Archives for December 2012

What do you want to read about?

I’m taking some time to reflect on the year ahead and the direction of this blog for 2013. As I do, I’d love to learn more about your parenting interests. What are your favorite topics on this blog? What topics do you want me to cover more? Choose as many answers as you’d like and enter more ideas in “other.” Thanks!

Best of Childwise Chat: Achieving first-time obedience

I’m taking time off from blogging for the holidays, so this week I’ll be sharing the best of Childwise Chat. These are the most popular posts of all time. Enjoy and have a fantastic Christmas!

Originally posted April 16, 2009

In my last post, I described what first-time obedience looks like. Now we’ll get into the details of how you can help your child obey the first time. It’s not easy but so worth it!

Lay the groundwork. It’s all about your tone.
Before you start requiring first-time obedience, you need to ensure your own attitude is in the right place. For those of you unsure of your ability to command authority, reach down within yourself and find your courage. Do not fear your child. Do not let him make the choices for the family. If you have read one or two of the Ezzo books, you are no stranger to the idea that the marriage takes priority in the family. Your child is a welcome member of the family but is not the center of it. Let that attitude carry you through your daily interactions with your child.

Some of you may have a strong handle on your authority but might take it too far. Don’t expect that he will disobey or he will. Don’t think that having authority over your child means that he’ll comply with unreasonable expectations when he’s tired and hungry. Don’t equate authority with anger and power. We want wise parenting, not power parenting.

If you have found the right attitude, you are likely at a place where you want to set your child up to succeed but will maintain a matter-of-fact tone if he doesn’t. When your child disobeys, you don’t accept it or get angry. You say to him, “Oops, I see you’ve made the wrong choice. Too bad. Here is what your consequence will be.”

Be consistent!

One of the most important things you need to require of yourself is consistency. If you want first-time obedience from your child, you must be 100% consistent. If you slip, he will too. But if you require it, he will meet your expectation. Your child will only rise to the expectation you set for him. Set the bar high but keep in mind you need to do the work to help him get there.

Get your “yes, mommy” and eye contact
I cannot stress enough how important it is to have your child respond to the call of his name with a “yes, mommy” and eye contact. Before you give any task, especially one that he won’t want to do, you need to get his attention and know that he is listening. Maintaining eye contact while you give the instruction is key. Refer back to these posts for more.

Don’t repeat yourself
One sure-fire way to not get first-time obedience is to repeat yourself. How can he achieve first-time obedience if you’ve already given your instruction 5 times? Give him your instruction clearly and while maintaining eye contact and you have no excuse to repeat yourself. You know he has heard you loud and clear.

So what do you do if your child doesn’t respond after you’ve given your one instruction? Wait. Don’t wait 20 minutes, but do give him a chance to comply. If he still doesn’t respond, don’t say another word. Simply take him by the hand and physically help him complete the task. If you’ve asked him to put his Legos away and he ignores you, take his hand and bring him over to the Legos. Then take his hands in your own and start picking them up together. Be sure to do this with a very calm demeanor or he will strongly resist you.

After you have completed the task together, explain to him that you had to help him this time and that next time, you want him to obey you the first time you ask him to do something. After you have given it a few days of helping him obey you, move on to expecting him to obey you on his own. If he chooses not to, then you move on to your consequence.

Decide ahead of time what your consequences will be
Spend some time with your spouse thinking through your child’s most troublesome behaviors. Then decide on a logical or natural consequence for each of those behaviors. Write them down and post them in the kitchen so you can refer to them often. Perhaps picking up his toys is where he struggles the most. You might decide to take those toys away for a day. Let the punishment fit the crime, and make sure your consequences are ones that you can follow through on, even at your own weakest moments.

The key here is that you plan ahead so that when you’re faced with disobedience, you’re not scrambling to come up with a consequence. You want to respond swiftly, especially as you’re just beginning. Refer to my post on intentional parenting for more.

Do non-conflict training
Whether he’s 2 or 12, take the time to explain to him your new standard of obedience. He needs to know that you are changing the rules of the game and that you will be giving consequences the first time he disobeys. Clearly explain to him that you expect him to respond to your instructions the first time you give them. Be specific. Tell him that if he runs away from you at the park, you will go home the first time. Tell him that if he speaks to you with disrespect just one time, he will lose his TV privileges. Remind him often, several times a day every day.

