Update On My Book, Gentle Firmness

I am very sad to announce that my publisher was doing a bunch of really nasty <<click here for more info– stuff and they closed.   I’m absolutely heartbroken and embarrassed that I allowed them to take advantage of me.

I will now begin to re-edit my book and put out a second edition of Gentle Firmness.  I will be self-publishing on Amazon.  I hope to try to get the second edition of Gentle Firmness out by the end of this year or early next year.  I’m also getting my children’s book prepared to be published.  This is overwhelming but I will make it even better and it will be more affordable!  The publisher set the price too high.

In the meantime, I do need to distribute the books I still have at a very low price. I’m even willing to donate some.

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I’m currently looking for people who would be willing to buy some books at $10 plus $6.65 for priority mail shipping, or I am willing to donate some to organizations that will distribute them to people who could use them. I really want these books to help parents.  After all, this is why I wrote it in the first place!

If you are interested, please email me.  I only have a limited number of books left.  Thank you so much.

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Permissive Parenting Hurts Gentle Parenting

My husband and I recently took a family trip to Florida. It was an absolutely wonderful trip.  I got to meet a couple of my gentle parenting Facebook friends and their children during the trip.

It was interesting though because there were a few conversations about parents not “controlling” (I hate the word “control” when it comes to children.  Children are not for controlling!) their children by a few people who don’t completely understand about gentle parenting.  It did seem though that what they described, children running around a restaurant with no boundaries, was permissive parenting.

Sadly, many people mistake gentle parenting for permissive parenting. These two styles of parenting are completely different!  Let me define them before I talk about why permissive parenting is hurting the gentle parenting movement.

There are actually three parenting styles.  These three parenting styles are authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive. If parents physically punish their children, they are authoritarian, even if they do some of the things that authoritative parents do such as listening to their children at times or offer some choices to the children. This is because authoritarian parenting stresses obedience without question, first-time obedience, strictness, and the use of punishment, especially corporal punishment, with their children.

Authoritarian parents also have very high (usually beyond what the children are developmentally capable of) expectations for their children. While authoritarian parents, in general, love their children very much and simply want the best for them, these parents tend to focus more on keeping control of their children than on using effective discipline strategies that respect the actual needs of the individual child.

Authoritative parents are firm but gentle with their children. They take the time to learn about child development and know at which stage their children are developmentally in order to gain a better understanding of their children’s behaviors.

Authoritative parents set firm, realistic boundaries and limits for their children based on the developmental stage of their children. While these parents stick to their guns on some things, such as bedtime and not allowing their children to eat cookies before suppertime, they always listen to all of their children’s feelings and validate those feelings.

In situations where negotiation can occur, such as allowing five more minutes of playtime before having their children clean up, these parents do so. These parents also give their children simple choices when appropriate, but they are not afraid to let their children know when something is not a choice and cooperation is absolutely required. When children don’t cooperate, authoritative parents will gently but firmly help their children cooperate. And these parents use natural and logical consequences with their children instead of punishment.

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Permissive parenting, on the other hand, is the direct opposite of authoritarian parenting. Permissive parenting is just as harmful and abusive to children as authoritarian parenting, even though these two parenting styles are on the two polar ends when it comes to parenting styles.

Permissive parents do not set limits or boundaries for their children. And when these parents do set limits and boundaries for their children, they often don’t consistently enforce them. Some permissive parents allow their children to “walk all over them,” to have whatever they want, and rarely do these parents give their children appropriate consequences when necessary.

Other permissive parents outright neglect all of their children’s needs. They do not even give their children appropriate and necessary care. All of permissive parenting, as I said above, is abusive because either type does not provide children with what they need to thrive. It also exasperates and frustrates children not to have any discipline just like spanking them does. Permissive and authoritarian parents break God’s charge for parents not to frustrate or exasperate their children in Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21.

So when I hear about parents letting their preschool children run around in a restaurant, I cringe.  Everyone there was probably thinking, “Parents today let their kids run wild.  I wish they’d spank those brats.”  Spanking/hitting those preschoolers would not teach them how to behave in a restaurant.  Rather, spanking/hitting them would teach fear which is not a good thing.

Plus, referring to children in a derogatory manner is never good. But permissive parenting brings out the authoritarians with force.

