Saturday, March 5, 2011

In My Own Defense - Read it ALL before you judge

It's funny how I expect that, most of the time, those who read my blog are my friends. I guess because of that feeling, I often write the basic info and let my friends fill in the blanks, knowing that I am a caring and careful mom. 

Last night, there were people who commented on my Friday confessional post very rudely.  They were people who had never read anything else I'd ever written before. They were just VERY quick to judge. It was because of these people that I felt the need to pull that post from this blog.  One, very unhappy person, even went so far as to say that I have "bad grammar."  That actually made me laugh.  It was a "And so's your old man" kind of statement, so thank you for that one.  I'm still laughing about it.

I believe that people should have varying opinions.  It makes our world great.  I don't believe, however, that people should judge without knowing the entire story.  One person, last night, went so far as to say that if he/she were on the jury, and I were on trial, he/she'd convict me.  The funny thing about this entire string of comments was the fact that not ONE person asked further questions.  Wow!  That was SHOCKING!  No one tried to get the entire story, they just went with what they had and accused me of being a neglectful mother.  I was guilty until proven innocent.  That, my friends, is NOT the American way, and YOU should be ashamed of YOURSELVES!!!  That's the message that was sent to me over and over again last night, so right back at'cha.

The Warden (for those of you with no sense of humor, this term is used in a very loving way) is sad that I feel I have to defend myself, and I guess that's not my main purpose in doing this.  My motive is to inform and educate.  

So, here's the entire story.  I'm guessing those that judged last night, if they get around to reading this, have their first impression firmly implanted and will continue to be harsh.  That's fine.  That's what our great country is all about--freedom.

Sidenote:  Oh yah, my grammar's bad on purpose because I feel it defines who I am and how I speak, so have at that one too....And so's your old man....

Our kids are responsible, once they hit 1st grade, to make their own lunches. I provide a list attached to the cupboard door that delineates just what is available. They must choose one thing from each category--one dairy (list of dairy items available: string cheese, yogurt, other cheese...), one protein (tuna, hard-boiled egg, peanut butter...), one veggie (with a list), one fruit, one grain (you get the idea) put it in a bag, and voila.  They are continually sad that there are no Cheetos or sodas for them to include.

This responsibility all came about when our first was in first grade.  It has carried through with four other children.  Believe it or not, they're still among the living.  I know....Shocking!

Being a strong believer and follower in the Jim Fay "Love and Logic" ideals, I allow my children as many choices and as much independence as I'm comfortable with--no more and no less than I think they are capable of.  This lunch thing was just another opportunity for them to have choices and act independently.  I could stand there and make the choices for them and take away their opportunity for growth and learning, or they could feel the self-confidence and pride gained by doing for themselves.  If it's just a matter of choosing food from a list and putting it in a bag, I'd be sad for the first grader that couldn't do this.

Each child has an individualized list of jobs they are expected to do after school--making a lunch being one of them.  My older children no longer need these lists as they are pretty self-sufficient at this point.  They know what is expected, and they do it--most of the time.  When they don't, there are consequences, and they've gotten to the point where they learn pretty quickly.  If you skip filling the dishwasher, doing it the next day is even worse--so many more dishes to have to deal with.  You get the idea.

Each month, each child has money deposited into his/her school lunch account.  This is enough for four or five lunches a month (depending on how many weeks are in that month). #5 has overdrawn his account every month but one since the school year started.  In past months, he's charged extra lunches and incurred debt, but the money for those lunches have come out of the next month's funds--I always deposit the same amount of money.  Each month he's been told how many lunches are available to him.  The school also stamps a child's hand when they see that the funds are getting low.  He has been very aware of just what's available to him.

When February began, we told him that if he overdrew again, he was done buying lunches for the year. He knew he would have to make a lunch every day.  We have had to do this with just one of our other children.  That child never went without lunch.  He learned the lesson quickly.

#5 did it anyway.  So, this is the first month he's not been able to buy.  At this point, he could go into the cafeteria and charge a lunch or two, but he chose not to do that.  He knew that was the wrong thing to do.  We're feeling that's a good sign that the kid is starting to get it.

He came to me yesterday, when I volunteered in his class, and told me that he'd forgotten his lunch. I told him I wished he would have told me before I'd come to the school, so I could have brought it to him.  I consulted with his teacher. She said that he'd forgotten the day before too.  

