I've shared before, and will hopefully continue to do so, about how my Emma has needed some real focused training and disciplining in her short 8 years. She is much different than my Ethan, and the areas in which they struggle with disobedience is much different. As they are getting older, Ethan will be 11 in November and Emma just turned 8, I find myself questioning when they need to be disciplined with our good ol' wooden paddle, and when it isn't necessary.
I couldn't rest Saturday night, so I grabbed this book by Mr. James Dobson, and just dove in.
After just a few pages, he is pointing out when to spank and when not to, I came across this paragraph and it was huge for me...
Third: Distinguish between Willful Defiance and Childish Irresponsibility
A Child should not be spanked for behavior that is not willfully defiant. When he forgets to feed the dog or make his bed or take out the trash--when he leaves your tennis racket outside in the rain or loses his bicycle--remember that these behaviors are typical of childhood. It is, more than likely, the mechanism by which an immature mind is protected from adult anxieties and pressures. Be gentle as you teach him to do better. If he fails to respond to your patient instruction, it then becomes appropriate to administer some well-defined consequences (he may have to work to pay for the item he abused or be deprived of its use,etc.). However, childish irresponsibility is very different from willful defiance, and should be handled more patiently.
What did that just say? I had to go back over it. Then I had to ask Greg to mute the TV and let me read it to him. Then I had to stop and pray.
Lord, thank you. Thank you for showing me this. All too often, because of my high expectations for Ethan and Emma's behavior, I choose to view their irresponsibility as disrespect, or disobedience. I'm embarrassed by it, and think they should be better at performing because I've invested a lot into making them better. I'm ashamed for my ignorance, but so thankful for God's choosing to open my eyes through this simple little paragraph.
I recommend picking up a copy of The Strong-Willed Child, and taking the time to actually read it. I have a couple favorite parenting books, and haven't finished this one to say much more, but so far, so worth it.
I want children who are a blessing to me and those around them. I'm thankful that they are responding to the path of discipline Greg and I have chosen. Although still two little humans who fall short, I see the benefit of taking responsibility for their behavior.
It wasn't long ago that I was the frazzled mama with a very active 2 year old little girl touching everything that could possibly poison her while her 4 year old brother ran from me as I called after him over and over. I'm not on a high horse, rather on a journey along with you other mamas out there. I have had my share of struggles, and will continue to do so, I just don't want to see others make the same mistakes I was making if something could help you along the way.
So, consider your options when it comes to training, shepherding, and disciplining. Educate yourself on what you should be expecting from your babes. Pray for them. Pray for you. It is better to sit quietly while they disobey over and over than it is to threaten a consequence you aren't prepared to carry out.
What a wonderful job weI have! I love that the majority of my thoughts, energy, and focus can be on my husband, my children, and my home. May the Lord continue to bless this journey, because I don't want to be anywhere else.
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