Balance

6 Steps for United Front Parenting

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Image Credit: James Thompson via Flickr

What does united front parenting look like? It is something so simple, yet can mean a great deal on how your children respond to your teachings. United front parenting is just that, a united front. Both parents, standing together with the same values, principles, and goals for their children. They will follow the same reward and consequence standards; they will be in unison when it comes to discipline and teaching. Being in a united front with your spouse can greatly increase the effectiveness of your parenting by creating a stability that your children need.

Many complications can occur when parents do not stand united.

  • It can cause confusion in the home.
  • Kids can learn how to play one parent against the other parent to get what they want.
  • It can cause unnecessary arguing in the home.
  • One parent may be viewed as lenient while the other one is viewed as being too harsh.
  • One or both parents may try to over compensate what they feel is lacking, whether it mean being stricter or more lenient,  creating an unbalanced atmosphere.
  • It can cause division in the home.

Here are a few steps to help become a united front.

1. Don’t undermine the other parent

It can be difficult to see your spouse being either too harsh or too lenient when dealing with your children. You may want to speak up against your spouse and right the wrong you see him/her doing. DON’T. It will tell your children that you don’t value your spouse’s parenting, taking away creditability and loosing respect for both you and your spouse. Does that mean you completely stay out of it? No. They are also your children and you should have a say in the matter. But don’t contradict your spouse in front of your kids, especially in an argumentative way.

If your children are younger, simply ask them to go to their room while you two discuss the situation.

For older children, it can actually be beneficial for them to stay in the room while you guys talk it over because they will learn from your example on how you can disagree, but still come to a decision together.

Another way you can undermine your spouse is by going behind his/her back and letting the kids do something you both have agreed against. If a household rule is to not let your children have any desert if they do not eat all of their vegetables, yet when your spouse is not looking you hand over a candy bar with a warning, “Don’t tell,” you have just let your children know that rules do not apply when you are around. They will be looking to you to do it again and again and eventually not listen to either one of you. If you honestly felt like this was a situation where the rule could be bent, say your child really tried to eat the vegetables but had truly gotten full, then talk to your spouse about it and let it be a decision you both make together.

2. Don’t make one out to be the bad guy

There may be times when you and your spouse do not come to an agreement, either in a big situation or a small one. In the example above, where one parent feels like a rule could be bent, the other parent may not feel the same way. Maybe your child, who could not finish his vegetables, got full as the result of him getting into some snacks right before supper. So, your spouse feels he should not be rewarded. The last thing you should say is “Well, son, I tried. But your dad’s not being a nice daddy tonight.” This will immediately create division.

3. Have set punishments

Often times, it will be up to just one parent to give a punishment. It is not necessary to have a discussion with your spouse for every little infraction. By having a standard that you both agree on and stick to, it will let your kids know that when they are with just one parent, the punishment would be the same as if they were with both and discourage them from trying to act out thinking they can get away with it. A few time I’ve heard a parent say to their child, “Wait until your mom gets home and hears what you’ve done,” or, “Do I need to call your dad to come home and deal with you?” By saying that, the child knows that that one parent is the weak link. There is no real threat and the child will continue to act in the same manner until the other parent comes home. But, by having set punishments that both parents use when necessary, the child will be less likely to take advantage of one parent being gone.

4. Back the other parent up

No matter how strict or lenient a punishment may be, chances are your kids will think it’s mean. They may come running to you telling you how mean the other one is being. Don’t give into it. Doing so will result in them becoming a tattle-tail on their own parent and put you in a bad position. Instead, back your spouse up.

5. For big situations, talk before making a decision

When kids get older, they want more freedom and the ability to do more than they had when they were younger. They will have opportunities to go to parties, go to week long camps, go on dates, drive, etc. When the time comes and your children ask to do something that you and your spouse have normally not allowed, it would be best to discuss it rather than one parent just saying yes and the other one not agreeing and getting upset. By getting into the habit while they are younger of talking about the bigger situations, your children will be accustom of you two making these kind of decisions together.

6. Be the example

Often times it is hard for one parent to discipline their children over an occurrence if the other parent is the one teaching them to do it. It is confusing to the children and will cause them to view the disciplining parent as just a stick in the mud, someone not to listen to, not to trust, not to respect. One great example of this is a family sitting around the dinner table and one parent is showing great lack in table manners. This will usually result in the children following suit, wanting to join in, and the other parent trying to teach their children better with no success at all.

I know many of you just had an image flash through your head of when you were a child seeing that around your own dinner table. For others, it may have been as recent as last night. I know it probably happens with just about every family and it may not seem like that big of a deal. Partially, it may not be. Eventually, the kids will learn that manners at someone else’s home or in a public sitting need to be stricter than they are at home. But, notice I said, eventually. By having this kind of division, it may take the children longer to learn that it is really not funny to belch at the table, grab food with their hands or blow bubbles in their milk.

