Our church is holding a parenting class in the Sunday school hour entitled, Effective Parenting in a Defective World. It is a video series and I've really enjoyed it thus far. It has convicted me and encouraged me.
In the first session I was convicted that we need to have a goal in our parenting. What do we want most for our kids? To be successful, get in the right college? To be happy? To become a well-adjusted adult? Those are all decent goals, but they fall short of what God wants for our children - Holiness. Our main goal in parenting is to raise kids who conform to God's standards, not the world's standards. It doesn't matter if they end up making a 6 figure income if they don't love others.
Truthfully, I had to ask myself, "what is my goal for myself? Why do I do the things I do? Is it to be holy or to be happy?" I came to the conclusion that most of my decisions are based on what I want, what will please me. I haven't been in the habit lately of asking God what he would want. Which leads to the second conviction: What we want our children to become we must be ourselves. Our kids are watching our example and are going to do the things we do and not what we say. If I tell A to share with G and yet I don't want to share my time with them they are not going to get it. It makes me think about the decisions I make and do I want my kids to turn out like me? (some ways yes, but not in area of self-control at the moment)
In the second class I really took home the point of how we need to have a positive relationship with the kids, enjoying time together. I again have to admit that much of my day is spent keeping them busy so I can get some other things done. Not necessarily important things either, sometimes it's things for myself like watching videos on youtube or reading a book. I know why the kids sometimes prefer Hubby to me, because the time with him is spent wrestling or playing. Even though I'm with them the bulk of the day we don't play a lot together. So from this lesson I realized that I need to have fun with them, and I have been trying to spend focused time just playing and laughing with them (not getting something else done in the process).
So the first two classes were very convicting for me yet I went away from them encouraged because I felt like now I knew what I needed to do and since they are so young I still have hope for doing a good job (and not screwing them up totally).
Today's class was also encouraging but in a different way. Today I felt like I already had a handle on what was discussed and it was encouraging for me to know I was going in the right direction. Today was about how children have two primary needs: Significance and Security. That with their actions they are always asking "Do you love me?" and "Where are the boundaries?" I totally related to those questions because A is always testing the boundaries, to find out how far she can go. I know that she needs to know we will enforce consequences so that she knows where the boundaries are.
He also said that a child's primary responsibility is to learn Obedience. I was just telling A the other day that it is her job to obey Mommy and Daddy and that it is our job to teach her and take care of her and that we both need to try and do a good job. I think it's going pretty well at this age (I'm sure some is developmental) yet we need to be more consistent in enforcing consequences. It just seems so mean sometimes to be constantly spanking her or taking things away.
She has a little duck toy that is growing in a bowl of water. She wanted the bowl of water next to her while she was eating lunch, but I told her not to touch the water or it would go back on the shelf. So for a while she didn't touch it. For a while. So when she touched it I put it back on the shelf. She threw herself on to the floor in a crying fit and I explained to her why it was taken away. I did it all in an even tone because I had confidence that I was doing the right thing. She said, "are you going to be a good mommy and change your mind?" I told her no, that if I changed my mind and gave it back to her I would be a bad mommy and I can't let her disobey me without consequences.
But she is always pushing those boundaries, trying to figure out how far she can go, just how long she can do something before I will act on it. The video today in Sunday school also mentioned that if you have to tell your child 3 or 4 times or resort to yelling in order to get them to do something then your child has trained you and has been a better student of you than you have been of them. My kids know that when the computer is in my lap I'm less likely to get up and discipline them so they can get away with more.
I was also appreciative that the video discussed the differences in age groups and how we need to discipline them differently at different ages. He said the 0-5ish age group are the concrete thinkers and they just need us to tell them right and wrong, not so much motives behind things. He said that at this age we tend to talk too much and that "Because I said so" is an appropriate answer. It's when they get to be older that they need to know the reasons behind the things we say, but at this point they just need to learn that mom and dad are in charge.
So though I am convicted about my parenting, it is good to know that there is only one perfect parent and he is gracious to me and knows my faults. He knows I can't do this on my own and I need help. Fortunately through church and reading good books I am getting this help.