The Case Against Bribing Children

Has this ever happened to you? You’re riding in the car and your toddler starts screaming for reasons only God knows. She’s fine, everything’s fine, you know she’s just testing You. You can’t get her to stop so you bribe her with a lollipop.

 Maybe your kids are older and they just don’t “feel like” going to school. Instead of parenting them, you bribe them telling them that you will give them something in exchange for their obedience. Does this sound familiar,”If you get straight A’s mama will buy you…”?

I think there is a fine line between teaching a child ethics and bribery. I see these scenarios all the time and they make me crazy for reasons most won’t understand. You see, at my core all I care about is the big picture. I’m a big picture thinker and in that picture where there is a parent just tired of fighting the kid so they give them whatever the kid wants, I see a world where those kids grow up to be out of control adults. I see these kids not finding self motivation to contribute their part in the world. They lack patience and are complete narcissists. I theorize that this is where those reputations came from about the millennial generation. The parents of this generation made a collective decision that they didn’t want to go with the status quo and adopted the belief that every child must find their own way in the world. This parenting style is referred to as “individualistic parenting.” Maybe this style of parenting came from the social issues from their perspective at the time. Back in the 60s and 70s they had plenty of things taking away the full attention of the parents. While parents were off trying to earn a living or change the famous gender and race issues, kids were left on their own, literally and emotionally. This is not much different from the way many parents raise their kids today. The products of those family scenarios are now raising their own kids passively (that is the definition of individualistic parenting, by the way). There are plenty of books out there and podcasts and the like but how do we know for sure which ones work? Or which ones are RIGHT? 

I don’t claim to be a parenting expert in the least but I do see the big pictures no one else seems to. 

When we bribe kids to get them to do what we want (or just what they’re expected to do in the first place) we relinquish all control into their immature and totally incapable hands. How do we not see this as an issue?? How can we not possibly realize, with all of the science out there about the human brain and how it develops, that this might not be a smart choice? This might be more harmful to society than helpful. 

Discipline does not take away individualism from the child. It actually hones it and refines it. Teaching them how to live in the world verses offering a simple (and seemingly innocent) bribe forms and shapes the next generation, but most of the time not in the way that is the healthiest. 

Oh I have been there, trust me. I get what it feels like to be in a very public place while my kid throws a Texas sized fit only to have judgement slinged at me from complete strangers… Or so it felt like. My son is a redhead and lives up to the cliché characteristics well. He is GOOD at it. 

It’s in those moments that our kids learn social expectations, respect and dignity. Kids are turds. They’re supposed to be…THEYRE NOT DEVELOPED. They are supposed to test the world around them. But that doesn’t mean we let them control it. Those are learning opportunities for them to experience why it might not be a good idea to act in such ways. In these moments it is absolutely our jobs as parents to teach these kids. It’s also our job to decide which way we want our kids to grow. There’s a fork in the road each and every single time an opportunity arises to bribe the kid… This is where #parentingainteasy comes from. Its not supposed to be! 

Teach a child about the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Proverbs 22:6

Do you want your kid to grow up expecting the world to take care of them? Do you want them to always be thought of as inferior to society? If so, then by all means… Bribe away. Because bribing kids teaches them that they are not valuable enough to have our full attention of the matter. It teaches them that we are not the ones in control, that they are… And that’s NOT actually what they’re looking for in the moment. Kids need to know that you are the stable rock leading them. 

 If that is not the goal for your family (and by the way, everyone should have a “family goal”) and you would rather teach confidence and humility, characteristics that are kind of essential to adulthood,  then it would be a great time to think on a big picture level the next time little Jimmy loses his mind in aisle 5. Don’t bribe him. Train him with the mind and maturity of your fully developed brain because it is your job to use it for such a time as this. 

How? 

1. Decide that you love your kids “too much to let them act that way.” This is a common saying in our house when our kids are raging. We said these words many times a day to our toddlers way back when. So much, in fact, my daughter once repeated it back to me while witnessing a kid throwing a fit in Wal-Mart. 

