Monthly Archives: March 2010

I Tried To Raise My Kids Without Being Harsh

I Tried To Raise My Kids Without Being Harsh

As my husband and I sat at Red Lobster last night with friends waiting on our meal, I over heard a father at the next table talking to his child. It seemed to be a birthday meal for the teenager and the family was dining out for that. There was about a five year old little brother and he squirmed and wiggled and didn’t eat very well and was distracted.

The father was very irritated across from the boys and he began to scold. The birthday boy seemed embarrassed and withdrawn. I saw no sparkle in his eye; except he was enjoying the food he was eating. No conversation of worth, not even any good small talk and certainly the five year old was bored to the hilt. The father told the child to eat, he cuddled against his brother and smiled at his dad, and then he was told ok do you want time out when you get home?

The teenager looked like he would like to be anywhere but there right then and he smiled down at his little brother. The mom sat there trying to eat as the dad focused on every little action that irritated him. I thought stuff like this happens to the best of us, but I love to avoid messing up a nice occasion with irrational uncontrolled tension.

How often do we destroy good occasions with no moderation of handling our way of handling things? We could still get a good atmosphere by just keeping our own actions to irritations at a moderate minimum and still be in charge with a good out-come. I really don’t enjoy witnessing these things even though I have gone through it myself. I watched as the family filed out and the family left and I still was worried about the style of home they might have and how bmuch the kids love being there. (I am in no way implying that that our family is the best conversationalists, but let the record show I believe it is important to work at it.)

With all that still in my mind I am writing today about what I have been  involved with the most in my life. Babies and Teenagers have made me want to be a social worker, I have wanted to run a orphanage and adopt, and I have kept other kids in my home for a while and made bedrooms in the church next door to the parsonage so I could do what I could to help out. It is my passion, and I might have made mistakes with my own children, and I could tell you where and when and have still been learning what works and doesn’t without being ashamed that I don’t know it all, but I want the best out of whatever happens and needs to be handled. We are not going to get through life without many troublesome worries and situations that come our way from within our own homes. How we teach and how we ourselves learn equals the out-come of both love and closeness or distant and estranged.

So, you really do want a perfectly well behaved child or teenager that is happy, making good grades, full of zeal like you were, and so easy to live with. I hope some day to have an answer that will help other parents through easily.

What I am really trying to say is this is something we as parents all have to deal with.  I don’t have all the answers even though I have always had such a desire to know what kind of techniques of training work best. I do know what doesn’t work in a small way because I have raised five and tried to do it with a little dignity left for both my kids and me.

I am now watching my grandchildren grow up. Now our own kids are having the joy of raising their own children, and my grandchildren. I have been very proud of how they love their children and delight in them. If I don’t agree with something I try to sneak up on my kids blind side and tell them. Our parents sure didn’t stay completely out of our business in raising our children and I somehow felt like our mom’s knew a better way at times and I listened and asked.  I know it sounds like I am trying to mother the whole world, but well that is just me.

I will say this much, I had to learn to care and be sure that I wasn’t too hasty to measure out quick disciplines and not think them out first, as to how they really would remedy or affect the problem at hand. Love and kind moderate treatment works best in most situations to correct and still keep a tender willingness to repent and go on without bitterness and misunderstanding.

Going overboard seems to only drive the problems or aggravations deeper into the skin of the kid. If you always seem to go for the harshest words or longest groundings it doesn’t produce the tender feelings inside the heart and mind that you might hope it would.  I have seen this over and over and had to correct myself before. They made me disturbed, and I was going to punish them. Not just because it was all that important for them growing up nice, but I got irritated and they were going to pay.

So, I will take a church function away from them and keep them away from other church young people and they will learn.  Most of your nit picking problems with young people is just nice chances for you to just warn and teach in a moderate kind way how to act and what is acceptable or not acceptable. Every problem doesn’t need to be major creating quietly angry feelings growing inside. Herein, lies the problem you want them to learn and grow and become a good citizen and be able to mingle with people and feel confidence and a part of the church and your family.

We have to show love to get the right outcome of a major problem.  Discipline without a sign of love and concern will set things up for more deep-rooted problems. That is why communication and calmer ways of talking out problems works better for opening up and getting through with more understanding and repentance and forgiveness from the heart. This way you both can get through in good shape. God is not as mean as we are. I don’t feel I have a right to treat people worse than God does. He loves always and forgives and gives us hope.  One time my husband made a quick ruling to our children. Soon after he came to me and felt it was too strong. He was feeling so bad and wondered what he could do to retract that and the kids not lose respect for him. What came to his mind was they would respect you more and feel like you love them more even if you agree you made a mistake in your judgment. He called a family meeting and sat them all down and with tears he apologized for making a ruling that was so hurtful to them and ask their forgiveness. He withdrew that restriction. There were lots of tears and all the kids hugged their daddy and said thank you and I love you. As parents we learned an important lesson that day about over reacting in discipline. There have been no problems of respect because of that from our children I felt the respect increases.