Follow through
This is where you make or break the deal. You can do all of the work I describe above, but if you don’t follow through when your child disobeys the first time, all of your work will be for nothing. Not only will it have been a waste of time, but now your child won’t believe you when you say you will require first-time obedience. If your child disobeys just one time, issue the consequence, no questions asked. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Don’t repeat yourself. Don’t threaten. Don’t get angry. Keep a calm demeanor and follow through.

Now, don’t kick yourself if you slip once or twice. You are both acquiring a new skill, but do make it a priority. Even set aside a few days when you can stay home and work on it.

Set your child up for success
You want your child to achieve first-time obedience, right? So set him up to succeed. Don’t start your work on first-time obedience by asking your 4-year-old to mow the lawn. Take baby steps. Start by giving him a task you know he’ll do willingly. If he does it the first time, praise him! Expect that he will succeed. Make it so that he wants to give you first-time obedience. Then once he is doing well with simple tasks, move on to more difficult ones.

Be fair
You cannot expect your child to give you first-time obedience if you haven’t done all your work first. You can’t issue a consequence the first time if you haven’t told him what you expect. For all he knows, you’ll repeat yourself 20 times like you usually do. And consider context. Don’t start expecting first-time obedience when your fuse is short and your child is tired and hungry.

Require a happy heart

I started this post by asking you to work on your own attitude, and I’ll end by saying you need to ensure your child has the right attitude as well. A big component of first-time obedience is doing it with an attitude of submission. You might want to spend a week or two working on the mechanics of first-time obedience before you move on to changing his attitude. But once you are ready to do so, explain to him at a time of non-conflict, what you expect of him. Then if he gives you first-time obedience but sulks off after complying or whines about doing the task, start requiring him to respond with a happy heart. One of the best ways to do so is requiring him to do the task over with a better attitude. If he needs a few minutes in isolation to find his happy heart, let him go to his room and then come back to you when he’s ready to comply with a better attitude.

This was a long post full of weighty ideas. Refer back to it often. Good luck!

Best of Childwise Chat: Allow children to be second-best and good enough

I’m taking time off from blogging for the holidays, so this week I’ll be sharing the best of Childwise Chat. These are the most popular posts of all time. Enjoy and have a fantastic Christmas!

Originally posted February 20, 2012

There are some parents in this world who, in an effort to bolster the self-esteem, praise the child for being great. They give the child opportunities to do great things, and make a point to tell the children how great they are. Ensuring the child is first and best is their focus.

While I’m all for having a strong self-esteem, I don’t think our parenting should be centered on it. In fact, rather than ensuring our children are first and great, we should give them ample opportunity to be second-best and good enough.

Many of today’s sporting events aren’t scored and every child receives a trophy. Lest any child’s self-esteem be hurt by losing, these parents teach that win or lose, you’re still great.

Also think about the parents who insist on their child being first and best. They might argue with a teacher on a “B” grade even when the work doesn’t reflect “A” effort. They hire a private coach so the child can be first and best in a particular sport. Or they hire a professional tutor, not for a remedial child, but so the child can be better and smarter than his peers. The playing field is anything but level.

Imagine the attitude issues that come from being first and great:

  • Boastful pride
  • Thinking you’re better than everyone else
  • Teasing others for not being as great
  • Winning is everything, no matter how it affects others around you

Alternatively, being second-best and good enough teaches the child that:

  • A humble attitude is better than a boastful one
  • He does not walk on water
  • Second-rate effort earns second-rate grades
  • Considering others is more important than winning
  • Coping with loss is a skill to be learned

Consider how you might react when your child comes in second or is only good enough (not great). Will you complain to those in authority, or will you be honest with the child and tell him that he didn’t do his best? If he loses a T-ball game, will you run out and hire a professional coach? Or will you practice with him at home, teaching him the value of practice and hard work? Better yet, will you teach him the emotional skills that are required to cope with the loss?

With your little ones, think about ways that you can ensure the child doesn’t always win. If you’re playing a board game, don’t throw it every time. If you’re racing down the street, only let him win in his own right.

Throughout your parenting years, allow your child to lose. Yes, we always want the best for them. But being first and great isn’t always what’s best. The more you allow a child to lose, the better he’ll be able to cope with losing as an adult and the more he’ll learn the value of giving honest effort.


