Entries in discipline (5)
In honor of “National Child Abuse Prevention” month I wanted to discuss some important
principles of being a nurturing parent. First off, I wanted to acknowledge the fact that parenting
is one of the most important and stressful roles a person will have in his life. That is why it is
necessary for a parent to have some firm principles in place when raising children. There are
seven principles in particular that I want to focus on: (1) Feelings of Attachment, (2) Empathy,
(3) Nurturing Oneself, (4) Discipline, (5) Expressing Feelings, (6) Expectations and Self-Worth,
(7) Gentle Touch.
1) Feelings of attachment: It is essential to create healthy bonds with your children usually
through communication and quality time. Express your love and appreciation for them on a
2) Empathy: Practicing empathy with children teaches them that their pain is important, as well
as, teaches them to have compassion for other people.
3) Nurturing Oneself: There is a false belief that a parent cannot take any time for himself or else
he is not a “good” parent. That is not true. Even though being a parent is a full-time job, it is
important for the parent to practice self-care. Just as a parent schedules football practices and
ballet lessons for his child, he benefits from scheduling time for himself.
4) Discipline: Creating boundaries, rules, and a family moral code of conduct instills a sense
of direction and belonging in a family. When discussing these rules, share with the children
the consequence that will occur if the rule is not followed. Be sure to follow through on the
consequence or else the process is futile. A key note to remember is that it is not the severity of
the consequence that makes an impact it is the certainty of the consequence.
5) Expressing Feelings: Support children in their need to express their feelings; even if the
feeling is different than your own. A good rule-of-thumb to follow is while expressing
themselves the children are not permitted to cause harm to themselves, others (such as siblings)
nor can they cause damage to property. In training your children in properly expressing
themselves, educate them on emotional competence (i.e., give them words to express
6) Expectations and Self-Worth: Setting expectations for your children sends the message that
you believe in them and have faith that they are capable of accomplishing goals. It increases
their self-worth and builds their self-esteem.
7) Gentle Touch: The physical connection between a parent and child is essential to emotional
growth and bonding experience. Giving frequent hugs and gentle squeezes is an outwardly
expression or love that provides safety and comfort to the children.
It takes time and patience when raising children. Cut yourself some slack, but remember to do
the same for your children.
When accountability is discussed, individuals often struggle with the meaning of the term and how it applies to them directly.
- Is it a practice that we are naturally predisposed to?
- Do we automatically receive it from others?
- Can it really provide a solution to critical challenges?
In this day in age we often think that life will invariably hold us accountable; whether, in the workplace, through governance, something that is innate, or a natural requirement. However, there is an art to personal accountability and the reality is that it comes down to “you”. Whether personal or professional advancement is your ultimate goal, it becomes a daily act of holding yourself accountable for your actions, responsibilities, and goals in life. “Don’t think it, be it!” You cannot just say you want to improve and then just expect yourself to improve. Most individuals wait their entire lives for life to happen to them.
How do you get out of the waiting room of life? For starters, you can’t change the past, tomorrow isn’t promised to us, so your wait ends today. Prove that you can do it and in doing so you will distinguish yourself from the mere act of thinking. To hold yourself to a higher standard you must consider your actions and choices, your goals, and your responsibilities/priorities. Second, you must follow-thru on your commitments and responsibilities with a positive growth producing attitude and discipline. Finally, take control of yourself and seek out the advice, wisdom, and counsel of others who have attained personal accountability in the areas you have made a personal commitment to follow-thru in.
When you take 100% accountability for yourself it becomes an art form. It will ebb and flow, surprise you, turn a corner, or awaken an entirely new reality. Not only will you experience personal growth, you will experience a sense of accomplishment, burdens will be lifted, amends will be made, relationships will flourish, you will gain a new found appreciation of self, others will respect your fortitude, your self-esteem will mend, and you will become an art form and example for others struggling with accountability to look up to and come alongside. Don’t just wait for the opportunity, BE the opportunity.
It is a constant struggle to muster up the energy to parent. Boundaries need to be stated, reinforced, restated, re-reinforced, and on and on it goes until you think you may keel over or have a stroke. Like I said, parenting is not for the faint of heart. It may be possible that some preemptive planning and work could make all of the difference for some children. We all have heard of time-outs and restrictions, but there is some work we could do to anticipate some behavior.
There seems to me to be a missing piece to disciplining and parenting that I have realized from sheer necessity. Both of my daughters are highly sensitive to their surroundings (Confession: Even a loud TV can send me over the edge, so I can’t blame their father on this one).
