Wednesday, August 20

Peace of your children

Peace? Children? Huh?

"And all your children shall be disciples, taught of the Lord and obedient to His will, and great shall be the peace of your children." -Isaiah 54:13

There is a parenting mindset, which is very easy to fall into, that says it makes more sense to discipline them after they are old enough to process information better. When they understand the consequences of their actions and why I make the requests that I do, then they are ready to receive discipline. I slip into it with my girls far too easily. The key to this is in the definitions. Define your terms. Discipline means teaching. Guiding. Training. It is not the same as punishment. Punishment is a tool for teaching, used after the lesson has been taught and learned but has been disregarded. Punishment comes in many different forms, many of which are natural consequences, and I'm not touching the punishment definition with a ten foot pole today. But discipline is near and dear to my heart at the moment, so I'm going to touch that one.

They learn right from wrong by being taught right from wrong. I can't wait until they sin and then get angry at them for sinning. They will sin. And so will we. That is a given. I need to walk with them. I need to communicate with them. I need to explain why something is not acceptable. I need to let them know what is expected and I need to stop having low expectations about what they are capable of understanding. My goal is for them to yield their will to the will of God someday. If they cannot submit to my will now, how difficult will it be for them as adults to submit to God after a life of self-gratification? It is not fair to them for me to not train them now.

They must learn that we don't do things (or not do things) because we feel like it. "Because I wanted to" is a phrase that has shown up much too frequently in our house lately, especially from my girls. They must learn how to choose to do right when they so desperately want to do wrong. And who doesn't want to choose wrong? I told Honor that I wanted to take a bubble bath and read a book and go to bed.....but if I did that, we wouldn't have supper, clean clothing, or time together as a family. What I want to do is not always what I should do. She's learning right now. She does receive consistent correction and someday, I will be able to trust that she will strive to make the right decision because she will have learned that we don't make decisions about what is right or wrong based on what we FEEL like. We base it on what is RIGHT and what is WRONG. (Debate with someone else if you feel those definitions aren't found in the bible.) Rather than repeat my instructions to them over and over again and then get frustrated when my children sin, I need to disciple before, during, and after the sin.

I hurt for parents that don't know it's possible to enjoy their kids. Or even harder for some to know, it is possible for other people to enjoy their kids. I had families over last week and was floored at the ignorance in the parents. I don't mean that as an insult. I mean it as the true definition of the word ignorant. They truly did not know there were alternatives to wildness and rudeness. It's "just the way kids are." Because these families had visited before and left the kids' bedrooms destroyed, I declared the bedrooms off limits. Everyone was invited to play outside. Repeatedly, the children marched right past their parents and into the bedrooms. The parents sat still. I got up and removed them from the bedrooms and repeated my instructions. It never occurred to a parent to say, "Since you cannot obey and stay out of the bedroom, you will sit with me and not play anywhere." Another option (if they attempt to throw a hissy fit) would be to say "Since you are being unpleasant to be around, we will go home now so that you can go to bed. It's not fair to make other people listen to you behave like this." Yes, it is unpleasant for the parent at the moment, but so much more pleasant for the parent (and everyone else within earshot) for the long run.

The sneaky boogers managed to get in the bedroom without my knowing it and destroyed the bedroom. Playdough was appropriated from the kitchen and crumbled in the bedroom. Peanut butter was smeared. Soy sauce was dripped on the carpet. No parents were shocked. Of all of them, only one mom stayed to help clean up and insist her children also clean.

I believe wholeheartedly that children will strive to meet your expectations. Unfortunately, we, as parents tend to set the expectations rather low for kids anymore. How often do you hear a parents sigh and say "I don't know what I'm going to do with her?" or how about "Well, you know how teenagers are." The most frustrating is the frustrated sigh, followed with "I don't know where he gets this!" Really? You really don't? I heard this recently after a mom repeated herself at least 5 times, saying "You will sit here. You cannot move over there. Don't move past this row." Her son walked right past her, up three rows, and had a seat. The mom didn't make a move. She sighed, rolled her eyes, and said "That's my son," as if it was typical and to be expected. The truth is, the little boy knew that mom was predictable and that his mother would do nothing to stop him. He knew it was totally safe to walk over mom's imaginary line. There was no real line.

So here's my big piece of advice for parents: (including myself)

Don't say it if you don't mean it. If you will not follow through or seen that your instructions are followed through, please don't say it. Kids want to know where your line is. Is it when you give the instruction or is it after you've repeated the instruction and your voice has raised several decibels? Trust me, even if you think you "really meant it the first time", your children know when you mean it enough to affect them.


Ginger said...

Wow Jenn, I have been feeling this exact stuff. I just blogged and linked to you. GREAT stuff. You said it so much better than I could. Thank you!!!!

Lawanda said...


It is weird. I say this exact same thing all the time ~

"If they cannot submit to my will now, how difficult will it be for them as adults to submit to God ......."

You have every right to be upset. I would be very ticked off. I cannot STAND it when people tell me I am lucky to have girls because boys are so horrible.

I babysat plenty of boys and they are ALWAYS good for me, tyvm. Because I am *with* them. I am not ignoring their behavior, good or bad. I address it either way. And sorry, but kids appreciate that. You call it discipline (and I agree) and that is exactly what most kids lack anymore. And it makes me SAD!!

That one dude caught a lot of flack for his comment about how over diagnosed ADHD and autism is. But let me tell ya. I know it is.

I know so many people who have their kids on meds, and it makes me sick, because I see that it is lack of discipline, and lack of attention from their parents that is making the kids behave that way. NOT some disorder.

(And I am NOT talkin about the kids who actually DO have the disorder. I have babysat for kids with Autism, and it is obvious also that they have the disorder.)

Okay. And now I will step down off the soapbox. Sorry to be so longwinded!!!!

Anonymous said...

Kuddos for you girl. Give yourself a big pat on the back and some delicious chocolate. It is so time that parents pratice parenting and no means no. I thank you for my wonderful grandchildren. Have a blessed day.MIL

Jessica said...

ACK! i can't see what you wrote! i'm going to throw this computer off a cliff! if it's not too much trouble, could you copy and paste and email to me? :)

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