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Monday, June 27, 2011

.Graceful Parenting.

Parenting is a huge undertaking. It does matter who I am today, because who I am today is molding who my children will be tomorrow.


Introducing Jamesy into our home has made me stop and think about so many things. One is our approach to parenting and discipline. We had to really revisit the way we discipline because of the circumstances that surround the first 15 months of Jamesy's life. I remember when our social worker first talked to us about our discipline plan of action and philosophy of discipline with Jamesy, and how it may need to look very different from our other two children. I didn't necessarily get it then, but I do now. Even my parenting has taken a turn that I did not predict.

I have some type A tendencies, not completely that is for sure, but I definitely strive on structure and controlling my environment and circumstances. If I can structure and control my life then I can actually present more like a type B personality - calm, patient, relaxed, etc. When things get out of control for me then I present more and more like a type A personality. I Baby-wised my first two children for this very reason. I needed (or thought anyway) that they had to be on a rigorous schedule and had to be sleep and feeding trained in order that I may feel as if I had some kind of control. And it appeared to work - at least I felt in control, my children slept beautifully, followed a schedule, and were great babies.


This need for control also crept into discipline. I leaned far more towards the disciplinarian, behavior modification, and sin management kind of way of raising my children. Strict discipline fit nicely into my need for things to be controlled and my desire for my children to obey me immediately. I like things black and white. Here is a rule - follow it or receive the consequence. Of course I loved my children, and I really was concerned for their hearts. But I also really thought enforcing strict discipline was the way to do it. I ran a tight ship in my classroom when I taught school, and I carried that into my home. I have always been a rule follower, and this seemed important in raising my children.

But after bringing Jamesy home, something wasn't feeling all that right. It started with little things, like Jamesy's need to be rocked and cuddled to sleep. It made me reconsider the way I had sleep-trained my first two and wonder at what I had possibly missed out on with them. Rocking Jamesy has made for some of the sweetest moments that I have encountered with my littlest boy. I never sat and watched my other two children's eye lids grow droopy and heavy or received the sleepy, silly grins from them as they fell off into slumber. It has been a precious gift, and honestly I do not want the rocking to end!


Along with structure I crave consistency. I desire it so much so that it is hard for me to admit when things need to be changed in my life or in my home. I do not want to constantly have a new discipline plan or philosophy, and we pretty much haven't budged since Cadi was born. But God has been breaking my heart in this area of parenting and discipline and showing me a new way - a better way. It's the way that He fathers me - with grace and mercy. Two areas severely lacking here. I am recognizing that, admitting it, and praying for God to break me in this area. Jim is in this with me (although I will be the first to admit he is far more gracious in his discipline than I have ever been), and this summer we are reading together and aloud Grace Based Parenting by Dr. Tim Kimmel. We are only in a few chapters right now.

We probably will not agree with everything Dr. Tim Kimmel shares - he is human after all, so we will not blindly accept his ideas, but we will filter everything we read through the Bible and make changes that we need to make. I can already tell that our philosophy of discipline is getting rocked and changing, and I am glad. I am slowly learning that it is not all about rules.

Our children need to be raised by parents who treat them the way Christ treats us as parents. p.97

So this summer I am relearning how to parent, and I am thankful for the grace He has given me - even in this.
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