2. Surround yourself with people who you think raised good people. Humble yourself to receive some teaching from them. 

3. Take some parenting classes and seek out those books and podcasts on this subject. I personally recommend Love and Logic. Family life changing, yo. 

Believe it or not, you are your kids’ first and most important teacher. Don’t leave this important job to a lollipop
What are some ways that you have overcome bribing your kids? I’d love to hear them! 

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To Fight in Front of the Kids, or Not? 

   My husband and I can FIGHT. Like, we are GOOD at it. We don’t feel the need to use gloves because we don’t want to cusion the blow. If you have ever been in a mentoring meeting or have taken a class with us you know the story of the police being called on one of our loud, escalated fights. It’s not a moment we’re super proud of, although it is funny to look back on now. 

    We all know how the story ends in our marriage (GOOD, thank you Lord!) but the most intense fights we ever had were during the years when our kids were still tiny. 
   Did you hear that? We had KIDS IN THE HOUSE during these moments! What we’re we thinking?! 

   You may be in the very same situation as you read this. You may have just had a big blow up with the spouse that has you feeling defeated or like you have ruined your kids for the rest of their lives. 

  Nope.

  Kids are resilient and get over things a tad better than we think they do. We like to protect them from every little thing but in reality, those solutions backfire. Hear me out.

  Everyone has heard that it damages kids emotionally to witness their parents fight. Because of this thinking, new-aged, modern parents try to protect little Jimmy from every conflict, not just outside the home, but inside as well. We have been told that if they see the adults in their world in conflict, it will make Jimmy aggressive and a ruined member of society. 

  The truth is Jimmy needs to see his parents fight. Two people do not come together to share their lives till death do they part without a conflict here and there. Its impossible. That’s not realistic. And when we teach unrealistic values such as this in the home the kid never learns to resolve problems (at least not without extensive help, and isn’t it our goal to train kids NOT to be dependant…)?

  You may be thinking, “but do we really want to have our kids witness the intense fights about money?” 

 How intense are we talking? If the fights escalate the way ours used to it may be time to get some outside help. How enjoyable of an environment is that for YOU let alone the kid? Of course, abuse is NEVER to be tolerated. 

  The most important point here is that the fights themselves don’t actually matter. Studies suggest that you can basically have a knock-out, drag-out of a doozy (but let’s not, ok?) and the kids will be just fine as long as you follow through and FINISH IT. 

  Ok, that was not a plug for the mob. Kids need to see their parents make-up. On average, children are witnessing their parents bicker about 8 times a day and only giving affection 3. What do you think that does to their sense of security? 

  Working on your marriage, being able to have a respectful disagreement and working through it with affection… in front of the kids… Builds healthy kids. One study found that children’s emotional well-being and security are more affected by the relationship between the parents than by the direct relationship between parent and child. 

  Have your fights but learn to have them wisely and let the kids see you resolve them. That’s how we change the future. 

   And when you stop to think about it, that’s really the entire point, isn’t it? 
~If you need help in this area of your marriage; learning to respect each other, learning to communicate better, learning to resolve those pesky fights, contact me. We have resources for you.~

Or… Do the dishes

Have you seen the guilt memes for moms? Man they’re good! They really do their job! I think that they work so well because when you’re a mom, in the trenches, completely responsible for another human life and what that human will turn out to be, you can’t see much further than the baracades themselves. Were all searching for answers because we don’t want to make a single mistake in this war on family life and childhood. Did you know that Gen Y is known for parenting “by the book”? There are more books than ever before on parenting, and more parents reading them than ever before! The problem is, the more that we search, the more we mess things up.

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This is a common theme amongst moms today. It’s a nice sentiment to moms that might be a bit Type A. It serves as permission to let the dishes or laundry or floors or dusting go… For a bit… To live life. Marthas need permission to not “do it all..

