Thursday, May 2, 2013
The Christian Parenting Handbook
It's the words a parent never wants to hear--"I think you'd better come, your son's been hurt." I had been sitting in the church sanctuary reading quietly while my son attended co-op classes. How could he get hurt in a book discussion class? I found him in the hallway and gave him the quick once-over to make sure he was okay, then I started asking questions to see how this could have happened in the first place.
He'd been sent to the hallway for talking out of turn in class. While being disciplined another boy walked up and teased him and Schnickelfritz started grappling with him. This led another boy to leave the book class and punch my son in a very sensitive spot while defending his friend. All that mother concern over my son's well-being faded as the story unfurled. Now I was angry--disciplined by another teacher, fighting in the hallway? My first reaction was to throw the book at him (not the literal one from class). Possible punishments swirled in my head--take away the X-Box, make him write sentences, etc. We couldn't actually leave co-op because I was teaching a class next hour.
Of course, that was a reaction--I was embarrassed by my son's behavior in front of all the other Christian, homeschooling mothers at co-op. What my son needed was a response. (Think about taking medicine--you want you body to respond, not react to the treatment). Fortunately at that moment my mind hearkened back to something I'd just been reading in The Christian Parenting Handbook (remember I said I'd been reading in the sanctuary?). Chapter 3, entitled "Consequences Aren't the Only Answer" warns that parents who believe the bigger the punishment, the quicker the change are usually disappointed. My goal should be a changed heart, not just a punishment for doing wrong. Schnickelfritz has a problem with self-control: he couldn't wait until the teacher called on him to speak, he couldn't let the teaser pass by without attacking him.
Without knowing it I was already working into chapter 4, "Identify Character Qualities to Address Problems." I was looking at the self control issue rather than the symptoms--talking in class and reacting to teasing. I took Schnickelfritz to an empty classroom and we started working on Chapter 5, "Transfer Responsibility for Change to the Child." I asked Fritz to come up with 5 things he could do to help himself when he needed to keep quiet and when someone was laughing at him.
All that good parenting advice and I was only on chapter 5--I couldn't wait to discover the wisdom in the remaining 45 chapters. The Christian Parenting Handbook covers 50 principles, each in their own brief chapter. You can certainly get through one in a sitting. And they're not all focused on punishment and discipline. There are chapter titles like "Teach Kids to Add Energy to Family Life", "Use Mealtimes to Build Relationships", and "The Value of Grandparents."
As I mentioned on Monday, this is the launch week for the book and it's already been a smash. The online retailers have sold out of print copies, but you can still get eBooks through them. If you'd like the print version, you may order at The National Center for Biblical Parenting. They are offering a 25% discount. You'll still receive the $400 in freebies.
Through May 5th you can also enter my Christian Parenting Giveaway and the mega blog giveaway listed below.