngest two children as toddlers from an addicted couple that had neglected them almost to the point of death. Fast-forward eight years, and we are still dealing with the consequences of the earlier neglect, the worst of which is that their brain development during their first years of life was VERY abnormal and they simply do not process information (including consequences of actions) the way that other children of the same age do. They also have great difficulty "reading" people's faces and understanding how other people feel based on their expressions. We're making great progress working with neurologists and family trauma therapists, but the kids' levels of maturity and self-control are still several years behind their peers. This does not mean they get a "free pass" on their behavior, however! Our expectations remain high; I guess the biggest difference is that we try to not allow ourselves to get angry when they backslide.

    But when well-meaning acquaintances tell us how important it is to be "consistent," we have to stifle a scream, and just smile in return. What's that definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? Well, that us. Consistent. On a day-to-day basis it's difficult for us to see any progress or any of the hoped-for results of our consistency, but family and close friends that know the history and see us only monthly or so all say that the kids are making great strides. I sure hope they're right!

    So anyway, when you see misbehaving kids and the parents ARE engaged appropriately, please give the parents the benefit of the doubt about their "consistency" (unless you already know the family). They may be dealing with issues beyond what's normal.

  13. As someone who works with young children daily, I am always amazed at the "training" that many children are getting today. One parent walked away from a field day we held at our school with a jump rope. When the PE teacher asked the child to bring it back she was told, "finder's keepers" through the child. RIDICULOUS! I am thankful every day that my husband and I are on the same page with raising our two boys. We are at the beginning of our "training" of my youngest (who just turned 3), but we are able to see many of the benefits of a child raised correctly with my oldest. We are constantly complimented on how our boys are very well behaved and happy. A great post!

  14. Excellent post! Spot on! We are raising our children just the same, and we are huge fans of the Pearl family. We not only love their child training, but also Debi's marriage book, and we have all his Bible teaching! :D
    People nowadays don't want to train their children. They want schools or the church or better yet, grandma to do it. I think this speaks volumes as to where we are in this country today. We don't have teenagers yet, but we have respectful and obedient toddlers to tweens. :) We are also a NO drama family! I love it! Thanks for sharing! It is so refreshing to see that someone else thinks like we do! There aren't too many of us anymore you know! ;D--S

  15. Thanks for that post, more than I can say. I am the daughter of the authors of that book. Our family has taken more abuse from the "anti-abusers" than you would believe.

    It is my belief that untrained people cannot attain a quality of life that only comes with discipline. One cannot even love without self-control. Which explains the hatred from the anti-training crowd.

    Thanks for your thoughts. I've often enjoyed your blog.

  16. Patrice, would you please comment with a link to the actual book or with the book's authors? I did a search on Amazon, but there are a few books with the same or very similar titles.

    We get nice comments on our kids all the time, but I'd love to read something that could help us with an overarching plan.

  17. You have been blessed, Patrice, with a husband who is of the same mind as you. I wish I had a nickel for every time I said one thing to the kids and their mother gave them permission to do the opposite, at times even joining them.
    Theft of a pack of gum comes to mind... we'd just returned to the car and I noted the older boy offering gum to his brother. Not recalling buying any gum, I asked where it came from and he told me he'd taken it.
    I blew a gasket, told him we were going right back and he was going to pay for and apologize for stealing the gum.
    His mother jumped so hard on me about how "small this was" and hardly worth such punishment. We argued several minutes over what was going to happen, either he was going in with me or she was going in with me and explain the situation.
    She decided to go in with me- and both boys came then- and she tried mumbling some "we forgot to pay" excuse when I butted in and told the truth- he'd stolen it with her permission and now he was paying for it. I also made him leave without the gum.
    His mother never forgave me that, used it in separation papers about my cruel manner of raising children, among other things she didn't like about my parenting skills.
    Anyway- sorry to ramble like this. I really appreciate your posts and thank you for this healing moment.
    Shy III

  18. Thanks for posting this article. My ladies group is finishing up a study on this book. I had never heard of it until a few months ago, but it is so wonderful!

    One point that has stuck with me is the Amish principle that children under 7 are considered a burden on the family (meaning causing a lot of work put into, and not much given in return); children from 7-12 "break even"; and finally children older than 12 are a profit to the family. I am striving to make sure my kids grow up to be a profit to the family and not a 25-year-old-stay-at-home-lazy burden!

    Another book that I feel should go hand in hand with "To Train Up a Child" is "Shepherding a Child's Heart" by Tedd Tripp.

    Also, in addition to "To Train Up a Child" Debi Pearl also wrote "Created to Be His Helpmeet", which I have just finished. It was a real eye-opener for me. There is so much I need to improve in myself to be the woman and wife God desires for me. From reading your posts, I feel you adequately fullfill that roll for your husband and I strive to be like you in that respect! :)

    Andrea S

  19. Okay, I'll stand up and say - My kids are NOT the disciplined, happy people I would love them to be. We have made many mistakes with them. In case I am not the only one out there who meant well, but did not do things right, I'll recommend a book we are working through that's a huge help: Parenting Teens with Love and Logic, by Kline and Fay. It does have a Christian perspective. It helps parents take a role with their teens that will help them even if things have not been done right before.

