Inspired by Professor Johan Mostert’s (PhD, AOG Seminary, Springfield Missouri) book, Kinders, Tieners en Soortgelyke Rampe (which can roughly be translated as Children, Teenagers and Similar Disasters), the purpose of this ‘Peace in the Home’ diagram is to encourage you to stand back and see your situation in perspective. It depicts the different aspects of parenting to consider when you are confronted with a situation.
It also features as a dedicated chapter in international parenting coach and speaker, Andalene Salvesen’s book: A Brand-New Child in 5 Easy Steps. Said chapter starts off with the following statement:
When we want to improve in any area of our life, we study, write exams and receive a diploma, certificate or degree for it. Not so for parenting! All we need to do is have sex! This evidently qualifies us to become parents. How sad that the most important task we will ever have to perform has so few qualifications!
The following sections of the diagram provide us with ‘checkpoints’ in the form of questions we need to ask ourselves:
1. Could the problem lie with me (as parent)?
2. Could it be them (the children)?
3. Could it be us (our communication)?
4. Is the time invested in our relationship sufficient?
5. Is this particular issue negotiable?
6. Do I need to step back (regaining objectivity)?
After reading through these chapters, we trust you will be able to approach each situation with renewed confidence and make the right choice to achieve peace in the home.
Peace is not something you wish for;
It’s something you make,
Something you do,
Something you are,
And something you give away.
– Robert Fulghum
Section 1: Could it be me?
Life is the art of drawing without an eraser. – John Gardner
When we are challenged with a situation, the first question we need to ask before reacting is ‘Could the problem lie with me?’ As a parent you could be reacting instead of responding because of situations happening in your life. You could be stressed, ill, going through something traumatic like a death in the family, divorce and the like. Your first reaction could be to take out your frustrations on your child. If the problem lies with you, you can choose to do something that will help you think straight. Phone a friend, read a book, take a walk, pray, meditate, whatever it would take to redirect your thoughts so as not take it out on your child when he is innocent (this time)!
Happiness is not a value but a result; a result of the practice of good values. – Cloud and Townsend
Anger and shouting
Patience is the ability to idle your motor when you feel like stripping your gears. – Barbara Johnson
Often moms ask Andalene in a seminar, ‘But what do you do when you get so angry that you just want to explode?’ The main reason why parents get ‘SO ANGRY’ is that they have let it go and let it go so many times, that they then explode. Instead, they should deal with it the first time and not allow the behaviour to continue. When I deal with over nine-year-olds, they often tell me about their anger issues. They hasten to add that they feel really bad about themselves when they do get angry, and wish that, if there was a way to stop, they knew how. I try to use the analogy of the highway that they drive on to go on holiday.
- When you are on a highway, you know exactly where you are headed, provided that you stay on that highway.
- However, if you choose to take one of the exits, you will land up at a different destination. The choice is yours.
This applies to anger as well.
- When you know you are building up to an explosion, you know where you are headed.
- If you choose an alternative route, you could have a different outcome.
- No one can make you angry: you choose to be angry.
- Try to break the pattern by choosing a different off-ramp.
Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured. – Mark Twain A very important off-ramp is to ensure that you have some ‘me-time’.
- If you don’t take care of yourself, nobody else will. think of how many people it would take to replace you, and the cost! As a parent you are priceless!
- It is a juggle to keep all the balls up in the air, but make sure one of those balls has time for you to relax and enjoy some sort of hobby or time with friends.
- Your tank needs to be filled so that you can give to others out of the overflow.
- By making time for yourself, you will be in the head space to deal with whatever comes your way.
- If you have neglected yourself, you will almost certainly be in an over-reactive state.
- In my experience I have found that the main reason why parents become so angry is because they repeat instructions over and over.
- This then builds up into a screaming match and they are simply ignored until they totally lose it. If they have no other form of discipline, shouting becomes the only ‘effective’ tool.
- But it is actually counter-productive because the parents feel guilty afterwards and end up indulging their children out of guilt; the children abuse this opportunity and the cycle repeats.