Best of Childwise Chat: Moving to one nap a day

I’m taking time off from blogging for the holidays, so this week I’ll be sharing the best of Childwise Chat. These are the most popular posts of all time. Enjoy and have a fantastic Christmas!

Originally posted January 10, 2011

I don’t usually use this blog as a forum to give advice on naps and specific schedule items, but I see this one come up so often, I thought I would address it here. When our children drop the morning nap, it marks a shift in the child’s development. Dropping the morning nap is a big milestone in the lives of many parents of toddlers. Yet it’s almost one of the most frustrating. Many Babywise parents don’t know how to drop the nap without affecting baby’s sleep too terribly.

Here’s how the situation typically plays out. Baby is napping well and is able to overcome teething and various disruptions without too much trouble. For the most part, things have been going well for quite some time. Then suddenly, baby stops falling asleep for his afternoon nap. He’ll play in his crib for the whole nap, or he’ll go down fine but wake up after just 45 minutes. Mom gives it a day or two before deciding that something is going wrong. She knows that baby needs his afternoon nap and he seems to nap so well in the morning that she’s a little dumbfounded.

It’s true, these babies would nap a couple hours every morning if left to their own devices. But mom knows that there’s no way baby can go from late morning until bedtime without turning into a monster. The afternoon nap must be saved!

Before I give you my advice on dropping a nap, let me explain how I would not do it.

Don’t #1: Get out in the morning

Some say that the best way to preserve the afternoon nap is to cut out the morning nap entirely, cold turkey. To avoid a cranky baby in the morning, you should go out. Run errands. Take baby to story time at the library. Whatever. Just get out. It’s true, that getting out will help keep baby alert enough that he won’t get as cranky as he would at home. But still, it deprives the child of sleep.

Don’t #2: Every other day

Another approach is to allow baby to have a morning nap every other day. It’s true that this could help baby drop the morning nap, but the problem is it still deprives the child of sleep. By allowing him the nap every other day, you are depriving him of sleep and then letting him catch up on sleep on the days you allow it. His sleep is not on an even keel. The other problem with this approach is that it’s still likely that baby will not nap well in the afternoon on the days he takes a morning nap.

Don’t #3: Early bedtime

One idea to drop the nap is to let baby nap in the mornings and then do an earlier bedtime to compensate for the lack of sleep in the afternoon. Mom gradually moves the morning nap later and later while doing an early bedtime. Eventually, the morning nap becomes an afternoon nap. There are two problems with this approach. First, mom is messing with both naps and bedtime. There’s no need to mess with bedtime (if you’ll finish reading this post). Second, baby is still cranky and overtired until the transition process is complete.

My advice: Shorten the morning nap

When you’re sure that baby is ready to drop the morning nap and that the afternoon nap disruptions aren’t due to anything else (noise, teething, etc.), start shortening the morning nap. For this approach to work, it’s important to know your baby’s optimal wake time. When I did this with Lucas, his wake time was 2 hours. I realize that not all babies can go to sleep after just 2 hours, which is fine. The key is knowing what your baby’s optimal wake time is. It’s different for every child.

Before his afternoon nap disruptions, Lucas would usually nap for 1.5 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon. When I knew that nothing else was causing the problem, I started waking him up after one hour of sleep in the morning. I would allow him his usual wake time of 2 hours and then put him down for his afternoon nap. This meant that his afternoon nap started 30 minutes earlier, but it worked because he was still getting used to a shorter morning nap.

I continued allowing him a one-hour morning nap until his afternoon nap was again being disrupted in some way. I let him tell me when he was ready to shorten the nap even more. So then I started waking him up after 45 minutes. Again, I would put him down after 2 hours of wake time. Throughout the transition, I would let him sleep as long as he wanted to in the afternoon and I never messed with his bedtime.

After a few months of a 45-minute morning nap, we reduced it to 30 minutes. After a few months of that, we ended up going on vacation and it was the perfect time to drop the morning nap altogether. If we were home, I might have allowed a 20-minute catnap, but it also became apparent to me that he would have done fine without the morning nap entirely.

Bear in mind, this is not the fastest way to drop the morning nap. We started shortening the morning nap when Lucas was about 14 months old. He didn’t drop it entirely until he was almost 23 months old. Did I mind? Not in the least. Would I have minded a cranky baby all morning or afternoon? For sure. Would I have minded difficult bedtimes due to an overtired baby? Of course.

