Sunday, January 24, 2010

Parenting Through Literature

(Originally posted at Rational Jenn)

The other night, I was driving home from a friend's house in some pretty serious Atlanta Traffic (which is nothing short of disastrous on a typical day). Morgan and Ryan were shrieking and fighting in the back of the minivan, and I was getting stressed out from the Noise and Traffic Combo. I was on the highway with no easy way of pulling the car over (my usual method of dealing with backseat distractions).

Knowing I had a difficult merge ahead of me in a few miles, I reminded them of the scene from Little House on the Prairie, where the family is crossing a creek in the covered wagon. The creek rose suddenly, creating a dangerous situation for Pa, who was leading the horses, and Ma, who was in the seat of the wagon. Ma told the girls to keep quiet and keep their heads down, in that stern Ma Tone of Voice that told them they'd better do what she said.

By the way, I've often yearned to have that Ma Tone of Voice, haven't you? And I can do it on occasion, but I suspect it's impossible for me to truly recreate it, since Ma and I have very different parenting ideas. I'm not trying to slam Ma, but she probably valued obedience a whole lot more than I do. (Also, I tried to find the passage, so I could quote it from the book, but I can't put my hands on our copy of LHOP just at the moment, due to our Floor Project and all of the rearranging of stuff underway. I guess you'll just have to find it yourself!)

But I digress.

So I reminded the kids about this scene in the book, and I compared our situation to theirs. It was a delicate proposition, by the way, because I wanted them to see my point, but also not to freak out and unnecessarily worry.

They were fine with the idea, and quieted right down. Once or twice, they'd forget and start up again, and all I needed to say was "Ma and Pa! Ma and Pa!" And then they'd hush.

The very next night, we were traveling again on the highway, this time in the rainy dark. Again, a somewhat frantic "MA AND PA!" got my message across very nicely.

So there it is--a new tool for your Parenting Toolbox, if you want it. Free of charge. And also, a nice book to share with your kids, if you haven't thought of doing so already!

And if you ever hear me scream "MA AND PA!" you know you'd just better hush. :o)

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