The hardest cases in the world of kids to work with are the ones that have been treated harsh from a baby on. Some folks seem to resent their little ones from the start and all the work they are. I have had many a frustrating moment with my own when they didn’t seem to want to sleep or had a crying jag going and I have tried a few tricks to see if it all would go away and leave me alone. After a little of that I would have to tell myself this is a baby and I need to govern my own ideas and not make this a pattern that will stay too long. Sometimes we nourish and make passing actions permanent and speak it into existence because we take it all too hard. Some things are just a baby and some babies are more fussy than others and when they grow up they are just as wonderful as the quiet easy baby.

Some teenagers have a harder time as they enter their teens and I see parents say wrong things to slow down the process and walls go up . I tried to put myself in their shoes and think when things weren’t just right what would help me want to do better.  You can force a child to pray, you can force a child to say I am sorry, you can force a child to give up what he likes and enjoys most, you can stay irritated and see if that works,  but what has made hard uncomfortable times go away quicker is when we could find a reason to smile again together and laugh even about silly things.

Once when life seemed tense and not real fun I was looking for answers to have more fun at home. I went to the Family Book Store and my eyes fell on the book, “Laugh With Your Teenager.” I thought that is just what I want so I will buy this and find out how you do this.  I don’t remember reading it all but the title has stuck with me and I have tried to find reasons to laugh more than grouch. My mom and dad used to find down to earth things like life to laugh about and that all came back to my mind.  How fun it was to laugh and I even realize in sad times one of the most healing things is to be able to laugh no matter how silly it seems to others.  I love to be around family when it is easy to laugh. Many a tense moment has been relaxed and all tension has left with a smile. Laughter lightens the crunch of life .  There are plenty of times to be serious , and we could use laughter even when we are serious. I have been blessed to be in a family that enjoyed so many smiles and doesn’t mind saying sweet nothings, or complimenting good things or beauty. We can express it in words and deeds, but smiles and laughs are simple and easy and what a blessing through it all to even out everything.

Sometimes when our kids disappoint us with their actions we could either worry more about how we look or feel or we can think of the most important one we have in our possession our child. Mom used to say do  as much of your correcting in private and without harsh action as you can.  No one likes to witness a bad acting child, but don’t become the child out of control by losing control yourself. However you handle your children could determine how you see your kids handle theirs. Grandparents suffer because they didn’t treat their children with tenderness so their children don’t treat their children better.

The thing that means so much to me now that I am older is those visits with my family. I thank the Lord that Mom taught me to remember that what means most when you grow old is the close connection from your children. I always want them to want to come back home, and think I was mostly a loving mom and enjoyed all of them I could when they were young.  I want the good days to out way the bad days. Be unafraid when you make a mistake or go farther than you meant to to say I am sorry, I Love You and I want you to be safe and stay close to me.

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Raising Marcia – Part 2 “Little Miss Mischief”

When I was born dad was in college at the University of Michigan.  They were living in Ypsilanti, Michigan and I was born  in Ann Arbor.  Mom and dad didn’t have a car and they made a plan with the neighbors across the street from where they lived to take them to the hospital .  Dad had to go to class, and  he came back to the hospital after I was born and went in to see me first.  He came rushing back to mom saying, “ The baby is cross-eyed.”  He didn’t know that the eye muscles are weak at first .

Mom and Dad's Wedding picture

Grandpa & Grandma Alexander Anderson

Grandma Anderson died suddenly when Mom was 18,  so Grandpa Anderson would come and try to fill her spot and help mom.  He would fix whatever he could find to fix and he would take care of us and mom for a few days.  When he came when I was a kid I remember him pulling up to our house and he would get out with the sweetest smile and hug us kids and pull out a bag of Orange slice jelly candy.  I really didn’t like them,  but because he brought them I liked that.   When Mom got home from the hospital with me, Grandpa Anderson came to be with Mom.  Grandma Starr was so excited and she came to visit and she wanted a brown-eyed baby and that was me.  I was the first grandchild.  She was very expressive and  mom was very tense about me being picked up and held at the time.  Grandpa Anderson made a point to pick me up regardless of mom, and gave me right to Grandma Starr to hold.  He had a keen sense of how Grandma Starr felt and he made sure she got to hold me right then and look me over.   Grandpa Anderson made a good gesture when he did that for Grandma Starr.  He had just lost Grandma Ada Anderson three years before and she was only 47 when she suddenly died of a Heart attack while teaching mom how to fix gravy.  Mom said she had nightmares for a year of more after that.  Mom was the youngest girl.  There were eight children and Grandpa helped Grandma much with the family.

