when control is our goal
I recently received an email from a lovely woman in the south who is leading a book group with the 6th grade moms from Perimeter Christian School in Johns Creek, GA and they are using none other than …… yes, Parenting the Wholehearted Child. (Thank you, new friend!!) She reached out for study questions – and because I am “still” working on that (in other words, it’s “still” next on my to-do list) I told her she was welcome to email me with any questions that arise in her group.
Her group kicked off Friday and I was happy to see her name pop up in my inbox today. With her permission I share her email with you.
Jeannie, My first bible study went great and every mom communicated this is what they really need at this point in their life. Keeping in mind that we are moms of 6th graders, we all want to know your view on disciplining with grace. You may touch on that later in the book but I wanted to reach out and see your thoughts on disciplining.
So I should start by telling you, there is a reason I put the chapter about discipline toward the end of the book – because although I do believe the topic of discipline is super important, I also think there are some things we need to understand about OURSELVES as parents, and there are some things we need to understand about our kid's hearts and their relationship with Jesus before we dive into details on discipline. But I could be wrong! (In fact, I’m often wrong so it wouldn’t be surprising if that was the case here!)
So anyhow, ….. her email inspired me to write a blog about discipline today using some of the content from the book.
And I thought it would be fun to start with a couple questions I pose in the book (And I really do want to know your answer! )
So here they are:
What if we looked at moments of disobedience as valuable opportunities to reach our kids’ hearts instead of seeing their disobedience as personal attacks on us? (I can’t confirm or deny if I’m prone to the latter.)
What if we used these moments to come alongside our kids and understand the root of their disobedience rather than to come down on our kids with the stinging accusation of “How could you?” or “Who does something like that?”
Because if we break it down, what we’d have to admit is this: When control is our goal we come down on our kids. But, when connection is our goal we come alongside our kids.
See, I was the mom who was more likely to come down on, rather than alongside my kids. (I’m actually not being totally honest. I can still be the mom who sometimes comes down on, rather than alongside my kids.) I may now KNOW the difference in the two like I didn’t know it before, but that doesn’t mean I always get it right. I’m just more aware of my need for Jesus. And I know He's not done with me yet. Maybe you know what I’m talking about?
When my son won’t stop dribbling a soccer ball in our house after I’ve told him ten ever-loving times that what I really need him to be doing is getting ready for bed. When my son throws a full blown, on-the-ground, kicking and screaming fit because he can’t get ice cream from the ice cream truck after his 8:30 a.m game. (Why oh why is the ice cream truck at the soccer field at 8:30 a.m.? Please do tell me) When my son slams his door and tells me he will absolutely not be going to church if he has to wear a short sleeve collared shirt (as if he really has a choice in this, but whatev)
These are all times when I may or may not act like their disobedience is a personal assault on my very being.
But by the grace of God (and only by the grace of God) there has been a shift – a transformation - in the way I discipline my kids since I have begun to have a small understanding of God’s discipline and grace in my own life.
I’m learning ……. that discipline was never meant to be about forcing change in my kid's outward behavior. Discipline is about reaching my kid's hearts with the truth of God’s grace. And then trusting the Holy Spirit to do in my kid’s hearts what my best parenting efforts could never accomplish.
I’m learning ……. that this parenting thing is a lot more about God working out the sin in my OWN heart than it is about me working out the sin in my kid’s hearts. Um…… ouch.
I’m learning …….. how to allow God’s grace to work through me to be an instrument of heart-changing grace in my children’s lives. I want to use my authority to CONNECT with my kids rather than control them, because we are all designed for connection. Connection with God and connection with one another. To know and be known. To love and be loved.
It’s only when I can remember these things that I can then reflect the heart of Christ to my kids. And that’s what I want more than anything else. To lead my kids to the heart of Christ through the grace I receive and the grace I give. Isn't that what we all really want?