Proverbs 22:6 reads, "Train a child in the way he should go; and, even when old, he will not swerve from it." I've been turning this verse over and over in my mind as I attempt to raise my children. I hope my daily doses of direction and discipline aren't going in one ear and out the other...
My mother let me know Lilli "has a problem with talking back" the other day. I try to take negative critiques of my children in stride. It's always hard to hear criticism because I spend so much of my time in child-rearing... I want their behavior to be perfect. Perfect children are a fantasy. And, I choose to live in reality.
I agreed with my mom. I have noticed Lilli's back talking lately and I have started to deal with it. However, I don't parent like she parented. I never have and I (most likely) never will. I felt a great deal of love from my mom growing up. However, I also feared punishment if I disobeyed. This is not a bad thing. I believe my mom was the mother I needed.
I parent with logic. I used to parent with immediate negative consequences to their behaviors when my children were toddlers and pre-schoolers. Now, my girls are in elementary school and my son is almost a teenager. Therefore, I parent differently. My kids have to learn self-control. I can no longer control their actions as I could by "redirecting" them when they were toddlers. They must direct their own actions.
Often when I correct Asher and ask him to stop a behavior, I can see his stubborn will in his response to me. He obeys me but their is defiance right below the surface. I could punish him for the observed defiance... however, would the punishment teach him self-control? Can I force him to respect me? Asher must learn to govern himself. I always point out his disrespect of me. We discuss his responsibility to "honor his father and mother" on a weekly basis.
Lilli does have a problem with back-talking me. I have noticed the problem and I have been quite diligent about pointing it out to her. Should I punish it out of her? Or should I discuss with her how unacceptable her behavior is and give her the time to learn self-discipline? I believe she has to understand the benefits of listening and obeying me. This approach takes time and consistent discipline.
Asher's defiance of authority should be accelerating as he enters the teenage years. I have spoken to many parents who warn me about the coming apocalypse in parenting. I listen to their warnings. I also see my son come to me with a humble attitude after he has been disrespectful. He apologizes, asks for forgiveness, and tells me he loves me. This gives me hope.
Self-discipline is learned. By teaching accountability, respect for authority, and responsibility, I hope I am teaching my children the skills they need for an abundant life. There are many bumps along the road to adulthood. I want to be the hand my children reach for in their walk. I use the rod to guide them into the safety of the sheepfold. That's my method and as long as I continue to see positive results I will use it with patience and love.