Thursday, May 15, 2008

Discipline Update

How do I have time to post twice in one day? Well, Ezra is taking a nap. There are other things I should be doing, but frankly I am too tired. The kids and I worked on our front path today. That meant we moved a bunch of rocks and either dug or filled in to try to make it as level and sturdy as possible, then covered the whole thing with sand to fill in the cracks. Followed by sweeping the sand off the rocks. We only did about half of the walkway, but those rocks are heavy and we were all tired! It may not seem too impressive if you're used to seeing pavers and a nice smooth walkway, but these are real rocks from our property so they are all of a different thickness. And it certainly beats the boards we've been walking on!

Anyway, I wrote about discipline the other day. I wanted to give an update because I feel I've had a real breakthrough.

I've been saying for a long time that I don't like to read books about discipline or marriage because they mess me up. Everything is fine in our family and if I read a book about how things worked for someone else, it sounds good, but it doesn't necessarily work for us. And it's hard to get things out of your head once they are in there. Authors that assume their way is the only right way are the worst in my opinion.

Well, I read a book about 8 years ago that seemed like it would help me a lot. It's been since then that I felt things were going downhill. I realized that something entered my thinking upon reading that book that didn't work for our family, but I couldn't figure out how I'd changed or what was different now. The day we quit watching TV for a week I began to pray that God would get me back to what was right for us.

I read the book because I was struggling with the fact that my children didn't obey immediately and cheerfully. Well, they still don't so it didn't seem the book helped me much at all. Some things changed for the better, but some for the worse.

Last week I read a blog that talked about discipline and while I didn't agree with everything exactly that she said, God spoke to me through her words. She talked about mercy and forgiveness and how God doesn't chase us around spanking us every time we mess up. I believe He does discipline us and sometimes it hurts a lot. But He is very creative and uses unique methods to teach us. Being a Father, that makes Him a great example of how to parent.

The child training book stated that in order to be 100% consistent and have cheerfully obedient children you needed to swat them for every instance of disobedience. If you tried to discipline them in any other way you'd have times of fatigue where you wouldn't want to have to think about it and they'd get away with their disobedience thus undoing everything you'd done up to that point. (None of that is a direct quote, just a part of a lesson I took from the book. Maybe it's not even what they were really trying to say which is why I'm not naming the book.) It made sense to me at the time and still sort of does.

What they didn't say was that there would be times I wouldn't feel like getting up to spank them. Or there would be times that I just didn't feel it was a "spanking offense." When you believe that you have to spank every time, but then you aren't spanking this time, that leaves you with nothing. So actually the kids got away with a lot more.

I knew I didn't have to spank 100% of the time because I already had good kids BEFORE I read the book and I hadn't been that consistent. I just wanted to know how to make them even better.

But now I realize that I have the freedom to discipline in whatever way works for me and the children at the moment. If I'm busy nursing and can't spank them, I can still give them time out or make them hold hands or at least scold them. My kids used to have to endure long lectures (aka guilt trips) when they did something wrong until I could tell they understood. But between everyone saying that making them feel guilty was bad, and this book saying just spank them and get it over with, most of my long lectures ended. I was more frustrated, they didn't learn much, and I have a group of kids who really don't seem to understand empathy.

My children are smart and will learn fast. I am just so thankful to worship a God who is merciful and just and gives me a great example of how to parent my children.

And being a woman who loves to talk, I am thrilled that the long lectures will resume at my house. They really did work--if for no other reason than the kids want to obey to avoid them!



JM said...

I've had some issues with the same book. At times I've felt like a failure comparing the author's apparently perfect kids and parenting skills with mine. Every time I let Zoey get away without a spanking, I think I'm ruining her for life! Finally I realized there is no way they've done it perfectly, and there is no way their kids were perfect. They have forgotten what it was like to have young kids I'm sure and have only held onto the good memories! While consistency is important, so is my sanity, and so is a self-esteem that doesn't tell you you're wrong for being human! I do still like the principles in the book and try to use most of them. They are good guidelines. But I'm not as obsessed with it as I had been.

Anonymous said...

If the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

The Savage said...

I have two books like this. I'm beginning to despise them both. Where is the grace? Where is the mercy? Were is the love for our children? Didn't Jesus say "Suffer the little children to come to me"? Why would they ever *want* to come to this kind of parent? Come before you get swatted??

Parenting is a journey. May we be guided primarily by Scripture rather than the ideas of men (who present those ideas as gospel truth).

Here's to the journey! :-)