A Generation of Teens In Danger

Skyler Filmstrip

How well do you know today’s teenager?

When Jody and I first saw this, we were concerned, to say the least. This is a population that trusts more in themselves than in wise counsel.  Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”  Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust not in your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”  And Jeremiah 17:9 warns, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Clearly, trusting in themselves above everything else is not a plan for success.

On the flip side, Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety. ” Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise.”  And Proverbs 15:22 says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”

No matter how you slice it, teens who trust primarily in themselves are setting the stage for disaster in their lives.

When they do seek advice, who are they asking? Their parents? Pastors? Wise adults? Nope. They turn to their social network. Yikes!

First of all, Proverbs 22:15 says that foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child. Then, Proverbs 13:20 tells us that he who walks with the wise will become wise. It goes on to say that a companion of fools will…what? Become fools? No. It says they will suffer harm. The King James Version says they’ll be destroyed! Parents, this is serious stuff. We need to help our kids have a radical paradigm shift.

The video also says that this generation equates happiness to success, which could spell major heartache later in life. An adult who measures success by their momentary state of happiness will quit a job when the going gets tough, file for divorce during the difficult seasons of marriage, and escape into selfish pursuits when parenting becomes hard.

Is it any wonder that 1/3 of this population has already contemplated suicide? If happiness is all that matters, and you feel like there’s no hope of finding happiness any time soon, why live?

Clearly the problem has to be addressed from the foundation up. We need to start by helping them build a solid base of truth upon which they can construct every other belief and value.

But it’s an uphill battle because this generation has already been slow-cooked in a pluralistic crock pot. They are steeped in the public mindset of moral and religious relativism, which preaches that every belief is equally valid. Not only is this purely illogical (how can two directly opposing views be equally valid and true?), but it stands starkly against the message of the cross.

Our kids NEED a strong foundation in apologetics. They need to know what it means to call themselves Christians and why they believe the Bible is truth.

Please take some time to watch this excellent video, and share your thoughts and ideas about how parents can help teens navigate some of these issues with true and lasting success.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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College Bound Reading List

101 Books

This list was originally published on the College Board website. For some reason, we can no longer find it there, but it’s out there on a variety of blogs.

It’s such a treasure that we had to repost it. We recommend having your student keep a record of everything they read, and encouraging them to read at least one or two of these a month from 7th grade on.

101 Books For the College Bound Reader

  1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain 
  2. All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque 
  3. An American Tragedy, by Theodore Dreiser
  4. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
  5. Antigone, by Sophocles
  6. As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
  7. The Adventures of Augie March, by Saul Bellow
  8. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
  9. Babbitt, by Sinclair Lewis
  10. Bartleby the Scrivener, by Herman Melville
  11. The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath
  12. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
  13. Beowulf, by the Beowulf Poet
  14. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
  15. Call it Sleep, by Henry Roth
  16. The Call of the Wild, by Jack London
  17. Candide, by Voltaire
  18. The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer
  19. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
  20. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
  21. Ceremony, by Leslie Marmon Silko
  22. The Cherry Orchard, by Anton Chekhov
  23. Collected Stories, by Eudora Welty
  24. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
  25. Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  26. The Crucible, by Arthur Miller
  27. The Crying of Lot 49, by Thomas Pynchon
  28. Death Comes for the Archbishop, by Willa Cather
  29. Cyrano de Bergerac, by Edmond Rostand
  30. A Death in the Family, by James Agee
  31. Doctor Zhivago, by Boris Pasternak
  32. A Doll’s House, by Henrik Ibsen
  33. Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes
  34. A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
  35. Faust, by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  36. Fathers and Sons, by Ivan Turgenev
  37. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
  38. The Glass Menagerie, by Tennessee Williams
  39. Go Tell It on the Mountain, by James Baldwin
  40. A Good Man is Hard to Find, by Flannery O’Connor
  41. The Good Soldier, by Ford Madox Ford
  42. Gulliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift
  43. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
  44. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  45. Hamlet, by William Shakespeare
  46. Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad
  47. The House of Mirth, by Edith Wharton
  48. The Hunchback of Notre Dame, by Victor Hugo
  49. The Iliad, by Homer
  50. Inferno, by Dante
  51. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
  52. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte 
  53. The Last of the Mohicans, by James Fenimore Cooper 
  54. Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman 
  55. Long Day’s Journey into Night, by Eugene O’Neill 
  56. Lord of the Flies, by William Golding 
  57. Macbeth, by William Shakespeare 
  58. Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert
  59. The Magic Mountain, by Thomas Mann
  60. The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka
  61. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, by William Shakespeare
  62. The Mill on the Floss, by George Eliot
  63. Moby Dick, by Herman Melville
  64. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, by Frederick Douglass
  65. Native Son, by Richard Wright
  66. The Odyssey, by Homer
  67. Oedipus Rex, by Sophocles
  68. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
  69. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  70. The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde
  71. The Portrait of a Lady, by Henry James
  72. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by James Joyce
  73. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
  74. Pygmalion, by George Bernard Shaw
  75. The Red Badge of Courage, by Stephen Crane
  76. Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe
  77. Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare
  78. The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  79. Selected Tales, by Edgar Allen Poe
  80. Selected Essays, by Ralph Waldo Emerson
  81. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
  82. The Sound and the Fury, by William Faulkner
  83. The Stranger, by Albert Camus
  84. Swann’s Way, by Marcel Proust
  85. A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens
  86. Tess of the d’Urbervilles, by Thomas Hardy
  87. Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
  88. Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe 
  89. The Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas 
  90. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
  91. To the Lighthouse, by Virginia Woolf 
  92. Tom Jones, by Henry Fielding 
  93. Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson 
  94. The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James 
  95. Uncle Tom’s Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe 
  96. Vanity Fair, by William Thackeray 
  97. Waiting for Godot, by Samuel Beckett
  98. Walden, by Henry David Thoreau
  99. War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy
  100. The Woman Warrior, by Maxine Hong Kingston
  101. Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte
Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with ten kids between them (ages 5 to 29), including one on the autism spectrum, plus one baby grandchild. Together they host a weekly syndicated parenting radio show, write a weekly newspaper column, freelance for a variety of publications, teach parenting and homeschooling workshops and seminars, speak at conventions and conferences and coach individual families. They are passionate about encouraging and equipping families to Parent On Purpose (POP) with the end result in mind.

