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The #1 Parenting and Discipline Strategy
Every momma wants to know the #1 parenting and discipline strategy for her kids.
We all want that secret sauce to create the best kids. You know what I am talking about.
Because we fiercely love our children, we moms desperately want to do this thing right.
So we search and search for the parenting and discipline strategy that will make our kids behave and turn into who we want them to be.
We have to, right? I mean, really…
Who wants their kid to grow up to be a psychopath or self-centered narcissist?
The world tells us that it is all up to us. That raising a functioning adult (or at least avoiding the psychopath part) requires a specific parenting and discipline strategy.
The Elusive Perfect Parenting & Discipline Strategy
Good for you if you are the lucky mom who has found that secret sauce.
If your kid is one of the “good” ones who makes you look good wherever you go, this post is not for you.
Godspeed, Lucky Lady.
Now, if you are like me and so many other moms in this world, it’s time for us to get real.
Being a mom is a wonderful experience. It grows us in so many ways. But it is in no way easy or simple.
As I have learned the hard way, parenting requires adults to demonstrate the discipline and patience we desperately want to impart to our kids.
That takes work and effort. And a good look in the mirror.
First Parenting Instinct: Reaction
When our children are “disobedient,” often our first instinct is to use our default parenting and discipline strategy.
If you were raised in a traditional household or the United States of America, your norm for parenting may tell you to put a stop to bad behavior ASAP.
This was certainly the case for me. Maybe you can relate.
In the face of outward disobedience, you may offer a quick and stern warning.
“No, ma’am! You do not behave that way!”
And many times that approach to parenting children appears on the outside to work.
Our kids acquiesce in the face of fear and the negative behavior stops, at least momentarily.
But what about our kids who are wired-differently?
God looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7
No Room For Mistakes
When my oldest, now 14, was little, any hint of disobedience was met with that firm approach that allowed no room for mistakes.
While I was a very loving, highly-engaged, and super fun mom, I was also parenting my kid from a place of fear.
I feared that if I did not approach outward disobedience swiftly, I would be opening the door to having “that” kid.
And that would be my fault. I would be a bad mom.
And honestly, is that a surprise?
Outward behavior is generally seen as the be all end all within the church and our culture. Regardless of whether or not we admit it…
For me, the message was loud and clear that the slightest crack of the bad behavior door was unacceptable.
The messages that tell us…
1. That our value as a mother is based on our kids’ behavior
She had better nip that behavior in the bud.
2. A good mom has a good kid.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
3. A good kid behaves the way all the adults around them wants.
You need to give your Aunt Sally a hug regardless of how you feel. It’s just polite.
I think I just threw up a bit. Ugh.
But is the ultimate goal of our parenting to simply stop bad behavior in the moment?
I am not so sure anymore.
Friend, there is a problem with this “nip behavior in the bud” parenting and discipline mentality.
The problem lies when our pattern of parenting is based only on reaction to perceived misbehavior. Without stopping to make sure our perception is correct. When we get so caught up in our kids’ outward behavior that we fail to reach their hearts.
- When we assume a child who is screaming bloody murder in the church foyer is just being a brat.
- Except he is overwhelmed by all of the sounds, smells and fear of being left with strangers
- When we judge that teen girl because she is dressed all in black covered in piercings and dark eyeliner
- We fail to ask her about her broken heart over never being enough
God looks at the heart, right?
Raising Kids to Be Adults
God willing, our kids are going to spend roughly 75-80% of their lives as adults. So when we are looking for the most effective parenting and discipline strategies, we need to keep our end goal in mind.
Let’s set our kids up for a healthy future by teaching them that outward behavior is not the be all end all.
It’s their hearts that we must be after.
A child who feels loved, valued and connected to the adults around them feels safe to process through the heart issues that precede negative behaviors.
Let’s learn to seek relationship with our children regardless of what things look like on the outside.
As a believer in Jesus, I cannot strive for anything less than a relationship-based approach. That is what the Gospel is all about.
In spite of our outward ugly behavior, God seeks us through relationship with His Son. We are internally changed through relationship, not punishment.
The Greatest Discipline Strategy? Mom’s Grace
The greatest parenting and discipline strategy is for the adults in this world. We need to train ourselves to see behind the behavior and seek our kids’ hearts.
A mom willing to look beyond the parenting paradigm. The mom willing to “look bad” in front of others who want her to “nip that behavior in the bud.”
You will know her.
She is the mom whose kid is screaming and melting down in the middle of the grocery store.
Instead of dripping with sweat worrying about what you think, she is offering her overwhelmed and exhausted child grace.
And when that momma hears an old lady saying something like,
“She had better get that kid under control,”
That momma could care less.
She knows the truth of humanity’s brokenness is covered in the grace of God through relationship with His Son. Grace and truth.
Let’s go with God on this one, Friend. For the sake of our kids, let’s go with God.