I get asked so many questions about parenting, and my experiences with raising my boys. So, I decided to answer the top questions I get. If I didn’t get to your question, feel free to send me an e-mail, and I will answer you directly.
1. Are you glad you have a gap between your kids ages?
YES! My two older boys are 2.5 years apart so, first we did the whole toddler & baby thing, and it was a lot. It was actually a blur because I was in survival mode. The BEST part of having them close together is that they became the best of friends. They were close enough in age to do everything together, and are still extremely close.
We were done having kids, but then I got the “itch” and really wanted another baby. Little did I know, the amazing blessing he would be to our family, and after having older kids … I was fully aware of “how fast” the infant/toddler years pass. I can honestly say I have cherished having a little one around again every single day. The older 2 are very over protective, but play with him daily, and think he is hilarious. They always wanted to hold, and take care of him. Also, having a gap provided me with some extra hands and extra help!! Everyone pitches in because there is only one “baby” in the house. The infant years were a lot less stressful.
I love that we have experienced what it’s like to have both. I really enjoy their ages, and being able to appreciate the pro’s and cons that come with both.
HERE is a post I wrote on the pros/cons of having kids close together, and farther apart.
2. Will you be having more children?
It doesn’t look like it. I would probably have a million kids if my husband didn’t keep me sane, and remind me how hard it can be in those first years. I truly love those younger years, and would possibly be open to it if he was on board. However, I feel really blessed to have 3 healthy kids, and am really focused on pouring into their lives, and raising them the best I can. So, unless God does some miracle.. no more for us.
3. How do you discipline ?
It is different depending on the age, and personality, but we have disciplined all of our kids with the same methods when they were toddlers, and younger school ages. We use time-outs, and take their favorite things away mostly, but for larger offenses we spank. If you would like to know more about that, I wrote an entire article HERE. We do not tolerate hitting us or others, and for blatant disrespect or ridiculous tantrums we also spank.
Nope, it does not teach our kids that hitting is OK or confuse them in any way. They fully understood that certain behaviors are not OK, and that there was a more serious punishment that inflicted very mild pain, and was covered in tons of love, and no anger or frustration on our ends. We fully feel believe that spanking should be done in love, and not resemble anger.
That is when it confuses the child.
Children hit out of anger and frustration so, when that is not connected they will understand it is a consequence for bad actions, and will deter them from those actions. We explain that “You are now going to get a spanking because, of this action. Do not do that anymore. We love you very much, and that is why we cannot allow you to continue this behavior.”
I do believe that our consistency with spanking has a lot to do with their “overall” behavior. When my oldest were toddlers, people would constantly ask me how I got them to sit in church peacefully or not to throw fits in the store or how they played so nicely with other kids.
Our kids know how deeply we love them, and that we answer to God for how we raise them.. the rest are their own choices. We have to do what we feel convicted about in our hearts, and the result was less and less need for spankings. It worked with every child, every personality, and then they just fizzled out because they never did any behaviors that needed that type of reinforcement.
Our older boys now just have stuff taken away because, they are too old from our perspective. Video games, favorite toys, electronics, or sitting in their room for a period of time works wonders for middle & high school kids.
Whatever you do…Just be consistent. Kids notice inconsistency, and it teaches them some pretty poor lessons about life, selfishness, and respect.
3. Did you breastfeed? Any tips?
Yes, I did breastfeed all 3 of my kids for their first year of life. I did not have an easy road, but I pushed through and it was the most amazing and rewarding experience for me. I do see the many benefits of breastfeeding, but I honestly think that you will know what works for you, your baby, and your schedules. I had to hire a lactation consultant due to latching issues, engorgement, mastitis, nipple shields, lip ties, and more. I’ve been through it all. However, for me it was really important, and I felt like it would be easier if we could just “get it.”
My lactation consultant with my last child was heaven sent, and I wish I knew her with my first one. She explained so much to me about milk supply, and the common fear “I’m not making enough milk.” I only was pumping an ounce of two, and was worried, but I actually made tons of milk. However, a pump is not the same or compresses the same areas as a pump. I also wasn’t pumping consistently so I learned how many lies were told that cause women to give up because, they think their babies are starving.
Now if you are scared about that, I would get professional advice, and maybe you do need to supplement. However, don’t let your fears be the reason you quit. Many hospitals have free consultants that know way more than we do about the whole process.
4. Did you have natural or medicated births?
I had two with epidurals, and my last was natural. I had learned a lot over the years about the birth process, hospitals, the drugs used, so I felt I needed to try to attempt a natural birth. I was terrified, but I saw some of the effects of the epidurals with my kids, and on other friends births, and I didn’t want to take those risks… when my body was made to do this.
It was a dramatic experience, and incredibly painful.. that’s just the honest truth. My epidural births were more laid back, and relaxed. My husband and I read multiple books on the experience, and spoke with others who shared the honest, unedited truth of natural birth, and that was really helpful.
