She often looked haggardly with dark circles under her eyes and pale-ish skin. Her hair was neatly fixed though never stylish. Clothes were meant more for practicality than beauty or fashion to this woman.
We rarely shared a conversation though we attended the same church and our paths crossed frequently. I was just starting on the journey of motherhood while she had been there many years before. I could have learned so much from her, and in fact, maybe I did.
I’ll never forget our chance meeting in the nursery while I was nursing our newest arrival and my two year old played at my feet. Feeling stressed and somewhat overwhelmed because nursing had never come easy to me, I longed to have someone with more experience than myself to share their wisdom.
The door opened and in she came huffing, puffing, and half dragging two of her children into the nursery. One needed a diaper change and I am not entirely certain what the other one had need of since he was quite solemn for one so young.
Red-faced and almost panting, through clenched teeth she murmured, “You will NEVER want to do what I did! This is crazy. I am 35 years old and have toddlers and teenagers in my house at the same time! Take my word for it; do NOT do what I did.“
I got lost in her mumblings and grumblings, but learned that having toddlers and teenagers in the home at the same time must have been a horrible thing.
The brainwashing of the world’s view of children continued to grow in my mind when a couple of years later child number 3, our “accident”, arrived. I thought I was “done in” for, and was scared to death to become the mama I had been warned about!
Fast forward sixteen years later. Our families have a few similarities. She and I have the same number of children, and yes, there are toddlers and teens in our home.
At the same time!
There are days I do feel like huffing and puffing at my children, but never do I regret the ages of my children. My only regret is that we limited God’s blessings by taking our fertility in our own hands for so many years.
There is one thing that makes our family different form hers.
Discipline – from the start.
There are many forms of discipline, and we had to take on a few of those forms, but what I mean here is disciplining the children. We learned very early on that to discipline means to train and to disciple. If we were to train our children in the way that they should go (Proverbs 22:6), we would first have to discipline ourselves to be a Godly example. Our children learn best by our actions, not our words.
- We can yell all day long and we might get some immediate responses that we desire, but the child learns nothing positive from it. He will learn that yelling is an acceptable response to anger, or worse, he will learn to cower from the one in whom he should feel complete trust.
- We can count to three and give the child many chances to obey, but it only conditions them to wait until we get to three before choosing to obey. Many times they try to see if they can get us to count to five (or more). Counting teaches the child we did not mean what we said the first time.
- We can ignore the child’s behavior hoping they will grow out of it someday, but that does not happen either. The child’s behavior goes from bad to worse. She learns that her bad behavior is acceptable. It will be much harder to un-do the damage that has been done by waiting until she is older hoping she will understand more.
- We can even do what I call spanking “at” the child. I see many parents who use this form of punishment to try to discipline their children. If you spank “at” your child, you are usually giving them swats that hurt a little, but aggravate more (though you might feel less frustrated afterwards)! Sometimes this will produce temporary effects that make the parent think they are doing a good job. Think again.
- We can rule with an iron hand one day and let things slide the next. The child learns he cannot trust what you say and lives in fear of the day your rule as a tyrant.
If you spend your energy teaching your children to obey at a young age, you won’t lose your energy trying to keep up with them and trick them into not disobeying!
The part of the story of the tortoise and the hare that says “slow and steady wins the race” could be applied to parenting. It is about the end product. We are not raising children, we are raising adults.
- Never punish in anger. Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” Make the punishment fit the crime. Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
- Speak softly when you are angered. Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger.” Also Proverbs 16:21 “…the sweetness of the lips increases learning”.
- Teach her what it means to obey and expect her to obey the first time. Ephesians 6:1 “Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right.”
- Do not ignore bad behavior calling it childishness or immaturity. Take care of it immediately and she will learn what is acceptable and good in the sight of God. Proverbs 29:15 “The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.” And Proverbs 13:24 “…the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.”
- Take time to make each time of discipline a time of training. Pray with your child; show him the Scriptures where he has been wrong. Teach him to memorize the words that God Himself gave to help him become a better person. Proverbs 1:8 “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.”
- Start at a very young age. 2 Timothy 3:15 “…and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise…”
- Be consistent; to the point of being methodical. James 1:8 “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”
Having started these practices very early in our parenting years has helped us to have the family we have today. There are many more factors that come into play, but discipline is one of the key elements.
We can now enjoy having toddlers and teens in the house (and one in between)!
At the same time!
Blessings as you enjoy this parenting journey to its fullest!
Niki enjoys homeschooling her five children, homemaking, sewing, and creating inspirational art for the home. She has been married for twenty years to her best friend, Steve. They have two precious blessings resting in the arms of Jesus. Their family has enjoyed working together in children’s ministry since 1992 and Niki is currently working towards getting her first children’s book published. She is the blog author of For Journey’s Sake and can also be found on Facebook writing about her passion to mentor and encourage women on their life’s journey.