a Very Helpful Perspective

Monday, June 1, 2009

Your children are learning right in front of you, and you must understand that you cannot take their learning personally. The fact is that the problems your kids are dealing with are the same problems every other kid on the planet is dealing with. Everywhere I go, I poll parents on the kinds of issues they're facing with their children, and without fail, the list is pretty much the same everywhere - disrespect, disobedience, irresponsibility, tantrums, whining, sibling rivalry, back-talking, bullying, low self-esteem, chores, or homework. These problems that we have with these little people are pretty universal human problems. They're happening all over the planet. They're happening in China right now. This very second, sombody is backtalking his parent somewhere in the world. These issues are not a relfection of what you did to your children. It's not your fault. These children are on a learning journey. Let them learn.

- Danny Silk, Loving Our Kids on Purpose
This is one of the most helpful things I've ever read. I'm working on a review of this book this month, but I just can't resist sharing some of the helpfulness here at my blog. (I'm at least writing again, if I'm not doing the photo thing for the queasy - two weeks left on this trimester!!!! The end is in sight!) Danny Silk's book is one of the best parenting books I've ever read. I'm not into how-to or fix-it books, but this one is all about changing your perspective on child-rearing from a control-oriented perspective to a Kingdom-oriented perspective. Danny takes a lot of the New Testament after Christ relationship theology I've been learning about how God deals with me and puts it into a practical, winsome approach to raising children in a relational, healthy atmosphere where they can learn how to make choices and solve problems for themselves.

This quote was one that stood out to me - it is already helping me in my perspective on Piper's toddler control issues. Danny goes on to say that once we realize as parents that it is not our fault, the issue becomes the child's problem, and he can figure out how to deal with it himself if the parent maintains his own self control.

I hate to say this, but it is downright empowering to look at my almost-two-year-old who has decided that she wants to pitch a fit when I have told her "no," smile at her and tell her that "I said no, this is not my problem." The screaming stops once she realizes that I'm not getting into her fit, and she moves on to something else.

Over the last three weeks since we've gotten the book, I've seen Pete's frustration levels lowering too as he mutters under his breath when Piper's having issues, "It's not my problem."

Once we make the problem hers to solve (and I'm talking about realistic two-year-old problems, like her not getting her own way and her wanting us to fix it and make her own way possible) she is actually pretty good at finding something new to focus her attention. She's not even two, and I've been able to ask her to wipe up a mess that she has made, to blow her nose and wipe her face as we're calming her down after an irrational fit (those ones pretty much have to blow over), and to choose something different than what she has wanted.

She's such a sensitive little kid, too. The more I've been able to let go of my need to control her, the more our relationship has grown. When she does something that I need to spank her for, there is *genuine* sad on her - not because she got spanked, but because she hurt Mommy. I have never seen that on a toddler before when I was trying to get them to do something I wanted.

Anyway, you really have to read this book. It's so cool. I've never seen a book that approaches relationship with your kids from such a grace-filled perspective. I feel like *I've* learned so much about relating to others, and about how God relates to me on this side of the Cross. I actually feel that it is really possible to raise my kids (boy, we have KIDS to think about now!) to know God by interacting with them as human beings.

I have no idea how coherent this post is. Read the book - it's so much better than what I can write today...


gina said...

I'm so excited to see this. A friend recently loaned me a copy, guess I need to get to it. I just hope it's not 7 years too late! :)

Kelly Sauer said...

gina, it's so heart-directed, it's almost easier with older kids! It's fabulous how much it challenges us on our own ability to control ourselves. We can only choose to be vulnerable ourselves. It's really cool, though.

Alison said...

Oh-I love good parenting books! This approach sounds a little like another one I read that proposes empathy when your child gets upset, but in a "it's not my problem" way. Such as, "You're right, it is sad when you can't get ice cream because you did such an such." Thanks for the rec., Kelly!

Jessica said...

I started a series called "Shepherding a Child's Heart" that had a similar idea -- basically that you should not be focused on getting the behavior right, but on helping the child to learn what the right heart attitude is in a situation, and directing the child to God's authority, not necessarily "I'm the mom and I said so." I really need to get back into either that book or the one you mentioned... it's been a while. :-p

Great post! (Yes, it was coherent. :-))

Heidi said...

Yay! You posted!

And I'm working on writing a review of this book too...I finished it a couple weeks ago and totally loved it. Glad you liked it too - I love hearing your thoughts on it! :)

Carol said...

This book is also good for older children and teens. Hubby and I are reading it together, and also have listened to the audio seminar version. Wish I'd had this info 30 years ago, but it's really never too late.

Angela Fehr said...

I'm interested in the book - will put it on my list. I love "Shepherding a Child's Heart" for Biblical parenting guidance and that "it's not my problem" thing sounds a lot like what Tedd Tripp teaches in his book - that our children are ultimately responsible for their decisions and how they interpret the world - we cannot be perfect parent enough to make them perfect.
I tend toward being very controlling in my thinking - that I can, by force of will, conform them to my point of view. Doesn't work.

Kelly Sauer said...

A clarification for some of you: Danny's book goes nowhere near the "authoritarian" approach taken in "Shepherding a Child's Heart."

Danny's focus is not on control or even on discipline so much as it is on loving our children as God loves us through Jesus Christ, drawing them into relationship with us and ultimately to Him, but always leaving their freedom to choose relationship intact. This book is NOT behavior-focused; it is heart-focused, with relationship as the end result.

The reason I like this book is because it is *different.* The peaceful, self-controlled approach Danny is advocating is oriented around building relationships with your children and between your family members based on a mutual respect for the other as a person - a respect that is not demanded.

His approach is about as revolutionary as Jesus' approach to people when he was here on earth; perhaps that's why I am so blown away by it.

reneegrace said...

thanks for this review... i came over by way of Tonia's... its on my list. wow - are we struggling with out two year old!

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