WANTED: Courageous Parents
Courageous Parenting is NOT for Wimps!
I am not the only person who has been in some public place just in time to see the epic battle between parent and child - the child usually wins. It always amazes me that grown, intelligent adults operate under the impression that they can negotiate with a 4 year old. Really?
I want to put the disclaimer out there that I am by no means an expert in child rearing, but I have raised two children, both of whom understood at an early age that what Mom said, Mom meant...period. We did not negotiate and my word was law. I am the exact same way with my grandsons and that works for all of us.
There is a generation of children today that are in desperate need of courageous parents. They need parents who are not afraid to establish rules, enforce moral and personal absolutes, and love them the way the Lord commands, not the way society dictates. This is not a task for the faint of heart. Courageous parenting is NOT for wimps!
"Did you hear what I said?"...Yes, they heard you.
Unless your child is deaf or hearing impaired, they hear every word you say. When you speak to your child, they make a decision...to respond or not. It is my personal experience that this aspect of the parent-child relationship is established while our children are still in the cradle. By the time my girls were 5-6 months old, the basic meaning of "NO" was quite clear. They were scooting around and pulling up on things. I had little nick-knacks all over and refused to rearrange my home to accommodate their curious little hands. A simple, but firm "NO" accompanied by the occasional tap on the hand or leg was all the instruction they needed. Children understand more than you think.
Responding to my voice was never optional. The punishment, while always age appropriate, was immediate and firm when my girls did not come on the FIRST mention of their names. It was my complete commitment to this mantra that saved my oldest daughter's life at the age of four. She was running towards our car which was parked across the street and did not see a car speeding in our direction. I simply called her name and she stopped on a dime, turned, and ran back to me.
PARENTS -- YOUR CHILD MUST RESPOND TO YOUR VOICE! You don't need to ask your child if they heard you. I can assure you that they are always listening. It is your job to make sure they respond the way you expect them to, not just some of the time...every time.
Firmness vs. Harshness
Successful parents know the difference between firm discipline exercised in love and harsh words intended to destroy the spirit of a child. Courageous parents are willing to put in the hard work it takes to sow consistent, firm discipline into the lives of their children.
Harsh words spoken in moments of frustration and anger can and will destroy the very essence of a child. God forbid those words be accompanied by physical punishment. This type of parenting is a recipe for disaster. While it may yield temporary conformation to rules in the home, the end result will be a child who is sitting down in the outside, but screaming at the top of their lungs on the inside. That which is building on the inside will eventually come flowing out in abundance.
Firm words spoken in wisdom with a clear purpose can and will lead to a strong relationship of respect between parent and child. When boundaries are clear and discipline is fair and consistent, the very Word of God promises a positive result. When we train up our children in the way they should go, "when they are old, they will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6)
Teaching Your Child to WAIT Builds Character
It has been said that patience is a virtue. Unfortunately, being patient is not a concept we are born with - it must be taught. With “I can’t wait for…” or “Are we there yet?” being frequently spoken by children, the best way to fight impatience is to teach patience. As a child learns patience, they acquire a life-skill that will benefit them clear into adulthood.
DON'T REWARD IMPATIENCE, REWARD PATIENCE. -- Children are pre-programmed to be impatient, but that does not make it right or acceptable. Just as young children have to learn how to walk and talk, they need to learn how to be patient. If the child gets the candy bar at the end of the grocery store temper tantrum, you have just confirmed that impatience has great rewards. That is NOT the concept they need to carry into adulthood.
Young children are self-centered, loving, opinionated, and special little people. One minute they are laughing and playing, the next minute they are kicking and screaming in the middle of the floor because you did not let them zip their own coat!! Here are some quick tips that will help develop character in your child as they learn the hard lesson of patience.
Provide Them the Language: Remember that very young children have a limited vocabulary and are not always able to express what they are feeling. Talk to them as you redirect their behavior towards more positive reactions.
Be Prepared: You have to be proactive with little ones. You as the parent have to think ahead. If you know the situation may require waiting, pack things in a backpack that will entertain your child. Praise your child when they are doing well waiting, to acknowledge the desired behavior.
Be Courageous: The public temper tantrum is not the time to go weak in the knees parents. You are the adult and you have to take control of the situation. If you make it a habit to curb undesired behavior at home, it will be second nature to you - and your child - to do the same in public. Don't fear the stares of total strangers, they are not responsible for raising your child, YOU are!
Are You a Courageous Parent?
If your child throws a temper tantrum in public, what is your usual response?
Punishment vs. Discipline
After reading another great article from Focus on the Family on "Effective Child Discipline", it was clear that the Word of God provides all the guidance parents need to get it right when raising our children. Parents can be courageous, take bold stands and train up young men and women of character. They key is knowing the difference between punishment and discipline.
"The idea of punishment implies repaying someone with what he or she deserves. That's the antithesis of the gospel. Punishment produces a child laden with guilt and determined to get out from under it, and Christlikeness is never the result. -- Discipline, on the other hand, is future-focused, always pointing toward future acts. It has nothing to do with retribution and everything to do with redemption. Whereas the purpose of punishment is to inflict a penalty for an offense, the purpose of discipline is to train for correction and maturity." (Chip Ingram)
Parenting Myth: Discipline requires parents to penalize their child as payback for an offense.
Parenting Reality: Discipline means applying appropriate consequences to encourage a child to make better choices in the future.
Merriam-Webster defines courage as the ability to do something that you know is difficult; mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand; firmness of mind and will.
Courageous parenting means stepping up to the plate with the full intention of hitting one over the center field fence! It takes hard work and the grace of God to be successful in this pursuit. Yes, the God-factor should always be in the forefront. We are living in morally bankrupt times and apart from God, there can be no lasting success raising our children.
"In case you hadn't noticed, America has a parenting problem. The evidence of this parenting deficit can be found at your local supermarket, fast-food restaurant or high-school parking lot — spoiled, selfish, out-of-control kids with no concept of right or wrong." (Bill Maier)
THE SOLUTION: By courageously balancing love and limits, you can help your kids grow into healthy, godly adults who — as they become moms and dads will courageously parent your grandchildren.