On Children & Step-Children
by Bonnie W Kaye
Copyright ©2008 by Bonnie W Kaye
Permission Granted to Share Freely-BWK
The words written in this article are the personal opinion of the author and are not intended to be taken as professional advice. If assistance is needed, please seek out a qualified professional.
These are practical suggestions from my own understanding and experience. They are from my experience only and are ONLY suggestions to consider in interactions with children. You may use any, all, or none of these ideas at your discretion. Due to the legal climate we live in today, I am not legally responsible if you choose to use any of these ideas in a detrimental way. Seek professional counseling if you need it, or if others feel you need it.
My daughter is now raising my grandson on these same principles, and she’s doing just as good a job with him as I did with her, better, in fact. I believe both of them are excellent humans.
Some of these suggestions may seem a bit unorthodox to you, but they work. And I have good reasons for all of them, which I will explain as I go. There are certain basics that apply to all. The suggestions are valid. I hope you use them to form a wonderful bond with your children, and at the same time I hope you each have respect for each other. Just because they are your children does not mean they are your “property.” They are separate human spirits. Treat them that way. And don’t ever abuse them mentally, psychologically, emotionally, or physically.
Creator is watching.
There will be no distinctions between children and step-children here, because the subjects presented may be viewed in either context. Most will apply to all children.
There is a game I used as illustration to my daughter when she was growing up. But I didn’t tell her about it until she was old enough to begin to understand its meaning. I call it “The Cookie Game.” It is the best description of a number of methods children use to play games—and the method that best illustrates why I don’t play games back.
The Cookie Game
“Mom, can I have some cookies?”
“Yes, you can have two cookies, dear.”
“Mom, I want three cookies.”
“Honey, you can have two cookies.”
“But, Mom, I want three cookies.”
“Then you can’t have any cookies.”
Such a simple game, you think. But lessons abound in these six lines. I’ll stick to the ones I believe are the most important:
First, the child could have asked for the three cookies they wanted in the first place.
Second, the child didn’t accept the cookies offered.
Third, the child’s game is always to win—even a tiny little bit. If they ask for a mile and you give them a foot, they’ve won. You must set the boundaries and you must stick to them.
Anything else is a loss for you, and later on that small loss will grow exponentially far beyond its original boundaries. It may look like a little thing to you now, and you may not relate your huge losses to this little thing now, but they ARE connected. It’s not a conscious game, per se, however it is the main motivating factor in children’s lives in this abundant society. Children of true need usually don’t play these games earlier in life, but may make up for it later.
Fourth, Mom sets the standards, which are reasonable, and sticks by them. And when the answer is stated twice, the reward is removed. And that reward is not agreed to again that day.
There were several things I was consistent on when raising my child.
One, I was the one in the family who always told the truth. If a question was given enough thought to be asked, I answered as completely as I could. If there were words I used I thought she didn’t understand, I defined the words in language appropriate for her age until she got the concept.
If one parent jokes with the child, they need to set up a signal indicating they are kidding. A wink, a nudge, a giggle, or something. If the words you say to a child are not true, and you do not figure out a way to let them know you know—and intend—the words spoken are intentionally wrong, they will learn never to trust you. Once this trust is gone, it is almost impossible to regain. They will distrust you their entire lives. And I am one who believes they are justified in that distrust. Don’t con kids. Don’t lie to them. Treat them like the adult spirits they truly are.
They just haven’t learned to control or understand the body completely yet. But when they do, they will wreak their revenge on you.
And don’t keep your voice and demeanor the same when they are doing something unacceptable just like when they were doing something acceptable. They honestly can’t tell the difference. Change your facial expression and your voice, even if you have to act. Just don’t act “mad.” Make it “stern.” They deserve to know the difference with what they’re doing. If you’re consistently getting erroneous behavior, this is most likely the root cause to look at first.
Two, I was consistent. I told her from the beginning that I would not make a decision until I was sure of that decision. I had three categories: Yes, No, and Maybe. Maybe meant I would think on it because an apparent decision either way was not immediately evident to me, and I would get back to her later. No could not be changed, except twice. When I did change the No to a Yes, I told her I had changed my mind with what I thought were good reasons. I explained the reasons to her and approved whatever the action was. In both instances, I believe it was about her going to an event. I do not regret changing my mind on those two items.
However, in some instances, a Yes might be changed to a No if circumstances warranted it. For instance, if I didn’t get all the facts in the beginning. Things like that. But I always explained to her why the decision was changed.
