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Her ‘home improvement’ ideas focus on nurturing children

WACO, Texas (BP)–Parents interested in “home improvement” need to make sure they are using the right tools and following the blueprint, a parenting educator said.
“If you have the right tools, you can be successful,” said Brenda Bird, lead parent educator with the Carrollton-Farmers Branch (Texas) Independent School District.
Bird, whose husband is pastor of Trinity Valley Baptist Church, Carrollton, was among the seminar leaders at the Texas Leadership Conference sponsored by Woman’s Missionary Union of Texas, July 23-25 and 25-26 at Baylor University, Waco.
In “Home Improvement: A Toolbox for Building Strong Families,” Bird told seminar participants an important tool for parents is to identify their child-rearing style. Parents need to recognize whether they are helicopters, drill sergeants or consultants, she said. Each parenting style teaches children a lesson about themselves.
“Helicopter” parents can’t stand to see their children suffer, so they “hover” over them and then “swoop down” to rescue them whenever they are in trouble. This parenting style carries the unspoken message to a child, “I’m going to rescue you because you’re not capable.”
“Drill sergeant” parents bark out orders and tell children their only responsibility is to do as they are told. Their actions teach a child, “I’ll tell you what to do because you’re not capable.”
“Consultant” parents guide their children, point them in the right direction and then let them bear the consequence of their own actions, unless their bad choices are life-threatening.
“It’s knowing when to step in and when to step back, and that’s a hard dance for some of us to learn,” Bird said.
To help parents develop more of a “consultant” style, Bird offered seven “C’s” as a blueprint for strong families:
— Choices. Instead of making threats or rescue attempts, give children “non-threatening choices you can live with,” she suggested.
— Control. Teaching children to make choices empowers them and gives them more control over their lives as they grow older, she noted.
— Consequences. Allow children to “own” their problems by helping them to see that the choices they make have real consequences.
— Count. “Kids must know that they count — that they matter to someone,” she said. For children in homes where they are not valued, adults in the church may be able to provide them that sense of value.
— Capable. Teach children they are capable by giving them tasks, allowing them to make mistakes and letting them learn from those mistakes. “Then give them the same task again, showing them that we trust them and that they are capable,” she said.
— Connections. Children need to feel connected to someone older, preferably a responsible parent or a positive adult role model at church. “If kids don’t feel that they count, if they don’t feel capable and if they don’t feel connected at home or at church, they’ll find it someplace else — probably in a gang,” Bird said.
— Courage. By encouraging children, adults can inspire them to have the courage to learn new things, make new friends and take risks, she said.

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  • Ken Camp