Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Rules, rules, and more rules.

As you all know, I am blessed with three beautiful daughters. What you don't know is that these girls are almost perfect in every way. I'm not trying to brag. I just speak the truth.

Look at this, even their profiles are perfect.
What a great Mother's Day gift from the primary, huh?


People notice the goodness of my children and they are always asking me, "Why are they so good? What are your tricks? What are your rules?" I could write a book, really, but wish to share a really good trick here. Rules have to be easily maintained.


First, I have to give credit to the kids, God sent us the best.


Second, I think LG and I learned early that following through is very important in discipline. If you do lay down a rule, you must follow through with enforcing it.


Third, we give our kids room to just be. Therefore, in return, they give us room to just be.


These three "tricks" go together. First, you have to believe, truly believe with everything you are that your children are great, and that they want to be great. This ideal in your children really affects your attitudes when parenting.


Second, you have to be in charge. You can't let your kids run the roost. They need leadership. They are just waiting to be taught the consequences of their actions. You must follow through so that they understand that there are real and consistent consequences. Lord of the Flies taught me this in 9th grade.


Third, and this is a very important key. You have to give enough room to your children, and more importantly to YOU, so that following through is actually do-able. If you have so many rules, being in charge is way too hard. And NOT fun! And nobody wants a mom or dad who is always nagging them. Look at the federal government. They are a prime example of screwing things up with too many restrictions to enforce.

I am not going to take credit for my parenting wisdom. I got my parenting style from my parents. They had seven kids. People with lots of kids usually adapt to a "survival" method of parenting. I think that this "survival" method is best. Do ONLY what is absolutely necessary.


The words of a surviving friend to her children suit this style perfectly, " I am on the phone, come and get me ONLY if someone is bleeding or the house is on fire."


LeGrand and I were laughing at ourselves the other day. Whenever we have a higher maintenance kid visit, we are always relieved to see them go back home. For the most part our girls are so easy and don't require much but the food I prepare and a good hug from time to time. We just don't "get" kids who want to be constantly in our face. They exhaust us.


Yes, we know, we've raised our kids to be low maintenance. We aren't sure if it is a good thing. Not that we are going to change it. We like our kids the way that they are. They make our life easy. Someday because of our parenting style we may be able to handle some more, and make them low maintenance kids too. We pray for that.


Some of you may think that this sounds heartless. I can hear you now, "What kind of mother are you? You don't want to interact with your kids?" You may think that we are horrible parents who don't spend time with our kids. You are dead wrong. We still spend a lot of time with them.


Our time is quality though and it is full of great conversations, laughing, learning, fun, and love. Quantity is important and I think too many parents justify their own absence by saying "When you have quality time, you don't need as much quantity." But, this justification will be used by me only in reference to the energy that is passed between my children and I. When I don't have to spend my whole day breaking up fights, telling my kids what to do, or disciplining them for what rule they broke, my time is freed up for such better interactions.


We have very little negative interaction. Most of our communication is positive. Our children are independent. They are problem solvers. They work out a lot on their own. They are confident. They are also creative.


Here is some food art that they come up with. It's a pond with goldfish, and yes, they ate every one. Some of those freaky moms out there would be upset by something like this. There were only compliments from this mother, "Wow you guys, that is pretty cool. Let me take a picture." "Ahh mom, why do you have to put everything on your blog?"

I was just reading this and it got me thinking about what Do NOT's I have as a mother.


How do my do not's affect my kids.


A friend and I were talking the other day. She has a rule that her children like to break, "Thou shalt not play in my room." Where seems to be the favorite place for her kids to play? Her bedroom, of course.


I've been pondering, "What are my rules?" Do my kids like to break them?
I have come to the conclusion that I don't have very many, therefore they don't need to break them.


Some of the only ones that I can think of are:


No screaming unless you are being kidnapped.
No eating after you brush your teeth at night.
If I count, you better come. (and they always do to the total delight of any onlooker)

Here is what hangs on our fridge. These rules are all it takes at our house.

Sophia added the last one all by herself.
We aren't sure when she did it. She didn't have to tell us. She was happy to let us find her addition on our own time. (It goes back to that giving each other space thing)
And, she's right. When you only have seven written rules, and three unwritten ones it's easy for everyone to be happy.

"A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone." ~Henry David Thoreau

33 comments:

Cheryl said...

I really loved this post! We are alot alike in many ways of parenting. I remember when Zack was about 18 months and I had a 4 month old as well, he would go into fits from frustration when he was unable to do things like a "big boy"! I had a defining moment one day as I watched him with a soft heart and felt such compassion for this little boy when I whispered to myself .......
"Oh my gosh! He is a man trapped in a little boy's body!"

Your girls are sweet and stunning!

Mother Goose said...

