Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Creative Correction

So I do not write this because I am a stellar parent and have all the best ideas at how to steer four little hearts to Jesus.. But I pray that God continues to give me wisdom in how to discipline and parent our kids and I know I got the small bit I have from great books, trial and error, prayer, and being around other awesome moms who are trying to be intentional.
I am so pumped Lil Light O' Mine decided to do this blog link up and I cannot wait to read the other posts from other mamas trying to tackle this job of being a light to babies, toddlers, elementary schoolers and beyond. This is my toughest assignment and I try to take it seriously and live each day with intentionality and consistency as I attempt to train our kids to Love God, respect selves, authority and others, treat people with kindness, choose joy and generosity, be on the look out for ways to serve, and love well. 
And first off, two of my favorite parenting books have been Scream Free Parenting by Hal Runkel and Don't make me count to 3 by Ginger plowman. 
Lets start with what we have determined our family values to be (written about in this post) so I can focus on what I am actually trying to TEACH my children instead of just saying no no no all the time. I feel like you need to know the qualities you want your children want to have and embody your discipline around those traits. For us, through 3 years of prayer and figuring it out, we've decided these are the values we want to pass to our children. 

1. Family/Relationships- We will put high worth on healthy communication, forgiveness and respect for each other.
2. Humility- We will remember who we are in Christ and therefore see extreme value in others.
3. Faith- We will put our trust in Christ and the word of God and live it out in action.
4. Gratitude- We will have an attitude of thankfulness knowing we deserve nothing and Christ has already given us everything.
5. Stewardship/Generosity- We will share and give generously of all God has entrusted to us.

Now, Here are some of our main issues and how we try to address them daily. 
1. Arguing- with a 7, 5 1/2, 5 and 2 year old this is a big one in our house. Arguing is usually rooted in the fact that I'm not getting my way. We've memorized the verse "do all things without complaining or arguing" but this is just the command. Not the heart behind it. I do my kids an injustice to give them a command without pointing them to Gods heart behind it and that the "rule" was given in love, for our protection, and with our best in mind. One of our values is healthy relationships in our family and arguing butts up against that in a big way. When an argument breaks out, I stop them and ask if this is how we want to treat each other. Is it kind? Is what we are saying true? Is it how we want to be treated. Is there a better way we could try it again with kindness and work it out in a loving way? I am trying to teach my kids how to think. How to think about interacting with others, how to think through a problem or issue. This is more important then getting them to stop arguing.  However, if all else fails, saran wrapping the two arguers together until they work it out is a great option.
2. Tattling- this is especially big with one unmentioned child in our house. :) Tattling at its root wants to make the other person get in trouble usually this making yourself looking like an angel child while pointing out the flaws in your sibling. It bites at humility and relationships. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 tackles the main issues with tattling. It is not kind, it is boasting, it is delighting in evil, it is not usually protecting, and it is proud. We talk about this verse and think if we really do delight in seeing someone else get in trouble. My main tactic here is that I know when it is coming. As soon as that child approaches me and they get their siblings name out of their mouth, I ask them to stop. I asked if they've talked to their sibling about it with kind words. Usually its a no and they go back and work it out on their own. If they have we go together and work it out taking turns speaking so they can get the hang of it. 
3. Taking- this strikes right at the heart of another two of our values. Generosity and Humility. Taking is an "I want it now" impulse, not putting others first or sharing.  So we talk about sharing and how we feel when someone shares with us, we talk about how we feel when someone takes from us. We talk about what it looks like to use our words to talk about what we want and make a good choice. 
4. Disrespect- This is one we have crept into over the last 2 years. Few things get under my skin more than this. So it is usually an internal battle for me to take a second and get over the fact that I think 'Ive been wronged' and deal with the issue at hand so my anger is not a factor in the dispute. This is a big deal in our home. We tell our kids, God picked us to be your mom and dad and he gave us the job to point you to Him. When you disrespect us, you are really disrespecting God, his choice of us, and the fact that he has set us as authority over you. If it is a smaller offense we use the old "Try that again with respect". If it escalates to any arm crossing (NOT OK in our home) or stomping then we talk through the why's of their behavior and how their words and body language have the power to hurt others. Direct Defiance and Crossing the line disrespect still get a pop on the leg with a wooden spoon in this house. Call me crazy or mean or whatever.
5. Ungratefulness/Whining- This one is my other top grievance that gets under my skin personally. Usually it looks subtle. I put the dinner plate down and someone says "no! Not this. Yuck!" or someone gets a toy at school or dentist or whatever and someone asks "Hey I wanted one of those, why didn't I get one!" Or, the dreaded phrase in our house that is a HUGE no no for our family is the words "No Fair!" Nothing makes me want to go postal on my kid as when I hear those words. I have to physically restrain myself from pulling up google images of starving kids with their ribs poking out, or kids walking miles to collect dirty water when my kids say no fair. Not fair? I'll show you not fair. But, I realize that may not be the best route. ;) So we say, we have to choose to have a thankful heart, even when it may not look like much to be thankful for. We have to choose not to envy (working on this definition in our home) and choose to rejoice with our sibling that got the gift and be thankful they did. This is tough. I give them life examples of how my attitude sometimes isn't grateful and how God gave us the ultimate gift and everything else on top of that is just extra. 

6. Attitude- this goes along with disrespect a bit I guess. But I think the tendency is as girls age is to just write off their attitudes as "girls being girls". This is not ok. I have got to address the attitude first. With my oldest this is so important because she is my pleaser, my rule follower, but you can see the heart in her attitude. She may be obeying all the things I ask but I can see the attitude of her heart and that it is not sincere or out of a desire to Love God in that way, but that its just an empty action with a rotten attitude behind it. So we try to address the attitude, not just the outward behavior. This is tough and one I am just getting into more an more. I am trying to fill her heart with verses about guarding her heart, clothing herself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, people look at the outward appearance the Lord looks at the heart, etc. We ask each other regularly for forgiveness for our attitudes because it really starts with my vulnerability to apologize and make an example of my mistakes and shortcomings as well. We have to choose joy even in the midst of tough stuff, and ask God to "clean the yuck" out of our hearts daily so we can love and serve each other with a joyful heart.

I recognize I am scraping the surface of this parenting stuff. John and I sat down the other night and realized in 7 years we will have a 14 year old, two 12 year olds and a 9 year old. That will be a whole different trenches of parenting. I pray that God continues to use me to point them to him, and that he shapes and molds their hearts into more like his. All of my efforts are in vain if he isn't at the forefront. Salvation belongs to the Lord, not me. I cannot make my kids believe, but I pray our home is an environment where believing comes easily and a practicing grounds for how to be a loyal friend, a submitted spouse, a cheerful giver, a humble co-worker, a hard working student. I put all my efforts at the foot of the cross and ask him to multiply my weak and feeble attempts.
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  1. Love the honesty of your post!

  2. I love this so much. You have so much wisdom. Thank you for sharing!!

  3. Oh my goodness. THANK YOU!!!!!!! This is just what I needed to read!!!!! I have a 5, 4, 2, and 9 month old and those issues are EXACTLY the ones we are dealing with. Fighting pretty much takes the cake, with disrespect/whining coming in a close 2nd. I love the ideas you have written about and the family rules you have implemented. THANK YOU for sharing!!!!! Our goal has been to use scripture and pointing them back to God and praying, but we have come to a wall where we are shaking our heads like "it's not working!" So, thank you for these practical, Christ centered idea. I wish we could have coffee together! HA!

  4. i am SO FIRED UP and excited you contributed on this topic. i seriously was going to text you and beg you. i consider you an expert on this. i heart you friend.