Do you sit around watching the news and wonder, "what is this world coming to?" I am too; I look around in amazement and shock on a daily basis. There are 30 year old "kids" still living at home with mommy and daddy, no jobs, no money, no car. Kids going to school with knives and guns, toddler babies wondering away from home, and mom doesn't realize it for hours, babies having babies, young people dying from a severely skewed way of life? The list sadly goes on and on. I am a firm believer in the saying, "it starts at home." Now please don't get me wrong, bad things do indeed happen to good people, but what if there was a way that you could do your best to make sure your kids didn't end up on that path? None of us wants to imagine Little Johnny in an orange jumpsuit on his 18 th birthday or Little Sally in her maternity clothes at her Sweet 16 party. Let's face it, it happens, and this day in age, it is a daily occurrence.
When you continue reading (if you even bother) you are going to think I am crazy. I have so many opinions on this matter I have to break it down into two blog entries. This stuff is for real. You would do your family and your community justice to beg your school to offer these workshops in your schools, to teachers AND parents alike. Now wait, before you click the X button because you think I am trying to sell you something I'M NOT! I practice this stuff because it works, my purpose in this, is that even if one of my wonderful 25 followers, listens and does this in their own home, that is one less kid I will see on TV. One less under achiever that seems to be plaguing high schools every day. And the simple information that I am giving you is free of charge.I am a firm believer in Love and Logic, it literally saved my family and when I say literally, I mean it; my family and a child of mine had some very unfortunate events happen about a year ago, that very well could have landed many people in very bad situations, possibly ruining a promising future, or multiple lives. A very smart and talented kid of ours (yes even the smart, talented kids make bad choices), made some very bad choices and another "parent" was contributing to this bad behavior. (Long story short, "other parent" was contributing drugs an alcohol to our child and the children of other kids in our community.)
This kid should have been on top of the world; talented, smart...invincible. Well he wasn't, due to this unsavory influence, he found himself in a limbo, and sadly made the wrong choice. Unfortunately the other parent took this opportunity to become "buddies" with him, instead of setting him on the right path. I'm sure you are thinking, "Oh I'd be calling the police!" We did. We got nothing, unless they were caught in the act, there was nothing they could do. We were helpless in the eyes of the law. After a while with the difference in rules between this house and the other house, it only took one small argument to be blown completely out of proportion for him to take off. He left and refused to come home, because the other parent wouldn't enforce any kind of rules, he was able to do as he pleased, and that parent provided the "party". So call children services right? Nope, they can't help either, they are too busy to meddle in things as little as allegations that Mommy gave 17 year old Little Johnny some beer, or whatever. We were shut down yet again.
As helpless as we felt, we knew there was no way we were giving up. We HAD to do something! We were not going to allow this kid to throw away his future. We had to take extreme measures: we had already been to the police, we already called children services in that area, the next thing we did was go to the the athletic director/dean of students at the school. Now I've already explained that my kids live and breath football, well a few of them, and he is one of them. This was the only thing we could think of, even if this decision took away his opportunity of playing football, any other consequences could be dangerously worse. The only thing they could do was offer him help, and if he got the help, he would face no consequences with the team. OK, but doesn't help in the here and now.
Every where we turned it seemed like we were getting no where, we even filed for an emergency hearing in front of the judge, and nothing. They said by the time we got through court the child would be 18 years old, therefore being a waste of time. (and yes I am completely serious). So we had to do the weirdest, most scary, thing imaginable; because the "other" parent lived in a different (larger) county than us, they couldn't do anything, they could only take "larger" "more important" cases, but because we live in a smaller town, we decided to call Children Services, in our area, on ourselves. I know, who would have thought? As scary as it was, it was the most important and pivotal move we had made in the whole situation. Not only could our county intervene, because the child lived in our county, but they did. They were able to travel to the other county and take care of business. Now, there's obviously a lot more to the story, but I won't drone on and on about those details. The most important detail, is that this is how we came to Love and Logic. Without it, we were looking at a host of other younger teens in our house hold possibly taking the same path.
So now we had to start from scratch. We had to figure out how we were going to stop this from every happening again. How were we going to make an impact that would trickle down to the other kids, and make an impression?
I know I don't have to tell you because you can only imagine that with 5 teenagers in the house it is constant chaos. Most of the time it is down right crazy. I am constantly having to tell each kid the same thing 5 times a day (multiply that by 5 kids, that equals 25 times a day I am saying the same thing). I am constantly calling to check on kids to see where they are, because they conveniently "forgot" to call and check in. Constantly reminding all 5 to brush their teeth, put deodorant on, wash your dishes, do your laundry, get your clothes out of the bathroom, get your books out of the living room...that is only a fraction of the things I was constantly having to say to them.