Maybe you have experienced the same thing. Children pick up stress, anxiety, tension, over-scheduling, a dirty house, noise, etc., and they are more prone to ACT OUT. For instance, when my husband and I are overly busy, they are more inclined to be grumpy and impatient. When the house is messy, they seem more easily distracted and lazy. I know these things are true for me, but as we mature, we find ways to cope with imperfect surroundings. But our children need our help to do their best!
So, here are a few suggestions. If your child has difficulty being in certain situations (loud concerts, crowded places, jam-packed days going from one place to another, cluttered room, etc.), assess if there is anything you can do to reduce the problem. Plan ahead and do errands during your lunch hour when they are at school so that you can give them more of your attention in the evenings. Or, do an experiment! If your kitchen is usually dirty when they do their homework, try keeping it de-cluttered and clean for 1 week and see if they take less time to complete their work. Have a conversation about it at the end of the week. Seek and find your child or teenager’s unique needs.
In situations that cannot be avoided, it is important to plan ahead. Just having conversations about stressors can relieve some anxiety for children. In the process, you are teaching them to be more aware internally and more proactive and assertive for things they need.
It is a difficult and lonely place to be, to work on a marriage (or any relationship) when the other has no interest in counseling, marriage seminars, relationship books, or even conversations about one’s marriage. Working on a relationship with another who is resistant to the process of growth is not a journey for the faint of heart.
At some point, the focus must turn from “How can I make our marriage better?” to “How can I be a loving, committed, healthy wife/husband/father/mother/sister regardless of the fact that I am doing this alone?” It is possible to be a loving mother to a child who will not reciprocate that love. A difficult marriage should not be a shameful fact for the husband who gives 100% for his wife. An ethic of love asks that we give even when we do not receive, that we sacrifice even when the hands of that sacrifice are stepped upon, and that we continue hoping for change when there are no indications of transformation.
This ethic of love is a journey of a disciplined mind, deliberate movements, and a well of strength.
1. Disciplined Mind
My friend Alicia Britt Chole says (I quote her a lot because she is the wisest person I have ever met), “Intellectual strength is not merely the ability to think…it is the ability to choose what and when to think.” Wow! If we could train our minds like an Olympian trains their body, can you imagine the freedom that would accompany such obedience? Racing minds, hateful dialogue in one’s head, rehearsing past and future conversations, plans of revenge, hurtful wishes toward others, self- sabotaging “why me’s?”… these are all indications of an undisciplined mind.
Questions for change:
~ What am I thinking about right now that is causing me to feel so terrible?
~ What could I think about that will help me to be a more loving spouse in this moment?
~ How can I take care of myself emotionally, spiritually, physically, so that I can have the energy to continue loving?
~ Am I in a good place to communicate in a healthy way?
~ Where should I spend my mental energy right now?
2. Deliberate Movements
One-sided relationships (or relationships which suck-the-very-life-right-out-of-you) deserve thoughtful actions after healthy thinking.
Steps for Change:
~ I suggest the book “Bold Love” by Dan Allender and “Boundaries in Marriage “by Cloud and Townsend.
~ It is important to seek counseling and friendships that will help you walk the very difficult journey of sacrificial love!
3. Well of Strength
Some call it a “Higher Power,” some cry to God, some rely on friends and family... You need not be alone.
~ Calling a friend who will support you.
~ Cultivating disciplines including silence, solitude, and contemplative prayer. There are many resources for this. I suggest any book by Henri Nouwen. “The Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices that Transform Us” by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun is also an excellent resource.
There is a freedom found at a point on the journey as you walk in obedience in the ethic of love. You no longer love the other in order to receive love back. The grip of trying to control loosens and you are free. Free to love.
How often do we hear “follow your heart”, or “what are your emotions telling you?” I struggle with this concept. Please don’t get me wrong I am all for paying attention to our emotions as II believe they have their place in our lives and fully ignoring them can be unhealthy. However, what happens when we follow their every whim? Emotional decision making can be dangerous. Following our instincts can lead us into some pretty dark places especially if we follow them without regard to what we know to be true. While thinking on this over the course of this week, I’ve realized that the discipline of putting aside emotions and following what you know to be true is a daily exercise. It is not only important when at some significant crossroad but even more so in the day to day routine of life when we are less apt to be paying attention to ourselves.
“Our instincts are at war...Each instinct, if you listen to it will claim to be gratified at the expense of the rest...” C.S. Lewis