I’ve always been one to watch for a sign that might help me deal with whatever might be churning in my head. That’s because whatever is churning in my head is also likely to make my stomach churn if it stays there too long. Today, I saw just what I needed: keep calm and carry on. And, it was literally on a poster. I couldn’t have asked for anything clearer.
The British Ministry of Information originated the encouraging slogan in 1939, but it was never used. It’s certainly been put to good use 70 years later. I’ve since learned that this slogan is available on almost everything from a postcard to a tea towel. You think I would have seen it at least once before now. But, then again, maybe I didn’t need to see it so much until now.
Today, I am thinking about how I cope with growing children and the growing complexity of problems that can come with the territory. This is because Bonni brought up the subject of disciplining children as they get older.
On reflection, I’ve been operating with optimism. I chose to believe that those toddler time-outs plus the many times we asked Dr. Phil’s question: “Is that working for you?” have accumulated in some brain reservoir so our kids can draw on those experiences during their teen years. Based on firsthand experience and anecdotes from other parents, I’m becoming more realistic. I’m not a child-rearing expert but I’ve suspected that the teen brain struggles to transfer learning from those early-discipline lessons.
With preteen and teenage kids, the discipline issues can range from annoying (listening to an iPod past midnight on a school evening) to troubling (discovering that the real reason your child cleaned the carpet was because of the party at your house while you were out of town) to high-anxiety (getting a call from the police station that begins “Am I speaking to the parent of [insert name here]…”).
Although my children are my precious children I realize that they are not perfect children. And, my husband and I are not perfect parents. We’re loving and well-meaning parents and I’m going with the belief that those baseline characteristics will serve them – and us – well.
Bonni, as one mom to another, here’s the best advice I’ve received so far:
1. Live in the moment. Deal with what’s happening now and not what you fear might happen in the future. So, while that late-night i-Pod party might warrant taking away the thing for a week, it is not likely to be a grave portent of the future. Dealing with what is in front of me helps me to react more reasonably.
2. Keep talking even if your children don’t appear to be listening. You’ll be amazed at what other parents tell you good things your children say and do when you are not around!
3. Recognize when you need help. If you’ve not successfully dealt with whatever problem is going on then look for guidance from someone who has.
My kids are older. They leave the house without me. I know their friends but I don’t know everyone they meet. The Internet opens up a whole new world of influence and temptation right inside my home. I cannot be present to protect them from others – or from themselves – as much as I used to be. I hope that they recall the lessons we’ve tried to teach them from early on. And, I’ll discipline them using the guidelines above when they lower their standards.
Signs aren’t always so clear. I’m grateful for the one that I saw today. And, for now, when my kids leave the house I will continue to often replace “Good-bye” with “Remember your standards!” Maybe I can get that printed on a poster.
FRONTLINE: Inside the teenage brain helpful links included. Suggested reading from Claire Diemler, School Counselor, Webster Groves, MO School District:
· Parenting Teens with Love & Logic by Foster Cline & Jim Fay
· Real Boys: Rescuing Our Sons from the Myths of Boyhood by William Pollack and Mary Pipher
· The Wonder of Boys by Michael Gurian
· Queen Bees and Wannabees by Rosalind Wiseman
Expert Mommy, Diane Asyre is a professional writer and owns Asyre Communications.