Quick and Dirty Tips from the Brain Trust

Quick and Dirty Tips from the Brain Trust


Dear Readers,

Remember last week’s post when we so passionately exhorted you to disallow fighting among the jerks who sprang from your womb (Bull’s choice term here; the other two BTers are personally offended by her calling of our precious babies “jerks.”)? Subsequently, at least one of us have had children who have engaged in an all-out brawl (okay, maybe it was just me). My fellow BTers thought you might want to know how I dealt with my little pugilist and his victim.

Normally, I can see the sibling storm a-brewin’, and as the BTers suggested last week, I take swift and certain action to diffuse it early. This brawl, however, was one of those pre-pubescent-outbursts-from-nowhere. My youngest, Phillip, age 8, didn’t comply with something his brother, Patrick, age 11, wanted him to do. The next thing I know, Patrick has punched him, and Phillip is wailing at the top of his outraged lungs.

(Side note: When I recounted this tale to my fellow BTers, Doodle and Snow empathized and strategized with me. Bull merely wanted to know how effective the punch was…….location, impact, etc. Thanks for your support, Bull.)

The consequence for this unbridled flood of testosterone? Bibliotherapy. Since he had a lapse in virtue, I thought he needed an example of heroic virtue, so I had him read a biography on St. Maximilian Kolbe, a priest who gave his life in Auschwitz so a father might live. He also had to write a paper on St. Kolbe’s life and how he inspired Patrick to be a better man. An unplanned consequence was that our little victim had a couple of sweet offers that the pugilist had to skip because he hadn’t finished his paper. Divine justice…..gotta love it!. I swear I looked empathetic, though.

Hope this airing of my dirty laundry helps you to feel better about yours!

Peace be with you,


Dear Readers,

I am offering a response to Hy’s post from yesterday….

In my defense, I offered our more sensitive readers the synonym “sinners” to replace the perfectly good noun “jerks” if they preferred. And my inquiry into the details of the alleged “punch,” was nothing more than good detective work. The details matter, people!

Let’s say the future prizefighter executed a sucker punch. Oh my! Just typing the words “sucker punch” causes a chill to resonate down my spine. I mean, that’s dirty. The “precious baby” possesses some serious skills. Something you just can’t teach in a kid. But, that’s another post. In Bull’s Book of Parental Punishments, the consequence for such a filthy assault is not even in the same chapter as a punch the recipient knew was coming. I mean, a punch thrown in the heat of anger, preceded by a primal war whoop to alert the victim of impending danger, is still wrong of course and yet different. It perhaps merits a 3-paragraph essay, while the former warrants an essay the size and scale of a doctoral thesis.

Now, as to location, I was merely trying to visualize the scene… take it all in, if you will, so that I could empathize with my pal, Hy. I’m just not one to rush to judgment, folks. I like to have all the facts before dishing out the just desserts. The possibility that I might have been slightly entertained by such a visualization is irrelevant — I can’t successfully strategize without all the gory details.

For what it’s worth, I like the creativity of Hy’s imposed sentence. Not only was it punitive, but edifying. Good work, comrade!



Bull, you have reminded of something super important!

We offend each other. And we do it often.

My children offend each other every day. I don’t believe they wake up each morning and premeditate, “I am going to do my best to offend my siblings.” But offense, by golly, just happens. They live together, share bathrooms, bedrooms and parents. One of my “munchkins” (I can’t bring myself to call them jerks) look for that last piece of cake only to find that his brother has already helped himself. A borrowed item was broken or lost. An older brother puts his younger brother (I won’t mention names) into a headlock in which a rolling and tossing of tangled bodies ensues and it’s all fun until someone gets hurt. You get the picture, offense is an everyday occurrence when you live with people.

My husband and I spend much of our parenting training our children how to get along with each other. First of all, we remind them that “being friends with their siblings” is the expectation, not the exception! Do they always get it? Nope. Frustrating? Yes! Tiring? Of course! But as the parent, we use these moments as opportunities to teach and train them in an invaluable life skill: forgiveness.

These “munchkins” were given to me for a reason. We make it our goal is to teach them to be humble, forgiving and loving. Imagine with me for a moment: what would the world look like if we all did so? Could this help their future relationships at work? What about their marriages? Could this one conscious act of parenting make the world a sweeter place? I think so! So let’s get started…

The simplest place to begin is to teach forgiveness to our kids when they are young, but don’t worry, it is never too late. I concentrate on helping my kids recognize and then admitting when they have done something wrong to their siblings. Simple, yes, but it is not always easy to admit our faults, especially to each other, is it? And what happens when they’ve been wronged? We walk them through the steps on how to be a forgiver. Asking forgiveness and then forgiving is a sign of a healthy individual.

We must model it for them, not only by our instruction, but even more importantly by our actions. Here is a typical scene from our family:

Graham (age 6): “Elliot, forgive me for punching you.. I was wrong, will you forgive me?”

Elliot (age 4): “Gammy, I ‘give you.”

We then have them seal it with a prayer and they give each other a hug (or a kiss on the elbow or rubbing noses…you get the picture). Then it is done. It doesn’t take long before they are really good and practiced at asking forgiveness, and also being the forgiver.

Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.


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