Monday, January 31, 2011

Tiger Mom vs. Positive Mom

Both media and moms are abuzz about the newly released book entitled Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom by Amy Chua. In her book, Chua extols the power of parenting the way the Chinese do it through strict, uncompromising values. In her memoir she pits the Chinese style of parenting against what she considers the ineffective and self-indulging Western style of parenting. Granted, we do not want to raise wimpy, self-centered kids, but on the other hand we do not want to create overly-driven, stressed-out perfectionist either. As the author of the Power of a Positive Mom, I have my concerns about Chua’s relentless insistence toward perfection and her demanding (and almost brutal) methods of parenting. Certainly there is a healthy balance.

The goal of a positive mom is to raise kids who grow to be well-adjusted, hard-working adults, who are full of integrity and give back to society. By caring about the hearts and minds of their children, positive moms help their kids learn the worth and value of every individual. A tiger mom may raise over-the-top driven kids who achieve straight A’s, but at what cost? How do we define true success in parenting anyway?

My desire is to raise kids who make a positive contribution to society whether they are at the top of the corporate ladder or serving in the housing projects in Waco, Texas - which is precisely what one of my daughters is doing as the founder of Waco Arts Initiative. My other daughter faithfully volunteers at a Crisis Pregnancy center in downtown Houston while balancing a very active, full-time job. I’m proud of both of my daughters because they are using their gifts and talents with excellence to serve their community in meaningful ways.

Life is not about what I can achieve to perfection or what I can drive my kids to achieve. Life isn’t perfect and neither are people. There is more to life than being at the top. True success is using our gifts and talents to make a positive difference in this world.

God is our Provider

“Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace. It is so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times.” Martin Luther

This is a devotional for the mom who needs to know she is not alone. A story of God’s provision.

II Kings 4:1-7: One day the widow of one of Elisha’s fellow prophets came to Elisha and cried out to him, “my husband who served you is dead, and you know how he feared the Lord. But now a creditor has come, threatening to take my two sons as slaves.” What can I do to help you?” Elisha asked. “Tell me, what do you have in the house?” “Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil,” she replied. And Elisha said, “Borrow as many empty jars as you can from your friends and neighbors. Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting the jars aside as they are filled.” So she did as she was told. Her sons brought many jars to her, and she filled one after another. Soon every container was full to the brim! “Bring me another jar,” she said to one of her sons. “There aren’t any more!” he told her. And then the olive oil stopped flowing. When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, “Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and there will be enough money left over to support you and your sons.”

Mom’s Reflection: What a blessed picture of God’s tender care for His people! The poor widow had nothing but a flask of olive oil (used for cooking, for lamps and for fuel). All that was required of the widow was faith and obedience. God took what little she had to offer and blessed her faithful obedience with overflowing abundance. Think of the testimony this was to her sons as well. Don’t you wonder if they were thinking, “If only we had gone out to find more jars?”

There are many wonderful truths to glean as mothers from this short story. We are comforted to see God’s care for this God-fearing household, and it serves as a reminder that God is our provider as well. Although the widow asked Elisha for help, she also faithfully did as she was told. Faith in God’s provision for us doesn’t mean we sit back and do nothing. He calls us to be responsible and obedient to his direction. Finally we see that the Lord took what little this woman had and multiplied it abundantly. As moms, we may think we have little to offer, but the Lord can take our simple love and desire and multiply it into a blessing for our homes.

From The Power of a Positive Mom Devotional and Journal

Saturday, January 22, 2011

How to Raise a Whiner (part 2)

Last week we looked at a humorous approach to how to raise whiners in hopes that we will actually do the opposite of these lessons in our own homes. Here’s a continuation of last week’s blog.

Lesson Three: Grumble and Complain About Your Problems

As we mentioned in the previous lesson, kids learn best if they can watch your own example, so if you really want a bumper crop of complainers you will need to complain on a regular basis. You know the old routine, “This restaurant never gets my food right.” “The music at church is too contemporary.” “The coach doesn’t rotate the players enough.” “The neighbors won’t keep their yard clean.” “The school isn’t training their teachers properly.” “No one is ever sensitive to my feelings.” “If only this or that.”

It’s pretty standard procedure for most of us. Just be sure your kids don’t hear you expressing thankfulness for anything or they may learn gratitude (a definite disadvantage for a whiner). And be very careful that your kids do not pick up on the times when you choose to look at the good in a situation. Then they may begin overlooking negatives and seeking out the positives in a circumstance or a person. By all means don’t let the kids focus on the positives or they may miss the negative stuff altogether.

Lesson Four: Shield them from Difficulties or Pain

Guard your kids carefully so that they never get a difficult teacher or lose a tryout or have a coach who won’t play them on the A team. If your children begin to feel any sort of disappointment or pain, pacify them immediately by buying them something or blaming it on someone else. If you really want to go the extra mile, step in there and yell at the coach or spread rumors about how bad the teacher is and try to get your precious angel moved to another class.