All the teachers and administrators in the district are trained on "Love and Logic."  She knows to let the problem stand in the child's shoes, to lovingly talk him through it, and help him come up with his own solutions, so I have no doubt that's what happened the day before as well.  

She had some crackers that she offered to give him. I thanked her but asked that he do something to compensate her for the crackers.  I also knew that 2 1/2 hours later, he'd be home. So, even if he chose not to do the work and didn't have the crackers, he wasn't going to die in 2 1/2 hours, I was pretty sure.

More than anything, I knew that if I covered for him this once, it wouldn't be the last. I was the fifth child, believe me, I know this stuff. Ah the joy of flying under the radar! If I were to allow him to buy, I'd never see the end of it.  Plus, I would lose credibility with my other children. I have decided that I'd much rather have him learn this lesson while the price is low than have him lose his house or car or have to declare bankruptcy as an adult by poor use of funds.

I knelt by his desk, gave him a hug and told him how sad I was that he hadn't made his lunch. He knew it wasn't me punishing him but his neglect of making the lunch that was really the culprit.  He knew and continues to know that I love him.  The truth be known, my heart ached as I walked out that door.  I thought through a million and a half ways I could bail him out.

When he got home, he ate lunch.  To be specific, he had a tangerine, a string cheese, a granola bar and a sandwich.  Mind you, he was pale and VERY gaunt and was breathing kind of funny (just kidding).

So, will he neglect to make lunch in the future? Maybe. Will I bail him out? No. He knows what's expected, and he's proven time and time again that he's capable. 

So, nearly everyone says I'm evil and neglectful and that I'm using food as a punishment and that I should be arrested and if they were on the jury they'd vote to convict. So, just thought I'd let you know, I'm evil. Oh, and the creme de la creme, I have bad grammar....So's your old man!

NOTE:  ALL comments are welcome.  Anonymous comments will be deleted.


Brenda said...

I support you 100%! Brenda H

Brenna said...

You know what... each of us choose to raise our kids how we see fit. Some will hover and do everything for their kiddos and others expect more of their children... Some will do both... I babied the heck out of #1 and expect more of #2...

I love how you made #5 responsible for his situation... he will definitely remember his lunch:)
Good job momma and BOO to those who want to judge!!

Alyson said...

I find it fascinating that society has "evolved" to the point that now They (whoever They are) want to convict a mother for teaching a child responsibility and accountability. Used to be, once upon a time, a kid that got coddled and had no consequences was called Spoiled (as in rotten, irredeemable, trouble), and they were the one we all felt sorry for; now it's the kid whose parents love him enough to be involved and teach and train him?! Poor A! The horrible things he has to go through!

I've seen over and over again that people who have no other basis than their own "brilliant ideas" cannot defend their argument, and so must devolve to personal attack. You didn't pack him a lunch! Bad you! What? You have a good reason? And he's capable of doing it himself, and has countless times? Well then your grammar is bad too! (I've never seen any evidence of bad grammar, BTW.) Years of observation have taught me that personal attacks are evidence of a weak mind, and a weaker argument. It is merely a distraction to try to wear you down, and accept their other fallacious charges.

Don't let 'em get you down, sweetie. Your kids are amazing, due in large part to you and your amazing mothering. *hugs*

Kati said...

Julie, when I read your post about the lunch being forgotten, I applauded you! I wished I had posted something then to offset the negative comments. We parent in a very similar way and low and behold, our older kids are responsible and dependable. I don't want to send my kids out in the world without having learned to be responsible and if they have to suffer a few consequences along the way, so be it. It is interesting that you are up for "Mother of the Year" but those who don't know the whole story are judging you. You know your children better than anyone else in the world and you have to parent them according to their personalities. Unless someone lives in your house, with your children, it's none of their business how you parent them. (As long as they are not abused or neglected, which your children are not.) You are a great mother and I LOVE reading about your parenting strategies! Keep up the great work of raising responsible children. One day society will thank you.(oh wait, they already are!)

michelle p said...

