I’m not a counting parent. In fact, in my mind, if you can’t obey me at “1” then why can you obey me at “3”? See, my kids have control issues (I have NO idea where they get that trait…ahem….) and for them, if I give them the ability to choose not to obey me (even if that is for a “1” and a “2” count), then they’ll choose it every time. Who wouldn’t choose that?!
My friend, Shari, recently let me borrow a great parenting book. It’s called “Don’t Make Me Count To Three” and is by Ginger Plowman. The book is pretty short and sweet (yay for a quick read!) and while most of it wasn’t “earth shattering” it was one of those books that you want to have around as a parent to encourage you and adjust your sails when discipline seems to be going the way of the dodo in your home!
I am a fan of Ezzo and Ezzo’s “Growing Kids God’s Way” series, I’ve read Dobson’s stuff and honestly, Plowman’s book is right up the same alley. That’s no surprise really since they are all based on a Biblical model of parenting. But what Plowman’s book does that is helpful is what makes the difference.
While the other books talk about the “why” – i.e. they spend a lot of time talking about why God’s word is useful for teaching and training our children, the difference it makes foundationally and morally, etc. – this book focuses on the “how” with lots of helpful examples.
The hard part about this book is that it is major brain parenting. I know, I know, that sounds lazy. But isn’t counting to three lazy parenting? When we are allowing them to delay obedience I feel like we are allowing ourselves to delay discipline. Running the show solo this year (my hubbs is deployed if you are new to this blog) has made lazy parenting pretty attractive to me. I see the evidences of my lazy parenting in the results of my kid’s behavior too. Sometimes I don’t want to do the hard work of pouring into my son’s heart. I just want him to stop being a booger. This book encouraged me by reminding me that the extra effort is worth it in every way.
The method she describes is basically this: you have an issue at hand, you analyze the issue not from the offense, but from the condition of the heart, and you discipline according to the condition of the heart AND the issue of the offense. Here’s my favorite example she used in the book:
Mom has a friend over for a kids play date. Mom and friend are talking in the kitchen and the kiddos are enjoying lunch together in the other room. All the sudden, a fight b/t brother and sister breaks out. Big brother smacked his little sister- who is now wailing as if she may possibly die. Enter the mommies.
The trick here she says, is to ask good questions. Don’t just look at the offense. Find out what is up. Here’s what the mommies discover. In order to come to this understanding, the mommies had to really know the bent of each child by the way. (As if we don’t know our kiddos inside and out right!?)
Big brother was telling jokes. But little sister was annoyed that big brother was stealing the show from the friends who were over for the play date. So, she was interrupting his jokes and telling them herself. (After all, she knows ’em too!) Big brother got mad and whacked little sister for interrupting and stealing the show.
Obviously, in terms of the heart condition, big brother was not the only “offender” in this situation. Little sister disrespected her brother, was rude to him and stirred up dissension. The next step in dealing with this issue is to ask good questions-don’t just tell the kiddos what they did wrong. See if they can be led to think about it. So Mom of the little sister would ask, “were you promoting peace by interrupting your brother’s joke, or were you stirring up trouble?” and then Mom would ask big brother, “yes, little sister was sinning against you, but in what other ways could you have responded?”
She talks a lot in the book about the importance of not just flat out telling your kids what they did wrong, but leading them down a mental path where they see the depths of what they are doing.
I’ll tell you, I’ve been trying this with Cooper, and it is a challenging approach to parenting! WHOA! Talk about raising the bar in the Nevil household. But what I am seeing already is how quickly Cooper is understanding his own heart. It’s helping to make him more self-aware already. (Which is pretty tough for him!)
This book was a great read and I think I’m actually going to re-read it this weekend. There were so many great nuggets of truth. This woman’s love for her kids really showed through. You know what else was totally awesome? This form of parenting doesn’t just help your kids, it helps you. It has already drawn me in more to God’s word and it has challenged me to think about how God views my altercations with the world. If you pick it up and like it, tell me what you like about it too!