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Potty Training Diaries Update — Have Potty Will Travel

Big Boy on Potty

It’s been just a little over two weeks since we embarked on this potty training journey, and I thought you might want to know how things are going.

On Friday, we took a big step. We left our house that morning at 8:00 a.m. and drove an hour north to Tampa. We had a full car, so the froggy potty had to ride in the trunk. About 40 minutes into the trip, Matty told us he had to go potty. I said, “Okay! Hold it. We’re going to stop. Please hold it.” And he did.

We stopped at the nearest rest area, took out the potty, put it on the seat next to him in the car, and he peed. Yay! (Hot tip — keep a water bottle with the potty chair so you can rinse it after each pee.)

When we got to Busch Gardens, we prompted him to go again, and then we put the potty chair in the basket under the stroller. For the most part, we were able to bring the potty into a bathroom when he had to go, but a couple of times the bathroom was either too far or he showed signs of needing to go right away, and in those cases, we just whipped out the potty, let him do his thing and dumped it in a nearby bush. We caught a few disapproving scowls from passersby, but not enough to weaken our resolve.

Matty Jay had a 100% successful day! Whoo hoo. Every pee made it into a potty with time to spare from waking to bedtime.

I think it’s safe to call this boy potty trained. He still has an occasional accident when he’s totally engrossed in what he’s doing, and it may be a few months before we see dry beds every single night. At this point we’re only getting a dry bed about 3 times a week. But I don’t mind a little extra laundry if it means we’re helping Matty become a successful big boy.

 

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Potty Training Diaries — Days 5 – 7

Walmart

Well, I’ve been out of touch for a day because potty training has turned a corner, and we are happy to report that we are now mobile!

On day five, we took our first outing sans diapers. Jody and I took Matty Jay to Walmart, and of course we brought along his froggy potty and left it in the van. Once we were in the store, I could tell that Matty was a bit stressed out. About half way through our trip, he started to cry, and when I asked if he had to go potty, he wailed, “Yes! Go Potty!”

I left Jody with the cart and my debit card and whisked Matty out of the store. As soon as we hit the parking lot he said in a sad voice, “You take me home now?”

He made it to the van and peed in his potty chair, but he was clearly taxed by this little venture.

The next day we added yet another challenge. For the first half of the day, I decided to test him. I brought him downstairs and reminded him where the potty was, and then I pretty much left him to himself. I let him play with his siblings and have lots of free play time, but I didn’t prompt him about the potty at all.

How did that go, you ask? Not so well. He maybe put one out of four pees in the potty. The others were on the new leather couch, the floor, the backyard…it was a definite fail. Then, I thought I’d try scaling back to bare bottom but still no prompting. That went much better. My suspicion is that being bare bottomed was a reminder to pay attention to sensation of having to go.