Alice! We are the same! I believe those very concepts. Dh and I are high respectors of showing respect and receiving respect. Our children know consistency and they understand consequences both good and bad. I have learned not to sweat the little things and realize if it isn't going to matter in long scheme than why sweat it! I bore my testimony about knowing my children were the greatest Best children and every parent out there should feel the same and if you don't they should evaluate. I wasn't saying that children don't disappoint or make mistakes but we should still see their beauty and worth. Every adult out there is still a child to someone. I think another important trick is balance. With discipline and critique of an action (not child) should come an over abundance of love. Each child is different. I have a child who is very different than the personalities in our family. She/he is very sensitive, tender hearted and non athletic and despises competition. EEK! We have low mtc kids too. That is why everyone loves having them over. I hail your parenting skillz!

Mindi said...

amen. i have a friend who lets her kids run riot around her house (and mine, when they come) and it's unnerving. then she complains about the lack of discipline, respect, etc. we got into a raging, knock-down, drag out one time when i told her why i thought that was.
i don't give my opinion anymore!
great post.

cally said...

Awesome. Really, this one is a major keeper I may read a couple more times. As a reminder, you know, to RELAX! Who cares if my kids eat candy before dinner. I eat candy FOR dinner. Okay, not really. But I still love this.

Your girls really are super good.

Throw a couple boys in there and watch how it shakes things up. Then you'd have to add the pee only-in-the-designated-toilet rule. And the you-may-not-define-what-can-serve-as-a-toilet rule. And the leave-your-sister-alone-or-i'll-make-you-drink-from-the-pink-cup rule.

Lindsey Diane Rose said...

I totally agree with cally, boys do shake it up a bit. Thanks for the refernce to my room rule too. It is just one I am not willing to give up. You are right though about giving kids space to just be kids, something I need to do more of instead of micromanaging

Terry said...

Congratulations on raising such wonderful girls. I already knew they are adorable and now I know what angels they are too! I wish I had it all figured out as well as you. I probably need to be a bit more strict with my kids. The other side of that coin, of course, are the parents that are overbaringly strict. Then some of them have kids that get older and openly rebel against the control or just get really good at sneaking. I think if my parents had been really strict, I'd have been the bad sneaky type. They gave me plenty of freedom (too much actually) and I tried to be a pretty good teenager.

Sheila said...

Loved this post Alice. But what post of yours have I not liked? Maybe it is yet to come...
but I seriously doubt it.
LOW maintenance is the best. I tease my Yvette how HIGH maintenance she is... (she is on the HIGH end) but she really isn't at the TOP of the Rating Scale. To me high maintenance is such a lot of work. Glad that your girls are so easy... and I hope for you it never changes. Did you knock on wood before you wrote this?
Can't wait to meet them... I hope I get to meet them. I think Yvette has agreed to meet you too... if it fits with her work schedule.
ToOdLeS, ShEiLA

MiaKatia said...

I am so with you, I love my kids and believe that they are the most special precious gifts on this planet, and I think every parent should feel that way about their kids. It makes those tough moments so much easier to get through. I always say that I like my kids as much as I love them, and they are pretty fantastic.

Sheila said...

forgot to add...
i love the silhouettes of your girls.
ToOdLeS, ShEiLA

Kathy said...

I love this post. I think being raised in a big family taught me the same thing .... do what you have to in order to survive. I always say the things my kids do great (sleep, eat, etc) are the things that I am just too lazy to do for them. They can self feed and go to sleep on their own very early. I simply don't have the time or patience for anything more.

As long as my kids are healthy and happy and living right I'm ok with most of their choices and I really try to let them make their own choices as long as they understand the consequences. We'll see how this pans out as they get older, but it worked for my parents so I'm very hopeful.

The other thing we do is pray, pray, pray for guidance with our kids. Each of them requires something different and we are learning as we go.

Thanks for the great post...sorry to go on and on and on!

Annie said...

Hooray for wearing seatbelts!

RedefinedPossibilities said...

Beautiful!

Rachael said...

alice - this is great. Thanks for the reminder to lighten up. It's hard to be an oldest child and not feel like I want everything just so. I'm always telling myself to relax. Thanks for phrasing it all in a new way.

Amy Niebuhr said...

Oh, dear. Was Lily the high maintenance kid at your house recently?

a wynn wynn situation said...

I think I might be more of a cranky mom- oh well. Good to know there are kids out there with moms like you :)

Yvonne said...

I love the silhouette of your girls.

Another great post. Hooray for low maintenance children. I should have read this post years ago!!!

MoziEsmé said...

Love your rules! Now that our 14-month-old is at the point of breaking rules, we're starting to establish our own, so hope you don't mind if we borrow some. Our first one so far is "Be safe."

Rita said...

Your girls are pretty perfect, aren't they??? My girl is my most low maintenance child too...but she has her moments. My boys wear me out! But I think (hope) overall that my kids are pretty good.

I think with you and LG the commitment you both have to your faith makes a huge impact too and it shows in your children. We don't have that at our house and it's hard. matt and I are at different places when it comes to faith and it is very hard.

This is such a beautifully written post Alice.

Marla said...

LOL I love it!!! I try to be laid back and whatever. But, I'm a nervous mommy. I will admit to it. I hope that it gets better as Ethan gets older, but it doesn't help that he's always jumping off things and going as fast as he can. Boys do shake it up, although I don't have a girl, so how do I know? LOL

I love your rules!! I would have to add always wear a helmet up there though, it goes with your seat belt rule.