This gradual approach ensures that baby still gets the sleep he needs while allowing for an easy transition to drop the nap.

Schedule examples

To spell it out more clearly, here’s how our schedule looked during the transition.

Transition months 1-3

Morning nap: 10:00-11:00

Afternoon nap: 1:00-3:00-ish

Night sleep: 7:00pm-8:00am

Transition months 4-6

Morning nap: 10:00-10:45

Afternoon nap: 12:45-2:45-ish

Night sleep: 7:00pm-8:00am

Transition months 7-9

Morning nap: 10:00-10:30

Afternoon nap: 12:30-2:30-ish

Night sleep: 7:00pm-8:00am

You’ll recognize that the time between Lucas’ afternoon nap and bedtime got longer and longer. He handled this well. I realize, however, that some might not. The alternative is to keep the afternoon nap at the same time regardless of the child’s optimal wake time. There is something to be said for babies who are used to falling asleep at the same time every afternoon no matter how the long the morning nap was.

Finally, be sure baby is waking up at the same time every morning. No matter the method, the nap transition will not go well at all if you allow baby to sleep in every morning to compensate for a lack of sleep. The afternoon nap is where you will allow him to sleep as long as he needs.


Christmas Role-Playing


It’s a busy time of year! Shopping: done! Wrapping: done! Cookies: baked! Christmas cards: stamped and mailed! Role-playing: huh?!

Yes, add Christmas role-playing to your list. We work with our children all year on cultivating a generous and grateful spirit. Children make Christmas fun and special, but they can make us cringe when we think of how they might react when receiving gifts on Christmas morning. Will he say “thank you” for every gift? Will he even acknowledge the giver? Will he stop to express sincere gratitude before moving on to the next gift?

Ultimately, will the child express an understanding of the value of giving and receiving? Does he know that Christmas is about much more than receiving gifts?

If you’re unsure, now is the time to work with your child. Take the time to do some role-playing for Christmas morning. Sit around the Christmas tree, and pass make-believe gifts around to each other. Have a parent go first, and display an ungrateful, greedy spirit. Go over the top with it. Make it funny to make it memorable. Then go to your next “gift” and show your child what it looks like to be grateful. Then let the children show gratitude with their make-believe gifts.

Teach your children to say more than just “thank you.” Teach them to look into the eyes of the giver (of course making sure they know who the giver is before the gift is opened), and have them say something like, “I’ve always wanted this!” Teach them that saying something special will make the giver feel good.

After all, this is what’s most important when it comes to giving and receiving gifts. We want to make the people who give us gifts feel good for doing so. We want to express gratitude for the fact that they went out of their way to buy us a gift, no matter how expected it is.

In addition to role-playing, have a back-up plan. Teach your children the sign language sign for “thank you.” It’s simple. You hold your fingers together, touch them to your chin and pull them forward. It’s as if you’re blowing a kiss, just from your chin. Then, when your child opens a gift and forgets to say “thank you,” you can stand behind the giver and quietly do the sign to remind your child to express his thanks.

Merry Christmas!

Forgive Yourself


By Valerie Plowman,

If you are a reader of this blog, I think I can safely assume that you are a parent who is actively invested in trying to do everything “right” — right according to your own judgement and discernment. Of course, we often are faced with situations as parents where we don’t necessasrily know what “right” is in the context of our situation. We have to make a judgement call in the moment.

Because we are humans, there will invariably be times when we make the wrong call. In our 20/20 hindsight we look back and see the choice we made was not the “right” one. We should have acted differently in the situation. We should have chosen a different consequence. We should have responded a different way. We made a mistake.

This retrospective analyzing happens quite often as parents, and I find for myself it happens most often with my oldest child (seven years old). With him, I am always a first-time parent. I am always facing situations for the first time with him. Because of this, I make the most mistakes with him. I have the most “ooopps–that wasn’t the best option” moments. I think we all know what those moments are like.

And this leads me to the message of my post. Forgive yourself. Yes, you make mistakes. You need to move past them. Learn what you can, apologize if needed (it isn’t always), forgive yourself, and put it behind you. Don’t stress about it! Children are resilient. Children are incredibly forgiving. Children can and will survive the many mistakes we make as parents (now, this is of course referring to normal, everyday mistakes parents make).