When I was still very young maybe five or under, I told a dreadful lie one day.   Dad and mom were talking, and were not fighting but discussing and I thought they were disagreeing.  We went to church and had to ride for a while.  I was listening and in my mind I felt bad for mom and thought dad was making her feel bad.  I got to church and was surprised to see Grandma Starr and Grandpa Starr.   I thought Grandma Starr would be mad if she knew dad was disagreeing with mom so I went to her and told her, “Grandma, daddy slapped mommy’s face.”  Oh , the commotion I caused from Grandma. She was very defensive of mom, and expressive at that, and always seemed to believe me.  Right in front of me she went and found daddy.  She said, “Ahhh Bill, I am so ashamed  that you would slap June’s face.”   I saw a look of shock and anger in dad’s face.  I thought about running away and knew right then I was in trouble because I went too far and told a lie.   We had a ride home and that was torture.  Of course he explained to Grandma that I did not tell the truth.  What a lesson.  Again, I didn’t get spanked that I remember, but I faked sleep.  I was in mental pain and thought I will never do that again.  Lying is bad.  My thoughts were so painful.  As we rode dad spoke to mom of his disappointment in me.  He said, “June I can’t believe our little girl would do this.”  We still lived in Coldwater and when we got home he picked me up sleeping and carried me upstairs to my bed. He talked all the way of how sad he was that I would lie and tell such a terrible lie about him slapping mom’s face.  I kept still and never opened my eyes and he laid me down gently and told me he loved me even tho’ that hurt him so bad.   His words were in my mind for days.  All through my life I thought of that one lie.   I always felt like I would never lie again even if it meant that I would suffer a whipping.  I did lie after that I am sure, but that one lie in particular helped me learn it is better to tell the truth.

I started school in Coldwater.  I was over five, when my sister Alexa was born.  She was born in Coldwater, Michigan.  I can still remember the wonderful feeling of walking into our big living room and looking into the basinett and seeing that new baby sister.   She had real dark hair and seemed like a doll.  Oh how I wanted to carry her around.  Mom said when she looked at me after she got home with Alexa I looked so big.   Pretty soon  mom and dad moved to Albion in a duplex right beside of the VFW hall where they started the church.

I  started school at Dalrymple School.  I decided I wanted to walk to school like other kids.  Mom showed me the way and there were other kids walking too. Finally I got to walk on my own.  It was a small town and felt very safe to me I thought but I had never done it alone.   I started walking and as I got about a block away I looked at a huge red brick home and it was so huge to me .  It was a historical home that the Peabody family lived in I heard.  Well , I got so scared I ran back home thinking that Armored Knights and Kings and Queens were sitting on thrones in that house and might come out with their swords.   Sometimes I laugh at my childish imagination I had, but it has helped me to try to look into my kids heads when they seem upset over silly things.  It might be silly to me, but  not to them. When I ran home my mom was so gentle she just seemed to protect me without a lot of words.  She really didn’t know what all I was thinking she just walked with me without agitation at me and got me to school.  I soon walked to school with confidence and no fright.

I grew up thinking Albion was the nicest town you could live in.   We lived in the Duplex a few years.  I can remember visitors like Bro and Sis Dale Phebus and Vie their daughter.  Uncle Gus and Aunt Helen Anderson and cousins, Karen, Madelyn and Mike and they had a church in Jackson, Michigan.  When they came they showed me so much attention and  laughed and exclaimed at what I would say and do.  They made me feel like I was so important.  I can remember riding along in their car telling them big interesting tales and I would embellish the stories and oh how excited they would act.  They would compliment and say the best things that would make me feel like I was their favorite.  If you get around their kids, Karen Perry, Madelyn Shields and Mike  Anderson, they are like their parents.  They live the most exciting way you can live and they make you feel worth a million dollars.   You would maybe have a hard time expressing like they do, but I thank God there are a few folks that dare to be such builders of confidence in people. I remember when Uncle Gus and Aunt Helen came they would be full of stories and would both tell stuff at the same time and it would seem so exciting.  As a kid it would be quite a big deal to have a visit from them or go to their place and visit them.

