Sometimes parenting is hard. It stinks being the bad guy. Not only that, it really stinks to be the stupid bad guy! (Insert insecure, strong-willed, overly-independent 13-year old) But disciplining your kids - teaching them right and wrong, what's truth, and the realities of the consequences of bad decisions and mistakes - is part of the responsibility. A HUGE part! Some of you are doing this alone as single parents. You carry a great weight. I'm praying and hoping that you have a support system around you - that you have a church family to lean on and walk with you. But whether you're a single parent or you've been faithfully married for 25 years, one thing is true: You are never going to ALWAYS get it right! There are going to be times you make the wrong decision - jump to the wrong conclusion. You're going to yell instead of speak and discipline out of anger rather than calmly confront. You'll even have to go back to you kids every once-in-awhile and apologize. This isn't weakness. It's modeling humility. And so knowing that there's going to come a time that you may look back and wonder if making your son sit in the corner for 6 hours was a little excessive...or grounding them from using the bathroom might have been a bit overboard...I believe there are some things we can do as parents to discipline our kids the right way. Here are some thoughts:
Unity. If you & your spouse are still in this together, knowing that there are going to be times you get it wrong, the best thing you can do is be wrong together. Your kids need to see that Mom & Dad are a TEAM. They need to know that they can't undermine one of you or play both ends against the middle. It's needs to be clear that you are seeking the Lord's wisdom TOGETHER. The reason why teams start losing is because they stop being a team. They start operating as individuals. This can destroy a home!
Patience. I use this word only because I don't know how to describe the antithesis of Panic. I know that feeling, when your child does something and you're so overwhelmed with frustration that you feel like if you don't lower the whammy on them RIGHT NOW the world is going to come to an end! [Pause for deep breaths.] Stop fooling yourself. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you saying to your son or daughter, "I need to go sit on the front porch and pray about how I'm going to respond to this decision you've made." There is zero weakness in telling them, "When your Mom gets home we're going to discuss what consequences you have to face because of this." Kids don't see this as weakness. In fact, they begin (even at a young age) to see the strength it must take for you to restrain yourself and calmly, patiently wait.
Communicate. Taking both of these mentioned above (and the countless other words of advice I've left out due to my own ignorance), there is no greater tool that we have as parents, friends, husbands and wives, than to communicate. Talk. Confess. Admit. Share. We have to let each other know our thoughts, feelings, fears, regrets, doubts, and desires. We can't sit on the sideline and expect our spouse to do all the work. Communicate! Turn off the TV and talk about how you're going to handle things...BEFORE they happen! Be preemptive. You were a kid once. And it wasn't during the Depression. Think back. You know some of the stupid things they're going to do and say. (Lord help me!) Start talking NOW about how you're going to deal with those bad decisions. Are there conversations you can begin having with your kids ahead of time to cut some of it off at the pass? Not talking about it isn't going to keep you from having to talk about it. It's going to happen. If your kids are human beings, they're going to mess up. And they may even do it with gusto! And your ignorance about it is not bliss; it's unacceptable! Communicate.
Those are my limited words of wisdom on the subject.
What do you think? What other pieces of advice would you share?