Don’t let fear of mistakes paralyze you. Do what you think is best at the moment. If you find that wasn’t best, learn from it and tweak your strategy for the next time. When you make a mistake, it isn’t as though you are thinking to yourself, “Ha ha! I am going to do XYZ because that will really take things in the wrong direction!” No! You are thinking, “I am going to do XYZ because I think that is best for my child.” If you find it wasn’t, offer yourself grace and take the lesson learned, act on it, and move forward. Your child will learn from your mistakes as well — it is a great gift for your child to see that you are not perfect and that mistakes are a normal part of life. Your children will forgive you, and you should, too.

Valerie is the mother of four (7, 5, 3, and 4 months) and blogs at

Holiday eBook Sale!

For the holidays, I’m offering my eBook, Live in Harmony with First-Time Obedience, for just $7.99! That’s 20% off the regular price. If you’ve been thinking about buying it, now’s the time! The eBook contains 112 pages of detailed, step-by-step instructions for any parent looking to train a child in first-time obedience.

It’s the perfect opportunity to brush up on your first-time obedience training skills before the holidays. Or buy the eBook for a friend or family member!

Gary Ezzo himself endorses the eBook. Here’s what he said:

“One of the most important parenting tasks is helping children learn to obey. This eBook offers practical advice for parents in the throes of obedience training and is high on my recommended reading list.”

Here’s the table of contents:

  • Introduction: My Story and Acknowledgments
  • Chapter 1: What Is First-Time Obedience?
  • Chapter 2: Ezzo Fundamentals: First Things First
  • Chapter 3: Preparing for First-Time Obedience Training
  • Chapter 4: Training Your Child in First-Time Obedience
  • Chapter 5: FTO Bootcamp
  • Chapter 6: Correction and Troubleshooting
  • Chapter 7: Special Circumstances
  • Conclusion: Obedience Is Just the Beginning
  • Appendices: Forms and Checklists

Still unsure about making the purchase? Download a sample to review the book before you buy. And remember, it’s now backed by a 100% guarantee.

The sale price is good starting today, December 19 through January 4, my wedding anniversary. :)

Happy holidays!

It Starts at Home


I feel compelled to discuss the horrible tragedy that our world experienced three days ago in Newtown, Conn. Words cannot express the deep sadness I feel for the families who lost their loved ones in that senseless crime. No parent should ever experience the loss of a child. The horror that those children experienced is too real, and it hits home since the kindergartners who lost their lives were just one year older than Lucas, and two years younger than William.

A day after the tragedy, I mentioned on Facebook that I intended to take away my boys’ Lego guns and all video games that aren’t completely innocent. Honestly, I’m a little shocked by the comments I received. Apparently, there is passion about this “gun control” debate. There were more of my friends who disagreed with me than agreed. I just can’t fathom the need for guns–even toy ones–in the home. In fact, I’ve read that accidents involving guns happen more frequently when guns are in the home. And with this tragedy in mind, would the victims have benefited–as was suggested by one of my friends–from having guns themselves? I suppose it’s possible, but I shudder to imagine a world where guns are needed in the classroom.

I understand that boys will be boys. There’s something inborn that drives a two-year-old boy who has never seen a gun to pick up a stick and start “shooting” with it. My boys have done this. My Facebook friends mentioned this as a reason for not taking away Lego guns and video games. I’m sorry, but this doesn’t hold up for me. A stick requires a boy’s imagination. My boys’ Lego guns, though miniature, look very realistic. I’d rather compel my boys to imagine what a gun would look and feel like than to have the idea defined for them.

With a husband in the military, I certainly understand that weapons are necessary to protect our nation’s freedom. However, I see no connection to the need for guns in the home. If we have military and police to protect us, and if we could potentially cause harm with a gun, why not let the professionals keep them? And don’t even try to convince me of the need for guns for hunting. At the risk of offending anyone, to kill innocent animals for sport sickens me.

It’s become very clear that the Newtown shooter had mental health issues. I understand that this idea probably deserves more attention than any gun control debate, but I still contend that if guns weren’t around, the tragedy might not have happened.

