Stance: Studies on the Family

Brigham Young University Student Journal

Category: Parenting & Pregnancy (page 2 of 5)

Parenting tip #10:  Love Your Kids—No Matter What

Rosen 2013 394



By Phyllis Rosen

Before writing this last article on parenting, I want to state something for the record:


But I didn’t always know that. There were times during their upbringing when I wasn’t convinced they were all that wonderful. Each one, in his or her own way, caused some anxiety or fear or anger. At different stages of their lives, they were not very lovable.

But you must love them anyway, and of course, deep down you do. So how do you show that love during these difficult periods? It isn’t easy, but it’s possible. Here’s what my husband and I learned over the years:

1. Find just one positive thing to say each day.

When one of our kids was belligerent and prickly and almost impossible to interact with without getting into an argument, I prayed and prayed to know what to do. The answer was: Read the Book of Mormon.  As I read the Book of Mormon daily, something happened to my heart.   It softened.  And as it softened, I realized I needed to find something positive daily about this child.  As I mentioned positive things to him  (which were not easy to find), I found that the tension in the home decreased.

2. Let go of the things that don’t matter.  

One of our boys decided to pierce his ears. Later he grew his hair long.  Both actions were not what my husband and I wanted. However, neither action was life-threatening or had eternal consequences. We finally learned that the hair and the earrings were outward evidences of inward feelings. We decided to ignore the outward and concentrate on the inner.

3. Make home a refuge.

When one child made choices that were hard for our family to live with, a neighbor came over and gave great advice.   She said,  “No matter what, make your home the very best place to be.  Make it a safe place.  If your child leaves home, you will have less influence and less opportunity to set the example.” My husband and I decided to follow that advice. We did everything we could to make our home a place where our child felt loved, safe, and accepted.

4. Have patience.

We had another child who thought someone else—other than my husband and myself—was more qualified to give guidance and direction. This frustrated me greatly.  But a professional counselor told us to be patient and in time our child would figure out who really loved him or her, and would come back to us, the parents. And that was true.

5. Get professional help as needed.

One of our children got into trouble to the point that I could not live with the fear of what the long-term consequences might be. I finally went to a family counselor.  The result was that he validated my feelings, especially my fears. More importantly, he helped me to figure out what I could do to alleviate the fear and move in a positive direction.  We don’t have to bear every burden by ourselves. Professionals can help us get through tough times by applying their training and perspective.

6. Do all you can, then turn the rest over to Jesus Christ.

Only by turning our burdens to Jesus Christ can we get through the fear and the sorrow and the pain.   When we turn our worries over to Christ, we literally feel the burden being lifted from our shoulders.  This doesn’t mean that all the pain or sorrow or fear is gone.  But it means we know that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are aware of our situation and will guide us through it.  Turning our burden over to the Savior enables us to find joy along a difficult journey.

7. Remember that time is measured to us differently than it is measured to God.

We do not have the benefit of seeing the end from the beginning.  We can’t know whether our child will change tomorrow or in ten years.  We need to put our trust in God and know that His timing is perfect.

8. Last of all, when your child seems unlovable, remember that this is your opportunity to develop Christ-like love.

I discovered that after I had gone through trials with less-than-lovable kids, I was much more tolerant and forgiving of others. I am a better person for having gone through the hard times. Looking back, I can see Heavenly Father’s hand, not only in my children’s lives, but in my life as well.

And now I know without a doubt, I HAVE SIX WONDERFUL CHILDREN!

Parenting Tip #9: Be in the Moment

Rosen 2010 613 (1)

Suppose Queen Elizabeth showed up unexpectedly at your home.  How would you respond?

A) Invite her in but continue to watch your Netflix. (only ten minutes left!)

B) Invite her in, talk to her, but at the same time post her picture to your Instagram.

C) Invite her in, make small talk while texting your friends to tell them about her!

D) Invite her in, sit and visit without any devices.

