This Qu is asked by every mother at least once in their lifetime, but it may be asked even more today as there are so many different ways people parent and it’s easy to find yourself lost in the sea of indecision. To learn how to parent it’s a good habit to watch how other families live. The routines and difficulties are often similar but other families can live out different ways to handle them. Some examples will be encouraging and give you ideas to think about trying in your family.
All the ideas and quotes in this post come from Anne Ortlund's book Disciplines of the Home.
IT'S NOT WHAT YOU SAY, IT'S WHAT YOU ARE AND DO.
Every area of parenting whether it is how to discipline your child, how you get them to eat well, tidy up their mess, not answer back, or do the pooh in the toilet… starts at the same point – it begins with YOU.
1. Anne Ortlund says, “The parenting thing isn’t so much ‘Do what I say’ as it is ‘Be what I am’ and ‘Do what I do’. Like it or not, what you are and do will speak so loudly they can’t hear what you say. They will become like you. Scary, isn’t it!” p 279.
I think this is fairly clear – we can have all the right rules and say all the right things, but in the end kids learn far more from who their parents are and what they do.
1. SUCCESSFUL PARENTING MEANS -
Then Anne goes on to give her first principle of what successful parenting means – “ BECOMING WHAT YOU SHOULD BE”
Whether there is one parent or two, Anne Ortlund says, become what you should be. “Give your children not only rules for living but your own lives as well...” p 280. They need to see what you are telling them to do and be like in action, right there in your life!
MESMERISED BY THE KIDS.
We can become mesmerized by all the wrong things our children are doing and worry if we are parenting in the right way BUT the key is to start with ourselves “becoming what you should be”.
Off the top of your head, what does “becoming what you should be”, translate into for you right now, given the current situations at home in your family? How are you doing personally in these areas?
genuinely listening to family members
getting to bed at a reasonable time
getting up at a reasonable time
sharing your possessions
eating a balanced/sensible diet
eating with the family at a table...
2. SUCCESSFUL PARENTING MEANS -
Anne’s second principle of what successful parenting means – “STAYING CLOSE ENOUGH TO THE CHILD FOR IT TO RUB OFF”
She suggests we follow three points from Dr John Perkins who worked with troubled inner city families. These three points show how we are to relate to our children – being close enough to them so the good things rub off on them.
Perkins says, “There are three basic human needs, and all three ought to be met in the home."
A. Every human needs to be loved, to feel he belongs.”p 271. We must say it over and over, day after day, even when our child seems most obnoxious, you still need to be saying in a million way – I LOVE YOU. “They must learn that your love for them isn’t based on their works and that your acceptance of them isn’t conditioned on their behavior.” p271.B. “Every human needs his own space, a place which is no one else’s, and a sense of assurance that nobody’s going to take it away.” p 271. This is about letting your child develop their ‘territory’ – a room, their shelf, their garden… somewhere they can claim as their own.
C. “Every human needs to be affirmed, to be considered significant.”
p 271. You’re actually aiming at communicating, “I’m aware of you, and
I like you..."
“To feel loved, to belong, to have a place, and to hear one’s dignity
and worth often affirmed – these are to the soul what food is to the
body. And as you provide these for your youngster, you’re confirming
their dignity, their worth, and their projected place of value in
tomorrow's world.” p272.
“These basic needs cannot be fulfilled by many of the parents today who divorce, work, travel, or who simply are too busy or too distracted – at the children’s lifestage when they’re most impressionable, fragile, and vulnerable. Unfortunately, the substitutes for meeting these three needs are everywhere: alcohol, drugs, and illicit sex. So misery abounds, abortions multiply, and prisons overflow.
However you can manage it, be there! Be available in your home for all the children-years. And deliberately seek to meet these three basic needs, by words and actions, as fully as you can.
But you’re saying, ’Look, I have to face the practical realities of living in this world. This seems too drastic to be taken totally seriously!’” p 273.
We just read that these are three basic human needs and they ought to be met in the home. “The kids…must hear loud and clear how loved and wanted they are in this world! What more powerful way can they learn this than for you to be saying by your very presence, ‘You’re wanted. I’m here for you. I like to be with you. I enjoy you. I delight in you! I’m available.’” p 273
“Every family experience determines a child’s adult character, the inner picture he’ll harbor of himself, how he sees others and feels about them, his concept of right and wrong, his capacity to establish warm, sustained relationships necessary to have a family of his own, his attitude toward authority and toward the Ultimate Authority in his life, and the way he attempts to make sense out of his existence. No human interaction has greater influence on his life than his family experience.” p 274 – Armand M Nicholi II, “The Fractured Family”. Christianity Today. May 25 1979.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS - Take time to think through Anne's two point on what successful parenting means. Pick up some ideas from families that function successfully as you watch other families live.