    And I honestly tried. I really did. I love my kids with every bit of my heart. And they are turning out to be good people. Just ... not angels. We have lots of teenage angst and drama around here. It's the way it is, for us, now, and we have to go on from here.

  20. A big chunk of the success needs to be attributed to parents maintaining the environments of their children.....Back when my kids were young, homeschooling was rare and there was little info about it.....The pre school ages, when they were at home, they were happy and well mannered and we had very few problems....That all changed when they entered public school and were exposed to a multitude of outside influences - the battles became between "our way" and "their way" every step of the way.....

    As parents, we do what we feel is best for our kids and our family.....sometimes it works out as "planned" and sometimes things go sideways.....nothing is forever, life is always shifting, which applies to the good times and the bad.....Manners and good coping skills are important, but ultimately if you have happy kids who are able to survive in this chaotic world - THAT'S the result we strive for.....approaches may vary, it's how it turns out that counts......

  21. Leading by example is a big part of training! I'm often amazed at how parents speak to others. For instance- teachers- I think if parent don't respect the teacher, their children won't as well. Plus I am horrified sometimes the way I see couples speak to each other in front of kids (if you can't communicate in a healthy way, how can you expect your children?), and am mortified when I see adult break the rules and be rude to service people etc. How can we expect children to positively interact in society, if their 'adult examples' (aka: parents) do not.
    Half the 'child rearing battle' could be won by being a polite, level-headed, DISCIPLINED adult. A parent with a healthy well-balanced approach to life (humour, thoughtfulness, communication, politeness, etc)is the best sort of trainer/teacher any child could have


  22. I believe the way you raise your children is how you were raised. My family is not religious, yet boy oh boy we were very good kids! we didnt dare backtalk, or misbehave. My mother would just say " Do I need to embarass you?" She showed us when we were young, that our behaviors in public would embaress us and not her, she would say especially to us when we saw other kids misbehaving, " do you see that child misbehaving?, who are the people looking at? the mother or the child?, of course the people were looking at the child. My mother would also use our grandmother, she would say Do I need to call your grandmother? NO WAY! She also did many other things like call her name once and wait, no interupting while others are talking unless it is an emergency etc..... And now we raise our daughter that same way..

  23. Patrice, another terrific article!!! One thing I will say though, playing devil's advocate, is that all of the parents out there 'raising thugs' give me job security --- I am a Prison Guard and I see the results of bad parenting, or a complete lack thereof, every time I go to work. This is the path that lack of self-control and no parental guidance leads to. And I can tell you truly that no amount of tantrum throwing or attitude or threats or posturing or believing you are somehow 'entitled' will stop me or any other officer from doing our jobs (strip searches, unannounced raids, completely searching every inch of every item you own, telling you when you can eat or when you can use the toilet, etc.). You OWE it to your kids to train them up as the Bible shows you to do, or I will continue to be happily employed until the end of time and you can see me whenever you have to visit them behind bars.

    God Bless,
    Janet in MA

  24. My children are now 26, 24, and a few days away from 21. What a blessing it has been to have them come back to me and say "thank you" for raising me the way you did. They have looked into the mirror as adults and are grateful that they are not like their peers.

    I was a firm and consistent single mom. I set high expectations, provided choices, and was absolutely consistent in following through with consequences for wrong/poor/bad choices. And no matter what the behavior I always communicated that I loved and accepted them unconditionally (love is totally separate from discipline).

    I gave them lots of freedom which they earned by showing me their level of responsibility first. Failure to make wise choices or behave responsibly always resulted in a loss of privileges. What sort of things were privileges? A door to the bedroom. Use of the telephone. Time for watching television. Money for any activity. My time to take them someplace they wanted to go... a friend's house for example.

    I was blessed that my mother cared for my kids while I worked. All she had to do was issue the notice that if 'x' behavior didn't change immediately that she was going to call me at work. Maybe three or four times ever did she need to actually make that call and put a child on the phone.

    It's interesting to look back on it all now... even nieces and nephews and friends of my children would behave differently for me than their parents. They all knew that I didn't say anything I wouldn't follow through on, both discipline-wise and reward-wise.

    Give a child choices, responsibility, privileges, and be consistent in your training. Praise their successes and share them publicly when appropriate so that your child can hear you.

    Also, when you blow it in parenting, and we all do at times, sit down and confess your wrongdoing and asking forgiveness from your child. They will respect you for it immensely.