If you had trouble picking D, it might be time for digital counseling. Most adults would never treat a guest with such poor manners. But we seem to forget that our children should also be treated with good manners.  In today’s world, many people (parents) have trouble putting away their devices and living in the moment.

Children deserve our full attention. Babies learn how to communicate by watching their parents faces. They observe normal reactions:  smiles, frowns, laughter, crying, etc. These non-verbal cues help them learn the meaning of words and actions. Language skills are linked to thinking ability, social relationships, and reading and writing. In other words, the future success of your child depends greatly on their developing good language skills.  And that depends on you being in the moment with the child—looking the child in the eye and talking directly to him or her.

Although electronic devices are responsible for much of the distraction parents have while parenting, they are not the only problem. Work, church callings, desire to play (gaming, sports), and even household chores can cause parents to miss wonderful interaction opportunities.

jpg117Think play time. Children learn valuable social skills through face-to-face games. Playing games together helps children learn turn-taking, develop motor skills, and acquire conversational skills. Participating in these games requires hands-on for both parents and children.

But even more important than developing skills, children learn what’s most important to YOU by watching where you spend your time and your attention. If you are always on your phone, they quickly learn that that’s what you care about the most. No matter how much you TELL a child “you are important,” a child senses by your actions whether you really mean that or not.

When I was writing parenting tip #8—Play with your kids, I asked my daughter if she remembers playing together.   Her answer caught me by surprise. She told me that every time she came and asked me to play with her, I did. Now, not for one minute do I think that is 100% true.   I’m sure there were many times when I was too busy to “be in the moment”. But at the same time, it must be true that I stopped whatever I was doing often enough that her perception was that I always took the time to play.

Children grow up. The day will come when the house is empty of children and you have all the time in the world to clean, work, or surf the web. But you cannot recapture the time to get down, look your child in the eye, and listen to his or her heart. Make a commitment now to be in the moment.

For those of you attached to your phones, here are some practical ideas on how to have some device free time:

1. Have certain times during the day when you do NOT access your phone except to answer calls (screen the calls, answer only important ones). This means you are not looking at emails, Instagram, texting, etc.

2. Teach your children about phone-free times. Church, meal time, driving, movies, when company comes for short visits, bedtime, etc.

3. Choose to have device-free outings. When you take your child to the zoo, to the park, etc. decide to put your phone away and just enjoy the interaction. Watch their faces as they discover new adventures and experience the world. Be in the adventure, not posting about the adventure.

Remember, the things you love the most—think children—deserve the most time.

Parenting Tip #8: Play with your Kids!

Many of you know the saying:  All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

This is true for parenting!!   All work and no play makes for very boring parents.

Relax a little and take the time to really have fun with your children.   By playing with your kids, they come to realize that you are a person; you have a sense of humor; you enjoy specific activities, you are good at certain activities; and you have a side to you that does not involve bossing them around.

So how do you play with your kids?  It’s different at various stages of their lives.

Here’s some of my favorite play moments:  

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From chopped competitions to four wheel rides with dad, our family always loved to be together and play together.

The truth is that it doesn’t matter what you do.   It just matters that you take the time to have fun experiences together.

Last year my son and his wife and two children moved back to this area because of a job loss.  He was in the process of interviewing but he had a lot of time on his hands. Many afternoons he called me and asked, “Mom, do you want to go on a bike ride?”   I usually had a long list of projects I wanted to get through, but I thought to myself, how many times will I have this opportunity to go on bike rides with my son and his family?   So, I agreed to go every single time!   I look back now at those three months and consider them magical.    

It’s never too late to start playing.  Give yourself permission to relax and enjoy your children.    I’m not suggesting that we abandon our responsibilities in favor of playing the days away.   But I am saying that the dishes can wait, the floor can be swept tomorrow, the laundry can be folded later.   Our children, on the other hand, will grow up and leave home, whether we are ready or not.    Taking the time to enjoy life together now will enable you to have delightful relationships (friendships) with your kids when they are adults.   

