When Taylor Swift Makes You Call Your Kid Names

by Laura on October 18, 2012

We were sitting around a campfire the other night when the conversation turned to parenting. And a lady who I continue to admire shamelessly, one of those wiser souls whose weathered teenagers and not just preschoolers, said this statement,

“The tools of a fearful parent are shame and control.” 

Hmmm. And then two minutes later, her husband, potentially one of the smartest men we know {they make a good pair}, followed up with this:

“I’m becoming convinced that regardless of what the goal is, the minute you pick up the wrong tool to achieve it, you are not ushering in the Kingdom, you are helping the enemy, you are in sin.”

And it’s had me thinking all week about goals and what tools I pick up to accomplish them. The conversation’s been shining light on a certain scene that keeps replaying in my own house more mornings than not:


Mom: (Patiently, of course) Sweetie, it’s time to go. You have ten minutes to be in the car for school.

Kid: (5 minutes later. Still at the counter, singing a song about horses and rainbows.)

Mom: (Only slightly less patient) Babe, you only have five minutes to be in the car. Dad’s waiting and you don’t want to be late. You still have to brush your teeth and your hair, get dressed, and be out the door. And you finished your homework, right? Like, get going.

Kid: Okay (dances to her bedroom, lacking the urgency her mother is trying to instill)

Mom: (Tells herself not to get upset. Watches the clock like a hawk. Tries to let “reality be her child’s discipline” and not nag, but goes to check on Kid in the bathroom after a torturous two minutes.)

(Only to find Kid dancing in front of the mirror, hair unbrushed, no socks, to Taylor’s “We are Never, Ever Getting Back Together.”)

Mom: (Admittedly, loses it.)

And four minutes later, Kid scrambles out of the door carrying her shoes and a brush to fix her hair in the car after enduring a few phrases her mother hopes she’ll forget like, “You always do this!” and “You are so slow!” and a few “arghs” and “ughs” thrown in for good measure.


I swear, sometimes I think that getting the kids in the car on time for public school is more difficult than staying home with them all day homeschooling.  Well, okay, maybe not. But, still, the forgotten homework and missing sock and “there’s a stain on these jeans!” and Taylor Swift inspirations can make for a stressful morning and a strained relationship.

Mornings, where, unfortunately, I am apt to pick up tools as a parent that are not healthy for any of us– shame and guilt, manipulation, anger and impatience, to name a few. 

And my friends’ statements the other week continue to ring in my head because I think they apply to much greater instances than getting my Kid out the door by 7:25andnotaminutelater. Because regardless of how Jesus-sounding my goals may be, if I choose hurtful tools that are unlike Jesus to accomplish them, I’m not doing his work. 

If I want to raise money for undercover investigators, but manipulate and worry and stress to do that, I’m screwing up.

If I want my kids to be friendly, well-adjusted, generally-speaking-nice people, but I use the tools of control or anger to whipthemintoshape, it’s not right.

If I’m involved in a noble ministry, but use people as stepping stones to get me or the work where I want to climb, I’m not ushering in Kingdom.

The ends, however righteous, does not justify the means, and the tools I pick up in any given moment, matter. 

And, so, deep breath, I’ll wake her up earlier, and I’ll have her set out the whole outfit the night before (socks included). I’ll commit to not name-call (yes, “slow-poke” is a name), regardless of the numbers on the clock. And I’ll determine that the goal of getting anywhere on time is not really worth sending my Kid out into her day with a frustrated, tongue-out-of-control mother slinging bookbags and lunch boxes,  the tennis shoes for gym class and a guilt that’ll ride her all day into the van at the last minute.


In parenting, do you struggle with fear, shame, control, anger? What tools are you most likely to pick up when frustrated? And, (just lie if this is the case because I don’t really want to know), do your kids supernaturally get out the door on time?


  • Kandi Washington

    Thanks so much for your words! Guilt would be mine! :)

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com/ Laura Parker

      Girl, I hear ya. If we can’t make them want to do right, let’s just make em feel really really badly about doing wrong, right? Right?!?


  • Wendy

    I have lived this too. Thanks for the reminder.

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com/ Laura Parker

      absolutely, Wendy. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Laura Beth

    I can’t call my daughter my Pokie Little Hokie anymore?? :)

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com/ Laura Parker

      No, No, YOU can– particularly b/c for ya’ll the HOKIE reference has meaning. It’s just when I call her SlowPoke, I tend to snarl-it, unfortunately. Hmmm . . . .