I spent all of my time "talking" but never really getting the opportunity to talk about important things, and a lot of what I was saying was going unheard anyways. As we were explaining the functioning of the home (which is standard with CPS) she suggested Love and Logic, she really talked it up, and thought we were perfect candidates. I was jumping for joy, although there was still a bit of skepticism, I felt like I had tried almost everything, I have thrown stuff away, yelled, screamed, pulled my hair out, taken things away, grounded everyone until their 30th birthday, and even if I would get results for the first few days...it always resurfaced. If this lady could come here and change these kids, I would get down and kiss the ground she walked on!!
OK so imagine my surprise when she came in, listened and came to the conclusion that the problem was "us" as parents? What? No way! I do absolutely EVERYTHING for my kids! My kids have EVERYTHING! How am I the problem? Much to my amazement, that WAS the problem... The problem was, that I DID ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING FOR MY KIDS! MY KIDS HAVE EVERYTHING! DUH!!!! It was one of those moments where your like...OMG, you're right.
The first thing we worked on on that very first day was getting over the, " I got hit in the head with the stupid stick" feeling. Realizing that we in fact crippling our children and were not giving them the tools to function "responsibly" in the real world, and now we had to forgive ourselves for that and move on.
Do you think that when your child gets a job, or goes to college, that their boss is going to repeatedly remind them of things that need to be done? Is there College Professor going to tell them 5 times a day to do their school work? It is our job as parents to pick our battles at home and teach the consequences for small things before they turn into big things. It's going to sound crazy...but it's not, it actually works. These things were hard for me, because I am/was the type of parent that thinks, "do it because I said so, that's why" so the "reasoning" with my children thing was hard...but trust me after the first few tries, it's a piece of cake. Now don't get discouraged, I still get baited into arguments just like everyone else.
My favorite that I tried on the first night: Of course the rule is pick up after yourself, our 15 year H, is usually good about picking up in his room, he's actually quite anal about it. But when it comes to the rest of the house? Not a care in the world. So when he once again had milk and cookies, and left his cup and package on the coffee table and proceeded to go upstairs...I let him make it all the way up stairs...more for me than for him, because I was angry, and my first reaction would have been to yell at him and tell him to get back down here...of course he would come down and pick it up, but the idea here is to get to the point where you DON'T have to tell them, they will just do it.
So I took a deep breath, waited for the door close and calmly, called him on his cell phone...I know, I know, he was right upstairs, but I'm tired of yelling, and he is at the age where the only thing that he pays attention to is his cell phone. So I call him, he answers and I say, "H would you like to come down here and pick up your cup and trash, or do you want to pay me to do it?" He immediately comes down and picks it up without saying a word. I was SHOCKED to say the least. So I started using it on other things with the other kids, and slowly but surely I realized...I'm not having to talk so much.
Another thing where I use this is with checking in; with five teenagers always on the go, I was constantly calling one kid after the other, finding out where they were at, your practice/school/whatever was over 30 minutes ago, or maybe I would come home and they wouldn't be here. So the next opportunity that I got was I came home and 3 of them were gone, no note, no text, no call, no nothing! Of course I am upset and immediately I want to call them and start out the conversation, "How many times have I told you?" But I didn't. I simply called and asked where they were at, and gave them a time to be home. Now that bought me some time to practice exactly how I was going to approach them, since I was hoping it would be the last time...one at a time as they came in, I would sit them down, and say, "I understand that you have a lot going on, you're a teenager, and you feel like you need to keep up with your friends, and I'm OK with that. But here is how it is going to work from here on out, You can check in with me by any means necessary, text, phone, note, email, whatever, and that will be FREE, but if I have to stop what I'm doing, and take time out of my day, to call you and find out where you are then it is going to cost you $2." (see check in for FREE, pay if I have to check in with you).
Now I know what you are thinking, my kid doesn't have a job??? Well neither do mine, But if your kids are anything like mine, they are constantly wanting SOMETHING and I don't care what age they are. So whatever it is that they want has a monetary value. If it's not things we can use work equity, what is something that has to be done around the house that you absolutely hate doing? Maybe it's mowing the grass, pulling weeds, doing dishes, folding laundry, mating socks? Or for little ones, wiping down doors or baseboards, or just picking up their own toys?