So, how would a gentle (authoritative) parent handle this situation?  First, they would have been practicing in a fun, playful way how to eat at a restaurant.  They would have been modeling manners from the time the children were infants.

Second, they would know that young children can’t sit quietly for long periods of time and would have brought crayons and paper for the children to color.  They also would have engaged the children in the family conversation.

Third, they would have ordered the food as soon as possible so the children didn’t have to wait as long.

And finally, if the children would have gotten antsy and started running around, the gentle parent would have stopped them and perhaps they would have left early.

Yes, gentle parents allow their children to be children, which for authoritarian parents, this may look like permissiveness because the children aren’t being “controlled,” but it isn’t.  It’s respecting the children for who they are.

I had the pleasure of going out to eat with a gentle family while in Florida and the children were excellent!  They were allowed to play quietly at the table.  They were included in the conversation.  Not once did they act up.

Respected children are better behaved because they are seen and treated like the little people that they are.  Their needs are met.  They are taught right from wrong without it being scary.  They are aware of limits and consequences.

Permissive parenting does not treat children as little people.  Children are not taught right from wrong.  And they crave limits and consequences.

Worse yet, people mistake permissive parenting with gentle parenting!

If these people could hang out with children who are gentle parented, they would never confuse it with permissiveness.  They also would be against spanking/hitting and other forms of punishment because gentle parented children are amazing!

Yes, all children have their not so nice moments, but hey, so do I.  What I see in children who are respected is that they have empathy and can eventually put themselves in other’s shoes as that is how their parents teach them.  They also don’t need to act up to get attention because attention is automatically given to them.  And they don’t regularly get put in situations where it’s too much for them to handle.

Permissive parenting creates self-entitled and struggle in life just as spanked/hit children do.  They don’t learn self-control either which can lead them down a bad road.

Gentle, authoritative, attachment parenting is truly the best way to raise children.  Yes, there will be times when gentle parents lean toward authoritarianism or permissiveness depending on the situation, and that is okay.  But people should be able to look at a family and tell if they are gentle.

I’m asking all parents to please look at your parenting and make sure you are in the authoritative, gentle, respectful parenting style.  Stop making people confuse the three parenting styles.  Make authoritarian parents want to come to the middle and become authoritative.

Respectful adults come from children who were respected throughout childhood!

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Our God Is A Gentle God

2 Chronicles 5:12-14 (NASB):
“and all the Levitical singers, Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun, and their sons and kinsmen, clothed in fine linen, with cymbals, harps and lyres, standing east of the altar, and with them one hundred and twenty priests blowing trumpets in unison when the trumpeters and the singers were to make themselves heard with one voice to praise and to glorify the Lord, and when they lifted up their voice accompanied by trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and when they praised the Lord saying, ‘He indeed is good for His lovingkindness is everlasting,’ then the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God.”

I absolutely love this Scripture!

First, I love how all the singers and band players sang and played at the same time, in one accord.  That must have been a glorious, awesome sound!  If only the Church would do this again.

Another thing that I love about this Scripture is that the glory of the Lord filled the house with a cloud. The priests could not stand and minister due to the cloud which was the glory of the Lord!  If only the Church had that much faith so God could do this nowadays!

And the fact that it was the glory of the Lord that caused the priests to fall on their knees.  God gently brought them to their knees.  It reminds me of the song, “Sweetly Broken” by Jeremy Riddle.  The chorus goes like this:

“At the cross You beckon me
You draw me gently to my knees, and I am
Lost for words, so lost in love,
I’m sweetly broken, wholly surrendered.”

God gently brings us to our knees.  I know many Christians, sadly, view God as harsh and punitive.  They believe that God can be harsh and makes bad things happen.

I’ve been through a great deal of hard times throughout my life.  I can attest that God has been my comfort if I allow Him to be and don’t turn away from Him.

Our God is a gentle God!  As parents, instead of forcing our children down on their knees, may we allow God to gently bring them to their knees.  May we follow God’s loving example and parent with gentle firmness.

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Teaching Expression Instead Of Repression

Happy New Year 2016!!

This Holiday season was a bit rough for my husband and me as it was the first Holiday season without his mom. But we experienced many joyful moments along wih the grief.