We moved from the Duplex on Cass Street in Albion to a house that seemed out in the country.  Actually it was out on M99 just passed the Riverside Cemetary only about a mile from where we lived on Cass.  Our Landlord was at the edge of the Cememtary and we lived at the bottom of the hill sharing the same driveway.  I loved it there because I felt like we were on a farm because between us was a big barn. There was a corn field and vegetable gardens.  The barn was very interesting and full of hay and chickens, and kittens were there in that barn.  The landlord was Tidy Allman.  She and her son lived together at the top of the hill along with their dog Trixie.  Trixie was a trick for sure.  I could walk about anywhere around my house and close to the barn but I never quit watching for Trixie because he could get mad quick and decide to chase down the lane barking.   Besides chasing he might bite too.  My friend Linda and I was petting Trixie one day and she laid her head on Trixie’s and got bit just above her eyebrow suddenly.  I never cared to get close to that dog again.

One day while running through the barn with another kid I somehow ran a pitchfork through one side of my ankle and out on the same side under the skin.  I pushed it out and got home to mom.  She took me to the hospital and I had to have Tetanus shots because of infection.  It was quite a scar of two holes on one side of my ankle and is still there.

While we lived at this place another little sister was born. Rebecca came three years after Alexa so that finally made me old enough to help more with this baby.  I loved helping mom with babies. I not only helped mom, I would go to church and stand by the door as mom’s entered with babies. I knew who would let me take care of their baby and I could hold their baby and diaper it too.  That was so wonderful to me.  I would take a baby upstairs to the nursery at church and change the baby’s diaper, and if I found lotion I might even give the baby a bath in the sink in the nursery and lotion the baby up and put lotion in it hair and comb it’s hair into a curl on top if it had enough hair.

Sometimes at Easter they would have baby ducks and chicks that you could get.  One year I slipped around and got  two chicks and a duck.  They were so fluffy and cute.  One died real quick and the one that made it was the duck.  It grew very large and turned from soft yellow to white.  That duck lived with us out on Hwy M99.  Trixie tried many times to chase the duck  but the duck was smart enough to stay close to our house.  Trixie only came so far and never over to our house.  When the duck got full-grown it knew it was mine .   Where I was outside, the duck would be.  I would run and the duck would run and pull my hair and clothes and peck at me.  I wasn’t afraid, it was mine.  Mom was a bit afraid out in the area because she was used to the city.  She would worry about hitchhikers or someone being in the woods by our house.  It was really dark at night no street lights like in town.  Mom got so scared and dad wasn’t home, she kept hearing a noise outside.  Finally she located the noise by peeking out of the curtain here and there in the house.  It was the duck pushing an empty tin can around on the driveway.   That was about the end of the duck .  We had kittens and the duck at that house.  It was fun because we could pick berries from the blackberry and raspberry bushes.

One day were had company coming and mom cooked a big meal.  She warned me that somehow the big round table was broken off its pedestal and I was to be careful not to lean on it.  Well, I don’t know who leaned on it.  I have always thought I did because with the food on it ready to serve,  the table tipped up and all the food slid off.

Dad worked for the Secretary of State.  They provided him a car and he worked five days a week like 8am and getting home around 5pm.  Mom always had dad an evening meal ready around 5pm.  We lived a pretty routine life with dad working , kids in school and the church.  Soon after moving out on M99 the plans for our church to be built on the corner of Lincoln and Adams Street were made.  Dad still worked but was regularly there when off work checking on the building.  Finally we got to have church in the basement.

I loved going to the window wells and catching frogs. I seemed to find them in there from tiny to big.  One evening the ladies were having a prayer meeting in the basement. Sometimes rain would drip and make puddles in the basement.  That was a prime time to find frogs. I found a big one.  I was walking around while they were praying and found a big one.  I sat it down right next to the loudest praying sister there ,Nanny Patrick. It plopped right by her leg under her dress tail.  I was sitting back innocently watching expecting some reaction but not as much as I got.  Nanny jumped up and hollered “Oh Jesus.”  The other ladies began to pray louder and harder and it helped the prayer meeting to liven up.  Nanny told the ladies when the prayer meeting was over what happened. They all exclaimed and some squealed and laughed and shuddered.  The frog was still hoping around as evidence.  I was still sitting in the corner very amused but never was found out that I put the frog near Nanny.

Another time when it was raining I put a small frog under the windshield wiper of a sister that came by herself to church.  Again I was near by when she got in her car and turned the wipers on and backed up, coming to a screeching halt,  and hoped out of the car screaming for help because somehow there was a frog under her wiper.

Raising Marcia – Part 1 “Little Miss Mischief”

Me at 4 months old

Well, I just feel like I had such a calm, fun childhood. I vaguely remember early years maybe two or three things about me that stood out in my mind. I would probably have to start maybe around five years old and remember what stands out to me at times.