But while this cute little meme sounds great and provides healing to some, it quickly becomes an excuse for moms that aren’t on top of things to let their house go… Which isn’t all that bad. Unless you’re the kid or husband that might like a clean(ish) house. The same permission is twisted to make for unhealthy family life. I know what you’re thinking. “Gosh, Becky! You always make tiny things into big things!” Just keep reading.

Marthas can take this advice and use it the way it should be used. They can put the toilet brush down for now. But something that’s missing is that MARTHAS DON’T NEED TO BE TOLD TO PICK THAT BRUSH BACK UP. They just will because something inside them tells them that it is important, even if they don’t know why. Marys need permission TO do. Sometimes we just plain have to be motivated or told to do something. That whole living life thing comes a little too easy to us (I’m such a Mary)!

Let me tell you what it’s like to be a Mary in a Martha world. Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and chose “what was better” but Martha got stuff done. Mary had some great qualities that Jesus was using to teach Martha. But What About Mary? (Ha! Get it? No??) Mary lives in Martha’s house because she was so good at living life she didn’t seem to be such a productive member of society. She was a lovely little… Mooch. People liked her reguardless but she didn’t offer much beyond a good laugh or “good feelings.”

Here’s my point, and you know it will always come back to this: We hide cookies and eat them in the closet so our kids won’t see. One reason for this craziness is because we don’t want to share. But the big reason is because we want to be a good influence, and when you’re telling your kid to eat his carrots you can’t exactly be munching cookies, amiright? What kind of children are we raising when we “choose what’s better” too many times? When we NEVER do the dishes or laundry what are we teaching the kids? Things still have to get done! And this is the way that we teach these kids this very lesson!

It’s comical to me that parents truly want their kids to be good people that can actually do things for themselves when they grow up… Yet they don’t do the things they should be teaching those kids to do in the first place! Gone are the days of changing your own oil because we have a guy for that. No longer do we have to learn how to darn and sew because we just buy new.

When are the dish-doing fairies going to be invented?

Not likely. So who’s going to do them?
What kind of an adult are you wanting to raise? Guys, this issue goes much deeper than some silly dirty plates.

Recent stats by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the percentage of high school seniors who had a driver’s license fell from 85% in 1996 to 73% in 2010. Coincidence? No way.

We are teaching this generation that instant gratification (i.e. YOLO!) is perfectly fine. Kids no longer have to work to get the things they want. Let me re-word that; they no longer have to be patient and put forth any effort to see their friends… We have face time! The things our parents used to use to motivate us (um.. Chores!) no longer work. Could that be because we have been giving ourselves permission to make these things less worthy?

Think about it. But while thinking, do your dishes!

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P.s…. don’t even get me started on stories about being that kid that was always too embarrassed to have friends over. Or the fact that your hubby more than likely likes to be comfortable in his own home. Or… The fact that kids NEED to learn that they are not always #1. But that one is for another time.

Make Good Choices,
Becky

With love, Becky

The P31 Woman is Not the ONLY Woman

Do you know that God made you? We tell our kids this but do we actually believe it? I think Christians have an impressive way of making the bible suck. We are known for being judgy buttheads… because we ARE!

(I’ve have already lost a few of you with that statement… but for the rest of us who personally feel that judgement, keep reading.)

We, Christ followers, know there is a better way to do everything. We are like the mother-in-law (not mine!) of the religious world. No matter what we are dealing with, there is an answer for our situation, and if we’re really good, we can twist it enough until it suddenly makes complete biblical sense that we don’t vacuum the house that day! Come on! The human mind is such a wonderful, powerful thing that gains momentum when coupled with other thoughts from other people (insert social media HERE).

But what do we say about ourselves in all of this?

I was recently talking with a good friend of mine… a good, kind-hearted mom who just wants her kids to grow up strong and healthy, as you can imagine any mom would. She was telling me how horrible she felt every time she lost her temper with her kids.

