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Are You A Complainer Or A Solver?

Our family uses the discipline method set
forth by Turansky and Miller; their seminal book, target="_blank"
Parenting Is Heart Work
, is the book that set us off on
our original path as Brian and I tried to figure out how to raise
these girls. My two hands-on favorites, though, are target="_blank"
Good and Angry
and href="http://www.amazon.com/Home-Improvement-Eight-Effective-Parenting/dp/078144151X/?_encoding=UTF8&tag=1mother2anoth-20&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=9325">
Home Improvement
, two nuts-and-bolts, Biblically-based
books that have given us concrete ideas for helping to shape Maddie
and Cora’s hearts for the long run.

Recently a friend of mine gave me one of their newest books,
Parenting Shifts: 50 Heart- Based Strategies to Keep You Growing In
Your Parenting
and I have to tell you, it’s a
handy little book to have around. It’s a slim volume with
fifty (FIFTY!) different chapters. Each chapter is self-contained,
only a few pages long, and targets one specific area of parenting.
So you get chapters about complaining, or resisting discipline, or
ignoring you, and so on. I love that I can pick this book up when
we hit a new (and painful) growth spurt in one of the girls and I
can study up really quickly in my Cliffs Notes version of how to be
a good parent in whatever area we’re currently experiencing

For the past couple of weeks, complaining
has come to a head with both girls. This is slightly different from
whining: whining can be a tone, or body language, or attitude, and
complaining is verbally finding fault with whatever is going on.
The girls were feeding off each other, and a quick read through
Parenting Shifts and I was ready with my catch phrase.

Just a few minutes later, Cora walked into the kitchen and tested
me. (Thank you, honey.) “Mommy,” she announced,
“I’m hungry.”

Now, I could have addressed what she was really saying – Feed
Me – or gotten mad at her disrespectfulness. But I stayed
calm and said, “Cora, I hear you stating the problem. Can you
think of a solution?”

Bewildered, Cora said, “Um, to feed me?”

“That’s a good idea, honey, now can you think of a way
to bring that up respectfully?”

Pause. Then the lightbulb.

“Mommy, may I have a snack? I’m hungry.”


Ever since then we’ve put this philosophy into full force.
“Girls, you can either be a complainer or a solver;
let’s make sure we are solvers, ok? Complainers look at
what’s wrong with the world and expect the world to fix it
and make their lives better for them. Solvers look at what’s
wrong with the world and come up with a way to fix it, to make it
better for themselves and others. Can we work on that?”

I have to say, it’s working pretty darn well. They still need
some prompting – “I hear the problem; what’s the
solution?” – but can now recite that along with me. And
more and more, instead of complaining, they are coming in with a
suggestion or a request. Small change, I know, but an important one
to head off whining and a horrible sense of entitlement.

Just a couple days ago Cora said, “Mommy, this family,
we’re solvers. We’re not complainers. Right?
That’s the kind of family we are.” And I nodded happily
and agreed with my big girl.

Then yesterday afternoon we were driving home from ballet when
Maddie whined, “Mommy, I’m tired. I’m
hungry.” And Cora lovingly said, “Now, Maddie, this
family is a family of solvers. Not complainers! So let’s just
figure out that solution, shall we?”

That’s my girl.


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