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Discipline with Grace

I came across an article this week that I can’t get off my mind. I have been doing something similar to this for awhile now, but I love her 3 questions and wanted to share them.

Click here to view the post.

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“Love” Parenting

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This perfectly describes what I was writing about: Parenting from love, not fear.  I have to remind myself of this difference daily!

Disciplining in Love …and not from fear

31501-Love-Vs-Fear
Do you know what fear leads to? Anger.

When it comes to discipline, anger is selfish. It comes from embarrassment, impatience, and a desire to correct wrongs that have been done to US. It’s immature. And it’s a thin line: you can spank your child if it’s the expected punishment for bad behavior; but spanking your child because you are caught up in a moment of raging anger is not helpful for anyone. You will feel guilty later, making it difficult for you to be consistent, and your child, instead of learning, is just fearful of you and feeling unloved. When you lash out in anger born of fear, you make it about YOUR behavior; instead of being focused on their behavior and how to correct it, they are experiencing the results of your inability to control your emotions.

Awhile back, I realized I had made most of my discipline decisions out of fear. If I don’t hurry up and pick a discipline method and stay unerringly consistent, I thought, my daughter will be rambunctious, never listen, and grow into a disrespectful and disobedient child/troubled teen/worthless adult. And then, if we were around anyone else, I’d be so aware of their presence and imagine that they were judging every word I said and every move I made while disciplining my child. Let’s be honest: it is exceedingly difficult not to think about other people’s opinions when you’re disciplining in front of them.

I don’t know if it’s a stage of life I’ve grown into, more life experience, or if having 3 kids close together just made me too busy to care, but at some point I stopped worrying. I didn’t have time or energy to be concerned about what other people thought of my ‘parenting style’. I did, however, go through a dark period in which I was very unpleasant to be around – at least to my immediate family anyway. I was angry a lot, and yelled a lot, and didn’t show very much love at all. Thankfully those are the kind of seasons (difficult ones) that we learn the most from, if we’re smart.

So now, when a situation represents itself (and when I can keep my head clear enough), I examine my motives: Am I reacting out of fear of something? Or am I acting to teach my children desirable behaviors and attitudes? If it’s the latter, I am in the guilt-free clear zone. But if it’s the former, I do my best to correct my response, and even apologize if my behavior was really bad. (Side note: Yes, I apologize to my kids if/when I’m wrong. Our kids need to know that we aren’t perfect. Otherwise, they will not only be jaded about us, but also feel the need to live up to that same perfection.)

So what changed? Here are a few specific things that have helped me:
1. Stop fearing what other people will think of your parenting based on your child(ren)’s behavior. Children are unpredictable in a lot of ways. They act differently at home than they do away from home. Sometimes that’s good, sometimes it’s bad. But one episode does not define your child, so stop acting like it does. “They’re embarrassing me” is not a good reason to lash out in anger born of fear.
2. Stop fearing they’ll never ‘get it‘. I’ve noticed that I don’t have to be violently angry or even super strict for them to understand a concept. I come down to their level, speak in a clear calm voice, and explain why their behavior was wrong. If possible I quote scripture. They apologize and make amends where necessary. And you know what? They get it. But if you’re afraid they’ll never get it, you’ll react out of hopelessness, despair, frustration. Why keep trying if you doubt they’ll get it? Like anything, it sometimes takes several corrections, but they DO get it. Even if I’m not spanking or giving time outs. Which leads me to…
3. Stop fearing if you don’t discipline a certain way (consistent, firm hand, time outs, spankings, etc) it won’t work. Because you know what? Our God is about grace. He knows we are not perfect, and that’s why He sent His only Son to redeem us. That is how we can be in relationship with Him in the first place. So wherever we are imperfect, He fills in the gaps through the power of Jesus Christ. (2 Cor 12:9 – “My power is made perfect in weakness.”) Tell me that’s not comforting and freeing!!! (Even if you do, I won’t believe you; my mind’s made up.) So stop fearing that you’re doing it wrong, or your lack of consistency will breed a wild child. Give yourself room to mess up. If you are consistent MOST of the time, and parent out of love, God will do the rest. Remember too that each situation is different. Take the time to know your children individually. Sometimes a spanking might be the best way to teach. Sometimes taking a beloved toy or lovey gets the point across better. You don’t necessarily have to be consistent with your METHOD – just with your love and correction. God is not a God of rules… He’s a God of Grace.
4. Stop fearing what kind of kids they’ll be when they grow up if you don’t ‘succeed’. Hand them over to God. They are not yours anyway. We have merely been given the privilege of raising them to adults. They never really belong to us. Our job is to “train them in the way they should go” (Prov 22:6), pray unceasingly for their hearts to know Jesus, pray for their future, and TRUST OUR GOD that He loves them more than we do. Isn’t that reassuring, refreshing, and… easier? 
When you trust God to reinforce what you are doing your best to teach, you will be SO much less stressed… and happier. Therefore your children will be happier… and more obedient too.

