Friday, October 10, 2014

Counting on discipline to produce amazing young people!

My calendar and I are completely in disagreement today. I am fairly certain this must be the 28th post in my commitment to the Write 31 Challenge. But is number 10 actually.  Shall we dive right in?

April 27, 1999 -- "Well, the weather has taken a definite dive for the worst and my angels have suddenly turned into two-year-old terrors!! I didn't believe it possible but alas we have had two days (and we're only half through this one) of temper tantrums to DEFINE temper tantrums!! UGH! I most definitely pray that this is a quick maybe when everyone wakes up from their nap they will be over it!! ha"

When the triplets were born my husband gave me an invaluable book about the ministry of motherhood. The name escapes me -- long boxed up -- but in the book the author described a situation where she had to pray for God to love her children through her because she was incapable at the moment.

Are you kidding me, I remember thinking? She must have been unfortunate indeed. I needed only to tip-toe into the nursery where three little pumpkin-heads would poke their heads up at my arrival. I felt sorry for all the mommies in the world who didn't have THREE little heads grinning from ear-to-ear at their arrival; and I especially felt sorry for this author who had the misfortune of not being completely, hopelessly in love with her off-spring.

As we say in my beloved South, bless her heart!

And then my little angels did something that changed everything. Everything changed. Those little pumpkin-heads developed wills of their own.

You have got to be kidding me, right? They won't always want to do what I say, when I say it?? I was shocked. And very really and truly hoped they would wake up from their nap completely back to normal!

Me: "Claire, don't touch that table."

Claire: defiant smirk.

Me: "Claire, I mean it. Do not even think about touching that table."

Claire: lifts her finger toward table.

Me: "Claire, I said NO."

Claire: never breaks eye-contact with me as she lifts her finger and touches the table.

That weekend I bought a book by another well-respected Christian author about raising strong-willed children. I threw it away two days later. His example -- his way of legitimizing  his expertise on strong-willed children -- was about having to tell his daughter no three times before she got his message and obeyed. Three times?! Are you kidding? My three two-year-olds would have eaten that "expert" for lunch. Seriously.

And suddenly, I kind of understood what the first author meant when she had to pray for God to love her kids through her on certain days. Sigh.

Teaching children obedience is not for the faint of heart. There were days where I was fairly certain I said "no" more than anything else. I had days where I wanted to just lay aside the rules, pack up all the breakables and tell them to have at it.

Days where giving in to the struggle of all the wills in our little apartment seemed to outweigh my fortitude to teach obedience.

It would have been easier to say, "Well, her brothers have Cerebral Palsy, of course she is being bad." Or, "Bless his heart, he works hard to walk with his little walker, we should let him do what he wants." Or "Bless him, he can't walk, he should be allowed to throw his food."

Oh, yes, all of those thoughts crossed my mind. But even in the midst of all those babies, all the therapies, all the questions about their future, I had this image in my head: I had this image of three world changers. I had an image of three young people (and now four!) making a difference for the Kingdom of God.

And dear ones, if we want young people who understand right from wrong, who long to make the world a better, brighter place, well, we have to discipline them as toddlers (and preschoolers, and elementary age-kids, and um, teenagers.).

So count how many times you have to say no today if you want to. But please, say no. Set boundaries for your children, help them learn right from wrong so that one day they will be able to make the distinction themselves (they can not at 2!). I won't say your exhaustion doesn't count today....oh dear ones, it counts. And I would wrap you up and fix you tea if I could.

But trust me here, the work you are doing counts far far more. The young children you are raising will be young adults one day and my prayer is that they are people you will desire to hang out with, and desire to spend time with, and desire to just be kooky crazy with!

Because all those "no"s that I had to say -- they don't count as memories at all. But the relationship I have with these amazing young people -- it is what counts more than anything!!!

Carol - The Blessings Counter


Melissa L said...

I always tell my kids that I am practicing saying No, No, No, No, No. They can't stand when I do this, but I will not say yes all the time just to make them happy.