Mike and I have fallen into an accidental parenting trap….the “I’ll count to three and then you’re going to be punished” kind of parenting, the repeated warnings until I’m now angry kind of parenting.
Now we’re trying to fix it, and undoing our mistakes are tough. It also points out the copious amounts of laziness that are present in each of us. It is so much easier to give threats than to actual get up and discipline our children.
Not that sit around all day eating bon bons…I’m constantly on the go, correcting, disciplining, teaching, cleaning, etc. etc., but there are those times, especially when I’m tired or frazzled, when stepping in immediately the first time to require automatic obedience seems like a LOT of effort.
However, it has become more and more clear to me over the past year how not requiring instant obedience from my children is really doing them a disservice. First, it fails to instill respect in them for their parents and it doesn’t build up in them obedient, humble hearts. Second, failing to obey Mike or me the first time can result in real danger and terrible consequences for them. Last, learning to push the limits and obey at the very end doesn’t do much to help grow a good relationship following Jesus.
I was even more convicted of the need to step up in my insistence of obedience over the last few days with the awful spring weather. We have spent quite a few hours in the basement due to storm and tornado warnings. Each time the sirens went off, I would corral the boys and head them downstairs. In my town, the sirens go off for both severe thunderstorms as well as tornado warnings, so each time we take the sirens as seriously as if there was a tornado in the area…
Since I have three boys age 4 and under, it can be a task getting them all in one place at the same time. I obviously have to carry the baby, which only allows me a free hand to grab one other boy. Both of my older two boys are completely capable of going down to the basement on their own, but each time the sirens went off, I found myself having to raise my voice, repeat directions over and over, and finally go back up and carry my toddler, screaming, downstairs.
Looking back, it was really rather ridiculous. Instead of obeying what I said, my four year old was more concerned with coaxing his toddler brother downstairs. The toddler was more concerned with saying “No!” to both of us, sitting on the floor of the main level, and throwing a huge temper tantrum. In the end, it took us way more time than necessary with each siren to get to the basement. It really concerned me that in these cases my kids hesitated in obeying, especially when I used a “there is possible danger” kind of voice.
From this point on, I plan to be even more diligent in my parenting. Overall, I feel like my kids are great, well behaved in general, with kind hearts. Still, I know that I basically have until age 4-7 to solidify the really important things into them. I don’t want to fail on the basis of my short term fatigue, or whatever other excuse seems to present itself.
Discipline your children while there is hope. Otherwise you will ruin their lives. Proverbs 19:18