Pain and challenges in a child’s life may lead to qualities such as strength, perseverance and compassion toward others, which are certainly qualities that are unbecoming of a whiner. The old adage of the advantages to learning from “the school of hard knocks of life” is only a crock (at least you need to keep telling yourself that). Getting one’s own way without any challenges or difficulties teaches much more valuable lessons such as the “me first” and “I deserve” attitudes.

Lesson Five: Blame Others

“It’s okay, it’s not your fault.” This age old concept helps our kids advance to a higher level of complaint and moves them into the category of “I couldn’t possibly be wrong.” Fortunately the blame game allows them to get away with just about anything they want. For example an outburst of anger at the restaurant isn’t little Ashley’s fault, it was the waitress’ fault because she didn’t bring out the right flavor of ice cream. Or “Sammy grabbed the toy out of the other little boy’s hands, but it was because the little kid wouldn’t share it with him.”

Blaming others offers a child an entitlement for whining and delivers it on a silver platter with his or her name engraved on it. The mere hint of personal responsibility would begin to strike at the very core of complaining. Keep that self-centeredness in tact by steering clear of any sort of self-discipline or self-sacrifice. Forgiveness and understanding of other people’s faults is out of the question and would only lead to your child showing kindness or compassion.

After reading these lessons, I hope you are inspired to do quite the opposite and begin pouring positive principles into your children such as thankfulness, responsibility and service. Help your kids begin to look at the good and the hope in each situation and begin by doing it yourself. My hope is that you will raise thoughtful, God-fearing kids rather than whiners. Keep working toward that end with God’s help. The above lessons are from my book, A Positive Plan for Creating More Fun, Less Whining.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

How to Raise a Whiner

At this point in my life I haven’t met any parents who actually want their kids to be whiners. Very few people intentionally invite the annoying sounds of “I want…” or the irritating complaint of “Why do I have to?”

So how does it happen? How do well-meaning parents gradually find themselves with sniveling, whining, negative kids? It’s really quite simple. The truth is that whining comes somewhat naturally to us all; we rarely need formal training to add it to our attitude arsenal. On the other hand, it takes determination to raise content kids. By taking the approach of “How to raise a whiner” I hope to help each of us as parents recognize some of the possible ways we inadvertently allow grumbling and complaining to grow in our children.

The tough truth is that whining kids grow into rather unattractive adults. It is not only in your family’s best interest, but in the interest of society at large that you weed the whining from your family garden. Your friends and extended family will be grateful. And of course your kid’s future spouses will thank you too! Here’s a tongue in cheek look at how to grow a good strong grumbler. I’ll start with two lessons this week and then continue with three more in my blog next week.

Lesson One: Give into the Whining

You’ve had a hard day and you just don’t want to hear it any more. It certainly is easier to give into the nagging than to say “no” to your child and deal with the consequences of crying and screaming. So go ahead. Give in. Give him what he wants. It will make it easier for you to give in the next time he whines for something, and that time is probably just around the corner.

Careful now. If in a weak moment you decide to tell your kids “no” or “wait your turn,” they may learn qualities like patience and self-discipline. If your goal is to raise a whiner, those positive qualities will never do. Immediate gratification and giving into desires is what you are after. Your best strategy for raising a whiner is to reason with your little grumbler and eventually give in. It will fortify his resolve to continue his demands, and it will help him develop stronger negotiating and manipulation techniques.

Lesson Two: Scream Back At them


Now your child knows she has your attention! And that’s just what she wanted; your attention. As you scream, your child will temporarily stop whining and you can feel great about weed-wacking the problem, even though the roots of whining are still there. The good news is you have taught your kids two indelible lessons in the process. First you have shown them that screaming is a very powerful tool. There’s a good chance they will follow your example and use the power of a scream next time they want something.

Secondly, the loud attention you give to whining teaches your kids a good solid way to get your attention. Now mind you they don’t consciously plan this out, and they don’t necessarily enjoy your loud screaming, but next time they feel they need your attention they know just how to get it. Whine, whine, whine and boy do you give them your full attention.

This blog was an excerpt from my book, A Positive Plan for Creating More Fun and Less Whining.
Next week we will continue with three more lessons on How to Raise a Whiner.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Everything Can't Taste Like Chocolate Cake

My friend Leslie has a funny saying when it comes to whining and tough times. It began when her daughter Amanda wouldn’t eat her vegetables, but she loved chocolate cake. “Why do I have to eat my vegetables? Amanda would complain.

Finally, in exasperation Leslie said, “Amanda, every food can’t taste like chocolate cake!” The saying stuck, and now their family uses the phrase as a reminder that sometimes life is hard. It can’t always be fun and games. Sometimes we have to do the hard things.

The apostle Paul said, “Do everything without complaining and arguing.” Whining seems to come naturally for our kids. Our goal is to help them pray more and whine less, encouraging them to see the growth and good even in our difficulties. It begins with our own example. Our kids need to observe us choosing to look at the possibilities instead of fretting or complaining.

Next week I’ll share, “How to Raise a Whiner” from my book, A Positive Plan for creating More Fun, less Whining

Monday, January 3, 2011

Helping our Kids Set Goals

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."

At an early age I began setting goals. Read my tips for you and your kids at my Positive Mom blog: