Our great grand daughter lived with us, from the time she was one until she was four. These are the formative years and we agreed with her mother to train her using the German Shepherd menu. It consists of three principles and seven words. First, all of us would have to be absolutely consistent. Second, we would use a ‘one time tell’. When instructions were given and understood, the responsibility reverts to the trainee. None of this, “I told you, and told you and told you” stuff. Remember she was one year old when we started. Third; we will actively teach the beauty of simple obedience. The seven simple words to be used were (1) sit; (2) stand; (3) stay; (4) Come; (5) heel; (follow closely); (6) fetch (go get) and (7) do. These were the principles used when we took our dog to a basic training school for pets.
If you think these are silly, just try any one of them on your kids and see how they react. The writer James said, “Let your yea (yes) be yea, and your nay (no) be nay, lest ye fall into condemnation” (James 5:12). Today’s parents seem to want their kids to “like them” and they are beginning to find it difficult to say “No” and mean it. My Mother and Dad never really cared whether we liked them. We would learn to love them and respect them. So we did. We were never able to ‘divide and conquer’ in an effort to get our own way. The husband and wife team need to understand the basic premise that their home is their home. The kids are just there for a while to train and will soon be gone. The husband and wife, the mother and dad remain. They are the constant in this relationship.
Our Purple Martins will soon be gone for another year. They send a couple of scouts in about the last week of February. A week later the whole flock of ‘mamas and daddies’ will arrive. The eggs will be laid (there are 12 apartments in our bird house), and later hatched. The babies will be confined (20 feet up) while they are fed on an hourly schedule. July comes all to soon and the youngsters will be literally ‘kicked out of the house” and forced to fly. This initial solo flight is scary and they resist. We have witnessed the parents literally pushing their youngsters off of the rail perch, for the first fluttering effort. That same process is repeated every year. The animal kingdom does very well, thank you. It’s the human kingdom that has its problems. The Purple Martin parents know how to say “yes and no”.
Here are some ideas that may help in going back to the “yea” and “nay”. Remember, these are suggestions, from fellow travelers, who, many times, lost their way in their effort to raise their kids.
If you have been the victim of being abused by your kids, admit it to them and ask their forgiveness, and when received, say, “now this is the way we will live from now on.” Cleaning the slate is important in your effort to begin again. Determine that you will strive for a consistent pattern from ‘the new beginning’. Cleaning the slate is important – keeping the slate clean is imperative.
Learn to put off decisions that need to be thought out. To say “yes or no” quickly leads us into real problems. “We’ll think about it”; “we’ll talk about it”; “we’ll pray about it”; “We’ll let you know”. These are simple answers that delay decisions that could be vital. When delayed, always be true to your promise and give an answer. Sometimes your children will be disappointed, but it is your wisdom and understanding they are depending on.
Cut the apron strings little by little. Be compassionate in your decisions. Think back to when you were just a kid. Some decisions may be best left to them. That’s why the German Shepherd method is a good foundation or beginning. Make them a vital part of family life by sharing chores and responsibilities as they grow. Solomon says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it” He also said, “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction will drive it far from him” (Proverbs 22:6,15). A good balance of “yes and no” is essential in raising kids.
Marvin Berkowitz, a developmental psychologist at the University of Missouri-St Louis, and an expert in character education says, “Giving in to a child who ‘asks and asks and asks’ only rewards the behavior. The child essentially learns to be a nagger”. Makes you wonder how this habit of nagging will eventually affect the marriage they contract, or the job they hold, or the kids they raise.
The encouraging part about this entire article is the knowledge that kids are mostly interested in what’s going on now. If the answer is “no”, watch them recover and return soon with another appeal for something else that is happening NOW!
One last word from the pen of King Solomon: “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother. For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head and chains about thy neck” (Proverbs 1:8-9).
The instructions, laws and chains only bind them to a better life.