One Size Does Not Fit All

Dobson.  Tripp.  Ezzo.  Pearl.  When I hear these names, I think of self-proclaimed parenting gurus.  They say they have the perfect formula to churn out the perfect child.  If you simply follow their plan, you’ll raise perfectly behaved, perfectly Godly, perfectly perfect children.  Only you won’t.  Each of them takes what they see as a goal and tells you that you can do it too – you can attain this goal.  Only you can’t.  They seem to think that parenting is One Size Fits All.  Only it isn’t.

Grace-Based Discipline (GBD) never takes a One Size Fits All approach.  GBD is not a formula or system of rules for parents to follow to raise their children.  GBD is so much more than that.  GBD is about realizing that your children are people and deserve love and respect, it is about realizing that your children do not need to be dominated, shamed, punished, or their wills smashed in order to raise them.  I’ve yet to see any self-proclaimed GBD gurus.  There are GBD books, of course.  The authors are not giving formulas or guarantees.  They are providing parents with tools to add to their parenting toolboxes.  These authors understand that children are different and tools that work with some children will not work with others.  That is why there are many tools used by GBD parents.

What works for Audrey does not work for Logan.  What works for Logan does not work for Carter.  What works for Carter doesn’t work for Audrey.  They are different ages, are in different stages of development, and have vastly different temperaments.  This presents an opportunity for me; an opportunity to constantly learn more and better ways to teach each of my children in a way that will speak to them as individuals and help them learn and grow how God meant them to learn and grow.  I won’t lie and say it is easy.  It is the opposite of easy.  It is challenging, hard work that never seems to end.  I am always on the look out for new tools to add to my parenting toolbox.  I’m still desperately trying to get rid of tools that I know don’t work and are counter-productive to parenting the way I want to parent.

Here I must make a confession.  The tool that I want desperately to get rid of that is still in my toolbox is yelling.  I’m a yeller.   I yell at my kids and I’m working to get rid of this tool.  Periodically, I’ll ask Audrey how I’m doing.  I trust her to be honest and to give me feedback that I can use to help myself get rid of this tool.  Today she told me I’ve been yelling at Carter too much but I’m doing really great with not yelling at her and Logan.  This means that this week, I’m going to be looking for another new tool so that I can replace yelling with something else.  I understand that I won’t get rid of this tool until I have enough other tools to completely render it unneccessary.

On the other hand, after talking to her, I can see how much of an improvement I’ve made with Logan.  I’ve watched over the past year as our relationship has grown and how finding an effective parenting tool that fits Logan has allowed me to almost totally dump yelling at him.  I’ve found that going out of my way to go to him, look him in the eye, and very firmly tell him what I expect him to do or not do reaches him like nothing else.  It is when I fail to get off my butt and do the hard work of actually parenting him that I find myself resorting to yelling at him.  When I find myself yelling, I can step back and see that I’ve tried to be lazy or that I’m too stressed or busy to actively parent Logan the way he needs to be parented.  His actions and behaviors don’t make me yell, my own lack of doing my job correctly is what makes me yell.  I’ve tried using this tool on both Audrey and Carter too since it works so great with Logan.  It does not work with either of them.  It turns Audrey into a weeping, hysterical mess and it turns Carter combative.

Parenting is never One Size Fits All.  It needs to be as personal and individual as each child is.  Patience is a non-negotiable requirement of parenting.  Understanding that instant results are not going to happen with GBD and knowing that one needs to continue to learn in order to continue to teach are also necessary.   Parenting, to succeed (no matter what your parenting goals are), needs to be custom fit for each child.  One Size Does Not Fit All.

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7 Responses to One Size Does Not Fit All

  1. Pingback: More About What Gentle Parenting Is | Why Not Train A Child?

  2. Leslie says:

    So true! I relate to the “yelling” part, too. I am trying so hard to get rid of that in my life – it is really hard in those intense moment. I have four boys ages 8, 5, 3, and 1, so you can probably imagine there are moments I just lose it and start yelling to try to get compliance. But it’s not my goal or ideal at all. This way of Grace based parenting is not the easy way at all – it is the hard way. But it’s worth it.

    • lucy1903 says:

      Yes, it is very hard but you are right – it is so worth it. I am focusing on relationship with my children and not just their outward behavior. Sure, having a great outward behavior is great but I want it to be because they love me and respect me and not because they fear me.

  3. Definitely true!! I wrote about this sometime last month too. I think the Pearls are insane, but I’ve used the basic principles of Babywise and some thoughts from Tedd Tripp as well. Since being tagged on Why Not Train a Child for the reviews I’ve written of the Pearls books, I’ve clicked through to a lot of the gentle-discipline and grace-based discipline sites and I’ve gotten a lot of helpful tools from that side of things too. I think so many people feel like they have to choose a camp or choose an author or a theory and just stick with it to the death. We should always be adding to our toolbox and learning from each other instead of drawing lines in the sand about who has the “best” method or trying to use methods across the board for every child because it is the “right” way to do things.

    And oh…it takes SOOO much self-control to tame the voice…to get down on the child’s level, to talk in a calm voice and to remember that “a gentle answer turns away wrath”. My mom was a yeller and it’s definitely something I have to fight every day.

  4. Great post! I found you over at the Top 25 Faith Blogs by Moms, and I’m glad I did!

    What a simple yet brilliant idea to ask your kids how you’re doing as a parent. Why haven’t I thought of this? Maybe I’m too scared to ask. I too am a yeller when I get frustrated. I once heard and took the advice to whisper instead of yelling when you get the urge. It works only when I think of it lol.

  5. kariannafrey says:

    This is fantastic! I seems like parenting styles and methods are all the craze right now in my little blog world. Personally, I feel it’s God telling all of us we need to slow down!

    I love the idea of asking your kids how you are doing and not treating your kids like cookie-cutter children. After all, adults aren’t cookie cutter.

    I hate to do this, but have you heard of “Parenting with Grace” by Dr. and Mrs. Popcak? I’ve just started it, and it’s is definitely Grace-filled and Grace-based.

    • lucy1903 says:

      Thank you so much! I certainly don’t have cookie-cutter children (wouldn’t parenting be so much easier if they came that way, though? lol).

      I haven’t read that book, but I will be putting it on my reading list. Thank you!

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