In short, I treated her like an adult from the time she was a very young child. I NEVER told her No just to say No. There was always a reason. She knew she would get a reason from me that was reasonable and thought out.
There was a time before she was three years old that I was depressed a lot and would let my temper go farther than I should have allowed. I wasn’t physically going too far, but I certainly went too far for me one day. I terrified her in an effort to get her to take a pill she had to take. But when I calmed down, I not only apologized profusely to my three-year-old, but promised her I would NEVER let myself get so angry that I couldn’t control my thinking again. I never have, and that was almost 30 years ago. I just don’t go there. There is NOTHING, EVER in the world to get that upset about. If that happens to you, either promise them out loud, and stick to it, or seek professional help immediately. It so profoundly affected me that I have apologized to her several times about the same incident, even though it was many years ago. I was horrified that I could act that way. I consider myself quite reasonable. How could I do that? The point here being that if I could do it, anyone can. Just stop it!
Fear of falling: I’m sorry, but I don’t believe what doctors say about a child being born with an innate fear of falling. I believe it is immediately instilled in them by their parent(s). The first time they fall off the couch and hit the floor, they realize that hurts. And the parent rushes to help them. They learn that when they cry, they get attention. Several lessons taught at such an early age.
Newborn waking up at night: When my daughter was born, I was 27 years old. I had had enough time to watch what others did and decide my own patterns for taking care of her. After about two weeks of getting up several times at night, I decided I had had enough of that. So I would make sure she was well-fed before putting her down fairly late, about 11 pm. When she cried in the night I would go in, check her diaper and change it if necessary, and then walk away. I would stand where she couldn’t see me, but I could see her. She would cry like her heart was breaking, at first for a long time. But I just stood there. Finally, she stopped, like she was listening to see if there was anyone there. I didn’t move or make a sound. She would cry a bit more, then finally fall asleep. After three nights, she slept all night long, until about 6 A.M. each morning. At that time I would bring her into bed with us and feed her. I made sure she was safely supported so she couldn’t roll over against either of us, and we wouldn’t roll over on her, then we would go back to sleep for several hours. It was fabulous.
Whining: A child learns to whine. They weren’t born with this ability. When they either do it once—or see it done once—and the parent responds by giving in to whatever the whine was about, they will do it continually until taught that it is unacceptable behavior which will get them nothing.
How to stop the behavior: When everyone is calm—both parents must be present—actively tell the child what the behavior is—define it. Make sure to get on their level, don’t stand over them. And make sure they are looking you in the eye. If they don’t understand, tell them you will identify the behavior the next time they do it. But also tell them that when they do it, they will, at first, not receive what they are whining about—at all. After the first time, not only will they not receive that, but they will lose something temporarily—for at least one day (meaning an entire day, not just until the same time tomorrow). That is in effect for three times. After that, they lose something they like PERMANENTLY! It is to be thrown away (I don’t care how much it cost, how much they love it, or whom it came from), or given to a shelter, or some other worthy place. Do not remove that item without them watching. And tell them where it’s going and exactly why—what they did that was unacceptable behavior enough to lose this thing. And keep eliminating “things” until their room is bare, if necessary. It shouldn’t get nearly that far. If it does, this child needs professional help.
So, 1) Tell them the behavior is unacceptable and make sure they know which behavior it is. Tell them at their level, and use eye contact.
2) Scold them at the behavior and make sure they do NOT get what they whined about.
3) Scold them at the behavior and make sure they do NOT get what they whined about AND have them lose some “thing” for a day.
4) Scold them at the behavior and make sure they do NOT get what they whined about AND have them lose some “thing” permanently. After all that, if at ANY time, they do some part of this correctly, like if they don’t whine for something but just ask for it, PRAISE the heck out of them. Praise them, praise them, praise them. They now know what you DO expect out of them, how you DO want them to act.
Keep in mind that children work on a win-lose system. If they win, you ALWAYS lose.
Temper Tantrums: The basis for changing this behavior is about the same as for whining. It works on a lose-win situation. The only added item to this scenario is to immediately say “NO!” and walk away, out of their sight. If you must say anything else, say something like, “That behavior is bad”, NEVER say “they” are bad. Again, you must have taken time when they were at home and calm to tell them what exact behavior is unacceptable to you. Give them the game rules, just as above with whining, in the same order. If you are in a public place, get somewhere where they cannot see you, but where you can watch them, and let the game play itself out however it goes.