As the five month anniversary of his mom going to Heaven approaches this week, I’ve been, yet again, reflecting on how society treats negative emotion and grief. I’ve been surprised that even well-meaning friends seem to want us to hurry up and “move on.”

It’s during our darkest hour that we find many scattering when we need them the most.

Thank You, Jesus, that You never scatter when we need You. You quietly sit with us as we cry, scream, and even cuss. I’ve been doing that a lot lately as I continue to process my emotions of loss.

“Get over it.”  “Life goes on.”  “Stop focusing on your grief.”

That’s what I hear from others around me. If only it was that easy.

I have been looking for and finding joy amidst the pain. I have redirected my thoughts. And with the help of my best friend, I made a memory photo book for my husband and sister–in-law for Christmas. I knew this would be a hard Christmas without their mom. So I wanted to honor her and bring joy. They loved it. I have done productive things with my grief.

I like using my pain for good whenever possible which is why I wrote my book, Gentle Firmness, and why I’m working on a children’s book and a book for adults about my cerebral palsy. It’s also why I finally started blogging.

I want to help children and their families. I also want to glorify God. 

So, this post is another of many about teaching expression instead of repression because our first instinct with both children and adults seems to be “Oh, you’re ok.”

Well, what if the child or adult isn’t “ok?”  Shouldn’t we be like Jesus and sit quietly with them as they express their negative feelings?  Why do we pressure people from birth to repress their negative emotions?

Yes, at times, even I have been guilty of this.

If you have been following me or have read my book, you know I feel strongly about validating children’s emotions from birth. I explain in my book as well as in many posts on how to help children appropriately express and cope with their big, negative feelings.

Teaching and encouraging expression is vital to emotionally healthy people. I know many adults who were taught to repress their negative emotions. Some were even punished for having negative feelings. These adults now struggle to deal with stress and upset in a healthy manner. They also sometimes pressure people to “hurry up and get over it” because they either feel so helpless that they can’t do anything to help the person–young or old– and/or they are triggered by the person’s emotional upset and pain.

I am not one to repress my emotional pain. I need to reach out. I usually do so online since my family and close friends live all over the country. I find that if I express my negative emotions appropriately, I usually heal faster.

This grief is taking me longer. After all, it’s only been almost five months. And she had only been gone a few weeks before special days for our family hit…And then the Holidays.  And while I’ve lost many humans to Heaven throughout my life, my mother-in-law was the first close person to me that I’ve lost.  She truly was like a second mom to me.

I have found with my husband, his sister, and myself that when we try to repress our emotional pain, it ends up building and building until we blow up.

I have found that to be the case with children too. The more we ignore their feelings, the worse they behave.

It is truly better to encourage a hurting child or adult to express their negative emotions. Children will require guidance and discipline (teaching, not punishing) to learn appropriate ways of expressing themselves, but it is so much healthier for them.

Also, boys have the same right to cry and be emotional as girls. It is NOT “manly” to repress any negative emotions!

May we do our best to encourage expression rather than repression. Believe me, children and adults will be forever grateful if you validate and quietly sit with them as they do their best to process their big, negative feelings.

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Sacrifice And Love For Others–Especially Our Children

Romans 15:1-7:

“Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.” For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.”

I think this Scripture is key in how we should interact with others, especially our children. It seems that many Christians are not willing to self-sacrifice for the betterment of others. If it’s not convenient for us, then we won’t sacrifice for others.

Guess what!  Being crucified on a cross was not convenient to Jesus, but because He loved us so much, He died a horrific death for us–His beloved children!

I think it’s beyond sad that many popular, mainstream “Christian child-rearing experts” actually discourage parents from self-sacrificing for their children. Instead of rearranging their lives to include children, these “experts” teach parents to force a new human being to fit within the parents’ lives so the child knows that he/she is not too important.

How is that obeying what God clearly lays out in the above Scripture?  Children are indeed weaker than us. They need constant care and guidance from us which should involve major self-sacrifice from us.

Leaving infants to cry-it-out so that we can get a good night’s sleep is not self-sacrificing nor is it accepting infants for who they are.

Staying up with them and engaging in nighttime parenting despite being absolutely exhausted is self-sacrificing and accepting them.

Spanking/hitting, using time-out, shaming, arbitrarily taking things away, yelling, and other harsh punishment with our children is not self-sacrificing or accepting children.