But that means no fun at all! Not completely. It does not mean that both parents have to be extremely strict, sitting at the table with their backs straight, napkins on their laps, fork in one hand, knife in the other, and the only acceptable topic for conversation is the weather. What it means is that both parents can have a little fun but that BOTH parents also need to teach them that in a public sitting it is not acceptable to blow their straw wrapper across the table or to take a big bite of broccoli and then with a huge grin ask “Is there something stuck in my teeth?” (We are civilized people, I promise.)

This is what we will be working on for this #WeeklyKidChallenge, discussing certain areas of our parenting to make sure we are standing as a united front.

Reorganize an area in their rooms

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Do your children have that one area in their bedroom they have a hard time keeping organized? For this #WeeklyKidChallenge we are going to reorganize it.
Do your children have that one area in their bedroom they have a hard time keeping organized? For this #WeeklyKidChallenge we are going to reorganize it.

My kids both have an area in their rooms that are, well, a little unmanageable. As much as they try, they just have a hard time keeping those areas  organized so they are functional for them.
In my daughter’s room, it is her shelves by her bed. She has so many books, picture frames, little figurines, and treasure boxes (that’s what she calls the little boxes she keeps her notes in) that the shelves just appear cluttered and she stacks stuff on top of another.
In my son’s room, he has a shelf that he keeps his notebooks and coloring supplies on, but there is just so much stuff (he hates to throw away anything he creates) he has a really hard time keeping it organized so it is workable.
I know it is tempting for me to just go in there myself and do it, but it is important for them to help so they can set it up the way that will work best for them.
Some years ago, when my daughter had just moved into her big girl bed, I created a little area on her shelves for her coloring books and colors. I had the books standing up and the crayons next to them in a decorative container. It was cute. But not functional for her. Almost ever day I had to go in there and help her stand up the books and overall get it organized again. She just didn’t have the skills yet to be able to do it herself. And I could tell she really wanted to prove to me and herself she was a big girl. So, I got a cute tote, put everything in there and put it under her bed. We were both happy with that.
Is there an area in your kids’ rooms that need a little extra TLC to make it more manageable for them? What about an area in your home they could help you with?
Posts some before and after pictures.
You can also post them on Twitter using #WeeklyKidChallenge.

Image Credit: Amy Gizienski via Flickr

Why I do what I do

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Let me explain why I started this series. Many years ago I was stressed to the max. No matter how hard I worked at trying to keep my house clean, it never happened. I would spend hours everyday picking up toys in my kids’ bedrooms, the hallway, living room, my bedroom and even the bathroom. Yes, even the bathroom. Only to wake up the next day to do it all over again. Did I mention I was stressed to the max?

I tried everything I could possibly think of to change this horrible cycle and nothing worked. Finally, after reading many parenting books and even more blogs, I had an epiphany and everything changed. I had the secret! AND IT WORKED! Within a short time, my kids were listening to me better, not trashing their rooms within 30 minutes of waking up and they were actually cleaning up their own toys. Since I had such an amazing experience, I had to share. And thus, Bleacher Moms Series was created. I hope you guys come by and check it out.

Http://amzn.com/B00C2I5AQC

I hope that you join us for our Weekly Kid Challenge where we pick one topic a week to work on from table manners to learning a new chore to being creative.

If you can’t say anything nice…

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This week, Teach your kids how to talk nicely, not say rude words, and refrain from saying things that could be hurtful.
This week, Teach your kids how to talk nicely, not say rude words, and refrain from saying things that could be hurtful.

You know the saying, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” That is what we are going to focus on this week. My kids seem to go through seasons where their filter between brain and mouth needs to be replaced. Some symptoms of a malfunctioning filter are saying words they know they shouldn’t say, insulting, and over all allowing themselves to say some not such nice things.
It would be wonderful if teaching kids to only say good things was as easy as replacing a filter, but I know it’s not. It really comes from replacing bad habits by forming good ones and having a good heart. What I plan on doing this week is to work with them on stopping themselves before any thing just pops out, teaching them that saying mean things is a sign of a mean spirit, and how to handle themselves when they feel offended.

Here are some suggestions that we will be doing.

Making them write it down. By having them write down any and everything they say that may have not been so nice does two things:

  1. It causes them to have to stop and reflect on what they just said as they are writing it.
  2. It will put those words into a tangible form where they will have to visually see what they have said.

Form new habits. Many times when kids call a name or say a bad word, it is done out of habit. Forming a new habit takes time and consistency.

  • Have them pick a new word. If they are in a habit of saying a bad word, or one you don’t care for, when they get startled, surprised, stub their toe, or see something awesome, have them pick a new word or words.
  • Play pretend. Even though now they have new words to say, when the time comes and a wasp buzzes right by them, or there is a loud noise, they will resort back to their old words until the habit has been formed to use the new ones. So do a little bit of pretending and have them act out a certain situation, like walking into a room and their sibling startles them, and have them use their new words.
  • Be consistent. You will definitely have to keep your ears open and listen to make sure they don’t go back to using their old words. If they do, go back to playing pretend until the new habit has been fully formed.