*SIGH*

Moms. How many of us have been THERE?! How many of us struggle with this very thing on a daily basis?? I’m not talking about the ACTUAL temper. I’m talking about the way we see ourselves, the struggle with feeling like we never measure up? For this very reason I have grown to dislike the Proverbs 31 wife reference. Perfectly well meaning women (and men) love to throw that in our faces any time they may think we “need” it but what I think us moms and wives and sisters and daughters need is a little freedom FROM the Proverbs 31 Wife. She’s so perfect. She never has a lazy day. She always looks outstanding. AND SHE NEVER LOSES HER TEMPER. Some of us don’t do well with that sort of pressure.

I want to offer you a differing approach. What if… God made us the way we are… on purpose? We love to walk around and say things like this to other people in hopes of raising spirits but we don’t really believe it do we? If we did, there would be much less talk about how awful we are at whatever job we’re doing at the moment and more talk about accepting differences in others. Do you think God, The Almighty, The All Knowing, All Powerful, Great I AM made you solely for the purpose of changing everything about you? Do you think He really wants you to be like the other mom that makes the best meatballs known to man (that’s me, by the way…)?

Now if the foot should say, “because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being a part of that body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact, God has placed the parts of the body, every one of them, JUST AS HE WANTED THEM TO BE.

-1Corinthians 12:15-19, NIV

Just as He wanted them to be. We’re so quick to quote growth and change from the bible… and don’t get me wrong, I think God wants us to grow to be all that He wants us to be… but I don’t think He wants us to change every aspect of who we are.

I just so happen to be a bit loud. I have been called obnoxious in my day. But wait! God wants a GENTLE spirit! God ONLY wants and uses quite, submissive women. I have spent the better part of my entire life apologizing for being who God made me to be. I was even medicated to repress some things in my nature throughout adolescence.

How do I know God made me to stand out (for lack of better words)? Because when I suppress my natural tendencies to express and be joyful and spirited, something totally opposite happens and I FEEL the evil. I feel anxious and miserable. Not only that, but the people around me feel the “off” that’s happening in me. Suddenly I become this completely different person and it HURTS. Deeply. I have had my dear family beg me to bring the real me back when I’m in those “moods.”

Do you think God has a sense of humor? ABSOLUTELY! Do you see the above picture of a Llama!? They’re hilarious! Do think He wants us to be an army of robots? I’m pretty sure He does NOT. He wants creativity. He wants boldness. He put them there. Just like He put the stars in the sky. Everything He does is on purpose and for a purpose. 

So what about all of the “bad” personality traits that seem to just come with the territory? For example, I am bold. And Loud. And super animated. I’m also a great big feeler. Satan sees this and tries to use it for his agenda. I have a bad habit of taking responsibility for things that are not mine to take (Sound familiar? Like, moms do all the time for their kids? We’ll talk about that one later). I have this theory that God placed that in my heart to help me grow to be MORE of the person He wants me to be but He did not place it there for me to constantly feel shame. That is Satan using his techniques to his advantage.

Me not being naturally gentle is not a bad thing. I am gentle when I need to be but most of the time I’m… me. And contrary to popular belief, God likes me 😛 He made me on purpose FOR a purpose and He put those in our lives that He did on purpose, too. We need to stop unintentionally attacking ourselves with doubt and shame and comparison. We can all stand to learn a little something from everyone, but let’s work to not forget who we were made to be.

You are beautifully and wonderfully made.

Make good choices,

Becky

Everything is Fixable

I love my job. Have I mentioned that before?? This time I’m talking about the sex education job, getting to teach the truth about sex and share my testimony over and over. This week I am in an all-girls 8th grade class where we kind of introduce the notion that they are more than just a physical being – that sex is a really big deal, inside and outside of marriage.

In this particular job, we have outlines to follow that are in line with district standards across the board. We use activities to get the point across and I especially love the conversations that ensue from them. These sweet 8th graders’ questions are REAL and pure and intense at times. And other times they are just funny. Kids are HILARIOUS.