      Somehow Pokie Little Hokie seems like it’d be hard to snarl. :)

  • Darla Childers

    okay..admittedly, this is the biggest challenge I face with the kids right now. We are always just BARELY getting to the school after the first bell rings. I just hate being late, but my kids are so pokey in the morning too. What a great perspective on how to handle this in a better way. And just for the record….Taylor Swift makes a lot of people grouchy :=) LOL

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com/ Laura Parker

      Girl, I feel your pain. It’s funny how challenging it is to stay organized enough and disciplined enough to get on time! I think I seriously yell more in the first 20 minutes of the day than the rest of it– that can’t be good, right? :)

      I reckon grace for them, grace for us.

  • Lorie Greer

    I’ve really tried hard not to label my kids or call them names but yesterday, after picking up after my soon to be 18 yr old daughter all day yesterday, I called her “a messy”. What’s funny is that I have felt horrible about it ever since. I guess it’s time to go apologize. Thanks for the reminder.

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com/ Laura Parker

      Neat how the God can use anything, even silly posts on the internet, to underscore things he is already saying.

      Hope the apology went well.

      Sounds like you are a pretty great mom. :)

  • Kelly

    ugh, i have been so angry and impatient lately, and I hate it. we do get out the door on time, but that is only because I wake them an hour and a half before we have to leave. ridiculous. but we’re not rushed. they can’t do anything fun in the morning until they have eaten and are dressed. then they may play, or color or what not.

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com/ Laura Parker

      Maybe that’s my problem– I don’t wake them up early enough. Our school starts at 7:40 and honestly I am having a hard time adjusting after three years of homeschooling and letting everyone sleep in! You are right, though, I probably need to creep up the wake up time.

      Anger and impatience . . . oh, I go in seasons of intense struggle with these, too. Hang in there– you are not the only one.

  • http://www.facebook.com/richelle.wright Richelle Wright

    One question… is your gal more like her mama or her daddy in this particular respect? 😉

    Are there any parents who don’t struggle with all of those? I mean, seriously? At least at some points in time, some seasons? A new season for us is our rapidly becoming a man young man season… where he’s ready to spread his wings and fly without any interference. it is a challenge to give him space and still demand consideration for his family, respect to his authorities, gentleness with his siblings, fulfilling of his responsibilities – while deciding and determining more or less on his own how he’s going to meet those expectations, his way. it is also painfully easy for us, in our wanting to help him with some of those “huger” life decisions, to try and influence him one way or the other (and often based on our preferences or those dreams parents tend to have for their kiddos) instead of helping him think through the issues and then encouraging him to make HIS own decision. Especially when you see choices that often lead to a bad decision being made…

    and most days, 7 of our 8 are out the door and to school on time, but it took a couple of times for the ones less bound by the clock and time constraints actually missing school and staying home and working with me as a consequence (i.e. it wasn’t fair for everyone else to be late…) before it became one of those things where I didn’t have to nag. Now, we holler “to the car” and they are all there before whichever parent is driving that day. now… if i could just get all of them to remember their lunches… 😉

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com/ Laura Parker

      I love the reality discipline of leaving them. I keep trying to work up the guts to actually follow through with that one and not just threaten it. I can only imagine the challenge of an older child– almost on his own, but not quite. The push and pull of that must cry out for the Spirit often!
      And . . yes, busted– she is definitely more like her mother, I’m afraid. Dad is painfully on time. always.

      • http://www.facebook.com/richelle.wright Richelle Wright

        follow through once or twice… it gets a LOT easier. :-) but in my experience, as long as I make the reality costly and real enough, i don’t have to threaten or follow through – ‘cept VERY infrequently. it has also made for some really cool mother-daughter opportunities. can’t say that the school teacher always understands, tho.

        isn’t it crazy how the things that drive us crazy are our pet peeves in our kids. sometimes the mirror just ain’t friendly.

  • Lana

    Hard not to shame, I know.

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com/ Laura Parker

      so. do. i.

      And then I think about what kind of parent God is to me when I screw up or ignore him, and I remember that shame is never a tool he uses to get me to behave.

      • Lana

        SO agree. Shame never creates a healthy society.

