Parenting, in its simplest form, is often about choosing battles. I’ve only been at it for two and a half years, but this is a lesson I am learning more and more as she gains independence and her will develops. I have a daughter who, most of the time, is sweet and mild-tempered. But she is also strong-willed – as I am – and this creates tension in our home at least a handful of times every day.
So I’m having to learn to prioritize MY disciplinary actions by looking at the big picture.
Am I disciplining her out of frustration and embarrassment? or out of a desire for her to learn an important, lasting lesson?
Am I reacting out of loss of patience? or responding with patience and extending grace upon grace? (I fail at this constantly!)
So I’ve developed a bit of a manifesto. Thinking this through and writing it down helped me to gain a focus that my disciplining techniques have been lacking. The Hows (spanking, time-outs, etc.) of discipline matter less to me than the Whys. I’m a Big Picture kind of a girl and if I’m just disciplining because my child blew a whistle in a store that cause other shoppers some brief auditory-discomfort well … I think that’s silly. Kids are kids and sometimes there’s a whistle, and they’re going to blow it. In the Big Picture, these types of instances do not matter. No one was harmed by the whistle.
Now, when I asked her not to blow the whistle, had she deliberately disobeyed, then I would have had motivation for some disciplinary action because the lasting lesson is obedience. And obedience doesn’t come naturally. It’s learned. And it can’t be learned unless there’s training. And that’s my role.
In the Big Picture, my job is to keep her safe and to meet her physical needs. My responsibility is to train her to become a child – and eventually an adult – who can thrive and excel in society. My real joy is to see her have a happy childhood and for our family to build a happy and loving foundation for her. And my ultimate goal is to see her have a selfless adulthood with Christ at the center of her life.
Keeping those over-arching goals in mind has helped to trivialize other “parenting debates” that I still battle with in my head. Parenting is not easy. It’s full-time work and can be exhausting. But, in the same way as when I’m working towards any other goal, I’ll take baby steps some days and large strides on others. And some days, I lose ground. But now I have a goal to keep my eyes on. Helps a lot.