We’re kicking off 2008 with a real treat. Parenting expert Brenda Nixon is making a stop here during her month-long blog tour. Just by coordinating her blog tour I’ve learned so many great parenting tips and ways to improve my parenting. She is the mother of two, grown daughters and currently lives in Ohio with her husband and dachshund. So without further ado, here’s Brenda.
Hi Brenda! First, tell us a little bit about yourself and your hobbies.
I travel to speak at parenting and childcare conferences, schools, churches, MOPS groups, parent expos, or anywhere I’m invited if the audience lives or works with kids. Since there’s a marriage between speaking and writing, I also write books and magazine articles about child behavior and guidance. With my education background, I’m contracted to teach Ohio Health & Safety curriculum to childcare providers, and I am adjunct faculty at an Ohio university.
I don’t have a declared hobby, but cultivate myriad interests including garage sales, gardening and landscaping, volunteering with the Humane Society, bicycling, playing with my dachshund, Opie (I’m co-authoring a book of devotions for dog lovers), and learning about and watching hummingbirds. I also read anything that interests me, from Cesar Milan’s book on dog behavior, to Stephen King’s book On Writing, to child development research and parenting magazines, to religious publications.
What does it mean to you if I say, “Parenting is a high calling”?
To me, it’s an honor and heavy responsibility to become a parent. If you think about it, raising children is like a pastor who has a congregation. The Bible says leaders will be judged more carefully. We are leaders to our kids; raising them to be healthy, happy, well-adjusted kids, but also with a faith in our heavenly Father. And we’ll be answerable to God for our attitude toward and efforts in parenting. As stated in my upcoming book, “Parenting demands enormous time, patience, creativity, faith, and inspiration. . . . From birth to 18 years, 85 percent of your child’s waking, learning hours are spent, not in the classroom but, in your living room. You are his first and most influential teacher.” Whether I’m speaking/writing to secular or faith-based parents, I encourage them to recognize their awesome calling in raising the kids they were given.
I really want to take advantage of your parenting expertise while you’re here. How do you balance teaching grace and obedience?
The balance of grace and obedience is the same as balancing rules and relationship. It is difficult, but you can do it by remembering some of what kids do is normal childish behavior and not defiance. Avoid being the tyrant (all rules), and avoid being a pushover (all relationship).
Practice understanding kids. They are going through life for the first time and may not understand what you want of them, or they really didn’t hear you, or they’re fickle and got distracted. That’s when you get down on their eye-level, look them in the face and repeat yourself. I found that asking my girls to say back to me what I just said, internalized the statement for them.
Sometimes, I feel like unless I raise my voice, my child just doesn’t take me seriously. How do I get him to obey without raising my voice?
Oh, that’s a common question, so you’re in good company. Youngsters are perceptive and pick up on messages we send. If you always yell to get your child’s attention, he has learned that you don’t mean what you say until you yell. In a way, you’ve taught him to equate yelling with obedience.
Try this: next time you see an inappropriate behavior, correct your child in a soft, matter-of-fact tone. He may look at you and not take you seriously. Then, get up and touch your child on the arm or get on his eye-level, look him in the face, and repeat yourself. You may need to physically assist him in doing what he’s told.
You don’t have to get mad to discipline. Practice using a lower voice. Then if that doesn’t work, put some action behind your words.
What has being a parent taught you about your relationship with God?
That’s a provocative question, and one I’ve thought about many times while in the throws of raising kids and also writing /speaking to parents. One parallel is kinda funny, but true. Take toilet teaching for example. We know that we can’t teach a child toilet use until she is ready. Likewise, God can only teach us new concepts and maturity when we’re ready. In toilet teaching, we must be patient, loving, consistent, and clear in our expectations. Isn’t that what God is, with us?
Also, being a parent has taught me the only Perfect Parent is in heaven. Thankfully, we can rely on Him for direction. And being a personable God, I believe He works through persons. That’s why I encourage parents to read material and go to parenting seminars to learn as much as possible about childrearing. We can learn from other persons who God may be working through to teach us.
Thanks for sharing with us today, Brenda. I appreciate you stopping by to share some of your expertise with us.
I love that Brenda offers practical advice on how to fulfill our high calling as parents. She’s published a great resource called Power Parenting in the Early Years, has posted several parenting articles on her website, and is available as a speaker. You can also sign up for a weekly parenting tip to be delivered right to your inbox. Be sure to stop by her website and check out all of those resources.
To read the other interviews in this series, click here.
For more inspiration regarding your high calling, no matter what your profession, visit High Calling Blogs.