Today, as we were talking about consequences of sex and how one might be bigger than another, I asked a question that I ask all of my classes because I think this message is important; “What is the one thing in life that is not ‘fixable’?”
One little girl raised her hands and shouted “Herpes!”
It was… Awesome. We laughed together as a class because I just told them what a virus was and that it’s not curable. But in the same moment, she confirmed for me why I do this. Why I feel so deeply for these kids. I am definitely an advocate for abstinence (Because of my story not in spite of it). I am pro-life. I am pretty old fashioned and conservative but I also know the day we live in. I know what these kids are facing and I. Get. Them.

In a world where the media rules, majority opinion rules over fact and truth, and what used to be considered inappropriate is now not only appropriate but trendy, these sweet kids are… For lack of a better word… Confused. They have no idea what is right or wrong. Only the opinions of their parents and other influences can determine that, and if the parents are under the influence of the media…well…
These parents are effectively raising this generation to be narcissistic, trend following zombies void of Truth. Respect. Honor. Self control. Not all of them. But a lot.

What’s happening is by the time I am getting to these kids they have likely already had some experience in the area or have the people around them unintentionally giving them the message that they should. I have seen so much tragedy the last year of teaching than in all my own years of middle and high school and raising my own kids.

So back to the question. What is it? What is the one thing that cannot be fixed in life?

Death.

Think about it. Death can never fix life. If these kids get too many messages that they are not good enough or that there is no way out of their situation, they are at a much higher risk for suicide.

Did that just get a little too heavy for you? Read on.

Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for ages 10-25 years old with Colorado being one of the states with the HIGHEST rate*

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So what should we be doing?

1. We need to be telling our kids the truth
Parents. Its our job to train up our child. Its important that we teach them right from wrong in the beginning so they will always have a voice in their head. Kids do dumb things. Its part of their development but we play a vital role in communicating the values and morals that our kids carry for the rest of their lives. Speak truth to them and be consistent.

2. Speaking of truth, what IS the truth?
I have said this time and time again to my inquiries… In order to TEACH you have to KNOW the subject. And by KNOW I mean KNOW… You know? You must believe with all of your heart that what you’re teaching your child is the truth of all truths. Facts. What do you believe about the world, God, promiscuity, drugs, broccoli, respect, gender, bullies…? Such a long list and this isn’t even the tip of the iceberg! Parents, I want to challenge you to call a meeting with the spouse and other adult influences in your kids’ lives to determine your world view and how you are passing that legacy down. Because you need to know where you stand on these issues BEFORE they arise.

3. Speaking of influence…
Who is your child’s greatest influence, other than you? If you said friends you’d be half correct. Their friends… And the media… Is IN their heads. When I say media I am talking about movies, news, magazines, music, and especially social (FB, Twitter, YouTube, IG, etc). The eyes are the windows to the soul and if what they are being exposed to tells them they have to be in the “IN” crowd to survive… And these things most definitely ARE… then we’re not doing our job well. Now, I like a good Mean Girls party as much as the next #90skidd but my daughter was to a certain maturity that I deemed appropriate before she watched it. And when she did it was with me. And we talked about it. All the way through the movie..lots of talking. Lots of questions and answers. Just her and me.
I’m not saying to never expose your kids to the world (because I personally believe if we do that they cannot effectively be a light in the darkness) but I am saying they need guidance and YOUR influence.

4. And the most important thing of all…
Drive it home that EVERYTHING IS FIXABLE. Everything.
I tell not only my own kids but especially my students, every single presentation, with tears in my eyes because I just can’t hold it back… Everything is fixable. The only thing not fixable is death. If you get an F on a paper, can we fix that? Yes! What if we can’t? Then we move on. This too shall pass. What about something more serious like the herpes we mentioned earlier?? Herpes is not curable but it can be managed. I tell them that we can figure anything out.
These kids are so afraid of the what ifs and are literally STUCK in the moment (it has everything to do with how the teenaged brain is developed) that they simply can’t see what’s next. That’s why adults tend to think teens are “so dramatic”. Kids just can’t. Teens just can’t. Its our job to speak life and truth over them and to make sure they have a safe and consistent place to come home to. I’m pretty sure if more kids heard THAT mesage we’d have a much lower suicide statistic to deal with, especially here in Colorado.

