Archive for November, 2011

Take the Elf OFF the Shelf!

November 28, 2011

Santa as a spy who has an obsession with behavior modification--ick!

I have a bone to pick with Santa.  As much as I love the big guy I am really tired of the part of him that is a parent-power-sucking-sponge.  The whole naughty or nice thing has several issues (um, are poor kids or kids in orphanages naughty?)  But the idea of Santa as a spy who is really into behavior modification has a lot of parents compounding the problem.

Santa must be sick of tattle tales!
For some folks who struggle with discipline, Santa is like a big fat permission slip to be wimpy parents.  When we attempt to secure desired behavior through the threat or promise of Santa instead of handling the problem ourselves, in essence we’re saying, “I can’t handle this, maybe you’ll behave for Santa.”  Or, sometimes it has the flavor of mom or dad tattletale-ing to Santa as in, “Do you want me to call Santa and tell him what you’re doing?”

The Elf on the Shelf sucks up money out of your wallet AND parental competency.

Shelve the elves!
Bad as all that is, merchandisers have come up with another way to suck up both our money and our parental competency!   The Elf on the Shelf.   The idea is that you buy a cute little elf to sit somewhere in you house.  During the day, he watches the children.  At night, he goes to the North Pole to report the children’s behavior to Santa and appears in a different spot the next morning, ready to spy on the children again.  In the meantime, parents are able to threaten their children with the elf and the possibility of no presents or an unhappy Santa.  Cute, huh?

Santa or the Elf on the Shelf may help bring a little “peace on earth” in the short term, but if parents rely on them during the holidays what happens on December 26th?  Not only is that parenting crutch tool gone, but they’ve been busy sending their child messages of incompetency for weeks and may have accidentally dug themselves into a hole that is not easy to get of.

Do you suffer from Santa or elf dependence?
How do you know if there’s a problem?  Well, some pretty good indicators are having to repeat directions several times, changing your directions to try to gain compliance, scolding, threatening, giving in or punishments or rewards that just don’t seem to make a lasting impact overall.  All this leaves an incredibly exhausted, frustrated and stressed out parent–not to mention a child who is ultimately not happy either.

Take back your parent power!
Fortunately, even if you’ve fallen into a trap where you’ve given your parenting power away to someone else, with some knowledge and a lot of determination you CAN get back to where you need to be.  It starts with taking back your parent power and learning how to manage power struggles.  One resource is our recorded course Discipline: Managing Your Child’s Bid for Power   But, at the very least, forget about using Santa as a means to control a child’s behavior and if you must put the elf on the shelf, just let him sit there and look cute–don’t make him spy for Santa!

Remember….

November 10, 2011

Happy National Adoption Month!

My first thought is always about our family’s adoption experience.  My son came home from Russia on a VERY cold winter’s night in 1996.  He was a teeny, tiny, bald baby with huge blue eyes that seemed to see everything.  He was 11 months old and had never been outside an orphanage.  Our extended family was there at the airport with signs, balloons and lots of tears of joy.  My Grandma Nina loves to tell about the first time she held him.  She always talks about how he “snuggled right up” to her neck, remembering it as a sweet, trusting gesture by this tiny baby.  I don’t tell her that our family had actually freaked him out and that he was trying to get away as best as he could!!!!

15, almost 16 years later, he is an amazing young man.  I don’t talk about him much on this blog or in other aspects of my work because he is a very private person.  He is an old soul in a young body.  He has an incredible depth of thinking, sensitivity and interests that go beyond his age and is one of the few people who almost ALWAYS allow themselves to truly be their genuine selves.  He is often a contradiction–for example, he professes to dislike little kids, but is the kindest, gentlest big brother and older cousin you can imagine.  He is brilliant and can literally do anything he wants to do.  He is thinking of being a geological engineer but says his “back up plan” is to be a truck driver.  (he is only half kidding)  He very, very rarely has the typical teenager angst or anger.  He CAN, however make a person crazy with his stubbornness!   I just bought him a shirt that says “I May Be Wrong… But I Doubt It”.   

Long story short, he is amazing and I have no doubt that he will someday fulfill whatever purpose he is meant to.  He may change the world in big ways or small ways, but I am absolutely sure that it will be for the better.  None of this could or would be possible without international adoption.

We are some of the lucky ones.  There are thousands and thousands of children all over the world whose potential may never be reached because they will not have a family.  The statistics for children who age out of foster care or orphanage care are grim.  Their lives up to that point are sometimes even worse.

I want us all to remember all these little ones.  Whether adoptive parents, birth parents or adults who care about children, we owe it to the children who are still waiting for someone to be their own.   In particular, I’d like to ask you to remember and say a prayer for a group of children known as the “Bac Lieu 16”  They are not the only children needing our thoughts, prayers and especially ACTIONS., but looking at a tiny cross-section of the bigger problem can help us begin to comprehend the depth, scope and reality of so many children’s existence.

International adoption is not the only answer, but it should remain ONE answer.


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