When I wrote this post on disciplining my children, I failed to realize most readers have never heard our entire parenting perspective. What you need to know is that disciplining for us is not merely corrective, it is also instructive, encouraging, and about showing our children respect.
I did not include the other components in my previous post, because those are not the primary areas Bob and I struggle in, therefore a plan is not as necessary.
Corrective disciplining is another story.
We have struggled over the last three years to know whether to spank, to not spank, when to put in timeout, whether to give or not give treats for good behavior, how to distinguish utter deviance from simply showing personality. I'll also be the first to confess I've disciplined out of anger or because I was inconvenienced. And that terrifies me.
I see the harm and confusion that comes across my son's face when I've just yelled at him through impatience and I want to do all I can to eliminate such reactionary measures. That's why Bob and I put together a discipline plan. It is more geared at keeping us in line than keeping our children in line.
Please hear me say, we do our best to overwhelm our children with encouragement and respect. They don't just receive a set of rules to follow, leaving the majority of our time together to when they get disciplined. Asking for Bray's opinion on what to eat for dinner, what we should do for the day, what he'd like to wear (hence the constant angry bird jammies) are a part of our daily interaction.
We spend time encouraging him to try new things, and cheering him on when he does venture out.
And He knows how to explain his emotions, "I'm sad, because..." and trusts mommy or daddy will hear him out, since how he feels is important to us.
I want him to know he's a contributing part of this family and he has a voice.
But he also needs to learn that there are days when mommy picks his clothes out or mommy decides what we'll do for the day, and I expect him to be ok with that. If he's not, then he will receive instruction on why mommy is choosing and if a fit ensues he will receive corrective discipline. Not because I'm being unrealistic with my three year old, but because I'm training him that it's not ok to throw fits when he doesn't get what he wants.
Of course, we will not always get this parenting thing right and there will be times we are too hard on our children; we too are learning and are fallible. However, when we've wronged them, I can promise you they will hear us say "I'm sorry." To me, this is an incredibly important dynamic to our relationship as it shows our children immense respect and that mommy and daddy can, do, and will continue to make mistakes.
In closing, disciplining our children is not about trying to make them perfect. In fact, it is just the opposite. We want our children to know from a young age that they cannot obey perfectly. We want them to know that they need God’s help, just like we do. And, we want them to know that God is gracious and offers forgiveness to those who seek it. However, they do need a healthy balance of training in regards to what behaviors are acceptable and what are not. My three year old will learn that what he feels and desires is important, but sometimes they are tainted with selfishness and it's our job to instruct him on how to harness those wants/desires. Otherwise, he will pay for our lack of correction, and society will too.
Whether you are a Christian or an atheist, you cannot disagree with that.
As most know, parenting is a polarizing topic. There are as many philosophies of parenting as there are parents, so I do not expect everyone to agree–especially when the “experts” have varying opinions. But I do look forward to healthy dialogue with other moms, since I'm fully aware I still have a lot to learn.