If someone walks up to them, concerned or otherwise, simply appear and ask them to leave. Tell them this is lesson time and this behavior will not be tolerated. Thank them for their concern, and walk away with them. Then immediately get back where you can watch your child. (Do not ever leave them completely alone in a public place, even if you’re shopping. The toy isle is not a babysitter.)
If you even once give in, you’ve lost the game again. DO NOT let them do this. You are NOT doing them any favors. In fact, you’re doing them great harm. STOP this behavior on your part as well as theirs.
There is no problem on their part if it is not first a problem on your part. So take responsibility for helping them to get into this position in the first place, and then help them get out of it.
Again, when you come upon a situation where they used to have a tantrum before and didn’t use one this time, praise them, praise them, praise them. They’re looking for the attention anyway. Why not give it to them for something positive?
Don’t threaten them with ANYTHING having to do with Santa Claus, or any other being that some day you or someone else may tell them is imaginary. That will ruin your credibility on a permanent basis. You’ll never get that back.
From as early as possible, if this even loosely fits with any spiritual beliefs you might have, let them know that coming into this life, winding up here on this planet is not a punishment from God because He is angry at something they think they might have done. I speak from personal experience here. Deep inside, I believe I always felt being on earth was a punishment. Only after I started communicating with my Angels did I realize it is a difficult opportunity, virtually unmatched anywhere but here, and I chose to come here when the opportunity was offered.
Please read “My Journey To The Other Side”, my book, available in paperback at http://lionhearted.com/invited.htm or http://amazon.com and in ebook format at http://invitedtothelight.com to find out more on this. They are never too young to hear these words. Tell them in the crib. Their spirit will understand. It’s confusing to go from a spiritual being with no physical substance into a body you cannot control and don’t understand for years. And by that time, you’ve forgotten your spiritual existence.
Please be aware at all times that the person you see as a human child is actually a fully grown advanced spiritual being. If your child is older than about a year and a half, you may have to remind them they have a spiritual side and help them to try to keep connected to it. That might be able to keep them off drugs and away from alcohol and smoking. I have some very intense theories about this, but that discussion is not for this article.
I do have a theory about those people who have weight variances from the “norm.” At first, my theory was only applied to those who developed anorexia or bulimia. However, I have recently expanded to include many of those having more weight than usual for this planet, by choice, not by genetics or chemical imbalance. I believe strongly that the spirits of those who are slighter than they should be by choice are extremely delicate and they may be seeking a way back off the planet that is not their fault, i.e., not suicide. What we are all about to go through is going to be difficult to handle, and many of the young are not willing to carry out their assignments—the ones they agreed to fulfill here before coming to earth. That is not to say they’re the only ones. A lot of people are, and will be, leaving because it’s time to “fish or cut bait” and many simply don’t want to do either.
In the case of the young especially, they are in control of their weight, to a degree, whether they take it higher or lower, with the exclusions noted above. But their spirits are shocked at conditions on the planet, so they don’t think they can handle it. What I believe they really need is unconditional love and support to get them through it. Lots of hugs, lots of emotional support. Yes, they need the other things, too. But think on this—if you came from a place of peace and love, into this place where so many hate and hurt others, and you see all of it on television hundreds of times a day, wouldn’t it be desirable to get out of here?
I commend them for even agreeing to come here in the first place. These people need to be applauded, and cherished. Then they need to reach out for whatever agreements they agreed to fulfill and get them done. A lot of work is yet to be done. And too many are not “stepping up to the plate” to get everything ready for what is to come. These children need to be reminded they have parts to play and they need to stand in a place of honor within themselves to have the strength to carry on until their agreement is complete.
I really had only one rule for my daughter. I HAD to be able to trust her completely. Therefore, the rule was “We tell Mom the truth,” because I told her along with that that I can deal with ANYTHING on the planet, as long as I know the truth of what is going on. I stand by that premise today. Truth is the only thing that matters. Don’t think you can lie and then make an excuse when you have to account for your actions after leaving the planet. There are no excuses.
My daughter uses a different phrase to her son. “Don’t scare Mom.” I like it. It actually includes my phrase because she makes a point to include it, but in this day and time, it includes so much more. And she always tells him why something scares her, and lets him know how important he is to her. It works.
