I am a person who believes in balanced thinking = balanced parenting. I find some people tend to be extremists in their thinking, especially in parenting issues. As I don’t think living in extremes is a balanced way to live, I try to interject a middle of the road kind of thinking in my blogs to help establish balance. That does not mean however that I’m not solid on what I believe to be right or wrong and I have very strong beliefs on why I believe what I do. So to set the record straight, I will give you a list of 10 things I am firm on.
There are 3 types of ‘spankings’. I personally only agree with using the first two.
- Consists of a swat or two on the bottom. The child is usually surprised with them as it is the final act a parent uses when a child is not listening. This is usually used for the younger children as they are still in the learning stages of what is right and wrong and do not deserve a “spanking”. (as described in #2)
- Consists of 1-3 smacks on the bum, hard enough that it might slightly sting your hand and all while you are calm and have told the child why they are getting this. This is saved for the severe behavior and it is clear the child knows right from wrong but is being persistent in doing the wrong behavior.
- Consists of probably 3 or more very firm whacks, done in anger, usually with no explanation as to why but expecting the child to know. Quite often a parent who ‘spanks’ this way uses an object as they feel that qualifies it to be called a spanking.
If I see a mom swat her child on the butt a couple of times in public I almost jump for joy as this parent is actually realizing her child needs to have some discipline. When I see a parent scream at a child in public I cringe and feel embarrassed for the mom for her lack of realizing that screaming will get her nowhere in getting this child’s wrong behavior under control.
Here is what I lived by when discipline was needed. If I have exhausted all other forms of discipline and I decide to spank, it would only be:
- On the butt.
- No more than 3 swats with my hand, not another object. This allows me to feel some slight sting and keeps me in control.
- I would ensure I was not angry or frustrated at the time of giving the spanking.
- I would ensure the child knows exactly what the spanking was for.
If a parent uses these guidelines it keeps them in control and doesn’t allow them to be lashing out in frustration and/or anger which is when, in my opinion, a spanking turns into a beating.
I didn’t spank often but when I did my children knew it was the final straw and they never got a spanking while I was angry at them. If I was angry at the time of them needing to be spanked I would make them go sit on a chair and wait for me to calm down. I found out years later that sitting and waiting for me was the harder part of this punishment. They didn’t realize I was doing that to ensure I was in control of my emotions and not lashing out in anger but instead they thought it was part of the punishment. Although hearing that now is humorous, it also solidified for me that the spankings were not harmful to their emotional wellbeing if the worst part to them was the waiting.
I am very aware of the theory that spanking teaches a child to hit and if a parent is spanking a child out of anger or in frustration, that theory has some merit. If you have to use this form of discipline and use it correctly the child will not lash out in hitting others while frustrated. This usually happens because that is a reaction they were taught and so has become part of their environment.
Nursing a child is a very natural and life-giving opportunity. In the beginning stages of life, an infant cannot eat solid foods of any kind and so breast milk is given as an infant only means of survival and, therefore, extremely necessary. So unless you have a health issue that will not allow you to produce milk I believe it is imperative to at least try as the first milk is full of antibodies that will help your child be healthy and strong. Giving up even though it was painful at first was not an option for me, as I feel that mother’s milk is a natural way to provide essentials for your child. I was told that the discomfort of nursing would go away and it did so I was extremely grateful that I struggled through with it.
However, I think that once a child starts to be able to drink from a sippy cup, is eating solid food, then breast milk is no longer essential and that is when the natural course of weaning should take place. Yes I have read numerous articles giving the pro’s and con’s to nursing into pre-school age, and yes I know the scientific studies done on those who have been nursed until they are 5 stating that a child’s immune system is better, nursing helps lower blood pressure which will help settle a child down, just to name a few. I have found as many articles supporting the opposite where they state nursing in the early toddler years causes a child to be too dependent on the parent and believe it causes psychological issues.
There are many great articles on either side of this debate so I have taken my stance on the basis of what seems logical to me and on what I think the effect to the child will be long term. I don’t think a 4 or 5-year-old should be dependent on nursing to soothe them down to lower their blood pressure. Those kinds of comments make me think those doing the studies are not seeing the full parenting picture. If a child has left the baby and toddler stage then they need to learn before they get into school how to settle down with more age-appropriate skills. Although there might be merit to the immune debate, I believe our biggest issue to having weak immune systems is pushing medicine in order to speed up the healing process rather than letting the body fight it off, which is the best way to builds up an immune system.
