Monday, August 15, 2011

Disobedience: The Quickest Way to Fail as a Mom

Allowing your children to be disobedient is the quickest way to fail as a mom.

There I said it!

It’s true, isn’t it? 

You can try to homeschool or send them to school, pursue a home career or work outside of the home, go to school for a degree or be a housewife, be a volunteer or just focus on your family, but if you have a disobedient child, all of those things will have a dark cloud hanging over them.

I am not an expert on how to punish children. I take no pleasure in punishing.  I know what works and what doesn’t work with my own children, but because people and families are so different it would be hard for me to tell you how to correctly punish your children. The word discipline has turned into a synonym for punishment, but before it meant punishment it meant to teach or instruct.  The best way to discipline a child is to teach her, to instruct her, how to behave before she misbehaves, affirming the behavior you want her to have; reserving punishments for only the most severe times.

For instance, when my children were very little they wanted to do dishes.  I often didn’t allow my oldest daughter to do dishes because she wouldn’t do them well and it just was a big mess that I didn’t want to deal with.  To this day, she will do dishes, but she finds no pleasure in doing them and will avoid the chore if at all possible. My middle girl though doesn’t seem to mind to do dishes.  She was allowed to do dishes when she was very young, to basically play at doing dishes.  I usually get no arguments from her when it is time to do the dishes. Why?  I reinforced that doing dishes was a fun thing to do when she was very little.  Sound a little like brainwashing?  Maybe.

Another example: I have NEVER allowed my children to complain about the food they were being served.  If they happen to hate it so much that they threw-up, then of course I wouldn’t serve it to them again, but if they just didn’t like it, too bad.  To this day I NEVER get complaints.  They might not clean their plates, but they know that I really don’t care whether or not they like it.  Mainly food is for nourishment, not enjoyment and indulgent.  In contrast, I have a friend who really struggles in this area with her children.  She will make 3 different meals for 3 different children at one setting.  This would be intolerable for me, and guess what?  It is for her as well. When they are expected to sit and eat something that they didn’t want or that doesn’t sound good to them, they throw major temper tantrums.  This was so embarrassing for her and so upsetting that I could tell she just wanted to cry.  I felt so badly for her.  She obviously wanted to be a good mom and in most areas she is a good mom, but this one area of disobedience was so over the top that it was ruining her enjoyment of motherhood. 

We all have those areas where we just feel like we want to toss up our hands and give in to them. 
One area I have failed in has been getting my children to clean their rooms.  Why? I have allowed them to disobey.  I don’t make them do this chore every day.  Usually once a week we get all their rooms cleaned up.  When we do this chore I help them.  Of course that is appropriate for my 5 year old, but for my 12 year old it isn’t. She knows how to keep her room clean, but I haven’t insisted upon it nor did I make it a fun time when she was little.  When we did finally clean the room it was such a disaster that it took hours to clean and it was miserable for both of us.     

Let me stress this point again: They are disobedient because I allow them to disobey. 

If I was really serious about getting them to clean their rooms I would have to make some changes that I am not quite prepared to make.

1.       I would have to clean my room every day to set a good example.

2.       I would have to make it a priority in our day.

3.       I would have to train them in the way I wanted it done.

4.       I would have to confirm that they did the job.

5.       I would have to follow through on any punishment for disobeying.

The key phrase: “I would have to”.

Now, this is something on my list of things to do.  I do want my children to be trained to keep a house including their bedrooms.  As an adult I can see how my training was lacking and I don’t want to send my children out into adulthood without them being disciplined in this area fully. We will work on becoming disciplined in this area of our lives. Maybe I will have to make some concessions about the frequency.  Maybe we will have to tweak the cleaning schedule to rotate tasks.  Whatever we do, we will do it with purpose and with a plan. 

