Everyday I try and check my thoughts on what it means to be a parent and what is important for that day. I am hesitant on reading parenting books but the one we are reading for moms group has been confirming so much on how Mike and I have been feeling about raising children. What it comes down to and what matters THE MOST to us when it comes to raising our children is that they know that mom and dad's marriage is the most important, that we are lovingly unified, and that our children know they are loved and that everyday we remind ourselves to show them the unconditional love of Christ.
I need to shut my brain down the natural tendencies to believe that the most important things to focus on with our children is to give them the perfect education, to get them to respond to "no" every time I say it, to make sure they act perfect in public, to make sure they read, stick to their piano lesson, experience a nice vacation, to make sure they are involved in just the right amount of social activities, to make sure they have the right friends, that they behave in church, that they don't talk back, to be a hard worker, that they become a respectable adult etc. While all these are important to some extent, it cannot be the goal. yes. I am for sure a mom who keeps a schedule for the day and loves that he is signing to me now. But my goal at the end of his childhood is for him to know that his parents love HIM. I have been also thinking a ton about discipline and i know there are tons of theories out there and I for sure know that when we say "no" we mean "no". And I am all for consequences to actions. But I dont ever want my child to be well behaved out of fear or because they know the only way mom and dad will be happy with them is if they stay out of trouble or get a good grade.
But I just need to give an example that I never want to forget because it was revelation to me. ----- yesterday I was at my sisters house and all three kids where there. My 3 year old nephew kept asking in the most polite way EVER, "aunt denise. You play cars with me?" Of course. I would play for about 1 minute and then there were two little ones crying their little eyes out till I would hold them. So I would stand, give them some love and look down to my nephew with his head down, quiet. A little later he would ask me kindly to play and I would try but then I would be climbed all over by smaller people with cries till I stood with them. This kept on happening, and at one point I saw my nephew try to make his cars crash and he just couldn't do it and he threw them and screamed and stormed off. NOW. Not awesome behavior, but in that moment I was able to see past what he just did. I saw his little head down and I asked if he just wanted to play cars? he smiled and ran over, handing me two race cars. tantrum, over. I apologized and understood why the happy little boy turned frustrated by the end of my visit. This is what I mean. If we went on spanking him, giving him a timeout for each and every little frustrated moment he had, this little boy would come to think that his feelings of being left out, not listened to, feeling like no one cared about his cars, were wrong to be feeling. ugh. i would hate to discipline my child for a behavior but to them they think they are getting in trouble for feeling left out.
All that to say, I want to make sure my child's love tank is full. I want to look at Matthews actions, and ask God for wisdom beyond the surface. Does he just need a nap, does he need me to not go out with friends tonight. does he need a kiss or attention, does he need mom to just stop caring about a clean house for a second and get down and look him in the eyes and let him know he means more than the work that has to be done? (or is he just being a stinker? =)) That is what I want Matthew to know. That what his feels inside matters and that we can tend to his heart. And who doesn't respond better and behave better if they know they are loved? I know I do. When Mike cares about just sitting and being with me, I totally am a better behaved wife. hehe. But really.
So that is that. I will care about schedules and talk about the form of education we want to give our children and fun activities and social events, and discipline; because they are all ways of loving a child. But what REALLY matters at the end of they day is, did Matthew feel loved today? Did he experience the unconditional love of Jesus through his parents no matter how he acted today? I sure hope we never forget that as there will be critical eyes on our parenting at some point I'm sure. MATTHEW. Your are loved!