26 January 2012

Bringing Up Boys: "Staying Close"

Holmdel Park...Pictures by Adrienne Ann Photography
Are you enjoying this book by James Dobson as much as I am?  Check out a few of my posts on the previous chapters if today is your first time dropping by:

Chapter 14 Predators
Chapter 13 Boys in School
Chapter 12 Men R Fools

This chapter was JAMMED pack full of good stuff.  If I forget everything I've read so far, I will NOT forget this chapter.  And when I pull this book off the shelf when Mark is 5 or 6 and then when he's 9 or 10, and when he's a teenager I will read THIS chapter first.  I loved what it had to say about building relationships with our kids.  I mean it was so simple and yet such a good foundation and reminder.  Of course we need to build a good relationship, how else and why else will our children trust our judgment or respect our authority if they don't really know us or believe we love them?

All photos on today's post are by Adrienne Ann Photography.

Chapter 15: Staying Close

After reading about how boys think, play, learn, how they need to do be disciplined and how boys need to be protected from worldly predators, this was the chapter that stressed how to build a satisfying and affirming relationship with them.

Here's what I took away...you know I like bullet points:

* "give them a desire to stay within the confines of the family and conform to its system of beliefs"
* "an unsupervised kid can get into more mischief in a single day than his parents can straighten out in a year"
* obviously we want to prohibit immoral behavior BUT our prohibitions must be supplemented by an emotional closeness that makes children WANT to do what is right
* children must KNOW that you LOVE them unconditionally and that everything you require of them is for their own good.
* "Laying down the Law" without an emotional linkage is LIKELY to fail

This is really good for all of us to hear, because as parents it is so easy to say, "Do this, not that."  We all have extremely high expectations for our kids... I know it's not just me, and we want what is best for them, but then why do some kids rebel and do the opposite of what their parents have said all along, and why do others "buy into" what their parents have said.  Dobson believes, and I have to agree with him, it all has to do with Relationship, Relationship, Relationship!

Josh McDowell (author and speaker) said, "Rules without relationship lead to rebellion."
 What is the secret?  How do we build this awesome relationship?

It begins early and includes HAVING FUN as a family!  The memories that I look back on are times when we took all the spray bottles in our house filled them up and had a water fight INSIDE. My poor mother even got into it!  It was so much fun, my sides hurt from laughing.  Last time I checked spray bottles were cheap...it wasn't about the money my parents spent...it was the TIME they spent with us kids.  It was UNDIVIDED attention.  Kids spell love TIME.  They want all of us.  If I'm doing something in the kitchen and the kids are talking to me, they can tell I'm not giving them undivided attention.  Julia will say, "Mom, look at me."  or Mark will pull my leg and ask, "Why are you serious, Mom?"  Kids know from a very young age what it means to play with your whole being.  They want all of us, they don't care about the dishes in the sink or the spot on the floor.  They don't care about our jobs.  They love us, and they want ALL of us.  And they deserve all of us.  Maybe not every moment of everyday, but when it's family time it should be uninterrupted not checking your phone or email, fully committed FAMILY TIME.  Just recently John took me out on a date, and he saw me checking my phone for texts or emails, and he just about threw my phone in the garbage (not really but you know what I mean).  We were on a date.  He wanted ALL of me.  My Full attention.  And he deserved it!  And so it is with our kids.

"Children love daily routines and activities of the simplest kind.  They want the same story or the same joke until Mom and Dad are ready to climb the wall."
When me and the kids go food shopping on our certain day of the week they are EXCITED to go.  When we have school time at the round table they are EXCITED to learn.  When we have Art Class on Wednesdays they scream and yell, "Yes, it's time to PAINT!"  When the weather is warm they want to ride bikes outside (FOREVER and mommy gets eaten alive by the bugs) when it's bedtime they want the same book.  It's not expensive activities it's the tradition of the time spent with mom and dad.

The hardest part of being a parent is maintaining a friendship WHILE maintaining parental authority and respect.  Because in my opinion kids need parents not friends, but I understand that Dobson means that special bond, that relationship of trust and love.  And you can't expect respect without a relationship.  You can demand it of course, but will there be trust and love?

"There is comfort and security for children when they know what is expected and how they fit into the scheme of things."
The First Five Minutes

Another idea relevant to relationships is called "the first five minutes," and basically it's the idea that we have and opportunity every day to set a positive tone or a negative tone.  Picture your husband coming home and looking at the stove top and saying, "Rice and beans AGAIN!"  Well how do you think the rest of the evening is going to go between him and mom?  Not so good right, because in the first few minutes of coming home he didn't greet mom with love and affirmation he had a complaint.  Same goes with our kids or with students at school.  Do you greet your children with loving words in the morning?  I find this very easy to do, because I've missed them all night long (am I the only one who still checks on her kids as they sleep, for fear maybe they stopped breathing...these children are my gifts, I treasure them!) Or do you start the day barking orders or reminders?  I think I might have a reality check as the kids get older because maybe it's just easier now.  Either way the "first five minutes" can set the tone for a great day or a miserable one.  At school I used to stand in the door way of my classroom with a smile and coffee in hand and say, "Good Morning __________." to each child who passed me, who knows it might have been the first nice thing they heard all day...?

The Power of Our Words

This topic is so near and dear to my heart because I believe with every ounce of my being that words can make or break you.  It was someone's hurtful racial slur words in 4th grade that made me feel ugly til I stepped foot in high school and actually got attention from boys.  On the contrast it was someone's words that encouraged me to go to grad school when I was fearful I couldn't do 5 courses in one month!  But her encouragement pushed me to try and succeed!  Same with us as parents in our home one slip up, one hurtful word, can be sealed forever in our child's memory.  Words are powerful.  We have only one chance to do it right.

 "Harsh words sting like killer bees."  

One day that I was so over tired and so sick I said to Julia in an exasperated tone "I don't care. Do what you want."  And when I kissed her goodnight that evening and tucked her in bed she drew me in for a hug around my neck and she said, "Mom you don't care if I go downstairs."  And of course I apologized and said that was so wrong to say that.  She knew I cared and she knew my words were wrong.  And she's only 4!  We are going to mess up we are not perfect, but we CAN be careful.  We can think before we speak.  I feel awful that I said those words.  Thank goodness we serve a God who gives us a lot of GRACE.

"Be mindful that everything you say has lasting meaning for a child."

Our jobs are not easy.  We are going to need a lot of prayer and practice.  I fail in small ways and big ways each and every day of every week, I'm no super mom.  I'm human and motherhood is hard.  BUT God has loved us with an everlasting LOVE and He wants us to LOVE our children and build strong relationships with them because He LOVES our children even more than we do!



  1. Awesome post, Kristi! So powerful and packed with "good stuff"!

  2. Thanks for sharing all you are learning from Dobson. I agree with godlyrose...POWERFUL & PACKED! xoxo C


Please leave an encouraging comment...I'd love to hear from you!

Related Posts with Thumbnails