Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Well-Behaved Child

The well-behaved child; is it a fantasy? A concoction of some sadist's mind to torment mothers while we sleep?

Several years ago, when I was still striving the be a perfect parent and raise perfect, genius type offspring, (read: before I gave up hope), I stumbled across John Rosemond's Six Point Plan for Raising Happy, Healthy Children. I remember it being very good if not nearly impossible to implement. But every now and then, in my exasperation, I would bring it out again and consider getting rid of most, if not all, the toys. (This was, apparently, my area of fixation because he said much more than that.) I believe he is also the same newspaper columnist that suggested that rotten to the core children would be cured by losing the TV. We gave it up and our kids grew remarkably tolerable again. (Following his advice also gave me fodder for my first parenting vignette sale.)

The years have gone by. I've quit fighting the TV battle quite so forcefully. I've allowed video games into my home. I've laxed on discipline and allowed "polite" argument. My kids are getting bigger and testing their boundaries, you know, and are generally well(ish) behaved. At school at least.

I was beginning the think that was the best I could hope for, as discouraging as that seemed to be. I mean, who wants to argue, politely or otherwise, all the time? Who wants every directive they give to be a discussion? Who wants to break up fights between the sibs with every waking hour? Who wants to fall into bed every night feeling guilty for not enjoying their kids like they meant to?

So when they opportunity presented itself to review John Rosemond's latest book, The Well-Behaved Child, I jumped at it. And, OK, I admit it, I expected a dry treatise on everything I had done wrong and how if I was consistent and spanked more and for everything my children would magically grow halos.

Obviously, it has been a while since I last read one of his books.

I laughed. And laughed. And LAUGHED. And read excerpts to my husband and LAUGHED.

At least he's funny when he's pointing out your failures. And once you acknowledge that, yes, your child is a normal naughty son of Adam, just like all the rest of us, and it isn't ALL your fault, you can really listen to his thought on correcting the problem.

He gave me permission to say "because I said so." Can you imagine? Ah, enlightenment.

Some things, like authoritative speech, you can implement right off the bat and others will take some processing time. (How, specifically, should we deal with THIS problem?)

We did warn our kids that things, they were a changin'. We didn't come at 'em cold. It was only fair. We've spent, oh, three or four years failing them with inconsistency.

(They aren't liking the new life as they know it, BTW.)

Oh, and no, he isn't a spank-at-all-times-for-all-reasons guy. Maybe that's why I like him. I've been parenting long enough to know that kids need consequences as unique as they are. Outside of the box thinking suits me well. But take my advice, and his, and focus on chapters 1, 2, and 6 instead of caving to the temptations of skipping to the middle pages. Without the foundation, the rest just sounds like the same old solution.

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