Tag Archives: Food For Thought

The 3-Line Script that Overcomes Every “BUT MOM!”

13 Nov

I came into parenting fully thinking that I don’t owe a child any explanations when it comes to their obedience.  They better execute mission without asking questions.  Actually, I want to see them pop into the position of attention, sound off with a “Yes Ma’am,” and move out smartly to take care of business.

Errr–that’s not really how it usually plays out.  Let me write a skit to illustrate.  The child in the scene will be played by my 7-year-old daughter, Adair.

Me: Adair, it is time for you to turn off the TV.
Adair: (shrill.  screeching.) MOM!!! I don’t want to!  I am watching this show, and it is not over!!!  (Throws remote onto couch pillows, kicks blanket off her legs.)
Me(Huge sigh, blood pressure rises. Voice intensifies.) Don’t talk back to me I don’t care I told you to turn it off so turn it off now before I lose it.
Adair: (sulks. clicks the TV off, makes some weird growling sound, clenches teeth and moans)
Me: Stop whining, now you’re not watching TV the rest of the day!!  (Instantly forget that I said that.)

My little theater of life can produce this embarrassing scene multiple times a day…day after day.  PER KID.  We needed an intervention.  They needed to stop their whining habit; and actually, I needed to be a lot more flexible with my yeses.  I am quick to pop-off a “no” without thinking.  And when they whine, I just trump them with the parent’s wildcard of “because I said so.”  So then I win.  But no one is happy.

Enter the amazing three-sentence “script” for child-to-parent negotiation that has changed everything.  This momhack came from my amazing should-have-a-blog friend Wendy.  She got it from Growing Kids God’s Way…But before giving it public validation, I had to run it through the lab of life a few times.  It’s working. 

When a child would like to appeal for a change of my mind, they may peacefully articulate three sentences:

1. Speak words of total compliance.
This is the first thing every parent wants to hear.

2. Repeat the specifics of the request
Ensure the child heard you/understands what you asked them.

3. Request permission for reconsideration, once.
They may respectfully present to you information for your reconsideration.


This formula dispels any hysteria instantly: my heart softens when I hear sentence 1 and sentence 2; sentence 3 ensures the child feels heard, validated.  I get a better picture of the situation, and another go at whether my “no” was too rash.  This is a deposit in the trust bank on both our parts.  After that, my answer is final. 

Read this brilliance in action:

Me: Adair, it is time for you to turn off the TV.
Yes ma’am.  I’ll turn off the TV.  But, I was wondering if I may finish the rest of this show first?
Me: Yes, okay.  You may finish watching the show. -OR- Well, I am sorry but you must turn it off straight away.


Obedient words.
Acknowledgment of instructions.
Politely request reconsideration


That’s it.  They don’t get to be on step 3 more than one time.  

The key here is that the child must be willing to obey to make an appeal.  For my older ones’ more complicated issues, they might say, “I’m willing to obey, but may I add information you may not have?”  Then they must wait for a yes or no.  If we say yes, they can only add NEW information that may help the parent who gave the instruction.

It can be janky.  At first it feels canned.  I’ll say, “If you are asking me to reconsider, what are the only three sentences you can speak back to me?”  And then they go through the sentences.  Some kids get it down faster than others…but life skills take practice, and repetition is a way to make it a second-nature habit.  

Over time, it’s become more of an organic process–and we can take care of business around here as peacefully as possible.  If this helps even one reader, it is worth posting.  

thanks for reading.

I’ll close with a post-script written by my friend Jewel–mother to 6–just this week:

Perhaps the most difficult Empowered to Connect tool for me to embrace early on was the **art of compromise** with my children. Coming to the understanding that my authority as a parent is NOT undermined if I allow my children to ask for a compromise when they feel they need one. Instead I have learned that encouraging my children to ask for a compromise allows them to respectfully negotiate their needs. What an incredible life skill to have.  


Read more:

Getting Enough Me-Time (picture courtesy lineloff.com)

Thriving in Motherhood and other demanding seasons of life

On Waiting

Why I No longer pray for Patience in Parenting

Scrolling and the Art of Restraint

8 Nov

our last date night (in July!)