So, what are you waiting for????   GO PLAY!!!!


Written by Phyllis Rosen




Parenting Tip #7: Admit When You Are Wrong

No one wants to admit being wrong, and certainly no parent wants to remember the times when his or her parenting was less than stellar.  As parents we try hard to make good choices, but unfortunately,  there comes a day when you get it wrong.   What then?


Then it’s time to man up and fess up!

Over the years, I’ve had many moments when I failed as a parent.   I have lost my temper, accused the wrong child of misdeeds, and even made up silly rules that didn’t make any sense.   Somehow my kids survived and grew up to be productive citizens.

The truth is, we all make mistakes.   It’s not like any of us have all the training we need to be perfect parents.  Luckily, you don’t have to be perfect to be a great parent.  You just have to be honest and sincere and keep trying.  

So what should a parent do when he or she blows it?   I believe that the best choice is to own up to the mistake.   There are many positive outcomes of admitting your parenting mistakes.   I’d like to focus on four:

  1. When parents graciously admit mistakes, they teach their children how to behave with civility.  Everyone needs to learn how to say “I’m sorry,” and parents’ mistakes are the perfect opportunity to teach children how to do so willingly and in a timely manner.
  2. When parents admit their mistakes, children learn to trust them.   Children eventually come to the realization that their parents aren’t as perfect as they once thought.  As children get to this stage, seeing their parents admit to falling short helps kids to recognize that their parents are honest, which leads to trust.
  3. When parents admit mistakes, children learn that everyone makes mistakes and that it’s not the end of the world.
  4. When parents admit mistakes, they become accountable for their actions.   This encourages them to evaluate those actions and enables them to make changes for the better.

Richard G. Scott talked about admitting our mistakes:   

“Admit mistakes when you make them—for we all do. Admitting your mistakes builds character and also respect. Accept full responsibility for your actions.”  

When we realize that we need to admit a mistake, there are some rules to remember.

  1. Look your child in the eye.  If the child is small, get down on their eye level to talk to them.
  2. Don’t rationalize.  Telling your kid you messed up, followed by justifying your behavior, doesn’t really send the right message.  
  3. Make amends if possible.  
  4. Be grateful there is such a thing as repentance, and be sure to allow your child the same forgiveness for his or her mistakes that you hope they allow you.
  5. Learn from the mistake.   Try to recognize why you erred and look for strategies that will help you do better next time (count to ten before reacting; ask what happened before jumping to conclusions; refrain from assuming).

No matter how hard you try, you will make parenting mistakes. It goes with the territory.

Written by Phyllis Rosen 

Parenting Tip #6:  Teach your children about Jesus Christ

Of all the things I did as a parent, teaching my children about Jesus Christ is the one area in which I wish I’d done more.   Don’t get me wrong.   I did many things to teach my kids about Jesus Christ and the role He plays in our lives

Ways I taught my children about Jesus Christ:

  1. My husband and I were very consistent in holding FHE weekly.  This doesn’t meant that every week was a spiritual lesson.   But it does mean that we did have many lessons about Christ and His mission on earth.
  2. We were diligent about reading scriptures with our kids.  Sometimes we read in the mornings, sometimes at night.  Sometimes we read the books that had pictures to look at while you listened to tapes.   We even had a period of time where we got each kid a paperback Book of Mormon and drew pictures right in the books with colored pencils.   When it was talking about Ammon, we drew swords and cut-off arms, etc.  IMG_2640
  3. We attended church faithfully every week.  Our kids went to Primary and learned many more things about Jesus Christ.
  4. We had regular family prayer.   Every single morning and night.  Always.
  5. We had pictures of Christ in our home.

So…what more could I do? In hindsight, there is more I wish I had done.  