Marla said...

Oh and umm..do you think my last name is Harris? LOL!!!!!

Mother Goose said...

I come from having 2 and 2 boys and girls. Everyone who has commented is doing the best they can with the knowledge they have. It is so good to have friends because we can take a little bit of what works with them and apply it to our lives. It is also good to see what doesn't work and know NOT to do that, too. Sometimes, we allude to "boys or girls are so much easier". They are definitely different but with each comes its own trials. Girls for me are more moody and tempermental, my boys not so. However, they are very stubborn and insubordinate. The point to Alice is consistency. Although, each child is different and we parent each child differently,(meaning one is tender hearted) you might not be as blunt but the message and consequence still remains the same. the rules and consequences stay the same. Whether you are dealing with sons or daughters parenting will not matter. Whether or not a child turns out good or bad is not a reflection on how well you did as a parent. Our requirement is to bring them up and teach them the ways of the Lord. Remember HF lost 1/3 of his children, Lehi lost 2 of his sons, Alma his. Their is always free agency. Through prayer we will know how to handle each one of these special spirits we were entrusted with. ( soap box) Hope I didn't offend)Alice, I will not be offended if you remove my comment.

missyjeanne said...

I have one rule in my house. . .

Do what I say!!

It applies to my husband also.

cally said...

um, hello, 22 comments.

Substantial.

I came back to read it again. I tried to sit down with the kids to come up with a simple list of rules.

Didn't happen. One peed on the floor. Two performed their rendition of Saturday night Smackdown. One built a dinosaur diorama. And the other said "uh-huh" as politely as she could, while counting the strands of carpet in a 2 inch radius.

rules are over-rated.

JillianMarie said...

im not a mom (yet) so i dont have any words of wisdom to add but you all should listen to ali because her girls are angels! i've spent so many years babysitting and being a nanny and after spending just one weekend with her family, i can confidently say they're some of the most well behaved children i've met. way to go ali ;)

Whitaker Family said...

I enjoyed this post and like usual learned something from your experience. I agree with Mother Goose's 2nd comment. The part where we're all doing the best we can and we learn from other's experiences. I look at some mothers with 1 child and see myself (overprotective) and just want to tell them to relax. We have to learn in our own way sometimes and in our own time. It's nice having family/friends to learn from so we don't screw up in areas they might have. Yet, not expecting ourselves to not mess up along the way. I know I'm alot less judgemental towards others whether it's on parenting or any other topic because I feel like I never do know how I might handle a particular situation others find themselves in.
I agree with the idea that thinking your children are the best is the way a parent should think and feel. However, I've always felt I should be modest in expressing this to other people. Yet, at the same time, it makes sense that there's nothing wrong with expressing it. Anyhow...funny you blogged about this because today I sat down to write about "letting go" and recent experiences I've had. Your post was right in line with what I've been learning. See... we all learn in different ways.

devri said...

I think we are on the same page, I knew I liked you for a good reason...

Marilyn said...

Yes, we do the "survival" sytle of parenting. Great thoughts. YOur girls were here for Grace's b-day--they are wonderful and very low maintenance.

Wendy said...

You enspired me. My kids made me mad, so now we have RULES on the fridge. I make them recite them 3x when they break one. Heehee. Also, now the kids will tell eachother "do you remember RULE #", your breaking it.

Omgirl said...

AB FAB. Seriously. I wish more people parented like you. I am an avid parenter--I believe in all the methods you subscribe to. My kids are very little so I haven't come into my own yet as a mom, but as a long-time teacher, I had a lot of practice. Now my one question: HOW DID I GET SUCH A HIGH MAINTANANCE DAUGHTER? Is it because she's three? Is it because I think I'm a better parent than I am? I'm working on answering those questions.

Rita said...

I'm just commenting again to bring your comment count to an even 30!!! ;)

And to tell you that I'm glad I know you! :)

The Mama Hood said...

Lovely post! Hey did you read what we are having? Check it out when you can! Have a nice weekend!

Rachael said...

Good luck with your party tomorrow! Hurray for a store-bought cake! The idea of making it is great, but the candy adds up so fast and I wonder everytime why I even offered?! I should just let her pick one at the store and be done with it! :) Kids are happy with such simple things. no need to complicate matters!

Renee said...

After reading this post, I've concluded that I need to be more confident as a mom. I have 4 kids who are all different and different things work on different children. Boys vs girls, younger vs older, really each one is so very different. But, you're right. Consistency is the key. The hard thing is, when to be hard core, and when to let go.

When my children were younger, it was much easier, but the rules do change. As they get older, I find I get more and more insecure, because you have to let them start to make decisions that have bigger and more lasting consequences. I don't believe there's a magic answer, except to have faith. Ooooh, a hard one for me! But seriously, sometimes what your brain tells you to do and what the spirit tells you to do are different things. Does that make any sense?

I love this post by the way. Thanks for making me think at 9 in the morning. I'm going to make an extra effort today to make sure they all know how awesome they are.