Doing the hard work of disciplining (teaching, guiding, correcting) using positive, respectful, and gentle techniques such as modeling, child-proofing, validating feelings, fulfilling the child’s physical and emotional needs, setting realistic limits and boundaries, helping children comply, giving choices, and using natural and logical consequences with children is self-sacrificing and accepting of our children.

Most Christian claim that if they don’t spank/hit and “teach” their children that the world does not revolve around them that their children will turn into self-entitled brats.  Let me tell you this: Children learn by our actions. Some of the most self-entitled people I know grew up in punitive households where they were constantly “put in their places.”  Their parents were so focused on forcing their children into self-sacrifice that the children never truly learned how to sacrifice for the sake of others.

True love means being willing to sacrifice, accept, give grace and mercy for another no matter how inconvenient it is to us. We must model this to our children.

Biblical love does not involve inflicting pain on children as many Christians still believe due to errant interpretation of this verse:

“He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently” (Proverbs 13:24, NASB).

In order to understand this, we need to understand that the Biblical Rod was a big, heavy stick with spikes on it. Shepherds never hit their own sheep with the rod. Rather, they used it to protect their sheep from predators. We need to do the same with our children. We need to sacrifice ourselves in order to protect our children from the enemy, satan, who comes to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10).

Biblical love is clearly defined as:

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cornithians 13:4-7, ESV).

May we use self-sacrifice to truly love our children and everyone!

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Hearing vs Doing The Word

James 1:23-25 (NASB);
“For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.”

How many times have we all read God’s Word and then turned around and have done the exact opposite?  I know I have. God gently convicts me when I do this.

We all mess up. Only God is perfect. But, I feel like many Christians don’t even try to be doers of the Word because instead of loving others, including children, they are often harsh, judgmental, and condemning. Yet, the Bible says there is no longer condemnation in Christ.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s ok to condemn sin. But it is not ok to condemn sinners as we are all sinners. 

I believe children get condemned the most by many Christian sects. They insist we must spank/hit children and control them. Yet, the Bible says to treat everyone with gentleness.  This includes our children.

Colossians 3:12-15:
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”

Ephesians 4:2:
“With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.”

Galatians 6:1-2:

“Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.”

When we fail to extend mercy, love, and gentleness to others, including our children, we become hearers of the Word. To spank/hit, punish, and treat children harshly is forgetting the beautiful Gospel message because Jesus taught, corrected, and discipled His disciples and others.  He never hit anyone. No, not even when He cracked His whip in the temple. 

We need to be doers of God’s Holy Word. We need to be gentle with everyone. Treating children gently and working with them is one of the best ways we can be doers instead of merely hearers of the Word.

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Victory Is Through Jesus, NOT Through Law And Punishment!

“But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:54-57).

If sin is the law, then our “law” for children is sin; demands thrust upon them they cannot possibly meet due to their current understanding and level of development.

To further clarify, expecting toddlers to stay away from breakables and punishing toddlers when they don’t “obey” us is thrusting the “law” on them, thus, making them deal with sin before they can even understand what sin truly is, and adding feelings of anger, hurt, and confusion to them by punishing them is sin.

Putting the breakables away takes the “law” away, therefore, removing the power of sin. “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6).

Also, expecting first time obedience of children is thrusting the “law” on them as God does not even expect first time obedience of us!  First time obedience is neither biblical nor developmentally appropriate. The young brain takes longer to process stimuli. Young children just process everything much, much differently than we do. It takes a lot of brain damage from physical punishment to finally get children to obey immediately. Not good. They are in constant fight or flight mode when people use physical punishment to get first time obedience. Fear and pain hinder brain development and learning.

God created children to be who they are. He created our brains. So, no children should never be expected to obey immediately all the time. Now, if there is an emergency or a good reason for immediate cooperation (I really dislike using obedience within the parent-child relationship because we’re not God and are mere sinners. Cooperation should be our aim within the parent-child relationship.), then we need to tell the child why and be prepared to help the child cooperate.

Let’s do our best not to thrust sin onto our children before they are truly capable of resisting it. Let us get the Word of God into their hearts instead! After all, it’s Jesus who gives all of us victory over our sin, not punishment.

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