Yes, I am glad that I experienced both because, I would have been curious of the experience for sure. Yes, I saw differences in my newborn directly after birth compared to my other two. My other two were more sedated after the birth, due to the effects of the epidural. However, my last child was so alert it was hilarious.
My kids all developed perfectly, so you have to make the decision that is best for you, but DO YOUR RESEARCH. That is something I didn’t do initially and, just trusted the hospital. Making the most money from each birth is their priority, and there are a variety of ways that can manifest itself that aren’t always what’s best for mom & baby. So, just like anything else.. learn as much as you can. The birth of your baby is a big deal, and no route is wrong.
5. Any potty training tips?
Stay home for a weekend. Give your child lots to drink so that your child will have to go to the potty often. Take them every hour. Get a pack of underwear. Let them get wet, and feel the discomfort before changing them. Be consistent. Do not go back to pull ups, it will confuse them, and potty training will be never ending.
One of my children was just defiant on the issue even though he knew how to go to the bathroom. He was getting way to old, and I knew that it was more of a control thing. I explained that because, he is now a big boy there will be no more pull ups or diapers in the house, and every time he gets wet he has to wait until I get a chance to change him. This did create some tantrums when he wanted changed right away, but I would calmly tell him he had to wait. The consistency of my actions made him realize that whenever he chooses not to head to the potty, he will have to wait to get changed, and this helped him make that a better choice. However, if you waiver…. your child’s behavior will reflect that.
6. How do you deal with strong-willed children?
This is kind of connected to #3 , but I cannot stress enough the importance of consistency. Strong-willed children are very bright, and catch on very quickly. That also means in parenting. They realize when their are loop holes in your parenting, and will take full advantage of them. When you are very clear on what behaviors are allowed, and what will not be allowed on a consistent basis they can truly be very well behaved children.
The worst thing a parent can do is decide that they do not want to discipline or set up boundaries because they are scared they won’t stand up for themselves in school or throughout life if they don’t encourage that attitude. I have heard this a lot, and it’s usually connected with very passive parenting which isn’t good for the kids or the parents.
You can still parent, and encourage those qualities in your child with consistent discipline and boundaries. There are many places for them to use those awesome qualities, but teaching them the importance of respecting authority (you), and the appropriate places and situations to express those qualities is priceless to helping them truly succeed in life.
7. What do you do when you don’t agree with your friends parenting styles?
Nothing. There is nothing in the world that parents are more sensitive about than how they raise their children. I have some good friends that I truly do not agree with anything they do as a parent, but if they aren’t asking me for advice…. I am not giving it. I typically don’t want our kids to play together too much, so that mine won’t pick up the bad habits, that they allow, but that is what friend dates are for.
8. How do you handle your kids wanting to befriend “bad” kids?
We have really emphasized the importance of looking for good qualities in your friends. Not hanging out with kids who are mean to you, not kind to others, or are disrespectful to their parents. We encourage them to be kind to them, and encourage them to make better choices, but that isn’t someone you want to spend a lot of time with.
Like mentioned above, I do have some friends who I really don’t agree with their parenting, and their children are a challenge to be around. They tend to be wild, ill-mannered, rude, mean to other children, and undisciplined. Again with this, I just choose more times to hang out one on one then with the children.
When you get into the older years, it’s easier because kids don’t usually want to come with you anyway so friendships become a little more separated. My kids have had experiences with bullies wanting to befriend them or kids who are constantly disruptive in class. In these situations, we always encourage them to be loving and kind to them, but again to be careful of the amount of time spent with them.
9. How did you get your kids to nap until they were school age and beyond?
Consistency and being the parent. They didn’t tell me what they wanted to do… and then I did it. I told them what that time of day is for, and that is what they did. The days they didn’t want to nap, I told them they can lay there, but either way this time isn’t for playing, and it’s quiet time. I have an entire post on it with tips to encourage your child to nap through older ages right HERE.
10. Any tips for raising black boys in America?
My husband and I are honestly figuring it out as we go. It is very scary. Very hard. And you just want everyone to see how incredibly amazing they are rather than having to prove that throughout their entire lives. It is heartbreaking, and I truly can’t think about it too much or I will be overwhelmed with anxiety.
The most important thing to us is raising boys who know what CHRIST SAYS ABOUT THEM. We constantly remind them how awesome God has made each one of them, and encourage them to find their sense of identity, and purpose in Him. I know this will help them through every stage of life. If they can drown out what the world says about them with all the Truth that Christ says then I believe they will be just fine.
We will be honest with them (and have been) about the unfair and unjust things that happen in our country, but we will teach them to conquer it with love and faith. We will continue to pray for God’s protection from that evil, and to kill people with kindness.
I will be writing a entire post on this very soon.
If you are looking for more articles on parenting, check out: :”Why our kids don’t have social media or cell phones.”