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Monday, August 20, 2012

Where's Mom in this Picture?

Actually sitting right beside the photographer, but too busy on the iphone to care. I borrowed this "creeper shot" that my friend posted of the naughty kids sitting across from her on the train ride in some unnamed European city. She writes in the caption,

"This poor fat little girl was allowed to eat this entire bag of kettle corn. Bad mom - unhealthy eating is NEGLECT. Stop texting and start mothering!"
There are many things wrong in this picture, including the comment about the little girl's brother watching a movie on the laptop computer on high volume (no headphones!) and eating the popcorn off the floor that the sister dropped everywhere. Not an efficient way to eat popcorn, but the most dangerous thing I couldn't help but point out was that my friend, a total stranger (albeit a girl) took this creeper shot of the kids and the mom did nothing to stop or protest it. Where is the supervision? Where is the authority, where is the parenting?

I have no background information other than what the outside observer can see but it makes me very sad because, what if the mother has lost all authority on her own kids at this age. Or worse, what if she just doesn't even care? It's easy to judge but this whole thing reminds me to deal with my own children properly and have the authority and command to demand respect and obedience in small things and big things. It doesn't mean being a micromanager or a totally smothering-mother, but it takes love and compassion and good communication.

Two quotes pop into my head, about parenting....

Creed - With Arms Wide Open
I just love that song and the lyrics. The whole song reminds me about a man wanting to be the best dad to bring up his child, with arms wide open.

And also this one from the big book, Colossians 3:20-21 New International Version (NIV)20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

21 Fathers,[a] do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

Next I will reformat some notes I absorbed from a recent sermon at church, along with my own experiences.  The pastor is not yet 25 but the father of an infant. Yet he speaks pearls of wisdom from his own experience being a child and now a father.  Good communication starts in childhood.


WHAT NOT TO SAY to your kids...

1) Why did you do that?
It's just like asking the child, "What's wrong with you?!" What would you expect him to say, because I'm a sinful person and I have not yet asked Jesus to forgive my sins? There is no reason, it is beyond his own reasoning to explain it. (Read my other post about, Why did you shove that corn pop up your nose?)

2) Because I said so
Well actually, the most obvious reason why you shouldn't say it is because that statement is always followed by a "Why" and you'll have to come up with a good reason anyway. I would rather say something like, because the bugs will come in if you leave the door wide open, because you'll be stinky if you don't take a bath, because you'll waste electricity if you keep opening and closing that refrigerator door just to verify what is inside, because someone will trip on your toys and break them if you don't pick them up...

Because I said so has no meaning unless you're a dictator. Be an authoritative parental figure, yes but a dictator, no.

3) Name calling or laughing
This is disrespectful to call someone names or to laugh and make a mean joke out of someone, especially a little person. They're just gonna learn the same vocabulary from you. I'll just be blunt and say that the Chinese parents and grandparents have a lot of mean words for naughty kids - pig head stupid-freak, dumb ghost, good for nothing piece of garbage, or you exploded from a rock, and a piece of BBQ pork is better than a son like you... Anyway, it sounds funny now but maybe not at the time. (Granted though, these were actual quotes for what they called my naughty little brother, the one who grew up to be a very successful Dental Surgeon... so was it really damaging? Maybe you'll have to read that Tiger Mom book )

HOW TO deal with teenagers (or a four year old going on fourteen)

1) Voice criticism in a safe environment
2) Find the opportunities for control when the child is younger
3) In everything, remember your own underlying problems and don't burden your children with your past.

About Obedience and Loving Guidance

At what age can the child stop obeying the parent? There is no real number per say. The pastor seems to indicate that for as long as the child lives under the parents' roof, especially on matters like when it's time to sleep, eat and go to school.  He pokes fun at the Asian culture, where children are expected to live at home until the day they get married! He says, if you're 25 and still living at home (because you are Asian) well you gotta obey your parents!

1) Obedience is required but discussion and compromise are not forbidden
(If you're 18 years old etc, well maybe that 8 o'clock bedtime is totally negotiable LOL)

2) When parents get upset, it's never about just the issue at hand
"You ALWAYS leave your dirty clothes all over the floor" = I'm really mad about always having to clean up after you, your whole life since you were a baby!!! = I wish I taught you to put your own clothes in a hamper when you were still small...

3) Your views (parents and children) are coloured by hormones, society, outside influences 

4) Treat them like Jesus Matthew 25:37-46. I'm still figuring out what this part means. Please don't be offended if you are not familiar with the bible or you don't care. This was just what I wrote down in my notes for reference.

Now what would mommy say to her little girl? I love you, but I can't let you eat that whole bag of caramel corn all by yourself. Let's share!

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