When she was about eight years old, I sat my daughter down and had an in-depth discussion with her about the things I had taught her over the years—all eight of them. I told her I had taught her every basic lesson that I knew to teach, and from that point on she would be responsible for her own decisions. I would be around to discuss anything at any time, I could counsel her, but for herself, and barring anything dangerous, she was now in charge of her own decisions and she must be responsible for her choices. She’s done quite well with that. I’m very proud of the fact that she does take responsibility—meaning she takes the credit and the blame, if there is any. But she doesn’t try to lay it off on someone else. The exceptions to this were those discussed earlier, but as she got older, I made fewer decisions for her. If I overruled her, I always told her why, and it was never for some trivial reason.
On smoking, I asked her not to. She did, but I never asked about it. I smoked for about four years when I was 17, so I understand. I’m certain, based upon the number of times she’s tried to quit, that she wishes she had never started. So, at this point, I advocate telling young people that if you don’t start, you don’t ever have to go through the struggle of stopping.
On drinking, I told her about alcohol addiction, how it destroys brain cells you can’t ever recover, how it is toxic to the body, and everything else. Then I told her what really mattered to me, because she is the one who makes the choice for herself. I ABSOLUTELY NEVER wanted her to drive when she had been drinking, or ride with another driver who had been drinking.
Without question, this was an absolute. She could bring her friends over to the house and drink as long as I didn’t provide the booze. But no one was to leave the house driving under the influence of alcohol. We had only one party like that. The police came by because a party of 20 turned out to be a party of 60 and someone threw a beer bottle into a neighbor’s yard. I was sitting out front. The crowd was well behaved. The police asked if I had provided any of the liquor. I told them absolutely not, but I did provide soft drinks and snacks. The police left. The party turned out okay for everyone.
I even told her that if she needed a ride, and there was no one sober to drive, I would drive half way across the state to get her and anyone else who wanted to go home, or I would pay for a cab if she was further than that. I went to get her a couple of times. No questions, but a huge “thank you” from me each time. She would frequently go to a party and not drink so she could be the designated driver. I appreciate this more than I can say. And I’m proud of her for being responsible.
The keys here are TRUST and TRUTH.
If you yell at your kids when they tell you the truth, no matter what it is, you’re teaching them to lie to you to keep you happy. Not a fair game, no matter what. My daughter and I are best friends. We confide in each other, and we don’t break that trust. Learn to trust in their decisions if you’ve raised them right. They still have free choice to screw up, but you cannot do anything about that choice. And they are the ones who MUST suffer the consequences. Do not protect them from that. It’s how they learn about life.
If you are a step-parent to any age child, you’ll have difficulty going in. That child has had the parent to themselves for all, or much, of their recent life, and they aren’t willing to give that position of power up. They control that parent, how dare you want to take their time and attention away. The danger is if that really happens. If the parent wants to spend more time with you than them, then you have to bring the child in to be included yourself. If that child is difficult, then the two of you discuss it with the child so they can see it’s a coordinated decision, but the actual parent MUST, at least initially, be the one who implements any actions. YOU cannot take anything away from the child, unless it might hurt them. Initially, you—male or female—must be present at each and every discussion, mostly as an observer and as an interpreter, if the message isn’t completely clear. After the child accepts your authority and stops trying to play you two against each other, you can move into the place of a real parent.
But keep in mind, at the back of the child’s mind, the game is to GET RID of you. It is not just to win, but to eliminate the competition—which is actually just another win for them. You are the undeserving one, you are the usurper, you are the invader—even if it is your house they move into. You’re trying to steal the one thing that holds importance to them, even if they act like they don’t care.
If you can become their friend, their confidant—do so. But do not EVER tell them you won’t tell the real parent something and then go tell. That trust will NEVER be regained, no matter how much you try, or for how long. In some cases, they will tell you something awful just to see if you do tell.
It’s alright if you don’t initially love them, especially if they are difficult. Just act like you do, and eventually you might. But, even if you never reach a point of love, strive for a point of respect and caring. You both deserve that.
You CAN be a parent and a friend to your child. Give them the respect they are due, and expect that kind of respect back. They deserve it, and so do you.
So enjoy each other. That’s most of what we’re here on the planet for.
Tell them they’re doing a good job when they do.
Don’t criticize. There is no such thing as constructive criticism. Correct. Or Instruct.
Don’t EVER tell them they’re stupid or can’t do things right, etc.
Don’t punish them for being an individual. They’re Creator’s creation, not yours.
Don’t stifle their creativity.
Don’t tell them they don’t see invisible playmates or people. You might be wrong. Just because you don’t see them does not mean they aren’t there.
LISTEN to what they have to say. They have a right to be heard.
Tell them there is nothing good they cannot do if they set their mind to it. Then don’t stand in their way. Just try to keep them from being physically damaged in the process.