I wish I had told them—often—how much I rely on Jesus Christ and the Atonement.   I wish I had explained what the atonement was to me personally.   I wish I’d borne my testimony to them, maybe not in so many words, but by sharing with them how everyday events affected my testimony or helped me rely on my Savior.  

There were a few times when something major happened, where I would do this.  But I can probably count on one hand the number of times I shared my heart with my kids. I regret that.  How could they understand how much I trusted my Heavenly Father and needed my Savior if I didn’t share those feelings with them?  How could they learn to do the same?

We have neighbors who are not LDS.  The husband is, in fact, a preacher for another faith.  When I talk with his wife, I am blown away by how much she talks about Jesus Christ and His role in her life.  I have often thought that it would be a great idea to follow her example by putting Jesus into my everyday conversations just a little more.   

pasted image 0A month or so ago our youngest grandchild (she was about 6 months old) had a medical emergency.   She was taken to the emergency room where they ran tests and thought for a few hours that her intestines had problems.   This family lives out of state, and while this was unfolding, our other children who live in Utah happened to be at our house for a family dinner.  So before my children left our house, I asked if they would kneel down and pray for our granddaughter with me, which they did.   It was very satisfying to openly ask for my children’s participation.


So if I had it to do over again, I would change a few things.   

When the Spirit touched my heart and made me want to cry, I would not hide it or stifle it.   I would tell my kids exactly how I was feeling and why, and help them to know that the Spirit can touch their heart, too.

When I felt impressed with a church message or specific doctrine, I would try to find ways to talk about it at the dinner table, or at FHE.

And more than anything else, I would talk openly and often about Jesus Christ, and how my life is better because of Him.

Written by Phyllis Rosen

Managing Childhood Asthma

mother and girlBecause asthma is the most common chronic illness among children it’s important to understand managing childhood asthma. Upon this discovery many parents have a limited understanding of the disease and its treatment, which is the exact information parents need to know and utilize to keep their child healthy.

Disease Overview

For starters, asthma is an illness that makes breathing difficult because of temporary inflammation of the air passages. This results in coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness (WebMD, n.d.). When symptoms are severe, it is called an asthma attack. These attacks can become severe enough to warrant a hospital visit and in extreme cases results in death. Because these attacks can come on suddenly, controlling the illness can keep individuals from experiencing a dangerous asthma attack

Identifying and Limiting Triggers

According to KidsHealth, this illness can result from a few causes, known as triggers: allergies, colds/repertory virus, and environment triggers. The website further explains that identifying and reducing exposure to a known trigger is the key to controlling asthma.

family walking along beachLuckily, parents are not alone in finding and controlling the known trigger. According to KidsHealth, doctors will often have patients keep a diary that includes times and potential causes for the asthma symptoms. Once the needed data is collected, the doctor will use the diary to determine the trigger. Doctors will also help the patient and parents determine necessary steps to control asthma. This information is included in an action plan KidsHealth suggests having a copy of the plan in each location where your child spends a large amount of time (i.e. home, school, etc.)

If your child has asthma and you have not received support in finding and controlling triggers from a doctor, it is worth the effort to request this assistance from your child’s doctor. After all, it will help keep your child healthy.


There are over-the-counter medicines that we can choose to take or not to take, but prescription medications for a chronic illness are prescribed out of necessity. For your child to control their asthma, they need to take the dosage as prescribed by the pharmacist.

In addition to taking the prescribed medication, it is also important to take the medicine correctly. Even if the prescribed dosage is being taken, failure to take the medicine in the correct manner can result in the medicine not working properly. The following are common ways that asthma medications are administered and the right way to take each of the medications: 

162265724_XSNebulizer: Turn on machine. Put on face mask. Breath in the medicine slowly.

Dry Powder Inhale: Press the release button and breath deeply.

Meter- Dosed Inhaler: This type of medicine works like a spray, push the lever on inhaler and breath in.

