Some Encouraging and Challenging Thoughts
I spent last weekend at a conference and this week has been spent in getting everyone back on schedule and trying to process all that I learned before it trickles out of my brain!
I’ve had some thought provoking conversations in the past few days too and thought I’d share some of that with you:
Consistency in parenting is so important. Not just in discipline and consequences but also in loving and encouraging. We had a lot of issues at the beginning of the week and I think most of it came from the children wanting to check that nothing had changed in expectations or acceptance.
Discipleship takes time. It’s a really slow process. It takes time for children to calm down enough to listen, it takes times for us to speak in a way that they will understand and we will often need to repeat the truth to them until their hearts accept it.
Discipline and consequences need to be tempered with grace. Not the removal of consequences but the little things within the consequences that assure them that they are still loved and accepted by us. Sometimes this is verbal, sometimes this is physical (it takes ten seconds to add chocolate to the cup of milk that a child is getting instead of lunch when sent to naps early. That ten seconds says to the child “You have done wrong and there is an unhappy consequence, but you are still beloved and special to me.”) Those little graces do so much for our children’s ability to really repent and strive to do better.
It is so easy to let our interactions with our children be all of the care and consequences type. We’re busy people and sometimes we forget that all of the cooking, teaching and laundry is about people! We need to make sure we are stopping in our day to give verbal and physical encouragement. It has such an impact on attitudes!
We need to find the ways in which our children’s weaknesses can be redirected to become strength. That stubbornness that drives us nuts can become perseverance and faithfulness in the right context. Those too easy tears can become empathy. It is our job to help our children discern the right use of these character “flaws”.
We need to be patient with ourselves. No matter how good our intentions some days and some hours are not going to go well. We need to confess our faults (yes, to our children) ask for forgiveness and go on again. It makes a real impression on our children when we tell them that we too struggle with some of the things they struggle with. They need to know that we are with them in their humanity, strengths and weaknesses.
We need to stop comparing. Ourselves to other Moms, our children to other families or even to each other. We are unique image-bearers and while there are things that are true for all of us and there are best practices that can be identified, we must take everything to the Holy Spirit for discernment.
Finally, we need to have a vision for ourselves, our marriages, our families as a whole and each of our children individually. Not just a vague idea and “hope that they turn out ok” but a real intentional vision-casting. Strengths, weaknesses, interests, promptings of the Spirit. Write it all down, pray over it and act on it, while waiting to see what the Lord will do. These times of watching our children grow, watching our relationships with them and with our husbands grow are exciting and invigorating (and tiring) and we will be encouraged ourselves if we will watch what the Lord is doing and rejoice in even the small things.