By Jill Bartlett
Crosswalk.com Family Living Editor
Find out what Lisa Whelchel, of "Facts of Life," is now doing!
Crosswalk.com Family Living Channel -
Jill: Let's talk about your book,
Creative Correction. What made you decide to write it? Was it that
the traditional methods weren't working?
Lisa: Yes -- my son has ADD, and
we read so many parenting books and were doing everything "by
the book," but he wasn't cooperating. So it was out of desperation
that I would just call out to the Lord, "I don't know what
to do -- I've done everything I know to do and it's not working.
I don't know what to do!" The Lord takes us really seriously
when we call upon Him, even in desperation. He began to answer
me every time I would have a conflict with my son. I'd just say, "How
do I handle this?" and He would give me an idea. God is a
very creative God, and He is our parent. He had some creative parenting
ideas for me. All of my friends kept saying, "You've got to
put all this down in a book; I would never think of doing what
you're doing!" So, that's how the book came about.
Jill: So what are some of the different
things that have been successful?
Lisa: Well, one of my favorites
is the incentives and rewards. My son loves Lego's and you can
buy Lego kits to build a big pirate ship or a space station. They're
pretty expensive, so I wasn't going to just go buy it for him as
a toy. But I did buy it to use as an incentive. The kit had over
300 pieces, so I just tied a condition to it that he could put
the first ten pieces together when he got home, but after that,
every time he took the initiative to do the right thing without
having to be reminded, then he could put the next ten pieces together.
And, you know, instead of walking over his sock, he would pick
it up and put it in the hamper and go put ten pieces together.
And instead of just grabbing the last piece of a cookie or a cake,
he'd ask his sisters if they wanted it first. Of course, it was
just to get the Lego pieces, but at the end of the month he had
built not only a great pirate ship, but he'd built a really good
character trait as well.
Jill: And it probably took away
the necessity for nagging!
Lisa: Absolutely. And his behavior
was coming from within.
Jill: That's great. Why do you say
that discipline just by itself isn't enough -- that you have to
also "train up" your children?
Lisa: Well, because it's important
to set a foundation for them to have a healthy fear of the Lord
and of their parents. If they only do the right thing because they
don't want to get in trouble, then as soon as they get out from
under your covering they'll just go do what they want to do. So,
that's why it's so important to make the transition and to teach
them why you're requiring it of them. That's why I use Scripture
a lot, too; so it's not just because "I'm the mom and I say
so, it's because this is what God says about your behavior." Therefore,
they can make that transition to doing the right thing for the
right reasons. The goal of discipline is self-discipline, so we
have to teach them that God has good reasons why He requires things
Jill: How do you creatively teach
your children Scripture without them tying it to a punishment?
Some parents do that -- they'll make their children memorize Scripture
in relation to punishment and then the kids grow up and they rebel
Lisa: You know, sometimes I'll be
talking and I'll say, " Tucker, if I had a hundred dollars
right now, would you be paying attention to me if I was trying
to give you the money?" and he says, " Yeah, Mom." But,
you know wisdom is like silver and gold. You try to teach them
that what we're giving them is our wisdom and that their correction
is from love. The Scripture is taught because God knows what makes
their life work and we love them and we want life to work for them.
You know, discipline is supposed to be painful or it won't work.
So whether they enjoy it or not, they will know that it's because
we love them and it's because we're giving them gold and silver.
Jill: Have you found that your three
children can be disciplined the same way and that you can use the
same correction tools, or are they three completely different beings?
Lisa: They're all three totally
different. I wrote the book more for my son -- ways to discipline
him; but in the process, I realized that each one of them were
different and deserved to be disciplined according to the way the
Lord had made them. So, I have found that some things work better
with one than the others.
Jill: What do you say to the parent who has the completely
rebellious child where traditional things are not working? Is it
a matter of just hanging in there and relying on the Lord's strength
or is it looking to do something different?