We get ONE CHANCE, ladies and gentlemen, to raise a good, noble, productive member of society. You’ve heard the saying, “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world”? Well this is how. Take your job seriously and raise this generation so that they can effectively make a good next generation themselves.

Make good choices,
Becky

What Do You Want Your Kids To Say About Your Marriage?

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What do you want your kids to say about your marriage?

Scenario: You wake up one day, you meet Prince Charming, fall in love, get married and live HAPPILY ever after.

Aw… ❤

Truth:
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Anyone who has ever been married can speak to this with enthusiasm. We wish it did! We see the movies and hear the songs and long for the easiness of life in love. Then, after the first year of marriage, we find ourselves in marriage counseling wondering what went wrong and how to fix THEM. The partner. Because we surely did no wrong.

A huge part of our healing came when we asked ourselves this very question with full intent on changing the generational curses for our kids’ heritage.

So.. What do YOU want your kids to say about your marriage?

Someday when they are grown and have families of their own, they’re going to look to YOU and the values and memories you instilled in them to run their household.
They are inevitably going to say things like “I don’t know why I yell so much, my parents did so I guess I can too.”
Or maybe it will be “Divorce is no big deal. It runs in the family.”

If you don’t think that you play a major roll in the future of our society, think again. This is the future! Your Marriage should be the number one relationship in your life… besides Jesus, of course. If you don’t have a good marriage, it is likely that your kids won’t either. Conflict resolution and intimacy building are learned skills, not usually natural ones. And with the parents being the first and most important influence on a child, you can be sure your kids are getting a message. What kind of message are you portraying?

I’d like to introduce a few not-so-common-sense ideas my husband and I have learned in our marriage. These are the things my kids will say about their parents’ marriage someday.

1. My kids will say that their parents NEVER said the big “D” word.
We learned a long time ago that introducing that one little, but powerful word into a fight was a death sentence. Once we took out the option, of getting out, it was like we HAD to figure things out. Turns out, not everyone goes into a marriage -a covenant- with that kind of thinking. Seems to me we need to be better educating our youth about what marriage means… But that’s for another post.

2. My kids will say we fought.. In front of them
I hate when people tell you to never, ever disagree in front of the children. Like, ya, let’s bubble the little suckers up as much as we can and then throw them to the wolves. Nope. That’s not my job. My job is to train up my children in the way that they should go so when they’re adults they won’t part from it. How do I do that without modeling? My husband and I disagree. We’re different people. Arguments happen. We don’t throw things (anymore). We don’t name call but we do use ridiculous amounts of “I” statements. We model a good conflict resolution and *bonus* they grow up learning that no one is perfect and the person is more important than the issue. They don’t grow up thinking that they’re entitled to a perfect marriage.

3. My kids will say that we were super affectionate in front of them
My hubby loves to grab or pat my behind as much as he possibly can. I do the same to him. We kiss, we hug, we hold hands, we snuggle… And we mean it. Because my body is no longer my own and neither is his. My kids will never say their parents weren’t affectionate. But we definitely have a lock on our door for those more intimate moments that are appropriately saved because we also don’t want our kids to say that we scarred them for life! 😀👎

4. My kids will say that we made financial decisions…together

This is certainly one of those harder subjects in marriage and, let’s be honest, sometimes we still disagree in this area but we have modeled for our kids that it pays to be on the same page with the financial issues. My kids will value this when they look back at all the trips we made as a family and the variety of sports and lessons they got to do while not living in a cardboard box.

5. My kids will say that we put our marriage first
We have no problem ditching the kids for a weekend away because if we don’t put *us* first, then our household cannot be fortified and that is the most important thing. I understand this can be especially difficult for moms… But LET THEM GO! Cling to your spouse, the person you CHOSE to spend the rest of your life with! They deserve it. And so do your kids.

What things do you hope your kids will say about your marriage when they grow up? How are you going to make that a goal today?

Make good choices,

Becky