How to act if they feel offended. Many times when children feel like their friend or sibling has insulted them, they want to be mean back. Althoughn I do believe children should be able to stick up for themselves and not feel bad about doing so, they should know how to do so without using bad language or calling names. The best way to teach them is to go over different situations that have already occurred and talk about what they could have said or done.

Honest, but not brutally. You know the never ending joke that is usually in a sit-com where a wife asks her husband how the dress makes her look. It can be tempting, especially for children to just be honest. Even if the question is never asked, many times kids will just say what comes to mind. It can be very hurtful to the person they are talking about and very embarrassing for the parent if their comment is heard. The best way to teach them if they can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all is to show them some not so flattering pictures and paintings and have them find at least one thing nice they can say about it. And if they can’t, not to say anything.

Hold their questions until later. Kids are very curious, and sometimes their curiosity comes out wrong or at the wrong time. I know there have been many times we were walking through a store and one of my children would see a person walking funny, or in a wheelchair, or has different color hair, or a woman with no hair at all and in their curiosity they ask right away.  The best way to handle this is to teach them to wait until they are in the car to talk about it. There is nothing wrong with your kids being curious and nothing wrong with explaining to them, they just need to know that when the person can hear them, that is not the time to ask.

Look up scriptures and read them aloud. There are many scriptures in the Bible that talk about controlling what we say and about how powerful our words are.

Proverbs 21:23 Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.

Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.

Luke 6:45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Just to name a few.

Be prepared with consequences. There may be times that even if you go over how you expect them to control their words, they will still talk how they want to. These are the times when you need to have consequences in place and enforce them.

I hope this is a great week for your family. If you have more suggestions, I would love to hear them! Please leave them in the comments.

 

Image Credit: Alexander Lyubavin via Flickr

Like Mother; Like Daughter

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like mother like daughter

We’ve all heard the sayings “Like mother; like daughter” or “Like father; like son” when a trait or character is noticed in a child that reflects his or her parent. Sometimes it’s when the child makes a sweet gesture and sometimes it’s when that child has developed a bad habit that was picked up from the parent. Either way, the statement has much more weight behind it than most of us realize. This became real apparent to me just this last week when I almost deceived my daughter, but was thankful I thought about it first.

For Christmas, my daughter got a very cute, ceramic Hello Kitty sign to hang up. Since she is only 6, I went into her room to help her find spots for her new toys and to help her hang up the sign. She wanted to hang it up on the out side of her door. I told her it wasn’t a good idea because it could easily get broken there. After trying to figure out a different place, I could tell her feelings were getting hurt because she felt like I didn’t trust her. So, finally I told her I would hang it up on her door, but that she had to be extremely careful to not open or close her door too quickly.

Over the next week she impressed me with how attentive she was over that sign. She would take it down every night for fear that our little dog would bump into her door and even took it down and hid it when we had company over. Needless to say, I could see how she was maturing and taking my trust in her to heart. However, the pages turned, and I was the one who had to ask her to forgive me.

We had taken her sign into my room because we were spending some time drawing and she wanted to try to draw what was on her sign. Before we were finished we got distracted with the game her dad and brother were playing in the living room. So, her drawing and sign were forgotten. When I went to bed I just moved all of our mess to my nightstand and was going to take care of it the next day. Well, I forgot and some how that day much of what was on my end table fell to the floor. That next night when I went to bed I ended up stepping on her sign and breaking it. You couldn’t imagine how upset I was, not because it was forgotten in my room, but because I knew how hurt she was going to be.

Well, my initial reaction was to glue it together so she wouldn’t know. So I went on a search for super glue or something that I knew would hold it together with no such luck. So, I hid the sign in my drawer and was going to get glue the next day or see if there was another sign at the store. I ran it passed my husband and thought that was a good plan. However, as I laid in bed trying figure out how I was going to get what I needed, I felt a tug on my heart. I prayed about it and knew what I was going to do was wrong. It doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. I think the sign was only $2. But I knew deep down that would be flat out deceiving my daughter and I had to ask myself: If she broke something of mine, would I want her to deceive me? If she found out that I lied to her, what would that teach her? So, I came up with a new plan.

The next day, while my husband and son were busy, I asked her to come to my room. I showed her the sign and asked her to forgive me. There were tears, from both of us, and many hugs. There was no resentment in her heart over her broken sign, she even suggested that we could glue it. I was very proud and thankful that she immediately forgave me. So, even though I felt horrible that I was the one who broke her sign after she had been very careful with it, I am thankful for the opportunity it gave me to show her a character that I hope she follows: To admit when she has done something wrong and ask for forgiveness rather than hiding it and deceiving those around her.

So the next time you hear or say “Like mother; like daughter” know that your children are looking to you as an example. They will learn more by your actions than your teachings. One day, your children will be your age and will display many of the character traits you are showing them right now. Don’t take it lightly. Instead, embrace it and be the person you want your children to become.