Sunday, March 30, 2008

Getting to the heart of the matter

Like everyone else we struggle with discipline. We want those joyful days when the children play without fighting, obey us without complaining and with immediacy, and to lay down at night feeling that we are able to parent our crew with success. It is not that our children are terrible. Its is simply that there are four of them and two of us and we are all trying to learn. I think when we are reading and studying about parenting we do a better job. I DO NOT believe there is a perfect parenting book. Every one I have read includes parts I disagree with. When I get to heaven I plan to ask God why he didn't include a book on parenting in His Book. Thou shalt handle sibling rivalry by...., When they tattle tell them....., When one child strikes another thou should.... It would help me a lot. My guess is he will reply "I gave you all you needed, didn't you see how to apply it to raising kids? Maybe you should have studied more, my child." So I will study more. I will look to His Word in the instruction of my children. I will also share the imperfect books that have helped us along the way. I appreciate other's recommendations, so here are mine. I emphasize the most recent because they focus on God's plan for discipline.

The Best Baby on the Block got us through colic and taught us about why a newborn does the things they do, Positive Parenting by Glenn Latham was recommended by a friend and helped us with preparing ahead of time for expected behaviors and the importance of praise (which was not one of my gifts) and communication. Most recently a new study with our homeschool group has focused us on their hearts instead of their behavior. The inappropriate behavior isn't the true problem, but it often gets our attention. Whether or not we can get a kid to act a certain way is not the aim of our parenting, but too often it has been the focus. We want Godly children who love Him more than anything else and know the joy that comes through Jesus' sacrifice on their behalf. Having their heart overflow with the fruit of a Godly spirit will bring all the good behaviors we seek on its own. Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp brought this to our attention and a video series loaned to us by a friend has echoed our need for this to be our focus. So we are trying to consistently implement Godly discipline and instruction. For Instruction in Righteousness by Doorposts has helped us target specific behaviors and study about them with the children. If you are like us and caught up in the behavior issues, step back and check out their heart. What is going on with them really- what is the sin you are dealing with? When you do this I will warn you that you will have to look at yourself, too. You might not like what you see, I certainly didn't relish the reflection. However, in the end, if your experience is like what we are beginning to see- everyone will be better for it.

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