Anti-Inflammatory Pill: Steroid pill taken orally with water.

As you help your child control their asthma remember that reducing triggers and properly taking medication are two keys to controlling your child’s asthma. KidsHealth says that if these two steps are taken most children with asthma can enjoy a normal life with minimal asthma-related complications.

Disclaimer: Stance on the Family is not a medical source. Stance advises those with asthma and their families to talk with a doctor if experiencing any difficulty with managing asthma.  

Written by Laura Fillmore



Parenting Tip #5: Work Ethic

Teach Your Children to Work

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s off to work we go…

In Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the dwarfs sing cheerfully with their shovels in hand as they march off to work in the mines.  This probably is not the way your children march off to complete their chores.   More often the mention of chores brings groans and grumblings.  Yet teaching children how to work (and the value of work) is important.

“Teaching children the joy of honest labor is one of the greatest of all gifts you can bestow upon them. Let us also teach our children to see that the work assigned is carried to its completion and to take pride in what they accomplish.”     L. Tom Perry

This begs the question: how can we teach them to work and to take pride in their work?  I will be the first to admit that this was not my strong suit in parenting.  I tried all different kinds of charts, but they only worked for a short period of time, then I’d have to try something new.  I did, however, discover something over the years.

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Little children actually come with a love of working.  My grandson (McKoy) is 1 ½ years old, yet every time he sees a broom he tries to sweep.  When I start dusting, he wants to follow along with his own dust cloth.  Another grandson (Griffin) is 6 and he loves every opportunity to join in my chores.  If I’m raking leaves, he’s right there; if I’m mopping the floor, he’s begging me to let him do it; if I’m baking, he wants to measure, add, and stir.  

I think that children are born with a desire to produce good works.   

The key is to capitalize on that desire while children are young, then gradually expand their work loads as their abilities and skills increase.  Making assignments around the house when they are small prepares them for outside jobs as they mature.

When our two oldest boys were about 10 and 12, they got a paper route.   This was just a weekly journal that they delivered to a neighborhood near us.   It wasn’t hard work, but it did require getting the job done on a specific day by a specific time.  The pay was not great, but they didn’t need a lot of pay at that age.  Best of all, my boys learned that  work comes before play because deadlines don’t wait.

Our fourth child decided to get a job at age fourteen.   He walked over to the horse boarding facility near our house and applied for a job—and got one!!   As our other children became old enough, we encouraged them to find jobs.    Our encouragement paid off (literally) for our youngest son when he started mowing lawns in the neighborhood.  He was able to make more per hour than he could have at a regular job.  Plus, he had the benefit of setting his own schedule, so he learned time management.  


Our youngest daughter started working at age 14.   She spent two years at a water park, then at age 16 started working at a grocery store, a job she held until she graduated from college.  Having a long-term job enabled her to learn some skills beyond the basics of showing up for your shift.   She learned  how to get along with people who have different work ethics, the give-and-take of substituting for others so you can get the same in return, the benefit of friendliness and customer service, and most of all, how to stick with it when you are tired of the routine.

So how did we get them to work? We set the example.  Throughout their growing years, my husband and I both worked in the yard and around the house, and we made sure our kids had the opportunity to work beside us.  Did they love it?  NO!   As they got older, they found they would much rather go off with friends, or hibernate in their room, or do almost anything rather than plant the garden, hoe the weeds, or clean the house. But we persevered (consistency!!!).

We tried hard to ensure that their efforts were appreciated and that they had challenging jobs.  

Twice I repainted the entire house.  The first time my son Stan helped me paint; the second time my daughter Kim worked beside me.   These were hard jobs.  After we were done, when someone came to the house and commented on the new paint job, I made sure I let them know that Stan/Kim had been major players in the home improvements.   

