Nine Tips for Peaceful Progeny

August 8, 2020 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Jane Thornton –

As my son, recent college graduate, returns home for a final roost before testing his wings, I have been reflecting on our strategies in raising him. I thought I’d share some that were more successful – we’ll save stories of the less successful for another day. I don’t claim these as my own ideas; we gathered whatever worked from friends, books, and our own childhoods.

1. Either/Or –Give children options while guiding them toward your own goals. We used this often enough that four-year-old Matt mimicked our policy with his little sister. “Merry, here’s how you play this game . . . Merry, you can play the way you’re supposed to, or you can just not play. Those are your choices. Do you want to play the way you’re supposed to or not play?”

2. Odd/Even –Matt got odd days, Merry even, for both chores and privileges. Before I’d holler for a helper, I’d remember the date and address the appropriate kid. As we’d head for the car, instead of hearing “Shotgun!” and squabbling, we’d hear, “It’s the second, my day in the front.” No questions asked.

3. Change it Up – Honestly, I’m not so good at this, but my husband Wes is a master. When the kids (and I) circled around in a pointless argument, he abruptly asked some completely unrelated question. Although his tactic was glaringly obvious, we would all frequently comply.

4. No-Thank-You-Bite –Although now I only rarely turn my nose up at anything edible (still no brussel sprouts), as a child I preferred meat and potatoes only. Somewhere I heard that our taste buds change every seven years; true or not, I use it as a mantra for tasting. Although this plan doesn’t eliminate all fussing, we found requiring a bite much more manageable than a whole helping.

5. Two-Minute-Warning –We got much better cooperation with “Two more times down the slide, then we have to go.” If fussing ensued, the number decreased to one more time – or a return to that first strategy: “Two more slides or now – which do you prefer?” Same thing applies to chores: “You need to start cleaning your room in the next thirty minutes” works better than “Get in here and clean your room!”

6. Say Sorry – Not them, me. When I could hear that shrieky tone enter my voice, my kids responded with great forgiveness if I stopped and apologized for taking out frustrations on them. Sometimes a bedtime apology was called for due to a long day of grouchiness. I’m hoping they’ve picked up on this model for future relationships.

7. Nights Up – We weren’t terribly consistent with this, but I love the idea. Give each child some alone time with the parents by allowing them to stay up past bedtime once a month and choose an activity. Some things we did: bake cookies, play games, wrap Christmas presents, read a book.

8. Celebrate Spirituality – I love this tradition. We celebrate our children’s spiritual birthdays—the day they chose to follow Jesus. Each year we go out for dinner, often inviting friends. Everyone present sets a goal for spiritual growth. At each celebration, we review our old goals before we set, or reset, new ones.

9. Age and Absence – Not an idea or strategy, this point is a reality to reassure you. As the kids grow up and are not interacting daily, they learn to appreciate parents and each other. I’ve experienced the joy of maturing relationships with my own siblings, and now I get glimpses of the future of cease fire in my children’s sibling battles!

Comment Prompt: Share your parenting strategies, please.

About Jane Thornton

Jane Thornton, English teacher, wife, and mom of two almost grown children, strives to break free of the automatic boring label attached to those roles. Her two suspense novels eagerly await a willing publisher, and her articles search for inspiration in the humor and tears of life.
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2 Responses to “Nine Tips for Peaceful Progeny”
  1. julie marx says:

    Excellent suggestions, Jane.

  2. I wish I had those suggestions when my children were young! One suggestion I used which applies to divorced parents is this: Never speak ill of your ex-spouse in front of (or to) your children. It only causes pain and closes doors to communication. Now grown with children of their own, my daughter and sons still feel comfortable discussing their concerns for their father with me–because they trust me to listen and not jusge.

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