Julie, perhaps you should have brought him a lunch and called him stupid and then spanked him for forgetting to make it himself. That seems to be the accepted form of teaching a lesson. I am in NO way serious. Your parental skills are amazing. Thank you for sharing your life with us. You and I do not agree on everything and yea, my feelings have been hurt but I still consider you my friend and a great mom to your babies.

Jeanette said...

What if I anonymously said I think you're a great Mom (not perfect, but who is?) with great children? Would it still get deleted?
Because you are a role model for me on how to be a mom. Thanks.

Deena said...

I commented yesterday in complete support of what you did and how you handled the situation. I still feel the same way.

Like Kati, I feel that you and I parent in very similar way. Right down to the fact that when we do use loving discipline on our children, we do so with that heavy-hearted feeling. I have told my children a number of times throughout the years that I truly feel it is harder for a parent to follow through with known consequences than it is for a child to bear them.

That said, it is our responsibility as parents to teach children over the course of their years at home to become responsible for themselves. Fortunately for our children, this can be done within the safety net of the family environment.

At the age of six, normally developing children are capable of learning to make a simple sandwich and pack a lunch. You provide the food and the chart for them to use to learn to make healthy choices, and they are learning valuable lessons in that routine.

You also give the children the freedom to have a day off now and then by providing them with four school lunch tickets a month. That's a nice little "vacation" system you have there.

When your children make mistakes, you talk to them about the problem, and what needs to be done to solve the matter. You gently guide your kids to come up with their own solutions to their problems instead of relying on you to always bail them out. All the while, you still make sure that their needs are met.

Your son was in no danger of starving. As he watched the other children eat their lunches, he was quite likely learning that taking a few moments out of his morning to make sure that he has his own lunch ready to go is always his best bet.

When his teacher mentioned that she would give him some crackers and you thanked her, then suggested he do something for her in return, you were allowing him to "earn" something for himself. It may not have been as good as his lunch would have been. It may not have been what he really wanted. However, it was teaching him that sometimes there are ways to get by, even if it's not as ideal as the first solution would have been.

The consistency of you and the teacher working together to enforce this lesson is ideal for him. He may not realize it, but other problems in life will become easier for him to tackle because he is learning at a young age how to endure the consequences of his own actions.

Again, kudos to you, Julie.

Patrick and Paige said...

Good for you! I love the way you raise your kids and hope to someday be able to raise my kids with love and logic too. Thank you for sharing. I stand behind you 110%.There is a saying that I love! Life Lessons aren't learned in a day, They take a Lifetime to learn, that's why they are called Life Lessons:) Kudos to you!

Oyama Family said...

Well, I'm glad I was able to praise you for that post yesterday-I thought it was a sign of a very loving mother...who actually wants her child to learn and grow and become a great person himself.

I hope that you were able to laugh off the negative and know for yourself, you're great- and your kiddos are lucky to have you :)

Quawana said...

Julie I agree with what you did. I would have done the same thing. In our house on weekends breakfast is over at 9:30. If you haven't managed to get yourself up and fed by then that is too bad. Lunch is not too far off at that point. I hope you have a great weekend!

Cally said...


I have expressed my admiration of you before and this post is exactly why.
I parent the same way as far as letting the kids have responsibilities and consequences. I always think about how to help my kids so that they can become responsible adults. It isn't easy and I fell you are doing an awesome job.
Also if you could be convicted of bad grammer I would be your #1 cell mate.
Love you

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Hesses Madhouse said...

To the person who anonymously said this:

"Anonymous said...

"1. I don't know you well and have only been on this blog a couple times to steal menu/recipe sites. (By the way - Thanks!)

"2. My kids not only make their own lunches and suffer if they forget, they also wash their own laundry and suffer if their favorite shirt didn't get cleaned (or wear it stinky and dirty).

"3. We've made it all the way to the beach before one of our children announced that they didn't have ANY shoes.(who needs shoes at the beach anyway, right?)

"4. I have been known to smile and inwardly cheer when watching my children learn valuable life lessons through natural consequences.

"5. I have been harshly judged and accused by others regarding my parenting, or lack thereof. To this, I say, "Nanner, nanner, my kids are pretty darn awesome in spite of my mystakes!"

"6. While watching from afar and seeing your family in the community, I have secretly wished to be like you when I grow up!

"disclaimer; All misspellings and grammatacle errers are perposfull!

"You go girl, and while you're at it - Have a great day!"