Think of how much minimum wage is; Use the amount of time it would take to do that particular job, and put it towards that job. (i.e. mowing small front yard takes 30 minutes and minimum wage is $8 an hour, so the kid would only earn $4) And your kid is going to bulk, "$4 for mowing the yard?" well, they are more than welcome to test their own entrepreneurial skills and go mow someone Else's grass for more money, but they will have to reimburse you for gas, and the mower rental" Sounds tough doesn't it? But you had to work hard to pay for the gas, you have to work for every dime of what you have? What sense does it make to teach your children that they do not have to work for what they want? Then of course, you might possibly be happy with the complaining later in life; You know, when they are calling you because their electric is getting shut off, or they are needing groceries, or a place to live...yea, a bit too real huh? This particular part is important to me,because my kids have so many irresponsible people around them.
One other I will tell you about right now is FOOD! All kids love food...especially teenage boys! So a normal weekend night for us would be going out to the local pizza place. Well the law only requires that you offer your kids, food and water. No where in the law books does it say you are required to take your kids out to nice dinners, or kill yourself at the grocery store buying Doritos, chips, Twinkies, taking them to McDonalds, BK, etc.
We thought we had this one in the bag. I was so proud when I told our Parenting Coach that we do not allow our kids to drink pop at home, we don't buy it for them at all. If they want it they are more than welcome to take their money and walk to the store and get it, but we aren't supplying it. Our kids are big milk drinkers, (we go through about 3 gallons a day) and she was like, "Wow, you guys are nice!" She said did you notice, or have you ever noticed that someone who is inspecting your home, will come in and make sure your faucet works?" uh well yea? "Well that is because that is the only thing that you are required by law to offer them." ?????? I know right?
She told us a story about a dad who's kids refused to pick up after themselves, and these kids HATED beef stew. So she gave him an idea, the mom didn't know if she could do it, but dad was completely on board. The very first night he tried it. He simply said, "everyone do your chores, we are going to dinner at 5." He didn't say another thing about it all day, and of course, nobody moved, that is until mom and dad began to gather their things to go to dinner. The kids are grabbing their jackets, getting their shoes on, etc...and dad says, "where are you going?" "out to dinner?" one of the children responded,"you said we were leaving at 5?" . Dad calmly responded, "oh no, only those that finished their chores are going to dinner, and since me and mom are the only ones who did, we are the only ones that are going." He calmly rushed mom out the door and shut it. When they returned, the chores were done.
OK I know what your thinking, how many times can you afford to go out to dinner? If you are anything like me, it isn't very often. So I applied this to home life. "Everyone do your chores, I will be starting dinner at 5" of course no one moves, but I didn't worry, because I had a plan. I was making steaks! hehehehe (I only bought 2 because I knew they wouldn't do their chores when I asked, as usual) So I continue to make 2 juicy steaks, A1 sauce, loaded mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, and even corn on the cob. I had to make the house smell amazing! And then I called to Big M, "Dinner's ready!" Making sure that everyone heard me...they all of course come rushing in, to find me and Big M sitting at the table eating dinner.
They are all standing in the kitchen, plates in hand, and you know how they look, mouths hanging wide open, drool coming out. "Uhhh where's ours?" I pointed to the unopened case of Ramen Noodles on the corner, and said "Have at it" (teen)"what? where's our steaks?" (me)"Well, seeing as that me and your dad are the only ones who did our chores, I figured we deserved a nice dinner. Since you guys couldn't put in the time to help with keeping out house clean and so on, I didn't think it would be fair to waste my time putting extra time into making you dinner." Needless to say, it worked.
Now, remember this, no two kids are the same, this isn't some overnight miracle in most situations. Kids are kids and they are going to try and get around it, they will try to fight it. That's who they are. You will have to be consistent and it will be hard, you will falter, they will whine, they will probably tell you that you are the worst parent that has ever lived, and you don't deserve to raise a toilet lid...but you know what, their brains are working, they will get tired of Ramen Noodles, they will get tired of staying home while everyone else goes out. And they will conform. They will.
All I can say is that it worked for me, and because I know you don't have hours upon hours to read with my blog today, this will come in two parts. Why am I giving you this information you may ask, well because I believe it, I am not employed by, nor am I profiting from any information that I am giving you. It's all logical once you think about it.
IF you are interested in finding out more than what one little mommy blogger can give you. Go to http://www.loveandlogic.com/ They are also constantly looking for parents like me and you to be Parenting Coaches. There is a kit you could buy, something I would LOVE to do, but with 7 kids, there's no way I can dignify spending the money.
So until then, I will share you what wonderful knowledge I have picked up in my process as a parent to 5 teenagers, 1 preteen and one toddler. You can also check out the "Parenting Tips" tab on this page for some additional information and sample of what you will receive in your inbox if you sign up for the updates at http://www.loveandlogic.com/ .
Until Next Time,
My Mixed up Family of 9