Do you think I kept my new years resolution of going a year without reading social media? 

The answer is no.  I went about two and a half months.  Then in October, I went another month.  That’s it.

Frankly, I kind of HAD to get back on when I did, we were moving.  I mean, I could have made countless expensive phone calls overseas to secure housing, school placement, and other necessities.  Or I could just tap-tap-tap through the Facebook group and be connected with all of it in one second. 

I’ve done tons of soul-searching in the area of social media use.  After much prayer and retrospect, I‘ve just never landed on a rationale to permanently isolate myself from the world in that way.  Social media are not going away.  Moreover, I probably should remain literate in this arena so I can coach my children on the right habits for their own online presence. 

So, that’s the jist of it. 

But let me backpedal and paint the broader picture.  I logged hours in prayer and pondering, asking God just how much social media I should be consuming, if any.  After some time…and it took me a while to notice…the answer to my prayer came.  But not the way I was expecting. 

I guess I expected to hear some ground-breaking proclamation containing a quantifiable, precise amount of time I can spend per day looking at these media.  “You may spend 30 minutes a day, from 1:30 until 2:00pm, looking at Facebook and Instagram” …said in James Earl Jones’s voice.

But that wasn’t his plan on this one.  Not surprisingly either.  That’s funny–God knows that’s not how I really operate.  So he does know me better than I know myself!  


His answer came quietly and it took a while to notice.  But over the course of this year I developed a growing, burdensome, lingering aversion to scrolling in the presence of people.  Not timelines, not restrictions, no voices.  Freedom to enjoy with soft boundaries…guiding me in the direction of people first


And it’s really stuck.  Kids around?  Phone down.  Big group setting, no scrolling.  Five hour car ride?  Play the license plate game.  (A supreme challenge to play in England, ha ha.)  You get the idea.  There’s more empty space in the absence of scrolling; however, a lot of my scrolling was symptomatic of the “tyranny of the mundane.”  I scroll to avoid feelings of a mundane existence. 

But really, the human experience is living with just so. much. blah.

Now, my prayer is that this burden will continue to weigh on me, and thereby enable me to live out what I believe in this area. 

What an answer!  An empowerment from outside of myself, yet aligned with my personality type.*  I am really happy with it.  But don’t hang up on me, please know my heart.  Not to be preachy… it’s just one solution for one woman of faith.  I’ll point to Romans 14 which addresses this type of matter.  

Okay.  Because my husband will probably read this, I have to admit I am not perfectly scroll-free when *all* people are nearby.  (We have five kids so we’re fine.)

Where are you at with all of this?  Do you have any other suggestions for keeping a good balance between scrolling and restraint?  

thanks for reading.  



*This, by the way, is how I know we have a personal God.  A God so knowing that he tailor-makes his solutions to fit each specific personality… More evidence that he is not one-size-fits-all when it comes to following hard after him.

Avoiding White Noise like it’s White Sugar

2 Feb

My new years resolution for 2017 was to go a year without scrolling social media and the warplike vortex that can be the internet.  I liken it to mind sugar: it’s addictive and sadly can become degenerative.  I am only a month in, but I have already gathered a few thoughts to share.

For the past few years, I’ve continually ignored a quiet voice in my head that has counselled me to quit my continual scrolling of social and other mindless media.  I am obsessed with Dallas Hartwig’s mantra: more social, less media.  I wish I had coined it!!  (Ironically, I learned about it on Instagram.)  

These media are somehow drawing us in over and over.  How else would I know that the kid who sat next to me in seventh grade science had a ham sandwich for lunch today?  Or that a kangaroo can in fact put someone’s dog in a headlock?  What about the psycho hose beasts continually trying to draw fire politically?  Or all that heartwarming humblebragging.  The majority of it is just white noise!  Lately it seems to be getting louder, too.  


I keep reading and scrolling and shaking my head…Then I go back for more the next day.

But here is the thing:  I am ready to think my own thoughts again.

So, my 2017 is a world where my phone is exclusively a conduit info/communication, and not my window to look out and see the chaos that is flying around.  I have untethered myself from it, and at home it’s plugged into a wall where it belongs.  Here are the top things I have noticed so far.  (Know that there are dozens of other good things.)