Thank you, but I'm sorry. I had to delete your post.

Cynthia said...

I'm surprised so many agree with how you handled it.

Could my 9 year old make his own lunch everyday? Sure he could. Could he remember to bring it everyday? Probably not, I've forgotten my own lunch on occasion and had to purchase.

I just don't think food should be handled as a punishment or reward. I think it's fine you want them to make their own, but if they forget, rather than denying them food, you could make them pay you back of for buying lunch some way, or some other punishment like that.

I'm happy I can make my son's lunch, and I will as long as he lets me. Childhood is short, he'll have plenty of time to fend for himself when he's older.

Queen Bee said...

We finally took a love and logic class last fall and it has been great! We're still learning lots and have a long way to go, but I probably would have done the same thing. I didn't see the original post but that's sad so people can be so nasty. Did you mention that lots of 2nd grade aged children fast 1-2 meals willingly for Fast Sunday every month!? :)

Unknown said...

This is why you are my "go-to" mom whenever I have questions. I continue to admire the job that you and Zan do every day. Way to go, Julie! :o)

Ashley said...

Because I am a virgin as of today to your blog, I would like to see the comments from yesterday's post, and capture all the people's kids, who put you down yesterday, in 20 years, and do a compare and contrast. I am not trying to say one will fail over the would just be interesting to see the results. There is a reason why our nation is the way it is today..."bail me out!" Does this ring a bell! I am in no sense of the word political...but just saying. I so admire what you for teaching your kids this great lesson of choice and consequence, and hope that I can do the same for my two, when those opportunities arise.

Hesses Madhouse said...

Thank you all for your kind words. I look up to you. Most of the people I see listed as commenters here today are women I COMPLETELY admire as mothers. You're my examples. Those I want to pattern myself after, so to have you all listed right here before my eyes, is very humbling. Thank you for your kindnesses. I feel very blessed to have people like you in my life. Thank you for being you!

Ringleader said...

I am surprised that after reading the whole story, anyone would still confuse what you did as "rewarding or punishing with food".

To do that, you must either withhold food (which you did not do), or promise food as a consequence or punishment for behavior. Such as, you didn't fix your bed, so no dinner, or you got an A, so here's an ice cream. Your situation is neither of those. It had absolutely nothing to do with punishing and was not about the food. It was simply the natural consequence of his action (or, inaction, in this case!)No morality is being linked to the food or the consumption thereof. That is the difference.

Truth is, I would have caved and bought the lunch because I am probably too easy on my kids and also because I am not organized enough to have the system that you have in place for them!

Stay strong mama- you are right no matter what anyone else tells you.

Debra/Mom said...

Julie, I love and admire you and Z. You are fantastic parents. There is a saying, "The proof is in the pudding". Well, your pudding is turning out well so far, so keep up the good work.

Tracy said...

I am glad you had that post. I didn't get a chance to read it, but the drama on 2peas brought me to your blog :)
I have never read the book that you refer to, but am thinking more parents should ;)
Love your sense of humour

Bevc said...

I for one liked making my children's lunch. And yes I did teach my kids responsibility. They had/have jobs to do, homework to do, and went to church. The first 3 have managed to graduate from college and function in life quite well in spite of the fact that I made their lunches pretty much every day for 13 years each. I fully expect my next 3 to graduate from college as well and establish themseves as capable adults. I also make their lunches and yes, I do work fulltime. My guess is, I have the choice to parent the way I want as do you and both ways can have positive outcomes.


Hesses Madhouse said...

Amen sistah!

Darilyn said...

Gee,I feel like I've been missing out on all the fun here. I kind of agree with the Warden, I don't think you should have defended yourself at all. It's your blog, your kids, your parenting. And as long as you and the Warden are in agreement then what's the big deal? Your kids seem fine to me.

Keep plugging along and doing what you are doing. Life sure is full of all sorts of fun stuff, huh?

Just remember that with a public blog the negative comments come along with the territory. It's sad, but true. But for every negative comment you will have 10 positives. Just decide on which ones will have an influence on you.

Crazymamaof6 said...

