Discipline – a word that is thrown around a LOT when we talk about parenting. And it’s funny, there doesn’t seem to be any grey areas when it comes to how we moms feel about it. Some moms are very anti, and feel that discipline is a form of control, even perhaps the stifling of the child’s will and character. Others might feel the opposite, and even boast often about how often they discipline their child.
I think where all the mom-judging comes in, (yes that’s a real thing), is our different understandings of the word, and the fact that my understanding of ‘discipline’ and yours could be worlds apart, and the very reason for our disagreeing. We may have very different parenting skills, but oh, we have soooo much in common. I love my children, and you love yours. And how hard is it being a mom? Flip. Very. We all get up every day with a hundred things to do, plus little humans that we have to keep alive! (and preferably, happy).
So how do we get through these first few critical years of parenting? How do we successfully partner with little strong-willed geniuses who have all the answers? I believe that it’s only possible with rules, boundaries, and LOADS of love.
‘Discipline’ reminds me of the word ‘disciple’ (no I’m not going to google latin roots words and stuff – I’m a mom, ain’t no-one got time for that). If you are a disciple of someone, you learn from them as they teach you and show you. Being a parent means that our children should always be learning from us.
How do they learn?
- By example:
Whether we like it or not, our kids are watching us. Sometimes I’m horrified when I hear one of my children respond to their sibling in an irritable tone, with short, sometimes sarcastic remarks, and I stop, shudder, and whisper to myself, “that’s me!”
They are ALWAYS listening, ALWAYS watching. Realizing this has pushed me to be a better person, to be kinder, more complimentary to others, and to share my toys.
- By being corrected:
This is the tricky part. We want our children to love us, and to flourish and to feel loved. This beautiful desire we have as moms can sometimes steer us away from correcting our children, in case the act of correction has the adverse effect. But at the end of the day, it all boils down to love. As our children’s most influential teachers, how do we fulfil that God-given role without correction? How will a child ever learn important life lessons without being corrected?
It is 100% possible to correct your child, by way of consequences, with your child still feeling loved. Ok maybe they don’t feel loved while they are screaming at the top of their lungs behind a closed bathroom door, but hear me out. These short-lived moments of discomfort are the moments that shape and teach our children. They are absolutely necessary! And the more we consistently correct, the more our children learn. Here’s the bad news, it’s EXHAUSTING! More than once, I have found myself saying to Frans,”Let’s just leave them. Let’s just leave them to do what they want and see how they turn out.” This was when our kids were about 3 and 5 respectively, and it just felt like we were ALWAYS having to correct them.
But I believe that if you stick to this environment of correction and consequence, in an atmosphere of love, then eventually you will find a culture being born in your home. A beautiful culture of obedience, love, and mutual respect. When I catch glimpses of this culture in our home, even amidst the daily chaos that is parenting, I find strength to keep correcting, keep working, and keep loving.
Let’s do this thing moms, we only get one shot.