Where scrolling used to be: blank space to hear more from God.  That was my primary objective for the resolution.  A year devoid of heedless scrolling should certainly increase communion with the Lord.  It’ll take time, as previously I avoided spending any time alone with my own thoughts.  My wise friend and author Monica Swanson recently published some simple meditation cards.  Take advantage of her hard work!!  They are a perfect countermeasure to the scrolling, a handy tool for beginning meditation, intentionally clearing the mind, taking action to unplug.


Authentic outreach.  We have a neighborhood FB group which generally takes care of most social connections and meetups around here.  The other day, a new neighbor moved in.  I wrote my contact info onto an index card, and then actually walked a few blocks to hand-deliver it.  Honestly it felt awkward, like I was sticking my neck out.  Normally, I would have just clicked “add” and kept scrolling.  Because, you know, we can just message one another.


I have been reading a lot more.  I think part of why we tend to scroll and scroll is because it’s an honest endeavor to become better informed.  Reading is such a rich way to indulge the mind, grow us academically, increase empathy and compassion, and expand our horizons far beyond the instant-gratification internet media.  Get back into it with me.


 I don’t say “Just a minute” to my children quite as often.  HUGE.


The added quiet space in my day has made me feel more patient as a motherwhich is what I have been praying for.  Has this been part of the answer this whole time?  Oops.


I have a predisposition for feeling lonely.  It is chronic and I know it is mostly those mean voices in my head…but still, it’s one of my biggest hangups.  When I am especially suffering, I turn to scrolling to stave off my despondent feelings, but it doesn’t work.  Ever.  It’s a false sense of community for me.  Now that I am no longer scrolling, I am taking action to identify some effective antidotes to solve my chronic lonely feelings.  Blog post to follow….


I have five pairs of eyes on me at all times.  I don’t want my kids to think that scrolling is just what you do all day if you don’t have anything else to put your hand to.  No.  I want to model a different existence to them.  Scrolling is no way to live your life.


Journaling.  Such an organic, authentic way to document my thoughts, feelings and personal growth.  My journal is blissfully filling up again.  It’s tangible, tear-stained, raw.  I can go back into it and observe quantifable personal progress.  I began a commonplace journal as well.  It’s a beautiful way to catalogue memorable literary quotations.  You know, the stuff you dog-ear or underline, the snippets you read twice because they are so rich.  Copying these passages by hand allow them to sink in all the more.  I learned about commonplace journalling via Sarah McKenzie.   Look into it.  



My scrolling-free time is wide open to pray for people who I am supposed to be praying for (kids & hubby), and for those I have told, “I will pray for you!”  These people who need intercession have come to the forefront of my mind far more often.  It’s notable that when I’m prayerful toward people who unnerve me, my attitude changes toward them.


Sometimes after closing out a mindless media scrolling session, I’ve come away thinking “uggggggggggghhhhhhh I feel dumber now.”
It is so empowering to take charge of what enters my mind and heart

vet it to meet my needs…
ensure it doesn’t increase strife in my relationships…
cause me to lose focus on my calling.
Nothing I am consuming with my eyes will make me dumber, angrier, more insecure, or further off my rails.  I can see that our society is clambering to feel empowered again, and perhaps this might be one step in the right direction.


Social media can be such a fun and uplifting place, and I have gleaned plenty from the things my people have shared.  It is important to stay relevant with the culture.  You’ll see me on FB/Insta a little bit because they are useful communication tools for groups I am involved in, and I still want document my favorite moments.  I am not set against the social media; however, I would like to set myself apart from it.  Please don’t be offended if I am not “liking” your stuff.  It’s not you, it’s me.  

I need a retreat from the hivemind.  A long one.

Maybe not-scrolling will be the new paleo.  I would love that.  🙂



p.s.  Because scrolling-without-ceasing is now our culture, there is a market for a “swipe and feed.”  When I first saw this, I felt my heart ripping out of my chest.  Where do I begin?  Responding to this photograph would require a whole nother blog post.  


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