Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Parenting Truths

Recently I had a very humbling interaction that caused me to reflect on some key parenting truths.  I received an email from a college friend of mine who is a newer parent.  She and her husband have been thinking and talking about discipline.  Her email to me was in regard to this topic and she basically asked me if I had any suggestions or "sage words of advice."  Bless her heart, first of all, for the generous implications of that question.  But, I will say that it caused me to do some thinking.  I do not consider myself to be an expert; anyone who has spent any time with my children can bear witness that I haven't mastered the area of discipline.  However, I think I have solidified a few key truths and I am sure of their infinite value.  Here is a portion of my response letter to this dear mom.
Good to hear from you! Thanks so much for the kind words. The fact that you'd even ask me such an important question is an encouraging compliment. Not so sure I'm the person to ask....
You guys are so wise to start thinking and talking about discipline for [your child]! It's never too early. At a young age they may not respond to much, but they are learning that your voice can bring a correction. I think there are so many parenting and disciplinary styles out there and I really don't think I could say one is right (or even more right) and one is wrong. We are all different, therefore, we parent differently! I love watching how people parent differently. We can learn so much from other parents, especially if something is really working for them--or something else is really not working for us. I would probably say that the most important keys are love, prayer, and consistency (at least from my experience)!
Love isn't tough when they are young (and so daggon cute) but as they grow and develop personality and independence (and show that rebellious nature that's in all of us) we have to SHOW LOVE actively and continually to them....because we may be doing a whole lot of discipline.  Prayer is so important because even if we don't see an immediate answer or change, it opens that line of communication with their (and our) Creator--He knows our kids best--and knows how we tic too!  Consistency is sooooooo key and it's soooooooo hard (esp. as they are in the tough toddler years). Not that I never deal w/ behavior issues with Jaden (mostly attitude actually) but by 7 he has learned to obey, make pretty good decisions, and cooperate with the family. For me the ages of 3, 4, and 5 are very, very tough. I'm struggling quite a bit with Luke (5). It feels like NONSTOP discipline some days. But, as discouraging as that may feel, I KNOW that I'm plowing through good soil. He will benefit in the long run from our consistency. But, we do mess up which leads to the final key that I failed to mention.....GRACE! God gives us plenty as parents, thankfully. It's really hard work, though I'd never give it up!! He wants us to extend grace toward our children too!
I have full confidence that you will do a remarkable job with [your child]! You have a good, solid foundation. Honestly, I could not do this without Ron and I know [your husband] is a wonderful partner to you!
I was reminded of some solid truths while responding to my friend's email.  These truths do not change, even though I will and my children will.  I believe what I wrote!  Parenting is a gift but it is also a very challenging job with very little vacation time.  I know that with love, prayer, consistency, and grace as the foundation, every attempt at discipline will be acceptable and profitable...eventually!  Without love, prayer, consistency, and grace, it is impossible (in my strong belief) to parent with any amount of success.  These are a good and solid starting point for every parent.  And, by the way, it's never too late to start again~there is grace!

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