Tuesday, October 25, 2011

31 Days {Day 25}: Discipline and the Heart

I think right now the thing I struggle with most as a mother is keeping peace in our home.  As the kids get older, I struggle less and less with not getting enough sleep (I'm used to it!) and changing diapers all day long (I've changed diapers every day for almost nine years!), and more with getting my children to show love and compassion to each other in their daily interactions. 

Whether it is nit-picky squabbles over being bumped into on the way out of the bedroom door or the rolling-on-the-floor snatching matches over who was holding the toy first, it is frustrating trying to figure out what to do and how to get it to stop. 

Over a year ago, we implemented a new Bible-based system of having the children deal with their disagreements with each other before bringing them to me.  If Owen takes the pencil that Gavin was using, instead of tattling to me, Gavin should politely ask Owen to hand it back.  If Owen refuses to comply or throws it at him or has some other unsavory reaction, Gavin is then allowed to approach Brian or me for assistance and place the problem in our hands.  We love the concept of this plan and work daily on having the children understand why we do this, but reality is that in the heat of an argument, their first reaction is to yell, whine, stomp, and tattle. 

I used to require that my children apologize to each other after these ugly confrontations.  I'd have them face each other and parrot, "I'm sorry," and, "It's okay," but it all seemed rather meaningless.  Now I have a different approach.  I say, "I know you hurt your brother and I think you should apologize, but I am not going to make you.  I want you to actually be sorry before you say the words." 

You see, that is the key.  Racing to see who can jump on the favorite swing first or taking the last donut or grabbing toys or whining over whose turn it is to pick the music in the car are issues of the heart .  They are more than surface altercations. It boils down to, "I think I deserve better than you. I like my way better than yours," because...

"The heart is deceitful above all things."

I try to relate their issues to my own.  I may not whine about who sits next to me in the car, but do I complain when someone pulls out in front of me on the highway?  I don't hit my brother when he makes a face at me, but do I snap at my husband if he has to work late?  I don't complain about what's for dinner, but do I pout when I run out of milk?  Our problems and reactions may be different, but they all point to an "I deserve better" attitude.

There is no easy answer for this.  I know my children love each other.  I know it when I see them help Benjamin put on his coat and shoes to play outside, and when they hoist him up to play in the bed of Daddy's truck with them.  I know it when I see the excitement on their faces when they hear Alaine waking up from her nap.  I know it when I hear Owen tell Maddie that she is his best friend, but...

So basically, we are dealing with heart issues.  Yes, I need to be diligent in guiding and molding, but I also need to be mindful that parenting books, gimmicks, scolding, and time-outs are not the answer.

Jesus is.

Want to catch up? 


  1. This is our biggest struggle as parents. It's so easy to simply focus on the actions, but the heart attitudes are much more difficult to mold. As you said, Jesus is the only answer.

    (So sorry your little ones are feeling under the weather. We're praying they'll feel better soon.)

  2. I just finished this book. It's goes along well with Shepherding a Child's Heart. It was an extremely easy read. Highly recommend it!!


  3. Beautifully said!! I love it. My children don't know what's coming.....;) haha I think we will read Phillipians over breakfast

  4. We have this same issue. ALL the time. The little one finds joy in EVERYTHING, which includes bugging his big brother. And big brother has little patience for the little one. He assumes that everything is done on purpose to annoy him.

    One of my friends has her children say, "I'm sorry. I love you. Please forgive me." I think that verbalizing that love goes along with your idea of the heart. It's an audible reminder of that love that we sometimes miss out on in the day-to-day survival of (our children's) childhood!

    Katie @ On the Banks of Squaw Creek


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