This leads me to my second concern: video games. It’s entirely possible that video games, especially realistic, first-person shooter games, cause a form of mental illness in their own right. Just two weeks ago, I came across an article that discusses the effect of video games on the developing brain. It says that video games can impede a child’s or teen’s ability to control anger. Video games, the article says, create violence. The frontal lobe of the brain isn’t fully developed until the late teens or early twenties, so while an older teen make look and act like an adult, the brain is still immature.

Here’s a quote from the article:

“Most worrying of all was that the frontal lobe, which continues to develop in humans until the age of about 20, also has an important role to play in keeping an individual’s behaviour in check.

Whenever you use self-control to refrain from lashing out or doing something you should not, the frontal lobe is hard at work.

Children often do things they shouldn’t because their frontal lobes are underdeveloped. The more work done to thicken the fibres connecting the neurons in this part of the brain, the better the child’s ability will be to control their behaviour. The more this area is stimulated, the more these fibres will thicken.

The students who played computer games were halting the process of brain development and affecting their ability to control potentially anti-social elements of their behaviour.

‘The importance of this discovery cannot be underestimated,’ Kawashima told The Observer.”

Powerful words. This is why I say that it all starts at home. While there’s not much I can do for society when it comes to mental illness, I certainly can reduce the risk that my own children will be driven to violence. It reminds me of a quote that I’ve seen on Facebook. It says, “Don’t worry so much about the planet you leave to your children. Worry about the children you leave to the planet.”

In our every-child-gets-a-trophy generation, parents seem to be afraid to do anything that might upset a child. And when video games create some quiet in the home, many parents allow free access to them, causing an addiction of sorts in the child. When a child is addicted, taking the games away causes that much more fear and panic in the parent. Taking it a step further, if a child has been allowed free access to video games–especially violent ones–and if the evidence presented in the above article is true, then it’s entirely possible that the child would act violently toward the parent who takes the games away.

It’s for these reasons and more that I’m taking action in my home today. It’s one small thing I can do to honor those who lost their lives that fateful day. My boys certainly have no need for their Lego guns or video games. (While I’ve always had an issue with toy weapons, these things have slowly made their way into my home.) When I explained to William–in very vague terms–what happened in Newtown, he understood and agreed that it would be good to take the guns away. While Star Wars has been a recent obsession, he volunteered the idea that he could just play with his Lego City Legos. I’m really proud of him for this.

I haven’t yet discussed the video game concern with my boys, and I suspect I might meet some disagreement there. But it wasn’t long ago that I put their “violent” games (Lego Star Wars and Lego Indiana Jones) away for a while, and they didn’t seem to miss them. If my boys do put up a fight when I say that I’m taking the games away, that’s all the more reason that I should take them away. I think I’ll take them to Game Stop and let them make a trade for non-violent games for themselves.

Ultimately, when it comes down to it, my boys’ lives won’t be affected in any negative way when I take these things away. They have many more toys. Honestly, I miss seeing them play with completely innocent toys. Just today, I saw them push the Legos aside in favor of their bin of animals. This doesn’t happen often, and it made me smile. And in fact, if they decide that all other video games are too boring, then great! They won’t want to play as much, which is perfectly fine with me!

If my small action can help in the tiniest bit to prevent another senseless tragedy, then I see no reason not to. Who’s with me?

(This is a contentious issue. I welcome your comments, but please speak respectfully.)

Remember to Cherish


This beautiful post is written by my friend Charisa. A mom to two young girls, Charisa is great at balancing training and obedience with love and fun. This post is about stopping to smell the roses, even when we’re mired in kid world.

It’s 3:00 in the afternoon and my coffee is already wearing off. It’s too late to brew another cup, but I’m questioning what will hold me until bedtime. I start to ask myself why I didn’t set bedtime for 6:00 instead of 8:00 when they were littler. If I had then I would be two hours closer to putting these little bundles of energy to bed.

It’s now 4:00 and only one hour after I last checked the clock. How is it that I’m still so far away from bedtime and peace and quiet? It’s now 5:00 and finally I can start preparing for dinner. This will fill the time! Now we’ve finally hit 7:30, and it’s time for the bedtime routine. Rush, rush, rush, and get them into bed. Finally, it’s 8:00 and all’s well. The kids are in bed, and now I can have some peace and quiet.

If you’re like me, this can sometimes characterize your day. I so easily want to rush through those hard times in order to get to the easier times. But what gain is there in that? We have heard it said many times that the hard times make for sweeter good times. That is true of many things. For example, think of all that labor you went through. Those contractions, those moans and groans, and the waiting. Now remember that moment you saw that sweet little squished face for the first time. All legs, arms, fingers, and head squirming and screaming on your chest. The pain was worth it.

