Notes on Parenting

I went to a parenting class at church tonight. It was wonderful for all kinds of reasons. The content, for sure, but being able to listen to it because sweet Laurie Bithell took Magnolia from me after I'd taken her out into the hall. Thank you, Laurie, thank you. It's good to be around you again.

One of the women who presented, Mary Bliss Hassell, discussed the five things that can help women go from anxious pull their hair out type moms, to ones who are relaxed and experience an ease in motherhood.
1. Fill your reservoirs. [AKA take a break.] We all need a moment to sit back and relax and feed our souls in whatever way we can with whatever time we can steal away. She said, "Be where you are - appreciate what you have." She was talking about a mother of 9 in Anchorage, AK, and she doesn't get many moments. Sometimes her break is just walking out the front door and looking at the lights on the leaves. That's it. She's put something back that gets lost in the constant care of others. And then Mary Bliss said the part that resonated most with me: "Take a break that allows you to accomplish something." You might get a break, but you don't see any progress, and you usually need a break because you're not seeing any progress or feeling any sense of accomplishment. We should, after all, be filling our reservoirs. You know when we zone out on facebook or in front of the tv? If we have to dive back into the daily grind after something that isn't really giving us anything, it wasn't really a very useful break.

2. Every difficulty is an opportunity to be creative - use your interests and gifts to interact with children and solve problems. She handed out a card with several attributes like: Morning Productive, Evening Productive, Steady, Structured, Athletic, Concerned, Intellectual...and so on. We each looked through and associated ourselves with some of these attributes. She then made the point that no one would really pick all of the same things, and we should use our individual gifts make home and family life better.

3. Give kids more attention. It will reassure them that you're there when they need you. They'll have more confidence and come to you less often. She used the example of the second you get on the phone, your kids need you. You usually try to get them to do something else, but they just come back more and more. If your kids need you, always take the time to stop and touch base. Focus on them. Focus [period].

4. "Get the kitchen floor to shut-up." It's difficult to discover the right order of what should be done when juggling the jobs of both mother and homemaker. She read something amazing that I wish I had verbatim, but it was about a mother up at 6 AM, taking stock of her home and what needed to be done, and already feeling behind. She went on about the tasks before her, but then decided that it didn't matter if dishes were left undone, or pillows unfluffed if she'd taken the time to do something with her children because a house can go from clean to dirty in less than a minute. A recommendation of giving days to tasks was given. Make Friday [or any day] the day you clean the kitchen floor, so you have power over it. If it starts talking out of turn, you can look at it and let it know that it's not it's turn yet. And if Friday rolls around, and one of your kids needs you, wait until next Friday.

5. Consider your speech. Celebrate the positive without that little dig of negativity. We're often sarcastic about certain things, even if we're being positive, but those little negative digs are so damaging. Be kind to yourself.

The next portion of the evening was about Disciplining with Love by Diane Pratt - this is where Magnolia started the show signs of fatigue, so my notes are spotty.

Set limits. As parents, we have to figure out the boundaries for our home. She used an example of one of her children saying that a certain family got to play a game, and he didn't know why they couldn't have it. She replied with "that's great for them, but in this house, we don't play it." We are only the parents of our children, and regardless of what other parents are doing with their kids, the boundaries are set for a reason and we can't waver just because so and so has different limits than we do. That's them, this is us. There is no competition.

When communicating with our children, get down on their level. Be eye to eye, and don't yell. Don't create bad habits.

Separate your child's mistakes from the person they are. You can use things like "This isn't you" when pointing out some sort of behavior you're not happy with. And bolster that with positive reinforcement..."This isn't the kind, intelligent child I know." You're expressing disappointment while bolstering the attributes you know they have and want them to show more often.

"Choose to be a great mother." She said this right at the end, but wow, choose it, really. It's simple, but it's one of those things that's great to hear. She discussed the divinity of our children right before, after sharing a really touching story about a father in a situation of serious fury at the behavior of his daughter. When he was on his way to pick her up, a voice clearly said "Be careful what you do with my daughter." It completely changed him and his reaction to the situation. A reminder that our children are more than just our own.


  1. Thank you, thank you, BrieAnn! I needed this reminder today. Because my kids are calling, I had to skim through. But I will be back to read this in its entirety!

  2. Choose to be a great mother is going on my wall!!!



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