During the bare bottom part of the day, Matty had to poop. He didn’t tell me about it, but instead went into the bathroom (good – that’s certainly where poop goes) and began his poop standing up. Once poop hit the tile, he must have realized this was wrong, and he called out for help. When I arrived on the scene, I praised his effort but also reminded him that he needed to sit on the potty. He did so, and finished his poop correctly.

At about 5:00pm it was time for another outing. This was going to be a longer one with a few stops. We were in our little Kia this time with the potty chair next to his car seat. When we arrived at the first stop, I asked if he wanted to go potty. He said yes and did so.

A little while later, we were driving and he said, almost to himself, “No pee pee in the car seat. Pee pee in the potty.”

“Do you have to go potty, Matty?”

“Yes.” And with that, I pulled over, leapt out of the driver’s seat, unbuckled him in a hurry and placed him on the froggy potty. He thought this was a great. Unlike the stress of the day before, he seemed totally relaxed and even amused by this whole potty in the car situation.

At the end of our excursion, we made another Walmart trip. This time, we got all the way through the shopping, but as we were approaching the check out lines, he said he had to go. Once again, Jody was left with the cart, as I raced out the door.

“Hold it in, Matty,” I repeated a few times, as I made my way to the exit, then out the door, then to the back of the lot where were parked, then as I fumbled for the car keys and then as I unlocked the door. And he did! He held it until I sat him on the froggy potty. I was so stinkin’ proud of that boy!

Last night he woke up once and asked to go potty. And in the morning his bed was dry.

Today was day seven. We spent the first few hours of the day at our homeschool co-op, and Matty asked every time he had to go. No accidents!

I’d say we still have a few weeks of ups and downs left before we call this potty thing mastered, but we are well on our way. Diapers are officially a thing of the past for Matty Jay! And we are on our way back to life as usual, except the new normal in the Stahlmann house includes a freshly crowned “Big Boy!”

Oh, and for anyone getting ready to potty train, swing by Walmart and pick up a few fleece blankets. They’re selling them right now for $2.88 each! Keep them by the bed in case of a nighttime accident. Just cover the wet spot with the fleece and your child won’t feel any of the wetness. Then you can change the sheets in the morning.

Drop us a line and let us know how your potty training experience is going. In the meantime, be blessed!

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Potty Training Diaries — Day 4

Matty Hat

If you haven’t been following this blog series, I’m in the throes of potty training my sixth child, and while this clearly isn’t my first rodeo, it is the first time I’m using the Oh Crap Potty Training method. Man I wish I’d had this tool 16 years ago! This is awesome.

Day 4 was our first day with shorts. On Day 1 we kept 21 month old Matty Jay buck naked all day so that we could clearly spot the signals that he needed to use the potty. On Day 2 and Day 3 we kept him in just a t-shirt with a bare bottom.

Day 2 was mostly disastrous, and Day 3 was total success!

He woke up on Day 4, after a night with no pee in the bed, and asked to use the potty. He pooped on the potty and then told me, “We don’t pee on the floor. We pee in the potty.” (cue choirs of angels) He is internalizing these lessons, and he is fully getting it!

We added a new element to the mix on Day 4 — shorts. He’s nowhere near ready for underwear, but it was time to help him learn to do this with clothes on. We weren’t sure how it was going to play out, but the early signs were good.

First lesson of the day was “Push Down, Pull Up.” This was such an aha! moment for me when I was reading the book. We pull our pants up, but we don’t pull them down — we push our pants down! Duh! Of course.

At 21 months, this lesson is a bit over his head. He can push his pants down most of the time, but pulling them up is a challenge. I’m still pretty hands on for this part.

Day 4 was also the first day that we stopped watching him intently. We gave him room to figure out on his own that he had to pee, only prompting him from time to time. In the morning, he was upstairs playing in the bedrooms. Until then, he’d done almost all pottying downstairs. The combination of being out of his pottying routine and being left to play without much prompting resulted in an accident. No biggie. We just regrouped, moved downstairs and offered a few more prompts, but still let him be more independent than he’d been before.

All in all, Day 4 was another success. Matty was able to tell us when he had to go, and a few times he just took it upon himself to go into the bathroom, take off his shorts, pee in his little froggy potty and then walk out bare bummed.

After that one morning accident, we had a full day of successes, even bedtime was much better. The only snafu of this day was that both Matty and I felt a bit beat up. This whole potty training gig is emotionally exhaustin. Plus, I’m typically a busy person, and being house bound for 4 days started to make me feel like I had the flu. I could tell it was getting to Matty too. Every once in a while I’d ask if he needed to go potty and he’d bark back at me, “No!”

