Friday, 8 July 2011

What works for me

I'm a huge fan of the "what works for me" parenting style. I firmly believe that most of us really are trying to do our best in raising our children, even though we all have vastly different opinions on how to do it. While some people will feel strongly about homeschooling, others love the public education system. Some firmly believe in vaccinations while others are wary about the practice. Some have major media concerns, others need it as a survival tool. It is much easier not to judge another's parenting decisions when you keep in mind that we are all doing our best, and doing what works for us, our children, and our family.

I also believe that it's important to expand your box of parenting tools by reading, talking and learning about other styles. You never know when something someone else is doing will be just what you've been looking for. The thing to remember is that each family is unique. We are made that way, and just as you could never be exactly like another person, no two families can (or should) be identical. You may look at a family and think "if only we could exactly duplicate that!) but that would be effort exerted in vain.

The best way to put in practice the "what works for me" theory is to listen to everything, consider them all, then filter stuff down to what might work for you and your family. Then give it a go, never feeling as though it has to work. If one technique doesn't seem to be working, it is no reflection on you or your family. It just doesn't work for you. Toss it out and try again.

Two example in my own life lately:

First, in homework. I wrote a while back about using incentives to get my kids to do homework. First, they had to complete 5 different tasks, one a day between Monday and Friday. If they missed a day, they had to start again the next week. After 3 weeks, I then adapted it to completing 5 tasks, but if they didn't complete it in a week, they could carry it over until they did. After a couple of weeks, I tossed that chart completely and just read with them, with no incentives. Now, for the summer, I'm going with a sticker chart: for every book they read they get a sticker, and ten stickers gets them an incentive. You can see that we haven't yet really found something that works for us, but I'm constantly thinking and adapting and trying new things, because I think the purpose of it is important.

(Also remember that sometimes what really works right now, may not work in a different time of your life, like next year or during the summer. Also, what works for one child may not work for another.)

The second example is not in parenting directly, but in my own scripture study. I've struggled for years on how to be excited about reading the scriptures daily. I don't like jumping around to much, because I really enjoy getting to know the context of what I'm reading. But, like so many people, I've read Genesis and 1st Nephi about a thousand times, and the entire book of scripture only a handful. Then, a couple weeks ago, I decided to just read an entire book - like the book of Luke (that's where I started.) I really enjoyed that method, and so when I finished Luke, I read John. Then I read Mormon. Then I read Nehemiah. Then I read Romans. Now when I sit down to read from the scriptures, I'll read on and on for as long as the kids are napping - sometimes up to two hours in a day! Understanding the history behind that book helps me understand why it was written and gives me better insight into the doctrine being taught. It's an entirely different way of reading, and I love it. It only took 30 years, but I found what works for me.

So don't give up trying. Life is a journey, right? which means we are constantly in motion, moving towards our goals. Don't get frustrated at the bumps, they make life interesting and keep things from getting boring and stale. And each time you find something that works for you, you'll experience the joy and peace of a little smooth sailing.


Jules said...

First of all, THANK YOU! As I'm sure you can relate, I am getting tired of being told what to do or what not to do. I'm going to do whatever works for us. Nice suggestions are fine and occasionally welcomed but it's the "I know better than you" tone that drives me nuts!

Second, the other tidbit I got from that was you get two hours at naptime?!?! Jealous! I think Alex is going thru a change so we didn't get much rest yesterday. :(

Mom said...

I learned as a young mom the same thing you commented on - listen to everything everyone tells me and pick what works for me. That's how I raised you girls and it worked for us. :-)