A child has stages in their lives that are there to allow them to grow up, become less dependent on the parents and eventually as adults, be completely self-reliant. Trying to hang on to any stage longer than is naturally appropriate is not healthy for the mental well-being of the child.
Breastfeeding in public is something I think can and should not be shied away from. However, I don’t think mom’s need to make a big issue out of it. I don’t think we should be exposing our breasts indiscreetly. I think turning your back to the general public and or covering with a small receiving blank if there are a lot of people around is a considerate thing to do but if you end up showing a bit of boob it is not the end of the world. I still believe that the naked breast is still very much a sexual thing here in North American, even though it is also life-giving to your child and therefore we need to respect our culture and be considerate.
3. Co-sleeping or Family bed:
A marriage bed is sacred. Children should have their own bed to sleep in. Many marriages get destroyed partly because the private time that mom and dad should be able to have at the end and/or beginning of each day to talk, be intimate or just snuggle is missing. Children who have their own bed and are made to use it tend to be more independent children that do not suffer from separation anxiety when it is time to move out and be productive adults.
Having a parent or parents go in and spend time with a child on their own bed also allows the child to know that the parent is willing to comfort them when they need it, protect them when they are scared or comfort them when they are sick. A child should not have to deal with those things alone, however if they need this constantly you should find other ways to ensure they feel safe in the everyday normal life other than in your marriage bed.
4. Pushing the chicks out of the nest.
We have become a society where it is becoming quite normal for a child to be 30-40 and still living at home. This is mostly due to the lack of the parents being able to let go of themselves and/or due to the lack of being able to make this happen in fear the child would think they didn’t love them. I would like to challenge that as most of society are out and living their own lives long before they were 30. So to allow your child to be the exception is not healthy for their long-term wellbeing.
Children should be out of the home around mid 20’s unless they are still in school at which time they should have some time after they are done school to get a job and earn some money so they can get out on their own. As in all things in life, there are extenuating circumstances or disasters happen that we need to help support our children in emergency situations which mean maybe letting them come live with us again for a short time until they are back on their feet.
Through our many conversations on this topic during their late teens, my children always understood it was not a selfish motive, but more a life-giving motive. Our jobs as parents are to help our children be healthy, happy, productive adults and I feel we have not done our job as a parent if they are not accountable for their own lives by the time they hit 30.
I had one daughter who wanted to leave long before her mid 20’s out of anger because she didn’t like our rules. Upon learning the real world was harsher than her parents, we allowed her to come back 2 times before she was fully able to support herself. After the second time she was now in her mid 20’s and although it was extremely difficult to do this, we explained she wasn’t going to be able to come back home as it was time for her to figure this out. And she did and has felt a huge sense of accomplishment because of it. I have seen her grow into an extremely strong and independent woman.
5. Homework: when helping is hindering.
It is my opinion that a parent should not do a child’s homework for them. Many will say they are not doing the homework they are just helping.
What constitutes help can be the issue so here is my definition of helping.
- If a child needs an idea to get going on a project, or cannot understand a math equation, or has written something and would like your opinion on it, you are helping them.
- If you sit down and write some of the assignments for them, do parts of the project for them or you give the child the answer to a question you are now hindering their learning and you are now the student.
I, for one, have already had my schooling and do not need or want to do it again. My tax dollars are now going towards my child getting an education, not me.
I know of someone who was always helping her child with their homework. She would then come back and tell me how great they were doing in school and how smart they were. When it came time for university, which they got into because their ‘marks’ were so great, they didn’t last a year because they couldn’t do the work themselves and mom was not around to ‘help’.
A child will feel so much more accomplished if they can do the work themselves. Will they fail sometimes, maybe, but we all learn best from our failures. Helping occasionally will encourage them and is needed, but to do any of the work for them is just the easy way out and you might develop children that are lazy and/or incapable of doing anything on their own. It is a high probability that these children will be the ones that will not move out of the house because they won’t feel like they can and in truth, that might be their reality as they haven’t learned to accomplish anything on their own.
6. Sex & Marriage:
We live in a world where sex is exploited daily. Where people are having sex whenever they want, with whomever they want at whatever age they want. Our children are going to high school and having ‘closet sex’ because it is the thing to do. Dating media sites quite often makes it seem normal to hook up for one night stands with no regrets or consequences. T.V. shows readily show casual sex as an everyday thing. We cannot protect our children from knowing or seeing this. Even sex education is being taught way too young and nowhere in the teaching do they even hint about the intimacy or relational factor that should be involved in sex. And we have no one to blame but ourselves because as parents we did not vote in the people who had a strong stance on this subject.