Mom, me and Dad

I do remember Cold Water, Michigan we lived there in my early years and I will guess I was  around four or five. Mom and Dad started a church in Albion, Michigan about 25 miles away and used the VFW Hall in Albion for services. Very important people started coming to the church like Bro. and Sis.  Shaffer and their daughter Linda.  The Shaffers helped our family all they could , they became like family to us . I could walk down to their house at the end of our block on Cass street and visit them.
Before we moved to Albion and we were living in Coldwater at the time I was the only child for over five years. I was the first Grandchild on dad’s side and they made me think I was something special.

Grandma Eleanor Starr

Grandma Starr would do the unthinkable and try to not allow me to be spanked. She would say , “Oh no,  she didn’t mean to be bad.” Sometimes she put me behind her and kept  talking on my behalf.  It is funny now to me because I can remember a few instances when she did that and I did get protection and no one got too mad at Grandma. I used to love going to Grandma’s house in Lansing and going through her dresser drawers especially, because it was so interesting. I can remember going over old curlers, and whatever I could find whether it be a snapshot, old bobbie pins, curlers, well, I was just a nosey little girl.

In Coldwater we had about a thirty minute ride to church in the beginning of starting the Albion Church. One Sunday morning they got me ready for church and I went outside and suddenly got a brain storm. I looked at the gas cap on the car and took it off. I remember getting crab apples and putting them in the gas tank along with handfuls of sand. Dad came out to the car to get ready to leave for church. I was standing looking feeling so proud that I filled the tank up for them. Dad got in and started the car and it just made a grinding sound. Dad bounced back out of the car ran in and told mom he would have to hitch hike the car wouldn’t start. Mom came out and discovered what I had done. I really don’t remember getting spanked but I do remember a commotion.

Another time Dad was gone to work and mom did not have a car. I was walking around the yard and decided to go to the neighbor’s yard and open the rabbit cage and I got a little rabbit out and kept walking with it. I ended up downtown standing in front of the Theater looking at the pictures in the windows. A policeman came to me and said little girl are you lost. I said No I am not lost I am walking and looking. He asked me about the rabbit and I just said,” I wanted to take a walk with this rabbit.” Well, little girl your momma is really worried about you and I need to take you home. I didn’t want to go home so quick but I went and got in his car. I turned the rabbit loose and it ran all around his feet. He said, ” If you will hold that rabbit till I get you home I will give you a nickel”. I grabbed the rabbit with it kicking and squirming.    Mom didn’t whip me when the policeman took me to her but I remember that incident well.

Me at 3 years old

For some of my years before five I remember mom going to work at night.  Dad took care of me and I was very lonely for mom.  She worked as a Practical Nurse.   The three of us lived in an upstairs apartment at this time and I was very bored , as I recall it now.  I remember saying and doing many interesting things.  I don’t remember being spanked so much , but maybe I should have been.

Me at 5yrs old

I could tell some big stories that seemed so real to me.  My audience was very important to me.  I wasn’t all that outgoing,  but if I was made over it brought much confidence and  joy to me.  I had a keen idea who really liked me and who tolerated me and who disliked me as I studied people.  I was told your beautiful a lot by Grandma and family.  I remember looking into the mirror and wondering why they said that as I grew older.  I really didn’t think I was as pretty as they made me feel.  That was maybe a good thing.  I realize now how much that might have given me an easier feeling knowing I was cherished and expressions of Love and adoration was mentioned often by family and sometimes friends.   It has helped me express myself to my own children and acquaintances words of affirmation.  It is necessary.

While living in the upstairs apartment with mom at work and Dad watching me,  one day while mom slept a bit I got a brainstorm, I guess, and I whacked my hair off uneven on one side of my head.   Mom had to try hard to work with that till it grew back out.   I never knew if she had to even some of it out or not but somehow my hair is not my issue now.  I just found a pair of scissors and tried them out….really didn’t mean to sin.   No spanking but mom did have a look of dismay .  Near the same time I had a new doll.   The doll had the rubber stuff body.  I cut all the fingers off……a bit of a quietly busy child that was going to grow up and get her own busy kids that would turn out good after all…..whether spanked or not.  You know somethings are not intentional basically they just happen in an inquisitive moment.  Around the same time I got upset about something and told mom I was going to run away.   She got a suitcase and packed it for me and put my snowsuit and boots and hat on and took me down the long stair way.    She said goodbye to me and probably kissed me and put me and the suitcase outside and closed the door.   I remember looking around the big area and I started banging on the door and crying for her to let me back in.   Of course she did.