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Parenting 101 – United We Stand

One of the most challenging things in our marriage was learning to raise responsible, caring, well-adjusted children. Now that our children are adults, we are back to child-rearing mode with our two year old granddaughter who lives with us.  Here are 6 lessons we’ve learned.

Paul: Unity - Stephanie and I sometimes see things differently. But the key is not allowing those differences to surface in front of the children. When I disagree with Steph’s reaction to our granddaughter’ behavior, I back her up 100%. I wait to discuss alternatives in private later.

Steph: Consistency – When our children were very young, we discussed what values/behaviors were important to us such as: being respectful, no hitting, being kind, responding to people who ask you questions. Then, we worked at being consistent in following through when our children misbehaved. Focusing on a few behaviors that are important to us increases the likelihood of success.

Paul: Mutual Respect – We say “please” and “thank you” to our granddaughter and expect her to use these courtesies with us. When she forgets, we gently remind her. We use a patient tone of voice as if we’re asking for the first time. Consistently showing respect to her and insisting on this common courtesy creates a kinder environment in our home.

Steph: Reasonable – What we ask of our children and the discipline we impose for inappropriate behavior both need to be reasonable. We can’t insist that a 2 year old respond to every question asked of her by an adult, but we can certainly expect this when she is 12. Likewise, corrective discipline is going to look different depending on the age and emotional maturity of children. 

Paul: Short List – As Steph mentioned, we did not insist on a laundry list of unacceptable behaviors from our children. We kept the list short, focusing on 3-5 things most important to us. Otherwise, it becomes impossible for a child to comply with our ever increasing list of do’s and don’ts.

Steph: Positive Reinforcement - it is important to take the time to praise our children when they are doing something good. This requires intentionality. We tried a number of things over the years to positively reinforce good behavior - giving verbal praise, showing physical affection, and giving weekly rewards for accumulated “good behavior points.” We also posted our “ Our Family Commandments” on our refrigerator. Parenting children is one of life’s greatest challenges, but when we work together our marriage and our children can not only survive, but thrive!


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