      • http://www.facebook.com/richelle.wright Richelle Wright

        i struggle with that one… as in knock down, drag out fights in my mind. before i came to live in a shame based culture, i would have agreed with that 100%, questions closed, no further thought. when i first arrived in this world, I still agreed assuming shame to be one of those ugly “not-in-the-image-of-God” parts of this african culture. however, before i could completely accept that, i figured i’d better see if i could back that up biblically. and what i’ve found does not set well with my perceived way of how things should be…

        the concept of shame (actually, without shame) is biblically established BEFORE sin is introduced. shame appeared after adam and eve sinned – and pointed out their sin to them… they knew they could no longer stand innocent and righteous before God and they sought their own covering to hide their nakedness.

        so where i am right now is that our western ideas of self-esteem and no shame aren’t totally biblical – i’m thinking that there’s a good chunk of worldly philosophy and man’s reasoning cachéd in there. yet i still can’t bring myself to believe shaming is the most (i’m not even sure it is “an acceptable”) effective parental tool…

        right now, where I am is i strive not to shame my children – but when they come feeling shame, i want to use that to point out that sin and that their spirit might be telling them that they are not standing innocent before God.

        does this conundrum even make any sense to you? if so, i’d LOVE to hear others’ thoughts.

  • Heather

    I’m chiming in late here… but I gotta jump on board with this one and say “ME TOO!” Impatience is such a HUGE challenge for me—always has been. Funny how God gave me a son who requires the patience of Mother Teresa. And a daughter who could put our two candidates to shame during a debate.
    My tongue can be jagged too. Really awful.
    Thank you for being so honest and vulnerable, Laura. God really uses you to turn our shame towards the light so that he may heal us, step by step.
    And for the record, I shamelessly admire YOU friend :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/joanna.prewitt JoAnna Prewitt

    You are certainly not alone! Just this morning, as I was replaying a strikingly similar scene as the one you’ve described in my own home, I kept running my temper fueled tongue at my oldest, who had (multiple times) done her own thing, despite being told to do something else – something productive to getting her to school on time. I dropped her off at school, rushed to take my other kid to her school, then rushed back to my oldest’s school to be in time for an assembly where she would be honored for exhibiting respect at school and with peers. It was just the thing I was nagging her about at home – not respecting her father or I when we told her what she needed to do. The irony hit me hard – obviously she is learning respect, DESPITE my attempts to beat her into submission with the wrong tools! I’m so glad she is able to put aside my frustrated rants in the mornings to go on to honor God in her relationships at school, and I’m keenly aware that if I continue to let my frustration dictate our mornings, there may very well come a time she will choose my way instead of the one she knows is right. At any rate, I’m thankful not to be alone in this every day battle.

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com/ Laura Parker

      hey friend!

      I really was struck by this:

      If I continue to let my frustration dictate our mornings, there may very well come a time she will choose my way instead of the one she knows is right.

      Oh, not to let frustration dictate our mornings, either!

      hope you are doing well friend and feeling good and ready for that other precious little one to come!

      love you guys, L

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Teri-Miller/100000244322626 Teri Miller

    I’m there too.
    With all the part-time classes on top of home schooling.
    Unfortunately I think the core of the shame, control, & anger I spew at my family is my own fear; the shame & anger I feel toward myself, the inability to control myself, my emotions, my life.
    And unlike Kelley & Steve…I have zero wisdom here.
    Lotsa empathy tho.

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com/ Laura Parker

      Control. Seems like such a core issue we all battle . . . and the results of not having it just ain’t pretty.

      Thanks for your honesty . . .

      and your encouragement Sunday morning. :)

  • iananddonnac

    We almost never get out the door on time. When we do, the teachers are so surprised they congratulate us! Lol… blush… And mostly, I have to take the blame for us being late.
    All those things you struggle with? Me too. And those are hard, hard habits to break. But I keep trying…

  • http://www.angiewashington.com/ Angie Washington

    I could see the rainbows and horses flying around over your sweet daughter’s cereal bowl. So, been there. Still working through some anger stuff. God is so gracious!!! I want to be like Him when I grow up. I believe that simply being open to God’s strategy will allow you to hear His voice for your family.

    For our family I feel like we were directed to do a few specific things:
    – Family devotions in the mornings before school. 20 minutes before they walk out the door we are all ready to go and sitting on the couches in our living room. Yep. That means getting up earlier. But it sets them off in such a good frame of mind. The word in their hearts. A prayer on their lips. And hugs and kisses from us.
    – God said smile. When I was moanin’ and groanin’, blubbery and pitiful, God said to smile every time I interacted with my kids. Smile first.

    – I bought the book on anger you recommended and a few more books came my way that have been extremely helpful.

    You are a good mom, Laura. Thank you for honoring us with the invitation to follow your growth.

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