Tuesday, November 27, 2007

world parenting styles

i just finished a book called "a world of babies: imagined childcare guides for seven societies" edited by deloache and gottlieb. i've read here and there that the foundational principles of attachment parenting are actually principles found throughout human history in most all human cultures, except for societies touched by Western culture. i wanted to find out if that was true, especially in light of the apparent relational and family breakdown so common in the West. (and in light of us trying some of these parenting ways.)

i think this book showed that the "new ways" of attachment parenting are just in fact "old ways." i don't know why, but that helps me out intellectually and emotionally.

now the big question on my mind....can attachment parenting really be done in our individualistic Western family setup? i.e., none of the cultures in the book let their kids "cry it out," but all the cultures have many people around to help take care of children. most other cultures live in community and can depend on others outside the nuclear family. hmmmmmmm.......

Sunday, November 04, 2007

shift two ~~toward interdependence

i'm suggesting on this blog that some of the cultural shifts happening in the US are affecting and will continue to affect parenting styles. now i admit, i might be just projecting my own perspective onto others, but i honestly don't think so.

the second shift that that i believe is core to changes in parenting style is:

a shift away from the values of individualism and independence to community and interdependence.

for parenting, this means that more and more postmodern parents are having trouble with some of the parentings style practices that have their roots in independence, namely, sleep arrangement, and crying it out.

i've heard many times that the reason that we want babies to sleep in other rooms, often crying themselves to sleep, is because we want them to gain independence. almost all other cultures throughout the history of mankind would look at the west and be appalled at this practice. but individualism and independence have been the hallmarks values of western culture and the grid through which we parent. sleeping arrangement almost symbolize the style and values of a people. if the core values change, though, i would expect sleeping arrangements to change as well. and i believe they are.

there is also a growing desire to live life more in community and with relationships center to life (versus careers, success and achievements.) a couple of years ago, the army had a catchy tag...join the army and be an "army of one." this catches the essence of a value system that is changing. many are seeing the negative effects of the "army of one" perspective. this value change is very difficult to practice because our living arrangements in the US (which each nuclear family in our own dwellings) were created under the old. now i admit, while there is a greater desire for life with relationships at the center, there almost seems to be another force pulling people into greater isolation. i wonder what will happen to living arrangements in the future? those two forces will collide sometime.

in the family, though, i foresee an increase in things like co-sleeping because more and more younger parents don't want their kids to be independent, but interdependent and able to depend on others in a healthy way, especially when they're young. (night-time is a scary times for kids.) since independence is a weakening value, letting a kid "cry it out" not only "feels" wrong to a some parents, but actually goes against core values of a new culture's beliefs.

so i offer thoughts on a second shift that has affects on parenting. i'm hoping this site can deal with theoretical things as well as practical things in parenting.

Monday, August 13, 2007

nascar toothbrushing

i came up with a fun idea to help my almost 4 year old son brush his teeth. he has a toothbrush with a little car on the end of it. i started pretending that the car was in a race and that brushing his teeth was part of the track.

when the car pit-stops, he spits. (ha, that's an unintentional play on letters ;)

of course we always win the race ;) and brushing teeth has become a lot less of a hassle!

Friday, August 03, 2007

alternative parenting forum

i found this site a couple of months ago, but i haven't had a chance to get too involved in the discussions. i just LOVE their statement of beliefs about parenting AND that they have an evangelical statement of beliefs theologically.

check them out...


Thursday, July 26, 2007

downward love flow

there's a very subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) temptation i have as a parent. i'm tempted to want relational love from my kids. i'm tempted to expect my kids to show ME love, meet MY needs, take care of ME. i want the flow of relationship and love to flow UP from child to parent.

i know, it's weird. but i'm positive i'm not the only one. i see it all around:
~ i've seen it in the boomer generation's frustration that their parents don't pursue relationship with them.
~ i've seen it each time an aunt tries to make a kid give them a hug or show affection. (and then shames them when they don't do it.)
~ i've heard of more radical family messes where the children are confidants to their parents.

i don't think it's just me. if it was, that'd be ok too. i can own my stuff ;)

the goal for me...to be the pursuer, to be the one who takes the initiative, who shows my kids love. and i'm not talking just about lovey-dovey stuff....instructing and coaching my kids when i don't feel like entering in again is love too.

i see this in the scriptures. in the proverbs, we see a father taking initiative with this son to train and coach. he's taking initiative. in titus, i see the older men and women being the impetus for relationship and coaching to the younger people.

so the flow of love is downward, not upward. i'd expect that when my kids are adults, there might be some flow back. but i'm not going to stop thinking that initiative goes from parent to child until i'm too old to take care of myself. i'd imagine that the flow would look different in different phases or life and circumstances in relationship with my children. but i want to be the headwaters, not expect them to.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

boomer guilt?