236Because I have four boys—all tall and strong—my neighbor would call and ask if she could hire them to do some work for her.  After the first couple of times, she began calling them regularly, explaining that she liked calling these boys because she knew they would work hard and get the job done.   This type of feedback helped them to be proud of their work ethic and pushed them to work in a way to hold on to that reputation.

Kids need to know that they have the ability to contribute to the family through their work.  Every time I did a task myself because it was easier or faster, I sabotaged their growth.  Even though they didn’t always do things to my standard (think raggedy mown lawns), they did share the workload.   And that’s worth a lot!

I love quotes that explain ideas briefly and often with humor.   Here are some of my favorites regarding work:

  • “Every job is a self-portrait of the person who does it.   Autograph your work with excellence.” (Author unknown)
  • “People are born with brains and sometimes with money, but work ethic levels the playing field.” (Ryan Holmes)
  • “Hard work spotlights the character of people:  some turn up their sleeves; some turn up their noses; and some don’t turn up at all.”  (Sam Ewing)
  • “Talent is cheaper than table salt.  What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.”  (Stephen King)

The only way to get kids to internalize these ideas—that work makes the difference—is through experience.   As they learn to work at home and at school, they will begin to see the reward. Once they realize the benefits, they will become self-motivated workers.

Written by Phyllis Rosen

Parenting Tip #4: Support Your Spouse

As my husband and I were discussing parenting (we often do) we realized that a large part of parenting is supporting your spouse. You may wonder “what does that have to do with parenting? Turns out it plays a large role.

There are many ways to show support to your spouse:

  1. Being there for big moments 
  2. Upholding the rules set by partner
  3. Recognizing when help is needed and giving it
  4. Being happy for each other’s successes.
  5. Listening to the problems/triumphs
  6. Bragging about spouse to others
  7. Touching:  a hand squeeze, a hug, a high-five

Parenting is a tough job.  It takes time, hard work, perseverance, patience, creativity, and divine help.   When you feel overloaded or alone, it’s hard to endure through the tough moments (yes, everyone has tough moments).  I’ve found that the only way to get through it is to have support.   Unless you are a single parent (a topic for another day), that support ought to come from your spouse.  

These moments of support are not time-consuming or costly. It can be as simple as Rosen 2011 1277walking in the door at night and giving your spouse a hug.  It might mean showing up to his or her presentation, performance, or work party. It could even be as easy as asking “What can I do for you today?”  One of the best ways to support your spouse is by continuing to “date” each other.  Taking the time to do fun things together allows you to remember why you got married in the first place.   Weekly dates keep the fires of romance burning and they help you remember that there is more to life than parenting!

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Over the years, my husband has given me tremendous support. When I held piano recitals, my husband would always be there early to hand out the programs—a huge show of support since it meant he had to leave work early.  He would also hand out treats after the recital, allowing me time to visit with the parents of my students.

But how does this help our parenting? Happy spouses make for happy parents. When you know your efforts are appreciated, or even noticed, you feel valued as a person. Feeling valued as a person allows you to focus on others—the kids—and not yourself.

Another part of being supportive is being willing to sit down together and come up with a parenting plan.  Although you can’t cover every possible circumstance, you can set some guidelines for yourselves that put you and your spouse on the same parenting page.  When parents take the time to do this, something wonderful happens.  The kids soon realize that their parents are a team.   The kids will not be able to manipulate or pit the parents against each other.  (If you don’t think kids do this, you don’t have kids yet!)  This is a big step in positive parenting! Even though kids express the idea that they wish they could pit one of you against the other, the truth is that if they know the parents are united, they feel secure and confident.

IMG_1766If your parenting feels disjointed, if you feel alone even though you have a spouse, if you need encouragement or recognition, now is the time to take your honey on a date, sit down somewhere, and discuss how you can support each other in ways that matter to the two of you.  Your kids will thank you for it later.   