Consequently, our children have only been told the less important part of sex and are being told much earlier than I think they are mentally or physically ready to handle this information.
The one thing I think we as parents need to do is be very solid on is what we believe in this subject before we start to tell our children. It is too easy to not really even care anymore as our society is more of a ‘whatever goes’ kind of mindset. Believing that you should have only one sex partner in life is not a common viewpoint, but that is precisely what I do believe and one of the things I did do right was wait to have sex with the person I am spending the rest of my life with. So being able to teach my children this is easier as I am living proof of what waiting will give you. I also believe a relationship has a much better chance of surviving if you actually get married and not live together as there is a commitment there that is not involved in living together. Many relationships have worked without a legal marriage so it is not impossible, but if you ask any married couple who have been together a long time what their secret is they will say it is that they were committed and never ever considered in giving up.
According to the US attorney legal services statistics they state: In terms of both divorce and marital happiness, marriages that were preceded by cohabitation are less successful than those that were not
The possibility of contracting a disease is part of my reason for believing you should only have one sex partner in life, the bigger issue is more the trust factor. Knowing you are each other’s first gives a solid basis for your marriage, as neither partner has to be concerned about competition or insecurities. If you have been patient enough to wait for your spouse to have sex you have proven that you will be faithful as you have not had sex, just to have sex up to this point. That gives a reassurance that nothing else can give.
7. Drinking underage:
Where I live your child can drink in your home, therefore, we are not breaking any laws by allowing them to do so.
The bigger issue is not if it is legal, but for me, that was one of my deciding factors. The main issue for me is if a teen/young adult can drink without causing any physical or long-term issues. I personally have let my teens drink in our house as my husband and I drink. I know allowing them to drink will make some of you gasp, but I would rather them drink in my home with me teaching them when and how much. For example, we allowed our children to drink at home, having one drink on special occasions, between the ages of 16-18. The legal drinking age is 19 where we live. I make the drink in front of them using the measurements a bar would give, so they will know precisely what to expect when they are able to go and drink publicly. I limit how often, which was on special occasions or if we were just having a big family night.
Although I do not condone getting drunk in any circumstance I think allowing a teen/young adult the opportunity to learn how to enjoy it responsibly is better than hoping they can figure this out when they are out with their friends and might be pressured into drinking more than they should. My way doesn’t mean my children never got drunk, because like all children they each have done things behind my back, but I have the assurance that at least I have done my best to show them how to handle this issue in their life responsibly.
8. Social media. Cell phones & Music
I struggled with my decisions on these topics for a while and in truth came to conclusions that I now stand by only because of some of the mistakes I did make along the way.
Social media: a child should not have any social media accounts unless they allow the parent the password. This helps the child have accountability and ensures that they are not doing anything that can cause them harm in any way. There are 2 major issues to social media accounts that I see for children/teens:
- People in general, but especially children and teens tend to spend way too much time on them and are not personally socially interacting with other people. From personal experience, I learned how harmful it is to a child in their relationships. It is too easy for anyone to say and do things on social media and hurt others as they are not face to face with them. Hence the new word in our vocabulary now is “cyber bulling”. Anyone can get their credibility destroyed on social media much quicker than anywhere else and it is accessible to anyone who wants to see it. To give this kind of responsibility and power to a child is not fair as they simply cannot handle it on their own.
- They are not getting enough physical activity if they are allowed to spend too much time with this. This is true about video games as well and so for both, I believe parents should be strictly giving a time allotment and as it is a privilege, and not a necessity in life, to have either of these things they can also be taken away as a form of punishment if need be.
Cell phones: Children need to learn to interact with other people. It is a skill that will be needed for the rest of their lives. To give a child a cell phone so they can text, get on social media and or play games has a huge potential of making this child a bit, if not a lot, antisocial. Some might argue that a child needs a cell phone for emergencies. Children are always around an adult so there is no need as the adult will take care of that. So until a child is allowed to be alone there is no reason for one at which point I think a child should have the bare basic in a phone until they can afford their own devices. A plan that allows a limited amount of texts and or phone minutes and at that point it stops working.
Music: The words of a song are much more important than the style of music or the beat. If the lyrics have continual profanity, talks a lot about sex and/or killing you should not be letting a younger child or teens listen to them. They are not capable of making solid good decisions regarding these topics and so we should be protecting them from the dangers of even knowing anything about these subjects if at all possible
9. Stay at home mom’s
I believe the best place for a mom to be is at home until the last child is in school full time. If possible, I think a mom should be a stay-at-home mom until the children are done high school. Teens are harder to be on top of than young children, so this is a critical time for a mom to be in their children’s lives as much as possible. I know this is not possible for many moms due to financial reasons and they have to work to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table, and if that is the case then they should definitely not feel guilty for doing so.
