It’s one thing to say, “I don’t have it altogether” but that doesn’t actually explain much. I have big problems with parenting. It’s more than my children not behaving like angels or me being upset about having a messy house or anything that is a very normal common problem.
Here’s the deal. I feel (and have felt for five years) that the whole discipline thing-I’ve been doing it wrong. I’ve tried a few different things over the years but the bottom line is that I feel so much frustration and confusion in how to react and respond my children’s behavior.
Part of the issue is having a spirited kid. I had no clue about this type of personality type. It took until this year to meet another person who had a spirited kid. Thankfully I found the book ‘Your Spirited Child’ that has explained so much to me. But traditional, authoritarian, “just punish right away” discipline methods don’t really work with the boy. When I explain ‘don’t really work” is that there were still ongoing disobedience, right after the fact, or an hour later, or the next day. It becomes a battle. Me vs. my kid. Lots of spankings, time-outs, etc, with no real character change. I have anger and yelling problems. These are rooted in me feeling frustrated at not having control and parenting brings an awful lot of that to the surface. Having a discipline mindset that was not working makes everything a lot more frustrating.
I reached a conclusion earlier this year. The character is the important part, not just the behavior. Unless you get to the character, what’s the point of modifying behavior? It may make a short-term fix but it doesn’t make a change in the heart. It may be convenient for me, but it’s not discipline as I want it. I want discipline that aims at my children being adults who are able to know God, to love him and other people and to have wisdom in life.
So I questioned. I started questioning a lot of things. What does discipline that aims for a sound adult look like? Earlier this year I decided I didn’t want to spank. Spanking had proven to me that spanking is not the answer. The answer is deeper.
But stopping spanking is not the answer in and of itself. You can’t take away something without replacing it with something else. I tried not spanking but I didn’t know what to do instead. I felt rather lost.
Somebody recommended I join a forum called Gentle Christian Women. So I did. And I started reading. I couldn’t stop reading for four hours. I found websites that explained so much.
I came into parenting not having a well-stocked toolbox. I didn’t learn how to deal with raising children until I had children. As a result I’ve made a ton of mistakes so far. I pray for forgiveness and grace (and ask my children as well) but just knowing that something is wrong doesn’t give you the power to make it right.
So I have now found a few sites. And I have some hope. I am going to try to make changes. I know it will be a path to walk, not a fix-yourself/your kid-overnight deal. I have an empty toolbox that I need to fill and I’m going to be talking to a lot of people who are farther up the path than I am.
I feel so awful for my children. I have said many times over the years, “They deserve better than this” but been unable to know where to even change. I want to treat them like people, like people I love more than life itself. I do that a lot of the time, but discipline should reflect that too.
So here are the sites I’ve found. If you have experienced frustrations with discipline, it’s worth taking a read.