Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Love and Logic

I recently finished reading a book called Parenting with Love and Logic by Jim Fay and Foster Cline. Surprisingly enough, I had never heard of this book, or anything associated with it. I now wonder what kind of bubble I've been living in!

Apparently, it's this huge organization similar to, but smaller than, Focus on the Family, that primarily deals with discipline of children, both for parents and teachers. I decided to read it for two reasons: 1) it came highly recommended by my friend Anne, and 2) I was, after only two years of parenting, feeling a like I was exhausting all the possibilities when it came to effective discipline/correction of Ian -- who, by the way, is not a "problem child" or anything, but simply has a stubborn streak in him that Eric and I feel needs to be channeled in the right directions. I wasn't sure that all of our time-outs, spankings, and loss of privileges -- however lovingly they were doled out -- were achieving that desired effect. I have to admit, though, I went into reading this book with a bit of skepticism. After reading through some of their articles online, I had come away with the feeling that it was all a little idealistic. Afterall, parenting, like any relationship, is not a cut-and-dried situation, and there are really no "magic" formulas that will work for every child.

However, after reading just the introduction to the book, I quickly began to see that the authors had no intention of endorsing any kind of "quick-fix," but were really just using biblical principles of enforcing consequences. While there was nothing completely revelational about Love and Logic for me, it did give me tips about how to better teach my child to make good decisions in his life, without pandering to either extreme of forcing him to do so and hoping he'll just "get it" someday. Here are some things that were made more clear to me while reading this book:

1. Natural consequences for a child's actions are often much more effective than outright correction/discipline, especially when paired with genuine empathy for the child who is suffering from them. This is not to say that Eric and I will stop punishing Ian for very serious offenses, especially if they have little to no natural consequences for him at this age (or if the consequences are life-threatening or just too large for him at this age), but it does give us a few more options for correction.

2. Modeling responsibility works far better than teaching with your words. This is the wake-up call that every parent needs to be reminded of day in and day out: Your kids are watching you, even when you don't realize it!

3. Providing a child with choices, especially when both of them are 100% ok with you, goes a long way toward bolstering their confidence in themselves. It's amazing the number of situations I've noticed that I can offer Ian a choice rather than making it for him, even at his very young age of two. It takes a lot of pressure off of me, and makes him feel like a "big boy." My friend Anne is especially adept at this skill with her kids and has been a really good example for me.

4. Choices and consequences can be paired together for an amazing chance to teach responsibility for one's own actions. By offering a child two choices, one with a good consequence and one with an undesirable consequence, they get to make the decision themselves. This also has the added benefit of communicating boundaries without being controlling. Putting "the ball in their court" to make the decision, again, takes the pressure off of the parent to control their child's actions (which we really can't do anyway). For the child, the learning comes in suffering through the consequences.

So maybe to those of you who are reading this, all of this seems like, "Well, duh." But for me, it's been an encouraging resource that has provided some insight that I was not expecting. I feel like, with these general guidelines, I can strike a balance in my relationship with Ian (and hopefully any subsequent children). After applying some of these principles to our parenting over the past week or two, Eric and I are already seeing results in Ian's behavior and attitude toward us. It's been fairly liberating to remove the pressure off of ourselves to make sure he behaves, and instead to encourage him to behave, all the while ensuring he experiences the consequences of his behavior, whether good or bad.

I have no illusions that we've got this parenting thing all figured out! I'm quite certain that we'll continue to wrestle with exactly the best way to guide Ian "in the way he should go," so that "when he is old, he will not turn from it" (Proverbs 22:6). By daily asking God for guidance and wisdom, we know that He'll teach us as we go along. I feel like this book, though, was an answer to that prayer for today.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Cheers to Seven Years!

We celebrated our seventh anniversary today! We're not sure why, but for some reason this year seems particularly celebratory. Maybe it's because of various things we've gone through in the past year...maybe it's because of the exciting future ahead of us...but, whatever it is, we're both so thankful that we have each other and we're anticipating the (Lord willing) many years we have left together. Marriage rocks!!

Anyway, here are a couple pictures from today:
At Bill and Lucy's, dropping Ian off before dinner
At Bombay House, our typical Bloomington anniversary dinner site
Ian with Lucy
Thank you to all of you family and friends out there who support us and encourage us in our marriage with both your words and your examples. We thank God for you, too!

Thursday, May 08, 2008


Today marks a very important day in our family: Ian went the whole day in only one pair of underwear with no accidents!!! Needless to say, we are quite excited. As a testament to the considerable progress he's made in the past few weeks, here's a picture of his completed potty train:

Towards the end, he wasn't even asking for stickers after using the toilet, so when we got to the end of the chart a couple of days ago, we just stopped giving them to him, and he hasn't even noticed. Going to the bathroom "big boy style" is so much a part of his day by now, that he hardly gives it a second thought! He still loves reading books almost every time he's in there, but we enjoy that too because it's good time spent with him. All in all, potty training hasn't been that bad!

On a different note, I wanted to share with you all some pictures of Springtime in Bloomington. This year has been the prettiest we've ever seen here; Bloomington has certainly been living up to its name! The rain has come at just the right times and in the right manner to produce some amazing blooms all over town. Here are just a few of the pictures that I've taken in the past several weeks:

hyacinth & daffodil

forsythia & redbud


I absolutely LOVE spring! It's my favorite time of year. I didn't even get any pictures of the plethora of Bradford pear trees that line the streets of Bloomington, but let me assure you, they put on a stellar show this year as well. In our six years here, I've come to love the abundance of flowering trees and shrubs, as well as the the magnificent bulbs that Bloomington grows in early spring. I'm really going to miss living here.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Balloons and Underwear

by Lisa

We took this video of Ian last week and wanted to share it with you all!

Ian is doing really well with potty training! When we're home, he only has one or two little accidents a day, and 5-7 uses of the toilet. He's even doing pretty well at going when we're out and about. Some days, it takes a bit of patience, but he really is learning and we're seeing the end in sight! Already, we're doing a lot less laundry than when we were using diapers full-time (we use cloth diapers). All in all, this potty training thing has been a fairly positive experience!