Darn it. I missed the drama and now it's gone.
I think you are the awesomest mom! Way to go with the love and logic. And the follow through! It's totally cheaper at the current rate and he neither was scarred emotionally or physically from this lesson. I always have to defend my stance when i've felt attacked on my blog too. Hugs for you. You rocked it, textbook style. Keep up the good work julie!
and i've never noticed bad grammar before here. Te people accusing you of that would hate my blog too.

susan dayley said...

I'm new to this drama also, but I enjoyed the example. My children learned responsiblity early and had daily jobs charts. They are both very good workers today and keep neat homes.

I remember a time they inadvertantly broke someone's window with a water balloon (and launcher.) They paid half the price of the window form baby-sitting and paper-route money.

They learned that there are consequences even for mistakes, but also there is mercy (we paid the other half).

I'm not saying you should have given your son mercy--2 1/2 hrs is not forever. I used to tell my students who thought they needed a drink in the middle of class-we can go three days without water and up to 30 days without food. I was still a favorite teacher.

Hang in there, someday they'll pass your teachings on to their children and the grandbabies are sooo worth the patience.

Alida B. said...

I whole-heartedly agree with the way you chose to handle the situation AND I just picked up a Lovve and Logic book at the library today because of you :)

Catch My Words said...

With six prisoners, you can't do it all. I failed miserably trying to get my three to make lunches. #1 Bought lunch at school everyday --which was cool with me. #2 Her school lunches sucked, and she refused to buy them. The stink pot told me she didn't care about lunch and just wouldn't eat. She'd continually refuse to make her lunch--had money to buy a lunch--but the spoiled thing wouldn't eat that stuff. I went back to making her lunch again when her friend left school sick and she said, "May I have your lunch?" I was SO embarrassed! Child #3 - We keep $1 Lunchables in the the fridge and she'll eat when she gets home. There are days she's gone without lunch, but dang it! She's 18 a legal adult, and I told her I'm done making her lunch. So they can rag on me too. Raising kids was tough, but we're about done. Empty nest here we come! And believe it or not, even with our lack of effective parenting, the older two are doing great.

Catch My Words said...

And #3 makes wonderful grades and got into all the schools she applied to. I didn't say she's doing great because she hasn't left home yet. Sorry, kid.

Elizabeth Flora Ross said...

I am with The Warden on this one - I'm sorry you felt you had to defend yourself. However, it's a normal reaction when one is attacked. I'm so happy you found out about The Pledge! This is a perfect example of why it is needed. Please be sure to join our community, and share this post on Twitter using #themompledge.

James and Angela said...

I applaud you for helping your children learn responsibility! I am a nanny and have been for awhile. I see the children who learn responsibility and the ones who don't. I firmly believe in the Love and Logic Book by Dr. Fey. It has saved me so many times in teaching responsibility and how to teach a child to solve their own problems. Boo to those who've judged you harshly! Your child will be much more capable in dealing with the world when he grows up because you chose to teach him small lessons as he grew. You deserve Mother of the Year! You're awesome!!!

Unknown said...

This post is one of the reasons I keep coming back. There is so much I need to learn about being a mom. For nine years I have been getting so much wrong.

I am raising a "dependent" child, and it scares me. Other than he loves the Lord and has a generous, loving heart, I have a long way to go.

Thank you for your guidance, and don't feel you needed to post this, just that it felt good to do it. (If you know what I mean.) =)

Unknown said...

J, I too would have caved and found something for him to eat. This is why you are the better parent and I am still learning from your example. Glad you're here so we all have that opportunity.
Much love,

Maui Mamma said...

I too make my kids make their lunches. I work at the HS and can't do it all. Won't do it all either. We had an episode with getting dressed with #2. He has gone in PJs (which doesn't bother him) until his PJ choice was his dad's old Tshirt. It was awful for him, but came to his knees. Many moms thought I was awful. The student reactions at school were funny to me: yet I did send his real clothes with the principal who had a great talk with #2. It didn't cure him totally, but it worked mostly. Maybe I should have let him wear the shirt all day? I think we're both ok moms.

Diane Stringam Tolley said...

Just finished reading your post and totally in support of both your strength and your wisdom. I wasn't as strong. Or wise. If I had been, maybe my 34 year old son with a wife and three kids wouldn't be coming to his father and I ever other month because he is short the rent. Thank you for your teaching. And your compassion. I Wish I could have had the benefit 34 years ago!

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