In the fall of 1990, I spent a good deal of time on the sofa, nursing my firstborn, and was so intent on becoming a good mom that I read parenting books like mad as I sat there– mentally filing away some info and discarding as much. (I would also rock that little bundle endlessly, and cry with gratitude while singing Great is Thy Faithfulness. Sweet memories there.)
Some of the books I read had some really great advice, (some not so much.) Concrete ideas really do help. Some of the advice was particularly helpful.
- No means no. I learned that if I said “no” but turned that no into a yes, it caused future problems. If your child knows you are waffling, things will be less smooth.
- Follow through with consequences. And don’t threaten a consequence if you are not willing (or able) to follow through with it. (Consequences like “You will never eat another piece of candy for the rest of your life, young lady!” have basically no value whatsoever.) Also, I’ve found there really isn’t a need to get angry. Calmly following through with the consequence you warned about will dramatically affect future behavior in a positive way. (I’m not going to mislead you into thinking that not getting angry is always easy or possible, or that getting angry is something I never do. Because of course I do–more than I am happy to admit.)
- Apologize. Being their parent does not mean that I am always right. (I have known parents who will never apologize to their children, thinking that it will cause their children to disrespect them. I believe the opposite is true.)
- Catch them being "good." So important, and probably one of the most beneficial things you can do as a parent. Noticing and praising their good behavior is so much more effective than punishing bad behavior.
- Respect their feelings. Try not to tell them how they feel. They already know how they feel. Listen to their feelings.
That last sentence holds a world of wisdom– Listen. I am one of those who speaks too much and listens too little. But I continue to be a work in progress. “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” James 1:19
I’ve had this yellowed slip of paper on my refrigerator for years, with verses that guided me in ways to pray for my kids. It’s from the March, 1998 issue of Decision magazine. It has been helpful to me, and I hope it will be to you too.
Pray that they will be protected from the enemy. (John 17:15)
Pray that their “afflictions” will strengthen and teach them. Psalm 119:71)
Pray that they will respect authority. (Romans 13:1)
Pray that they will seek positive friends and avoid negative influences. (Proverbs 1:10)
Pray that they will remain sexually pure. (1 Corinthians 6:18-20.)
Pray that they will submit to God in all things. (James 4:7)