Thursday, August 25, 2011

Updating The Parenting Playbook

I will not lie and tell you that I have mastered parenting. Nor will I attempt to take credit for my insane and extremely questionable approach to child-rearing. That award goes directly to my own parents: strict, God-fearing, law-abiding folk who thought nothing of shaming their children publicly when a course-correction was in order. I thought I was safe from worrying about how they would embarrass me once I left for college at 18.  But it all persisted each and every Sunday when my roommates pressed the "play" button on our answering machine:

Hello, Marianne? This is the Lord. I did not see you in mass this morning and I was wondering when you were planning on attending next. How will I recognize you at the pearly gates if you never bother showing your face in church? Oh, and drink some orange juice and tea. The flu is going around.

By the end of the year, my roommates were used to it and barely looked up as they advised, "Jesus called again. He wants to know when you're going to be done with finals.  Oh, and eat some vegetables."

While I may have stolen the majority of my material from my parents' colorful playbook, I have adjusted it somewhat for my own household needs (tickets to heaven anyone?). Despite this, I still remain open to suggestions. And every once in a while, I come across an idea from another parent that strikes me as pure genius.

One of my recent disciplinary tactics was taken directly from the blog Cheaper than Therapy. The mom over there incorporates a 5-minute "time-out" where combatants are required to hold hands during periods of civil unrest. This was right up my alley so I instantly hijacked it and put it to good use. I found it hard to contain my laughter as I watched the supremely righteous expressions my children displayed during the implementation phase. Little boys forced into a loving gesture at the height of their indignation - it was a sight to behold:

I'm guessing by Jack's expression that Joey was probably the instigator.

"How little contact can we make without mom getting mad?"
Once again, I felt lucky that there are mothers out there who are willing to share their tricks of the trade with sisters in need.  Without the endless tips, suggestions, and stories of overcoming adversity, I fear I may have succumbed to despair and a real Betty Ford-like drinking problem.  God rest her soul.

So to mothers who share: thank you.


  1. I tried this one... sadly, my girls will hold hands with one hand, while still poking/pinching/annoying each other with the other.

    Love that picture! :)

  2. Skwishee - OH NO! That would have ruined everything. I read somewhere else about a parent who made their kids hug at the end of the driveway until so many cars drove by. That may be next up.

  3. I don't get many things right as a parent...but this one? I NAILED IT. hee!

  4. Awesome picture! I will have to try this technique...

  5. ok, A. I have done this!! They hate it.

    B. After fighting at our favorite pizza place as kids, my mom made us WALK HOME while holding hands. It was about a half mile and she followed us the whole way. We were mortified that friends would see us!! I had to be in third grade, my sister maybe in fifth! But it worked!


  6. Ali - any other techniques you have are 100% welcome.
    Gweenbrick - I'm loving it. It's getting used daily.
    Robyn - Don't think I won't use that one, too, because I will.