    Ms Wilder

  25. Once when we were traveling from NorCal to Idaho, we were spending the night in Oregon and after checking into the hotel went to eat at Denney's. Our children were 11 and 7. While in there, two state troopers came in to eat. Also, a family with two children came in and were seated nearby. Those two children screeched and could not sit still and then ran around and up to the officers and back to their table, generally disturbing everyone else. Our children colored their pictures and ordered their meals and we had a quiet meal at our table. Finally, the other family left and it was peaceful. Then, as the officers got up to leave, one of them came over to us and said thank you for having such wonderful, well-behaved children and gave them "Junior Officer" stickers. We all said thank you and he left. It certainly made an impression on our children that evening.
    My son has also received many compliments for holding doors open for people. One man, as he left the post office, came over to me in my truck and asked if I was the mother of that nice red-headed young man, and when I said I was
    he thanked me for raising a polite and respectful young man. It made me proud, and I made sure I told my son that he was appreciated.
    On another note, self-control is a very good thing, how many times I have wanted to reach over and rip those nipple rings out of some punk down at the lake and see just how macho he really was. Ahh, self control.

  26. LOVE that book. Someone recommended it to us when I was preggo with number one. We took their advice and bought 10 more copies to give away. Only once did someone bring it back literally horrified. It has been an awkward relationship as they have their one ornery child and we have our six somewhat (because I'm lazy and don't always follow through) children. But we generally get compliments on how well behaved they are.

    Like my sis-in-law likes to say, "I'm not lucky I have such great kids, I trained them to be that way." She's not wrong.

    Anna in Alaska

  27. This is off-topic, but still child-related:

    A co-worker of mine just found out that his 2-year son has a brain tumor. The boy's name is Ben and he is having brain surgery Wednesday morning. The boy needs all of our prayers. Please pray for Ben.

  28. Patrice, you have given me a WONDERFUL blessing to pass on to my dear daughter who is expecting our very first grandchild! I am sending her your post and buying the book for her. Thank you soooooo much for your wise words. Very well-written and thoughtful.

  29. We were given the same book by some much wiser and more experienced parents when we announced our first pregnancy. Their children were some of the most well behaved children I have ever met and such a joy to be around, so we knew the book had to be good. My husband and I read the book and decided that it made sense to use the principles in the book in training our children. We have not regretted it for a moment. It's worth all the hard work when you can confidently take your child out in any public situation and not worry about their behavior.
    I don't know if I am allowed to do this, but for the commenter who asked where you could find the book, type No Greater Joy into your search engine and it should be the .org that is listed first. The book is available on the website.
    Even if you don't agree with everything the book says (and honestly, you probably won't because the authors hold to a much higher standard than most of the population), I would still highly recommend reading it. Regardless of what I do or don't agree with the authors about, it is still the first book I tell new parents that they need to read. The practical wisdom and guidance sets this book apart from any other parenting book I've read.
    Thank you, Patrice, for another great article encouraging parents to do what they are supposed to do--be the grown-up and not wimp out on their children.
    -Mom in Mississippi

  30. Pearl fans here, too. Another really wonderful book along the same child "training" lines is Raising Godly Tomatoes. The book is available on Amazon, and there is also a website and a parenting forum. It's made a huge difference in our lives. My parents certainly believed in outward obedience, but never really addressed the issues of a rebellious heart. We have found that training one without tending the other results in temoporary accomodation, but not true joyful obedience. Our hearts and minds must be trained as well.

    Every time we take our seven youngest children to the local coffee shop, someone comments on how well-behaved they are. The last time we went, our waitress brought our check and said that she and another waitress had been admiring our kids, and wondered if they could send their kids to us so that we could teach them how to behave! Well, it was quite a compliment, but of course I felt sad for those poor mothers as well.

    It occurs to me now, that perhaps I should carry a few copies of my favorite parenting books with me to give out to inquiring minds who could use some godly parenting advice. Now there's a mission field that's ripe for harvest!


  31. My children are in their twenties, a son and a daughter, both taught at home exclusively.
    When my son, the elder, was little, I determined that rather than correcting him with a STOP! or NO! that I would place some responsibility upon him with a CAREFUL!

    Our favorite parenting book is
    How to Raise a Healthy spite of your doctor
    by Robert Mendelsohn

  32. Prepared Teacher, I laughed out loud when you made the comment about calling the grandmother. My daughter threatens the grandsons with "Do you want me to call your MeeMaw? She'll be glad to jump in her truck and come over and ask you why you're not behaving!" The answer is always "NOOOOOOO! We'll be good!"

    I work with children that are brain damaged, autistic, have various genetic disorders, and have suffered greatly from early childhood neglect. A firm "there will be no more of THAT, young man!" and the behavior ceasing has the parents questioning what the magic is. I tell them that grandmothers have a lot of years of experience with dealing with obstinate little boys!

  33. Aww, self discpline Paintedmoose. These things do not happen by accident. Give yourself a bit of applause. Dear God in heaven I am waiting for the day when parents will admit to lazy parenting contributing to the downword spiral of our country. I know it is not that simple but it is a big part of a big problem.