By the end of the night, as the kids and I were all piled up on the couch watching Once Upon a Time, Matty said he needed to go potty, and to be completely honest, I was over it. It took every ounce of emotional fortitude I could muster up to peel myself off the couch and go through the full routine. I was thrilled when he went to sleep because it meant I didn’t have to face a potty chair for a few hours.

I’ll tell you, this is where the rubber meets the road in parenting. It’s full-on commitment, and although it’s kicking my butt, my little guy is worth it. In just four days, he went from being totally clueless to completely aware. We have much more to learn before we call this thing mastered, but tired or not, we’re off to an amazing start.

On Day 5, we’re venturing out of the house (yay!). Check back to see how it goes.

 

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Potty Training Diaries — Day 3

Full potty

Pushing through the failures of Day 2 of potty training really paid off. We had ZERO accidents on Day 3! Granted, we got better at watching him for signs of having to go, but by the end of the day, he was telling us that he had to use the potty every time.

AND…he had a totally dry night! He woke up a few times and asked to use the potty, but no pee in the bed! Whoo hoo.

This is exciting stuff.

Lessons of This Day

We picked up a few important lessons on Day 3. After the four baths and a pile of laundry on Day 2, I went back to the book. Yes we’ve trained five other kids already, but this time I’m using a totally new (and truly awesome) method. So I needed a refresher and some encouragement going into Day 3.

I think the most important reminder was to stay relaxed. In hindsight, we put way too much pressure on the poor boy on Day 1. I hovered over him and asked way too many times if he had to go. I’m certain he sensed the panic in my voice. I needed a reminder that just a few days ago, the whole pee and poop thing was completely off his radar. He could do his business whenever and wherever he wanted without giving a second thought.

At first, I think he thought this potty training thing was kind of fun. He got lots of extra mommy attention, and the new little potty was slightly interesting, but by Day 2 he figured out that we were serious about this, and it fully freaked him out.

The Power of Routine

By Day 3, I relaxed, watched him carefully and gently, but firmly, suggested we use the potty when I saw signs that he needed to go. I also created an appealing routine to go with success, and toddlers LOVE routine!

When he successfully put his pee in the little potty, we dumped it together, rinsed the potty chair bowl, put the lid down on the big toilet, flushed, and then washed our hands while singing the full ABC song. Then we dried off our hands, turned off the bathroom light and announced success to whomever was in the living room or kitchen (just outside the bathroom door). We did it the exact same way every single time. For Matty, the routine was the payoff, and there was nothing on my own agenda that was more important than giving him the fullest reward. He had earned it!

It was so much fun to watch him experience total satisfaction with himself. He was learning a new thing — a hard thing, and he was rightly proud of his success. He owned it, and it was exciting for all of us to see.

Bedtime Snafu

The big snafu of the day was bedtime. Still a potty success, but a bedtime regression. As I mentioned in Day 1, we put Matty on a little palette of blankets on the floor next to our bed so that I could monitor him throughout the night (when we nixed diapers, we did it all the way–no nap or nighttime diapers).

It normally takes Matty less than 15 minutes of tossing and turning before he drifts off to slumberland. But last night, he tested the boundaries, and we wrestled through it for an hour and a half.

He kept saying he needed to poop, and since he had only pooped once earlier in the day, I didn’t want to call his bluff. I suspected he was playing the system to stay up longer, but I just wasn’t willing to take any chances.

After an hour of putting him on the potty and prolonging his bedtime, I finally decided that I was willing to clean poop if it came to that, but I wasn’t willing to let this little bugger stay up any longer.

He knew the boundary was the edge of the blankets, and he didn’t cross it, but he did cry and complain. I sat aloofly nearby on the couch in my bedroom and read Oh Crap Potty Training, carefully not responding in any way to his requests. Had he ventured off the blanket, I would have gotten up and gently but firmly put him back on the blankets without any eye contact, but by that point in the night, he knew his place, and respected my authority enough to not cross the blanket border. It took a half hour from the point, but finally he went to sleep.

The end of a wildly successful potty training day!

Calm, Consistent, Committed

This potty training is hard work. It takes a calm parent, who is willing to be consistent and is totally committed to the process. Oh look…That’s the 3 C’s of Authority that Jody and I teach: Calm, Consistent, Committed! It’s a formula that works for discipline and clearly for potty training.

Jody and I are super busy, but once our conference was over, I made the commitment to do this for Matty. I cleared my schedule for almost an entire week so that I could focus entirely on this boy. He’s worth it! And teaching him this life skill and setting him up for success is worth it!