"life goes fast. make sure that you spend plenty of time at work."

those are words that i've never heard. in fact, at least once every couple weeks someone of an older generation tells me to make sure i spend plenty of time with my kids. at first, i just took this advice as just the culturally acceptable thing to say when talking about family and children. but i wonder?

i wonder if this is in fact the advice of many people (can i say most people) who are reflecting on their life and where they've spent their time. i almost hear an overtone of guilt when i hear these words.

it seems to me that the boomer generation is sensing the ill affect of a radical naturalism applied to parenting. naturalism has been the religion of the past generations. the goal seems to be "just feed a kid three good meals a day, make sure they get a great education and they'll turn out great." it's the view of life that only acknowledges the physical and mental. i wonder if many are sensing that something has been missing.

i might be reacting too far in the opposite direction, but i don't want to get to the end of my life and wish i used my time better. maybe i'll get to my 50's and wish i had spent less time with my family and children. but i doubt it.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

win-win parenting

i bet someone else has already coined the term "win-win" parenting. if not, maybe i'll get dibs on it :) there's lots of training out there on how to view relationships in business in a win-win way. win-win refers to working at a business deal, conflict, etc. until there both parties "win". in relationships, this might be called finding a resolution where both parties are have their needs and concerns met. i'm probably not defining this accurately, but you get the idea.

i wonder how this would apply to parenting.

we just listened to a presentation from the Love and Logic guys on the three parenting styles and what each style really teaches kids. it was good. i liked most of it except the apparent win-lose attitude. it seems to me that most people see the kids as the enemy to be defeated. kids are born with a mission to control the parents. the parents' goal is to win at all costs. that means that the kids lose.

i wonder if there's a different attitude to have?

the other night made this crystal clear in my head. night times are a constant "battle" :). you can't read a parenting book that doesn't address bedtime and sleep. kids just aren't designed to sleep the way that we have them sleep. we've been trying different things.

caleb is turning four in four months. we have a good night time routine. but it just wasn't (and still isn't) working. caleb comes out of his room or calls for us eight, nine, ten or more times in the hour to an hour and a half it takes for him to fall asleep! :)

i went into his room at one point the other night and he was just falling apart. i just didn't get it, so i asked him "why do you call mommy and daddy so much." he said, "because i'm scared when you're not in the room."

"ah, the 'i'm scared' tactic," one voice in my head said. "you just want to make my life miserable like you have since you were born. i'm not falling for that one. i'm going to win!"

another voice chimed in. "why is he scared?" so i ask him, "caleb, why are you scared when we're not in the room."

"i don't know," he moaned genuinely, "i just am." i wonder if win-win would work. "hmmm, "i say, "mommy and daddy like to have some time together or some alone time at night. and you are scared when we're not in the room. can we figure out a way to help everyone." he looked at me in an involved way. "do you have any ideas of what we could do to help you not be scared and at the same time have alone time for us." he looked at me despairingly, "nooooo."

then caleb turned his face from out of the pillow and asked, "do you have any ideas?" now i'm melting because i'm having a helpful conversation with my three you old and he's actively involved in problem solving (which is of course one of my loves. :)

"hmmmmm...." i said, "not yet. hmmmm...." i paused thinking. then i said "what if we put the baby praise cd on in your room at night" would that help you not feel scared? caleb lit up, "yeah!"

i went downstairs and got the cd player and cd, turned it on and he was asleep without calling us in fifteen minutes. (now it hasn't gone that well each night, but it definitely has helped!)

i wonder if too often we assume our kids are out to win, when they are just trying to have their needs met....real needs, not just made up ones.

i like this perspective a lot better than win-lose. let's see if i can keep it up :)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

ex nihilo

ex nihilo usually refers to God's act of creating everything out of nothing. i think it also applies to what my parents did in raising our family.

i read a book years ago that said that there's several main ways that families show love. my folks nailed many of them...and that's in a time that many in the boomer generation, and certainly in the generations prior, only focused on (or even knew of) one of them.