Also remember these two points:
1. Imperfect is normal.
2. Our kids learn right and wrong from us. They really have no idea what is okay or not until we teach them. Instead of being frustrated they don’t already KNOW, calm down and realize it is your job to TEACH them.

Ever heard that phrase People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care?

Parenting out of love is kind of like WWJD – more like What DID Jesus do? How has he loved you in the past? How has he loved you into desiring to change? Sometimes, for me, it’s been when I’m in the midst of loud, chaotic, raging messes and coming to Him completely honest and ugly. And imperfect.
IMPERFECT, that’s the key. When we stop being so afraid of messing up, God is able to teach us the next step. When we admit we’re wrong or angry or ignorant, He gently and lovingly whispers what to do next. He’ll point out a flaw. Or illuminate a wrong attitude. He’ll show you exactly what thoughts need to be changed and how to adjust them. Scripture says if we “humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God” He will “heal our land”. He will fix what’s broken. Which is the whole point, because when our kids mess up, they’re being imperfect too. If God can meet us in our imperfections, we should be able to meet our kids in theirs. That’s what love is about – not being afraid of facing the ugly, scary, unknown, uncertain, imperfect, messy stuff. When they are in their raging messes, and we meet them there, they are loved into learning how better to love. Teach them love through your actions, and they will copy your actions and love better too. That’s why your method doesn’t have to be consistent; we’re teaching them to love, and love always wins.

I want to parent like God parents me:
– with a quiet voice

– never in a place of fear
– always with their best interests at heart – based on what you know is right for them. God knows what’s in our future. Even though we don’t know what’s in our kids’ future, we can pull from past experiences and trust God with the rest.
– with love casting out their fear and mine, inviting them to a place where they can come higher and choose God’s love over any fear.

In this video on parenting, Mark Hall puts it perfectly: “Love earns the right to speak truth… That’s how Jesus could say hard core stuff to you and you’d sit there and listen to it – because you knew He loved you.”
2 Tim 1 7

Click here for another message by Executive Pastor Steve Carter detailing how we act from love or fear.

Honest Mom Series – Feature #3, Kelly

Welcome to the 3rd feature in the Honest Mom series! Click here to read the previous installment.

View More: http://studiopopinc.pass.us/kelly-and-dave-1

Meet 33 year old Kelly, wife to Dave and mom to 2 adorable boys: smart, particular Rory (4 1/2) and easy going, charming Ian (2 1/2). Dave and Kelly are very entrepreneurial-minded. They’re great at DIY projects – in the traditional sense, around the home, but also on yourself – fitness, health, and bettering yourself are all areas they seem to incorporate in their every day life. Kelly is a SAHM, but always involved in projects – real estate, for example, and her new online fitness/health business.

A little about her: Dave and Kelly met in LaCrosse, Wisconsin at college. She has a degree in marketing while Dave has his in Exercise Sport Science with a minor in business. They’ve been married 8 years. Kelly’s been home with her boys for 5 years while staying active with various interests. Dave owns a sports training center and she’s getting her online fitness program off the ground. She loves steak and sushi, and calls herself crazy for liking activities like skydiving, hang gliding, bungee jumping, and rock climbing. She would love to go back to Mexico where she and Dave were married, and some day take her boys to visit all the castles in Ireland. (Dave and Kelly have a thing with castles!)

When asked about her parenting style, Kelly says they do whatever feels right for their family. She likes to take in all the advice from others and choose what works for them – this includes discipline, food choices, sleep ‘training’, etc. When asked about their parenting philosophy, she says, “We just want to have fun and see everyone laugh every day.”

Can you describe a typical day at your house, including bedtime routine? The boys wake up around 7:30 and we leave a banana or orange out for them. They turn on cartoons until one of us gets up. Dave and I alternate mornings. It’s pretty great! We have a real breakfast together around 9 (unless it’s a preschool day). Lunch is around noon, snack around 3 and dinner around 6 (but we are VERY flexible). Bed between 7:30-8pm in their shared room. Bedtime routine includes baths every other night, brushing teeth, reading books, and singing a few songs of their choice. They have been going right to sleep. I can’t believe I can finally say that after many struggles! Rory didn’t sleep through the night until 13 months old, but Ian has slept through the night perfectly since about 8 weeks old. They are SO different. My favorite part of our schedule is 8-10:30pm. Dave and I almost always spend it together: talking, watching whatever series we have on our DVR, and we sometimes (well, pretty often) have a glass of wine and cheese & crackers. Then we get ready to start over.