Onto Day 4, where we add a new dimension: shorts! Check back in tomorrow to see how it goes.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Potty Training Diaries – Day 2

Potty Magazine

It’s a good thing the book cautioned me about Day 2 or I might have been tempted to throw in the towel.

Author Jamie Glowacki writes, “The second day of potty training is most often the day that parents without a plan (ahem, this book) give up. They think the resistance is a sign of ‘not ready.’ But nothing could be further from the truth. If your child is ready to put up a fight for something he wants, he’s more than ready to put his pee in the potty.”

Oh, and did Matty Jay ever put up a fight! More than once Matty flat out demanded a diaper (his request was firmly denied).

Day 2 felt a bit like having a bad puppy in the house, although Matty was much more cunning than a little puppy. We didn’t always do such a great job at carefully watching him, but he was carefully watching us, and the moment we got distracted and turned our backs, he peed on the floor…and worse!

That boy had four baths on Day 2. FOUR!! Suffice it to say, it was a gross day.

But we learned a few things, and so did Matty Jay.

  1. We learned that a MAJOR key to success in this thing is keeping our eyeballs glued to the boy’s tush, and I mean every single second. No getting a cup of coffee or checking an email or answering a phone call. By the day’s end, we figured out that if one of us had to take our eyes off that toddler for any reason, we had to first assign a different pair of eyeballs to carefully track him.
  2. We learned that over prompting him and pressuring him only leads to resistance. The more relaxed we were, the better he did. When I thought he might be showing signs, I simply said, “Let’s go potty, Matty.”
  3. By the end of the day, we were fully committed to watching him like a hawk and gently prompting him to go.
  4. He had two big successes before the day was through, and those successes made him so visibly proud of himself that we knew we were likely to be in a better place on Day 3.

Night time was a little easier going from Day 2 to Day 3. Matty only woke up two or three times (as opposed to 6 or 7 the night before). He had one pee accident in the bed, but otherwise, it was a decent night.

Stop in tomorrow to find out about the big leap of Day 3!

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Potty Training Diaries – Day 1-ish

potty chair

So we started official potty training yesterday. Matty Jay just turned 21 months, and we have been chomping at the bit to get this underway.

We had originally set D-Day (Diaper Free Day) for the first week in September, but we ended up moving unexpectedly, and it takes a good month to settle into a new house — not ideal for potty training, don’t you agree?. Then we had our first parenting conference, and we knew that we had to wait until that was over.

Which has brought us to Thursday of this week (yesterday)! We’d been talking about it with Matty for weeks, and the day finally came.

In the morning, two of our kids had an American History class and our older daughter was interviewed on a local radio show to promote the opera that she’s performing in next weekend. When we all got home at about 1:00pm D-Day began.

For those of you who are familiar with us, you know that the potty has been a part of Matty’s life since birth. But for us, it wasn’t about raising a diaper free infant. It was about communication and being able to meet another one of our baby’s needs — similar to feeding, dressing, and helping him sleep.

This time, we’re all in. No more diapers! We’re in it to win it.

To gear up for the big day, I read the the BEST potty training book I’ve ever laid eyes on. After training five kids, this is clearly not my first rodeo; I know a good method when I see it, and this one is the best. If you can get past the author’s propensity for four-letter words, it’s a quick read, and it’s chock full of superb potty training tips.

So Day 1 was the naked day. From 1pm until bedtime, Matty Jay was stark raving nude, which helped us quickly discover his cue. Right before he peed, he would stop and stare at the floor right where he was about let it loose.

potty chair

Our big fight on the first day was getting him to use the little potty chair (one we haven’t totally won yet). Since he was about a year old, he’s used this potty seat on the regular toilet. Apparently, he’s developed some kind of prejudice again a little potty chair, but one of our main goals in this whole potty training gig is to give him some level of independence. He’s too little to climb on the big toilet by himself, which means we’d have to put him on every time he has to go. A little potty chair would give him the independence we’re looking for, so helping him make friends with the cute little frog potty is one of our initial goals in this thing.

By the end of the day we had one big success. He asked to use the potty, fully emptied his bladder, reveled in our lavish praises, and enjoyed the rewards of being able to wash his hands in the bathroom sink (a favorite Matty pasttime).

Bedtime added a whole new level of intensity to this process. We made a little floor bed out of blankets beside our bed so I could keep an eye on him throughout the night. He didn’t nurse before bed because I didn’t want to fill his bladder, but it made him sad. He woke up repeatedly through the night, and we took him to the potty, but not much happened. Early in the morning, he wet a small spot on the blankets and finished on the potty.

All in all a difficult but successful first today. More tomorrow about the trials of Day 2.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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