"My children aren't perfect, but neither are yours."
That tongue-in-cheek advice, according to Lisa Whelchel,
is the motto all parents should adopt. That way, when your
kids act up at precisely the wrong time, instead of saying, "It's
time for his nap" or "He's not really my son," the other
patents in the room will understand.
That's not to say you should jest let your kids run wild.
But this philosophy will, she hopes, relieve some of the
guilt if they don't seem to be turning out like someone
else's children. For that reason, she wrote Creative
Correction . It is not, she stresses, a "guilt" book
that says there is only one formula for raising children.
Her book is definitely not a one-size-fits-all
approach to childrearing.
"Having three totally different children, as I do, you
really do have to be sensitive to your kids and try different
ideas," Lisa says. "If one thing doesn't work well, set
it aside and try something else."
The Facts of Life
If you are of a certain age, you might recognize Lisa's
name. From 1979 to 1988, she played "Blair" on the television
show "The Facts of Life." She had gotten her start in a
show business career when, at age 12, she auditioned for "The
New Mickey Mouse Club." After that, she had roles in a
few movies and TV shows before landing on the set of "Facts."
"I started in young acting because I was really shy," Lisa
says. "I would stay in during recess; I wouldn't even go
out on the playground and play. My mom put me into an acting
class at school thinking it might help me. [Acting] really
did help, but I was still shy off stage. Then we read in TV
Guide that they were auditioning for "The New Mickey
Mouse Club" and I wrote them a letter. Long story short,
I got it.
Lisa was living in Texas at the time. "We had never even
thought about what it meant as far as a family," she remembers. "I'd
have to move, and my mother would have to move. In fact,
I didn't even know what a pilot was when I had auditioned.
I was so naïve." Getting the role, she says, was a
"It was a lot of fun," she adds. " I don't think there
are sets like that in Hollywood these days, because it
was really low-key and fun; maybe it was because we were
kids. There wasn't the competition or the attitudes. It
was just really a great experience."
Now 37, Lisa has been married to Steve for 12 years and
is a stay-at-home mom to Tucker, 10; Haven, 9; and Clancy,
8, whom she home schools. Raising them is where she got
some of her ideas found in Creative Correction .
But writing the book, like her acting career, was a bit
of a fluke, she says. She had an idea for an entirely different
book called Beyond Bible Stories , and she was
flying out to meet a publisher. "They said, 'Bring any
other idea you have.' I was embarrassed to say I didn't
have any other ideas, so on the plane I thought, Well,
I guess I could put together a small book of some of the
ideas I've come up with to discipline my kids . That
was mostly because all my friends had said, 'You've got
to put all these ideas in a book some day,' because they'd
be here and see something crazy Tucker had done and the
equally crazy correction I doled out."
For example, "Sometimes I will just think through what
is logical consequences of what they've done, even if I
have to orchestrate the consequence myself." Often a correction
is an opportunity to teach them things they need to know
but consider boring.
"But they've got to do it, and whether it's their math
facts, their penmanship or matching the states with their
capitals. Oftentimes I'll just take advantage of an infraction
and say, 'Okay, do another math page.' I use whatever is
their weakness. My daughter would love doing a math page,
but she doesn't enjoy reading, so I'll make her read a
chapter-things to help strength them."
The book is organized to make it easy to use. It has a
topical index to make it easy to find advice on, say, lying.
Each chapter begins with a story from Lisa's family and
is followed by a "Tool Chest" that give practical advice
for different situations.
Lisa cites, for example, an incident with Tucker when
he was 3 years old to help children learn not just the
rules but the reasons behind them. She was serving hot
dogs with chili and sauerkraut, and Tucker said, "I can't
eat this 'sour-crap.' It's yucky!"
" 'You should never say food is yucky', I told him. 'I'd
like you to politely eat a least some of it anyway,' which
"A week later, we were having dinner at a friend's house.
During the meal, Tucker turned to the hostess and ever-so-politely
said, 'This food is very yucky, but I'm eating it anyway.'
"I almost choked on my dinner. Unfortunately, I'd forgotten
to teach Tucker that the reason we don't say food is yuck
is that it could hurt the feelings of the person who prepared
That, she says, is why it's important to address the heart
as well as stating a rule to obey.
The Ultimate Parent
"Much of the time, my motivation in parenting is simply
to have well-behaved children-not for some higher godly
purpose, but for my own peace of mind," Lisa says. "My
life is so much simpler and enjoyable when the kids obey
me. As a result, I'm Quick to correct them, sometimes in
anger, when my comfort is disturbed without considering
how I should be modeling God to my kids."
Her intent, she says, is ultimately to point children
to the One whom they must always obey. "Since our children
learn to relate to God through our example, we must take
our job of parenting very seriously. God has blessed us
with this role, and I believe it's out primary role as
She adds, "I think the book will be really helpful for
young moms. But one aspect I am most excited about is the
evangelism tool it can be for my friends and neighbors.
It's not the same as giving them a Christian book. There
really is enough practical application so it won't offend
them. You're giving them what they've asked for, which
is help with their children. But I'm unashamed about why
I teach the things I do; it's because they are in the Bible,
and I believe the Bible is the handbook for life."