Lisa: I think it depends on the
age of the child. You know, when they're young enough, if you skip
that stage of the healthy fear of the parent and the disciplining
of the flesh before you teach the heart, you need to go back and
get that. I think there really is a point for spanking; there's
really a time and a place for really being the strict parent and
I think it's easier if you establish that when they're young. But,
if you haven't, you can't miss a stage and expect it all to build
up without crumbling. If necessary, you can go back and establish
that authority in your home through pretty strict discipline. If
they are past that point, then prayer would obviously be the number
one thing. It's important to not discipline or yell or threaten
in anger. But, you know, that's something the parent has to work
on first. Before you discipline, make sure you realize that the
Scripture says "the anger of man does not produce the righteousness
of God." If you realize that whatever you're saying to them,
it probably won't get through if you're speaking in an angry tone,
so you're wasting your breath and your emotions ... wait until
you and the children are calmed down.
Jill: How do you do that when they're
especially young and they need to be disciplined right then and
they don't understand later what they've done wrong?
Lisa: Well, when you can, I think
it's very important to discipline as quickly as possible. Although
there are some situations when you can't -- if you're on the phone,
if you're getting something hot out of the oven, if you're talking
with other people, you can't. I send my kids to the bathroom. If
I'm in the middle of something, I'll say "You go wait for
me in the bathroom." And that has a few purposes: first of
all, it starts the correction immediately, it's like a time out.
So immediately, the correction has begun. But also, it enables
me to finish what I'm doing, to quickly say "Lord, how do
I handle this?" and it enables them to calm down and think
about what they're doing and then begin the punishment.
Jill: How can God continue to mold
children after they're grown up and the parenting role changes?
What do you feel like is your role as a parent after your children
are grown and gone? Can you still train them?
Lisa: All I can say is that I have
grown. I've been a Christian since I was ten years old, and a committed
Christian all that time, but I grew exponentially after I was 25
years old. I do believe that we obviously need to train them up
in the way they should go. But, I also believe that they become
more accountable, stronger in their faith, making decisions on
their own and being responsible for their decisions. I think that
the majority of their growth in the Lord, and in life, is going
to come after they're grown. At least that's how it was for me.
Jill: So in some respects that's
almost when your role really begins; you can also be mentor and
Jill: Who has been your greatest
mentor in mothering?
Lisa: My mother. I write a chapter
in my new book called "Love Mom" and it's a collection
of letters my mom has written to me over the years. Everybody will
be able to see when they read those letters that I am my mother's
daughter. She was very creative, she was very encouraging, she
was fun. She's got a wicked sense of humor. So, my mom definitely
is a wonderful mother and now she's doubled that as a grandmother.
Jill: Tell us more about this new
book, The Facts of Life and Other Lessons ...
Lisa: Well, I'm very excited about
it. It's a collection of stories from my life and how my Heavenly
Father gave me very practical parenting in everyday decisions from
teaching me who to marry to how to raise kids, how to spend money,
how to save money, how to get through puberty, etc. -- it really
illustrates a really loving father/daughter relationship between
my Heavenly Father and me, and how He desires to be intimately
involved in the details of our lives.
Jill: You're getting ready to start
national driving tour. Is this a work opportunity, is it purely
a vacation, or do you consider it a home schooling opportunity?
Lisa: It's a combination. We leave
Thursday in a motor home donated to us by Tiffin Motor Homes in
Red Bay, Alabama. And we are going to go around America for a year
and on Sundays I'll be speaking in churches, Fridays I'll be doing
bookstore signings and media and all the rest of the days we'll
just be seeing America together - like historical sites, factory
tours, national parks, and just enjoying the adventure.
I'm also writing a book called Finding God in America
along the way, and a lot of that will come from my journal. Every
night, I will be writing in my journal and then the next morning
I'll upload entries from the journal and a couple of pictures for
the day so that families can visit my website and live the family
dream vicariously through us. I'll be doing on-line chats with
Crosswalk.com readers, and I believe they're going to post a lot
of those entries at Crosswalk.com also.