Can you tell us in more detail about your bedtime struggles? Rory has never liked to sleep. We tried EVERYTHING with him. After 12 months of getting up every night we finally let him cry after I stopped nursing (at 13 months old) and it took 33 minutes before he passed out the first night, 23 the second night, 5 the third night and he’s been sleeping ever since. I know that’s controversial but it worked for us and I have no regrets.

What kind of activities do you do with the boys? We try to do fun games and projects at home. We also take the kids out to lunch weekly and they usually want to go to Chick-fil-a to play at their play area or the TreeHouse in Lake Zurich. In the summer we walk to the beach and park everyday.

How do you split up the housework? Dave takes out the garbage, makes some of the meals and does a lot of the grocery shopping. I (try my best) to keep the house/toys/dishes/laundry under control.

What are the boys responsible for? They have clean-up time for toys at night, and Rory has to dress himself.

How do you discipline them? We mostly follow “1-2-3 Magic” and give timeouts or alone time to cool off. I’ll just say that having little kids is not easy. I had no idea how frustrating they can be. We don’t really have house rules – we are pretty easy-going. Except – no yelling in the house has been the biggest one lately.

Do you have meals or nutritional guidelines? Yep, we eat mostly real, unprocessed food at home so that we never feel guilty about birthday cake, special treats etc. Breakfast is usually eggs & bacon or a green smoothie, they would eat PB&Js for lunch everyday if I let them, sometimes I make homemade chicken nuggets or deli meat rollups. Dinner is usually meat and a couple veggies. We usually skip the breads/pastas but we don’t obsess over our diets or rule out any particular food.

Tell me more about the method you use to teach your boys nutrition. I am really against feeding kids junk. Special treats and parties are great but they really need to be eating unprocessed foods most of the time. We teach Green light, yellow light, red light foods (foods that are always, sometimes, rarely ever okay to eat). They also love to learn what different food does for you: build muscles, make you taller, give you energy, etc. We consider a mostly unprocessed food diet to be non-negotiable in our home. It’s a priority for me to help our kids learn healthy habits right now that they will take with them through life. Plus, they don’t get sick as often and less doctor visits saves money too 🙂

 What do you say to parents who are afraid feeding their kids almost all unprocessed food is outside of their budget? There are definitely ways to keep costs down and still eat healthy.
1)Growing your own vegetables in the summer (the kids love this)
2)Shopping at farmers markets for fresh produce.
3)Stock up on frozen veggies and even buy fresh berries in bulk and freeze them.
4)Start reading labels and choose better alternatives to what you are already buying.
I recently found a spaghetti sauce on the shelves right next to the one I used to buy (for the same price) and it was SO much better. It had all ingredients that I would use if I were making my own sauce and had no added preservatives, sugar, food dyes, or words I couldn’t pronounce. WooHoo!
These are my 6 Simple steps to start label reading:
http://www.fitfamilylifestyle.com/#!Food-Label-Reading-for-Beginners-6-Simple-Tips/cwmm/FF27B29D-BEB2-4780-A7AF-475A31F9CDEC

Focusing on you… Do you get time to yourself? When and how? I’ve been taking time to myself to simply workout (at home) and shower…sometimes that seems like a luxury. Dave and I also build art and tables and have an Etsy Shop called BuiltConcrete.

When do you find time for that – do you involve the boys in the building? We are blessed with a lot of time. Dave works for 3-5 hours each afternoon so we have most mornings together. One of us plays with the kids while the other works on whatever project we have going on. Teamwork! They go to preschool 3 mornings/week too. Sometimes the kids help out if we are working on something that they can do like gluing blocks on a board to make an art piece. 

What do you consider to be your greatest strength? Love. I’m pretty good at making up art projects, dancing, and tickling bellies too.

What do you struggle with most in daily life? The fighting. The boys are 2 years apart and fight all the time. When I hear myself yelling I usually stop and try to figure out what other ways we can solve whatever problem is going on without involving my emotions.  I’m also realizing that I used to judge parents for so many things that I now find myself doing. We always said “our kids won’t do that!” It’s pretty funny. I feel bad that I had those thoughts about other parents before I had my own kids. 

Ian crying because I gave him the wrong sippy cup.

Ian crying because I gave him the wrong sippy cup.