Written by: Phyllis Rosen

5 Tips to Fight the Fright of the Flu Shot

family-reading-921279-galleryParents across the country watch their child scream and cry as a nurse tries to insert a needle into the muscle on the child’s arm. The dramatic response of children to as simple of an injection as a flu shot causes parents to dread the flu season worldwide.

Luckily, flu shots this year can be a little easier than shots your child may have had in the past. Factors, such as position, distraction, timing, social support, and language can help your child better cope with injections.

Factor #1: Position

Colleen Lacey, Marsha Finkelstein, and Megan Thygeson tested a variety of different positions to administer a shot to determine which position resulted in the least amount of fear for the child. The team found two important characteristics that helped reduce a child’s distress during an injection are that the child sat up and is able to sit on their parents lap face-to-face.

Factor #2: Distraction

Children who are afraid of needles often benefit from being distracted. Some of the ways that you can distract your child during a vaccine are:

  • Have your child play a game on an electronic device
  • Talk to your child
  • Have the child blow bubbles

Factor #3: Timing

While your child needs to know before the nurse comes in that they are getting a flu 16571595778_52133c3e7e_oshot, you as the parent determine when to inform them. For some children, it may be best to wait until you are on the way to the doctors to tell them. This is best for children who anticipation leads to increased anxiety. For children who become anxious from surprises, it is probably better to tell them a little sooner. For these children, you can tell them when you drop them off at school that you will be picking them up from school to get their flu shot.

Factor #4: Social Support

Lacey, Finkelstein, and Thygeson also found that children experience less distress when a parent is present with their child. To let your child know you are there to support them through the injection, sit next to the child and offer to hold their hand during the procedure.

Factor 5: Language

What an adult tells a child shapes their perception. While certain messages need to be shared, how we say them to children can result in either a calm or frantic child. When communicating with your child about the shot use soft language that is concrete. For example, a parent could say “the needle will pinch you for half a level of Angry Birds.”

In order to reduce the child’s anxiety, it is important that the parent avoids ambiguous statements, such as “This may help.” These statements leave it to the child’s imagination to determine the severity.

Try It

Implementing all of these tips this year may seem overwhelming. This flu season try implementing one of the suggestions above. You will be thankful you did when you child is able to successfully fight the fright of needles this Halloween season.

Written by Laura Fillmore


Parenting Tip Series #3

Consistent Parenting

There’s an old saying:  A jug fills drop by drop (Buddha). In light of the saying:  What do these stories have in common?

  • My daughter was home schooled for two years of middle school.   Each morning we had school:  math, history, reading, science, and electives. Then we ate lunch. If all her homework was finished, we did fun things.
  • Every Monday night our family had family home evening. We varied the activities—sometimes having a lesson, sometimes playing games, occasionally inviting neighbors to join us.  But not matter what, we had family home evening and spent time together.  
  • Saturday was a time for chores.  In the morning there would be a list of chores that needed to be done with a note telling the kids how many chores  to sign up for.  Those who came first got to choose their chores first, and as soon as they were done, they could move on to other activities.
  • If the kids had to be taken out of church, they had to sit on a chair in a room with no toys and no treats and no interaction with others.  We never changed or varied from this rule.
  • Bedtime was a time for reading!  Every night we tucked our kids into bed with a story.  

The common denominator here is CONSISTENCY.   Good parenting requires consistent parenting.  Children need consistency.  It’s important that they know what the rules are and what is expected of them.  When children understand what is expected, they know what to do, how to behave and better understand consequences for their actions.   

Consistency works in multiple areas of life. Our kids loved to play at all hours of the day. Like most kids, they would beg us to let them skip dinner to continue playing. While this was sometimes tempting, I knew that the lesson they needed to learn of consistency (and eating nutritious meals) was more important than the short reprise it might mean for me if they skipped dinner. As soon as Dad came home, we would make sure the kids would come in and be ready to eat. This allowed us to enjoy quality family time and helped my kids learn important values.