Now, fast forward with me to today. Your toddler is literally sitting on your foot all day. Arms and legs are wrapped around yours, and she won’t get off. Your preschooler is asking you a hundred questions or simply narrating your day. Your infant is in a growth spurt and wants to eat every hour. Pain? Well, maybe not pain, but definitely hard. Wiping spit, wiping bottoms, wiping noses, wiping counters, wiping slobber marks off the window…that is what my day can look like. When 3:00 or 4:00 rolls around, I’m beat.

I sincerely try to train my kids to be good adults. That’s my aim and goal. Sometimes in the work of training I forget to cherish. To be honest, sometimes in the midst of the work I even forget to train! I know it is important to teach my girls to obey right away. It’s so important to teach them that the way to play with the pink pen is to simply ask and not to do a half-nelson-choke-hold. These are all lessons that must happen. They often are addressed in the middle of life. “Momming” is hard. I know it is. I can check out sometimes or start looking at the clock (which immediately stops working) waiting for bedtime. My point is that there are many distractions from the joys of being a parent. The joy I have in being a mom can easily be smothered by the chaos of life.

A friend has shared with me many times “the days are long, but the years are short.” I share that with you, too. Kiss those sweet heads again, cherish those little bottoms on your feet, and listen to those flowing words from the mouth of your dear one.

Remember it is a privilege to be a part of those special little lives. Your work is hard. It is exhausting, but it does not last forever. The years fly by and we will be left with nothing but memories. No little girls begging for tickles. No little boys ready to tackle you. No little tea parties or games of Candyland.

I look at my youngest daughter’s face and I’m blown away. She has grown so much in these last 3 years. My (almost) 5-year-old is getting more mature and more complex every day. I miss how she used to say “watabellabella” instead of “watermelon.”  She is half my size now and I can barely carry her anymore. She fills my lap to overflowing.

Sometimes in order to cherish the time with my girls, I need to strategize. I make a point to write down all the cute things they say. I’m on the lookout for sayings. I find that if I make a goal of writing down one or two things a day, I hear more of them. As I hear more of them, I relish them. I become more in-tune with them. I also make a point to hug and kiss them every time I’m next to them. It’s just what I do. Another thing I like to do is jump in and play with them throughout the day for bits of time. I’ll turn up the radio and dance with them in the living room, or I’ll sit on the floor next to them and ask questions. Just little things, but they all help me to take time and enjoy my girls. What sorts of things do you do to help you to stop and smell the stinky feet?

The training is important. Dinner on the table is important, and so is clean laundry. But of utmost importance are those children! They will not keep. They will grow even if you don’t remember that they will. They are a one-way busy street that can never be traveled again.

So kiss those sweet heads. Give extra hugs. Play one last game. Remember to cherish them.

Do We Need to Earn Our Kids’ Respect?


There is a funny thing about respect. Many teachers, parents, and other authority figures feel that we need to earn our kids’ respect. But is that true? Can we only expect respect from our kids if we earn it? Do we need to prove that we deserve their respect or can we simply expect it?

The Ezzos teach us that parenting is all about respect. Kids need to respect authority figures simply because they are authority figures. If you stand in a leadership position, respect should come along with the role. In fact, if you’re simply older than a child, you should expect respect.

I’ve been known to say that my home is not a democracy. My children do not have the same decision-making power that my husband and I have. They are children, and we are adults. Yes, we are all human and we all deserve respect, but there is a very clear, intentional imbalance of power. We are the authority figures, and we make the decisions, with their needs in mind, of course.

Now, this is not to say that we can abuse respect. In fact, if we stand in a position of authority, we need to model the behaviors that we expect of our children.

The leader of our Growing Kids God’s Way class once said that if we expect respect from our children we need to be RESPECTABLE. To be respectable means that we are able to command respect. If we don’t act respectable, we can command respect, but we might only get it superficially. Our kids may show us respect externally, but they may not believe that we deserve it.

Ultimately, while our position of authority as parents means that kids should show us respect, we must still act respectable. We should show them that we deserve their respect. But in the end, we can simply command respect because we are their parents and we are the primary authority figures in their lives.