There is another point here that cannot be ignored: when your children are undisciplined and disobedient in many areas it is hard to determine what skill you want to teach them first. You may look at your life and the behavior of your child and ask the question: where do I start?  The enormity of the problem can be so overwhelming that you don’t start, you just avoid. Remember, you don’t have to address every problem in a week.  You can address these problems in a systematic way.  There are many good books and experts out there to help you.  Lean on their wisdom.  Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. 

My personal experience tells me that the area of discipline that is most important is holding their temper.  Your whole day can be ruined by one temper tantrum.  Controlling their anger is number one top priority and if you are weak in this area as well, you will have to address that too.  I would suggest that you rely heavily on prayer and Bible studies to help you though this.  It is something I have struggled with myself and no expert has been able to reason me into letting go of anger.  Only God gives me relief from this sin.  Because your children are young you can help them to work through this behavior before it becomes scarring. 

Last but not least, you must find support from your husband. Actually, it is by far the most important factor. All of your efforts can be completely undermined by a non-supportive husband and vice-a-versa.  Often issues with our children are camouflage for a serious marital issue.  When parents don’t see eye to eye on how to discipline and punish, the children run amok.  They are in control because the parents certainly aren’t.  There is a reason why God addresses this in the Bible. He speaks of how we are to become of one flesh.  We are one flesh with one mind controlling that flesh.  When we are of two minds about issues we become separate in flesh also.  When children have to deal with two weak systems of government they follow neither and create their own.  We also see that when there is one strong or over burdensome system of government and one weak one, the child will abuse the weak one and avoid the strong one.  In either scenario, you end up with a disobedient child. 

Of course this isn’t to say that you, as the mother should not have opinions about how the children should be raised.  HA! Husbands can sometimes get confused about that whole “head of the wife” verse. You are very likely the expert in the relationship when it comes to understanding your children because you spend the most time with them.  If you are a stay-at-home mom especially, you will see sides of your children that your husband never experiences.  If you have any kind of decent husband, he will understand this after you beat him over the head with the facts a few times.  (Just kidding.) A good leader will always listen to the experts on his team and value their opinions. But see you aren’t a team in the corporate sense.  You are ONE FLESH.  You make decisions together, you converse together, you raise your children together.

Finally, I want to speak to husbands directly.

Husbands, value you wives above rubies, if for no other reason than your wife is the means by which your children will be guided through life. If you care at all about them, then you certainly should care about her.  But, hopefully, there are many reasons why you would value her above rubies.  She is your best friend, your biggest advocate, your strongest supporter, your most trusted confidant, and your truest love.  Her happiness should be your greatest priority.  If you see your wife struggling in her role as mother to your children, you should have the decency to gently lead her to safety.  There you can address her concerns, comfort her, and renew her spirits.  A warning: if you ignore your responsibility to her as her husband it will cost you dearly.  Just because you provide a paycheck doesn’t mean your job ends there.  If she is complaining of not having enough personal time, the children aren’t behaving, she is tired and worn out, or anything of the sort then you should leap to her aid.  Your job is to provide AND to protect.  Protection isn’t just about defending your home.  Protection means to protect her heart, her spirit, and her soul.  Big responsibility, I know, but that is why I would rather be a wife than a husband.  I only have to honor and respect.  Husbands have to love like Christ loved.  THAT is only a job for a hero.

Moms, enjoy your time as a mother.  It will be gone before you know it.  Time has flown by for our family.  I want to look back on my time as a mother and more importantly look at the lives of my children in the future and know that because of my sacrifices and because I honored God that my children are happy, productive, God serving people who bring honor to God as well.  I would be so sad if I looked back on my life and saw that because of my failure to discipline my children they were soured, spoiled, self-centered adults.


1 comment:

  1. Andrea,
    I came on your blog just to see what you posted. I clicked on the blogs you followed because one seemed interesting. It said this blog name is available. I thought that if I had a blog, I would name it Crazy Country Momma. Just for fun, I typed it in, and it was available. Yeah, so now I have a blog. I don't know why. I have enough to do. lol I'm blaming it on you. :)