Our kids didn’t always jump at the opportunity for family scripture study, so we made it an expected routine just like dinner. While we would vary our family scripture reading time, we always read with our children. This helped our kids learn the value in consistently putting our Heavenly Father first and also helped our children learn what we, as their parents, valued.

Another way to look at consistency is to think of it in terms of routine.  As you build routines into your parenting, you actually reduce the stress of everyday life and help children to feel secure.   For example, if you teach your children that they should brush their teeth every night, and you consistently make sure that happens, soon they brush their teeth by themselves without putting up a fuss.   They just know it’s part of the daily routine.  This eliminates discussion and arguments and hopefully cavities.

As you develop a routine for chores, children can learn that doing chores quickly and efficiently allows them to move on to more pleasurable activities.   This, in turn, motivates them to work hard and to organize their time.    When you have a routine for fun things (going to the park, visiting the library, etc.), then children learn that they can put off their wants for a period of time because they realize that the fun activity really will happen.  They are able to trust that you mean what you say.

Never too old for Easter egg hunts.

Never too old for Easter egg hunts.

Even as teenagers, (maybe especially as teenagers), children feel secure when they know you mean what you say.   When my kids were out with friends and we had agreed on a curfew, my kids knew that I would be sitting up waiting for them.  They also knew that if they didn’t come in on time, there would be consequences.   (Yep, once I made my teenage son put 30 puzzle pieces into the jigsaw puzzle I was working on because he came in late!)

These words of advice make sense and seem easy to follow.  Unfortunately, kids like to test you and your resolve at almost every stage of life.  When my oldest son was about twelve, I discovered how valuable consistency was, not only for the kids’ security, but also for making parenting easier.    My son started giving me a lot of grief about obeying the rules.  When I’d remind him it was time to do his chores, he would whine and complain and twist the issues around until we were arguing about all kinds of things—like why didn’t his brother have to do this chore?  Why did he always get the hard jobs? or Why did I love his sister more?  It got so out of control I finally I went to a counselor for help. The counselor changed my life. He explained I didn’t have to answer all the accusations my son was making.   All I had to do was be consistent. So then the dialogue went like this:  

Mom:  You need to clean your room
Son:  What??????????????   I just cleaned it.
Mom:  Oh, really?  Well, you still need to go clean your room.
Son:  Why doesn’t Steph have to clean her room?  Her room looks worse than mine!
Mom:  Really?  I’ll have to look.   But you still need to clean your room.
Son:  But I want to go outside to play!!!!!!!!!!
Mom:  Great idea.   As soon as you clean your room you can go outside.
Son:   Mommmm!
Mom:  I’m sure you can do it.   Let me know when you are done.

No matter how many excuses or changes of topic he introduced, I consistently returned to what I expected of him.   AND IT WORKED!   He eventually gave up and did what he should.   All it took was consistency on my part.

Being consistent isn’t always about chores, consequences, or nagging mothers. Being consistent is just as important when it comes to traditions and family fun.

Every family has traditions; and what builds traditions? Consistency.

One of our favorite family traditions is an annual Easter egg hunt.   Every year, on the Saturday before Easter we get out the dying gear and color our eggs.   Then later in the day, we hold our annual Easter egg hunt.  We fill plastic eggs with candy and then hide both the plastic and the boiled eggs all around the yard.   This is such a tradition, that we even took eggs with us (plastic ones!) when our family was on an outing over Easter.   We hid the eggs at the cabin where we stayed!

It is not just holiday traditions that are important.  Birthday traditions, family outings, or extended family get-togethers can also add consistency to the family.   One of our favorite habits as a family was the Sunday evening game night.   We spent many happy hours playing board games, card games, and in the summer—croquet!   These consistent moments built memories that glue our family together even today.

So if you feel like parenting is the hardest thing you’ve ever done, pause and ask yourself if maybe a little consistency wouldn’t help to smooth things out and make parenting easier.

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Written by Phyllis Rosen

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