Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Back to the basics of parenting

Around our house, something has obviously began to slack. I would guess consistency on my part. Don't you hate how almost every problem that your children are having can be traced back to you and your own maturity? Parenting is a humbling task.

So, consistency in our discipline and training is lacking. How do I know? If I ask someone to do something, I get a crumpled face and all the reasons they don't want to. When I have to say no to a "Can I?" question, I get fits and "Why?" as a response. When chores are supposed to take 30 minutes, they take an hour because they don't feel like doing them. School is having a hard time staying on schedule because I have to stop so many times to redirect children and keep them on task. Sounds exhausting doesn't it!?!

The Bible instructs me as a parent. I have this list of my responsibilities as a parent posted in my home. Unfortunately, I haven't been reading it lately. Here is what it says:

*Repeat God's Word again and again. (2 Tim. 3:14-15; Col. 3:16)
*Teach them the right path (Prov 22:6)
*Teach them how to be a good spouse (Titus 2:4-5)
*Bring them up with discipline and instruction (Eph. 6:1-4; Prov. 19:18; Heb. 12:1-11)
*I need to know what is going on in my home and not be lazy. (Prov. 31:27)
*Celebrate God's blessings together. (Deut. 12:7)
*Take care of their needs. (1 Tim. 5:8)
*Do not show favoritism between children (Gen. 25:28)
*Forgive. (Luke 15:17-24)
*Speak gently, with grace. (Col. 4:6)

There are many, many more, but this gets me started.

I have many feelings about the word "why." By itself, it is wonderful. It shows interest and desire to learn. I love seeing those characteristics in my children. But, if this simple word is whined after being told to do something or that they can't do something, it is like nails running down a chalk board. I have several thoughts about this.

First, I don't remember being told why as a child. Many things were just because without the teaching side to it. When parents instruct without teaching, the danger is that their children will part from it. When I grew older, I didn't have any sound reasoning for sticking to the rules that were given. I reasoned things out in my own immature way, and formed my new rules for living life. This said, I think is is VERY important to explain and teach the reasoning you would like your children to adopt.

Second, I now believe in "Because I told you so!" Growing up, I hated these words and swore to never say them to my children. I didn't for a long time. The problem came when my first was about three or four. Then, every single instruction that she didn't like turned into a debate, a negotiation. I used all the words I could come up with to explain my reasoning to this child. I was determined to get my "why" across. Did this work? No. Why? In the heat of the moment is not the appropriate time to discuss the why's.  Children need to learn to respect the authority over them. If they cannot respect my or my husband's authority, then how are we to teach them to respect God's authority? This sends them down a very scary path.

So, how do you make sense of all of this? Our rule (which we are enforcing again after being lax) is immediate obedience with a happy heart. They must obey! Right then! Without a fit! Then, after they have obeyed, if they didn't understand my decision, we can discuss it calmly. Also, if I see that there is confusion or anger in them because of the decision, I make sure to pull the child aside once they are calm and the emotion of the situation has past. This is when teaching and instruction happens.

I don't know if it is working, but my desire is that my children would learn to respect our authority, trusting with their whole hearts that we love them and want what is best for them. If they truly believe this, if we have a close relationship with them, then later when bigger decisions have to be made and they don't like our choice, they will at least have peace knowing that we made that choice because it is what we truly felt was best for them. We may disagree. We may get angry, but it is possible to have close relationship with our children so that they trust our unconditional love for them and our desire for them to have a wonderful life.

In our house lately, there has been lots of fits, lots of procrastination, and lots of negotiations. No more. We are going back to the basics. "Yes, mam," or "Yes, mom" is what I will expect to hear. Then, after the obedience, I look forward to those wonderful chats where hearts are shared openly and safely and teaching and instruction can happen.

When, will I remember that God's plan is best? When will I quit trying out my way? Parenting is humbling. It is also such a wonderful picture of our relationship with God our Father. I hope to have a heart to heart soon with Him! Just like our child loves to climb up into our lap and enjoy sweet snuggles while talking together, our Father looks forward to those times with us! Thank you God, for placing so many examples of your love in our life so that we can even begin to understand our relationship with you!


Granny said...

Wonderful, Amy :-)

Denise said...

Oh my goodness! I certainly needed to read several posts in your blog today! I was just talking to my husband on the phone today telling him we needed a weekend get away & I am frustrated! :)
I too have become more lax in enforcing the happy obedience now rule. Thanks for the reminder....