Guilt-based parenting • ‘Poor Simon, he is so used to having all our attention. I don’t want him feeling neglected when his brother arrives.’ • ‘I only see Peter every second weekend so I feel I have to spoil him to make up for lost time.’ • ‘I had to suddenly start working full-time, so I don’t want to fight when I walk in the door.’ • ‘It’s my fault that he is sleeping in my bed, so why should he suffer now?’ • ‘We have moved so many times, I am sure it is unsettling for him.’
I often hear parents making excuses for not dealing with a child’s misbehaviour. Although the statements above, amongst many others, are relevant, they cannot be a reason not to establish and maintain boundaries and consequences in the home. Let us deal with them one by one.
- Having a sibling is a privilege.
- There are sometimes wonderful lessons in character building that can be learnt on ‘fast forward’ when a sibling arrives.
- The most important one is to learn that the whole world does not revolve around the child; this is called ‘a sense of entitlement – the whole world owes me something’.
- Having a sibling also teaches ‘Poor Simon’ to wait.
- How will you learn to be a patient adult if you never learn patience?
- Nobody is born with it. Patience means waiting with a good attitude.
- The more you practice it, the more patient you become.
Spoiling is doing something for a child that he can and should do for himself. This cripples a child. Spending time bonding and having fun is wonderful, but it does not mean it has to happen without any form of discipline. Discipline, when done correctly, enhances the special weekend, it does not spoil it. What I am referring to here is indulging, not spoiling.
When divorced parents have this attitude of, ‘Give him whatever he wants because I hardly ever see him,’ it creates a number of problems, amongst others:
- They feel entitled to have whatever they want, not need.
- The one parent appears to be the ogre while the other is the ‘fun’ parent.
- They lose respect for the parent without boundaries.
- It places strain on both parents – for the one, a financial strain to maintain this standard and for the other to try to compete with the ‘fun’ parent.
When circumstances change it is important to consider a child’s emotional well-being. However, the change eventually becomes his new reality. This is his life and children adapt far more quickly than we realize.
- If it is circumstances beyond your control, then do not beat yourself up over them. Accept that you have done your best, and move on. Find someone you can trust to talk to and share your concerns.
- When you come home from work, try to spend at least the first 15 minutes giving undivided attention, then use chill time.
- Take one child at a time to perhaps help with the cooking.
- Don’t feel guilty about using time-outs if necessary as soon as you walk in the door. This way you can enjoy the rest of the evening.
- The alternative is shouting and fighting throughout the evening and counting down the minutes to bedtime, then getting into bed feeling guilty.
- If you have started a bad habit, yes, take responsibility for it, but move on. Change it.
- The alternative is that you continue to have the child in your bed, then a year from now, you have to add another year on to your complaint of, ‘Well, it is my fault, so why should he be punished?’
- It’s not ‘if ’ a child eventually gets to sleep in his own bed, it is ‘when’. The earlier you start, the easier it is to change a habit.
- Moving can cause minor trauma, but again, if it is a decision you have made that you feel is best for your family or if it is out of your hands, it is time to move on and accept this.
- Moving to new schools has the advantage that children learn to make new friends, and this can become an adventure.
All of the above are examples of ‘trauma’, but they are not by any means the only traumas one can experience. They are simply a few examples of how parents react out of guilt.
- When any or more of these changes happen in families, the first response parents have is to throw the rules out the window to compensate for the changes.
- When children have predictable boundaries, they feel safe.
- When the boundaries change because of Mom’s mood, circumstances or Dad being away, they are not sure where they stand, and this brings on insecurity.
- They then push in all directions to establish where the boundaries are.
It is not necessarily the change that brings about the insecurity as much as the change in boundaries causing insecurity.
Lovingly known as Super Granny, Andalene Salvesen travels the world as a speaker and parenting coach.
She was the owner and principal of a school in Cape Town for 8 years. Being mostly a stay-at-home mom, with a passion for children, she compiled a parenting seminar combining extensive knowledge and valuable experience. She has been presenting this course for more than 16 years in a variety of venues and locations. Out of this, arose the need for families to have personal one-on-one attention for their particular needs. For the past decade, she has helped families by coaching them through common parenting challenges such as healthy boundaries, tantrums, sleeping, eating, discipline, sibling rivalry and much more, in the privacy of their own homes.
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