When Mom Gets Homeschooled
In my last article I looked at our cycles of self-doubt that will often hinder us. I wrote that article over two months ago, and God saw fit to make sure I had learned the lesson well. As He has often done in the last nine years (since I’ve become a parent) he used my children to teach me.
Through certain events, and sermons, and admonitions from concerned individuals (my husband), it was becoming increasingly obvious that there were some serious gaps in my parenting style and disciplinary practices with my kids. Some very bad habits were taking root in the hearts of my children and it was a direct result of my disciplinary style. My disciplinary style was based on emotion. If I was angry I might discipline you, but if I was in a really good mood you can get away with murder. As a result of it being based on emotion it was very inconsistent, because as we all know our emotions are very inconsistent.
The reason I had never set consistent rules with consistent consequences for my kids was ENTIRELY because of self-doubt. (If you have not read the article on self-doubt please do.) I doubted my ability to make the right choices for my kids, to set the right rules, to point them in the right path. That self-doubt led to a complete sense of apathy and helplessness resulting often in no discipline or threats.
There are a lot of details involved in parenting and those details confuse and scare me, because I am often convinced that one wrong move will turn them into Charles Manson. So as a result of that fear I would do nothing. However, through the encouraging words of good friends, I finally got a hold of a truth and that is this: Even if I cannot figure EVERYTHING out today I must pinpoint a few standards that I can confidently cling to. I was trying to look at the entire parenting experience as one giant mountain that I must conquer. That is not how parenting works. It is one moment at a time, one child at a time, one experience at a time, but there must be some underlying standards that never change and hopefully can be used to help direct the detailed decisions of the moment.
I know this may all seem very elementary to any of the “super moms” out there, who always stick your carefully outlined rules and schedules and who don’t have to make multiple ER visits in one week ;o) But I realized a long time ago, that I am not a super mom. I’m a very confused, nervous mom who wants to do this thing right so badly that sometimes the weight of that responsibility knocks me right on my butt, and I lock myself in the bathroom and cry for an hour. You see my kids are not accessories to me. My kids are not playthings. My kids are not consequences of a “no birth control policy.” My kids are not obstacles that stand in the way of what I am REALLY wanting to do. My kids are really, literally, completely my life and career. And I really, literally and completely feel responsible for what kind of people they turn out to be. And that is a huge frightening job if you are really taking it seriously.
So, after a very educational conversation the other night with several folks I love and admire and who know how to balance criticism with sincere edification, the Lord helped me outline four very simple little standards that I have begun using to guide my disciplinary action. Consistency being the key. The other morning my children woke up and each of them found a copy of this pinned beside their bed:
- I will respect my mother
- I will always obey quickly
- I will be kind and loving to everyone in my family
- I will not jump on the furniture
Now that fourth one may seem odd, but if you know my kids you understand that this is a HUGE issue for us, so don’t judge.
The consistency of consequences is showing an effect as well. I was very encouraged yesterday when my three year old began to stick her tongue out at me and then quickly covered her mouth with her own hand left the room! My husband pointed out to me yesterday as well that all the kids were answering me with “yes ma’am” when I gave an instruction, rather than a high pitched, whiny “WHY?” which had been the default response to everything I say to them.
So I am feeling really encouraged and confident this morning and desire your sincere prayers that I will simply be consistent and fight my own evil laziness (this article was supposed to be about laziness, hopefully next time.)