I would like to share a small story with you all which will explain why I think this is so very important at least for my family situation. I had 2 out of 4 children who were rebellious. They tended to get into bad situations, that if I had not have been home to see what was going on, I believe they would have gotten into much worse trouble. Staying on top of this was only possible because I was at home and made myself available to be around them a lot.
My oldest daughter had gone from being a very happy young girl into a very depressed gothic girl in a very short period of time. She was listening to music that was not suitable for her age group, trying to hang out with the wrong crowd, slicing herself and leaving suicide notes. I would wipe her playlist clean of any music that talked about drugs, killing or suicide on a regular basis, I would make her change and wash her face when she got home from school (she would come home with clothes she did not leave in, and makeup that looked like blood dripping from her face) and I would make her come to dinner like always and spend time with her family in my attempt to keep her grounded to what was real and to ensure she knew we were here to help protect her and love her no matter what. All things she hated me for at the time.
One day while I working at my computer my daughter came home from school and plunked herself on the chair beside me. She just started talking. Not about anything special but she just talked. She continued to do this for months. Even if I was out during the day I would ensure I was home before they got home from school and be sitting at my desk working so that she would come and talk. She slowly stopped pushing those boundaries and the suicide notes stop, her gothic stage left and she came out of that funk. She still had a very rebellious nature about her in other ways but she was not depressed anymore. I don’t know why she got into those things, years later she just explained that it was the thing to do, but I do know that what got her out of it was my being available for her when she was ready to talk.
For us and our family, if taking a trip annually, having a bigger house, having new vehicles were a priority then I would not have been home to help her through this and many other situations. Due to her personality, I can safely say that the outcomes to many of the things she tried to do as a teen would have been vastly different if I was not around her to see and try to help her through them. She is now a grown adult and thanks me for ‘not being the mom she wanted me to be’. Weird compliment but it is like gold to me. What she wanted me to be was a “mom who didn’t care about her so much, one that worked and was not around to keep an eye on things”. For me and my family, this was the right choice.
I don’t believe abortion should be an option with the exception of this one scenario: if the life of the mom is in extreme danger and she already has other young ones at home depending on her. With so many people trying to have children that cannot who have decided adoption is their next step, why do we feel the only choice is to abort?
I had a young woman ask me recently, “Don’t you think there are cases that abortion is ok?” My reply was “Give me an example of what you think is a good case for an abortion”? Her reply was “rape”. Well, I have a daughter that was raped at a party after being given the date rape drug. If she had decided that abortion was the choice she wanted to make, I would have been sad but it wouldn’t have changed our relationship or my love for her. However, if she had chosen abortion, I would not be able to have a wonderful person in my life by the name of Mason; my amazing grandson. It was a difficult decision for her but she is so glad she chose life for her little boy.
Feel free to ‘Agree to Disagree’: If you disagree with any or all of my parenting beliefs, I am not offended by that. I have travelled this part of my journey and have learned either by my mistakes, by others helping and giving needed advice, and/or by educating myself on things I didn’t know enough about.
For anyone to think they have all the answers is a dangerous place to be in, so although I am solid in how I parent, I am also aware I do not have all the answers and I am still learning as I go. You never stop being a parent; you just have different issues to deal with. This is what life is all about though, our journey where we are to live, learn and love.
I am merely one parent giving you my thoughts and reasons why I think the way I do to possibly help you on your journey. To maybe give you another perspective you had not thought of, or if nothing else to let you know you are not alone in your struggles with parenting. We learn as we go. We share what we can to help others coming up behind. I am not standing in judgement over anyone in how you are raising your children, as I have no right, nor desire to. Some of what I have written about here I did not follow myself when my children were younger but have come to those conclusions because of my mistakes.
Finally: I think you should know there are many things here that my children didn’t agree with either. Not when they were little and not now that they are grown, however, I honor and respect their opinion as they do mine. In the end, regardless if we agree or not my children and I still love each other deeply and are there for each other unconditionally. I never hold our disagreements against them nor do they hold it against me. They have learned to have strong solid opinions and know the value of standing by them. Although I am still not perfect by any means, I can say that because my goal has always been to love them completely and help them be the best person they can be, that even my mistakes have been able to be used to either teach me or them. That love has always shone through and they know and appreciate my motive and are great, amazing productive adults now and I am so proud of each of them.
That is my hope for each of you no matter what parenting style you have.