Rory crying

Rory crying because he didn’t want to leave yet

What do you think is the biggest challenge for moms in this generation? It feels like there is a lot of pressure to do everything and do it perfectly. Keep kids happy/entertained/educated, keep house clean, meals prepared, workout and even do something professionally and/or have hobbies. I realize that I can’t do it all. So usually the house is a mess and the kids are playing on their iPads or watching TV at some point since it’s winter. But we are all happy!

What’s a lesson you’ve learned the hard way from parenting? Try not to judge difficult children (and their parents!). Rory has been a handful since birth and I really think parents that have all calm or even children with regular temperaments will still judge and never quite understand. Like I talked about, naps and bedtime used to be a huge struggle, and Rory was the type that had NO flexibility with naps. We could not stay at a friend’s house and nap later or skip naps. For a year of my life I drove around to get him to take naps – but I actually started to enjoy it. I would make a hot drink and grab a book or magazine (since he would fall asleep then I could park someplace).  Now Ian is the opposite – he has been VERY flexible so it’s interesting having both sides.

What is your greatest hope for your boys? That they will grow up to be great friends and be happy and successful.

View More: http://studiopopinc.pass.us/kelly-and-dave-1

You can check out Kelly’s new fitness site (specially tailored for busy moms!) complete with free 14-day workout program, 20-minute at home workouts, meal ideas, and encouraging Facebook group here: www.FitFamilyLifestyle.com .

A lesson in Endurance, Confidence, & Gratitude

There are some parenting situations where I wonder if I’m making the right decision. You know that old saying, “choose your battles”? Sometimes I think, why get all worked up about this? It’s not that important. and I’ll drop it. But there are other times when I stick to my guns and even though I’m second-guessing myself inside, when I follow through, I am pleased with the results – and my kids learn something.

Case in point: We had A’s friend birthday party this past weekend. I had the thank you cards ready to go. I wanted her to write them out herself. Why?
1. I didn’t have time at that particular moment to do it myself (enter a little bit of guilt).
2. I want her to learn from it: that it’s important to officially thank people (especially via cards in this electronic society – it’s almost becoming a lost art – one that I haven’t taken the time to teach her in the past); also the discipline of having a project and seeing it through to completion.

So I wondered, how can I make this as easy as possible for her, while still giving her ownership over it?

Here’s what I came up with:
I wrote out a script of sorts. On paper it looked like this:
Dear ____,
Thank you for coming to my party!
I really liked the _____.
Love, Aubrey

Then below that, I wrote out each attendee’s name and what they gifted her. Most gave her more than one thing, so I wrote out each item, with a line in between each girl/gift to form rows. I explained to her where to write each girl’s name, and how to write in the gifts in the “I really liked the ___” area. I told her, “You don’t have to write EVERY thing they gave you – you can choose one or two items and thank them for the ones that were your favorite. Then, check their name off the list so you know you did that person already.”

This worked out so much better than I had hoped. What started out as a time saver/discipline activity ended up being a confidence booster, learning opportunity, and very valuable life skill.

She did the thank you cards in two batches. She carefully chose which gift(s) to thank her guests for, occasionally asking me what the words said. This also served to remind her who gave her each gift. By the last few cards, she was writing some of the words herself, without looking back at the script. She’d come to me and excitedly say, “MOM!!” I wrote ‘coming’ without even looking!!!” She was so proud of herself. I rejoiced with her, and realized that this activity was also helping her memorize how to spell words – a handful which she didn’t know yet. Even when she had a couple cards left and asked me for help, I explained that she only had those two left, she was doing such a great job, and just to keep working until she was finished. (A lesson in perseverance and discipline.)

She sealed all the cards herself, and even drew decorations on the envelope of each card. (An opportunity to exercise her creativity!)image

What did I learn from this experience?
*She is absolutely capable when I encourage her and give her the tools to help her succeed.
*Encouraging my children to complete a task is always worth the valuable lessons it teaches them, even if it seems ‘hard’.
*Every day, normal situations are opportunities to teach lasting life lessons – and it’s my job to find them and take advantage of them.

And now, since she’s done it once on her own, she’ll have the confidence to know that she is fully capable of doing it again, and won’t see it as such a daunting task. I hope that she will look at it joyfully from here on out as an opportunity to not just use her manners or check something off her list, but utilize a life skill of taking time to realize and really appreciate what she has. I hope that it will become a habit that will become part of who she is – a woman with an attitude of gratitude.

Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.

Ephesians 5:20 – Give thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Gratitude gets us through the hard stuff. To reflect on your blessings is to rehearse God’s accomplishments. To rehearse God’s accomplishments is to discover his heart. To discover his heart is to discover not just good gifts but the Good Giver. Gratitude always leaves us looking at God and away from dread. It does to anxiety what the morning sun does to valley mist. It burns it up. – Max Lucado