my folks blessed us with provision...food, shelter, good clothes, vacations, allowances....all the physical stuff that makes life good. my folks were spiritual and moral guides. they instructed us. they taught us about the spiritual life and about God. they introduced us to God, the bible, and took us to church. more than just "taking us to church," they modeled a commitment to jesus. my mother homeschooled each of us a least a couple years and gave us an intellectual foundation. my dad was a wise guy. :) i have many stories of genius discipline strategies. i could always count on a creative discipline to fit a crime.

and as i hear them talk about their childhood, they didn't have much of that. some of the physical provision, but almost none of the instruction. they started it out of nothing, ex nihilo, out of their upbringing.

my hope is that i can find new ways of showing love like them, add to their work, and continue in the path that they have lived out before me.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

i'm responsible!

i just heard this quote by someone...

your systems are perfectly designed for the results you are attaining

i love it! it helps me get out of my self-delusion that i'm somehow floating along by the will of some external forces. of course God moves in time and history. but that doesn't excuse me from responsibility to sharpen myself, to align my life with Christ, to grow in love for God and others.....

personal character "systems," ministry "systems," family "systems".....the results that i see is how i have (or someone else has for me) designed it.

time to change some systems!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

shift one ~~~ more

this writing is a little rough...like a draft, but i want to start getting these shifts out anyway. here is the first shift that i think is undergirding a change in parenting style and practice...

a shift from a dualistic body/spirit view of human self to a more wholistic view of a human self.

it seems like a shift is happening that is expanding our view of what makes up a person. in modernism, the emphasis was placed on the physical/natural, and on the will/choice. the body and what you choose do with it is mainly what exists.

i think that's shifting.

many people are finding that life is much more complex. we crash head first into this when trying to orchestrate change in ourselves...or others. we're not ONLY physical being who make choices. to tell someone to STOP IT is probably not going to help them change. at least it won't help me. maybe i'm just strange. :) i crash into this when trying to change myself....and my children.

dallas willard in Renovation of the Heart says that “spiritual formation actually happens as each essential dimension of the self is transformed to Christlikeness under the direction of a regenerate will interacting with constant overtures of grace from God. (p232) his six "essential dimensions" are thoughts, feelings, spirit/will, body, social context and soul.

i think that our view of what a child is actually informs our parenting practice. too many have felt the effects of a culture that treat people as if they're just a body to be trained. i've heard someone suggest that a small child is much like a dog and should be trained like one. :)

i would suggest that a child is a very complex being...composed of many dimensions...some of which can be far too easily damaged and stifled. the goal is always the same....to "train up a child in the way they should go" but the context and mindset should be altered to include the whole person.

this has LOTS of implications for practice. but that will have to wait until later.....

Friday, April 27, 2007


our journey started 5 years ago when our area director with our ministry, marcia, suggested that we seek out some friends of hers, tim and cheryl, as mentors in marriage and ministry. we thought it was a good idea. we were in desperate need of such mentors. so we planned a visit to illinois for an overnight stay.

we had a great time talking about personality, ministry and marriage. they had been around the block longer than we and had lots of great insight to share. but something unexpected happened...we saw first hand a different approach to christian parenting than we had ever seen before. i thought there was just one approach to parenting in a "biblical" way. i should have known better. :)

before our first child came, linda and i set out to pick a team...choose a parenting philosophy that would reflect our values, dreams and goals in having a family. so we read two books. (yes, we both read both of them.) the first, On Becoming Babywise by Ezzo and Buckman reflected much of what we already heard of. it's the typical christian parenting philosophy(...at least "typical" here in the midwest.) this was much of what i knew. (i think linda was raised with a mixture of styles.) the other, Attachment Parenting, by a whole group of authors, made a helpful case for a different kind of parenting...one that was more in tune with intuition and instincts. one that seemed built less on western culture's individualism. one, it seemed to me, that most of the world used. obviously, that's the team that we picked.

so that's how it started. we're still on a journey. we've had lots of thoughts along the way, sometimes even wondering why in the world we went this way.....and that's why we're starting this blog.

i have a guess that the postmodern shift that we're in the middle of will result in a shift in parenting styles to the attachment parenting (AP) team. i see this happening over the next 20 years. i'd like to describe what i think those shifts are.

we'd also like to make a place to gather resources for the ever-growing number of postmodern parents who are leaning toward some of the values of AP. i'd like to flesh out what i consider a biblical foundation for some of the AP principles including discipline.

we'd love for you to leave comments of whatever sort. we don't think we've got it all down. it seems to me that parenting style is very near to our identity as parents. at the same time, we can dialogue in a helpful way and hopefully everyone will benefit from it.