Saturday, March 15, 2008

Current thoughts on parenting......

Over the years, my views on parenting have changed, as I have experienced a growing family. I grew up with Dobson, and bible believing parents, who, yes believed in spanking. I don't know too many Christians that don't! 
It's funny when you first become a parent, you think about parenting with such conviction and earnestness that it often becomes more of a way of doing something, than a way of understanding someone. I mean often I would care more about my kids behaviour externally than trying to understand their perspective. Early on,  I read books, took classes and observed others as I entered the realm of parenting. And well, honestly over time, I became very legalistic about it. There probably are numerous reasons for that, but mainly I realized rules and hard core principles don't replace love and understanding. I couldn't ever measure up to the standards of parenting I learned and believed to be "right" and biblical, and it only proved to be a severing agent in my relationship with my kids and my husband. So, what changed? God helped me to see my kids as unique precious individual gifts from him more and more over time. My family dynamic was unique, and different from that of anyone else's and therefore required patience and understanding for where we personally all where at, at any given season of life. In other words, my cookie cutter ideas could not possibly work!!! (nor could anyone else's models for that matter!)
God has really lavished his love so abundantly on me, He is patient and loving with me -ALWAYS! He loves me for who I am, and so I long to have his heart for my kids as well. I want to view them how he views me, special, unique, and wonderful!! The more I sense God's love for me, the more I can love my kids without conditions. 
So, parenting has become a journey that I can't ever predict, measure or figure out! I must have a go with the flow, and an open mind or I will only frustrate my children and be tempted to put them in a box or mold that they will never fit in. 
Currently, I am making sure my kids feel so saturated in my love for them, that they will never once question it. I'm gonna tell them over and over and over so that they never doubt it, listen to them when they want to talk,  and smother them with hugs, kisses and tickles until they beg me to stop!!! Okay, I know I am getting ridiculous, but if I can't get the love part rock solid with them, they will never grow up confident! And if all I am able to do well is love 'em up....then so be it! Now I am not saying I want to be lazy in training them, but they won't want to obey me out of their hearts if they don't first totally understand and sense my love and acceptance of them. Kinda like how Christianity should be! We are so amazed by God's love, so comforted by it so sure of it, that we want to please Him!!! 
I have done a bit of interesting research on grace-based parenting, and have found some unique insight on the Scriptures used for discipline, in regards to child rearing. My husband and I are slower to punish our children and to talk through how we will handle issues that rise up, rather than have one set way of disciplining them (ex. spanking.) I found there are studies on the rod that are very interesting, and as I see God with different eyes than I used to, I struggle with the idea of corporal punishment. I want pure grace in all areas of my life, and God's love to be unquestionably dominant in the way I raise my four wonderful sons!! 

(By the way, I realize I may create quite a stir with this post, in that I am seemingly chucking out a common held biblical view of parenting with the whole issue of spanking,  but these are my personal thoughts and views, and everyone else can have their own views too! )


jul said...

Very interesting Lydia. I'm not ready to throw 'spanking' out the window yet but I'm realizing that I don't want to use it with the older kids, and by older, I'm meaning once they're out of toddlerhood. Spanking is useful for training sometimes, along with many other methods, but once a child can reason and understand the Gospel and respond to the Holy Spirit I believe that teaching and correction and prayer/prophetic words over them are far more effective at turning their hearts toward God and building our relationship with them too. I know some people feel that God uses corporal punishment, ie he likes to beat us up sometimes but I don't think so. I once heard Rob say that the only time God would speak in a loud and authoritatively demanding voice was if a ten ton brick was about to fall on your head. That's often the position we as parents are in with 2 year olds haha!

lydia joy said...

Thanks for your thoughts here, Jul. I hear what you are saying about the toddlers, makes total sense to me, especially when it comes to danger. I love this, praying prophetic words over them.....
If my kid senses more that they are being beat up, then my parenting is not effective, after all I don't want to exasperate them, so for me choosing alternative methods best suited for each child is where I am at. They all respond differently and need to be trained uniquely ...
I want them to get a grip on how loving God is.......I only wish I knew sooner myself.....Don Shorey says, You can never underestimate the power of love.....!

jul said...

hey we were talking at church last night, all 3 of us haha, and Aaron said something as he was talking about the good old days of working in children's ministry you-know-where. He was saying that teaching kids to obey is not a bad thing, but it was like constantly they were hearing 'obey,obey, obey..' but not 'faith, faith , faith'. Something in my mind clicked hearing that, the connection I've been looking for with the whole parenting in grace vs. legalsim thing. Yes, I'm still teaching them to obey, but I'm more importantly developing a relationship of trust with them, so they can have faith in me (and ultimately God) so that their obedience is a fruit of this faith, not a product of fear of punishment. Don't know if that makes sense.... To bring in love, if they are not secure in my love for them as their parent, they will have trouble trusting (and therefore obeying) me. We like to ignore the fact that our child's disobedience is a reflection of a deeper problem in our relationship with us and with God. Relationships are much harder work than dictator-like control regimes where the bigger stronger person gets their way through manipulation, control, fear, and domination. But when you think your God is this kind of dictator, it's only natural for us as fathers and mothers to imitate what we (mistakenly) think we see our father in heaven doing.

lydia joy said...

Oh Julie, you could have turned that comment into a post! You are making total sense! I think relationships are much harder work than controlling by discipline to get them to behave the way we want. I remember sharing something about one of my son's behavior issues, not because I wanted to know how to deal with it, I honestly was processing how he, as a person is, and was trying to understand him, and I guess the way he is or was seemed like a reason for them to simply say, "well, just spank him." He is a person with feelings and personality traits that I do not want to crush, I want to understand him and work with his unique personality while training him in basic obedience, not demanding too much of him and giving him room to show signs of willingness and growth.....anyway, this is a topic of great joy for me now, where as it used to be one of great frustration and angst! Not saying it's all peaches and cream, but walking by the spirit, understanding our Father's heart and seeing them as unique has been revolutionary in our parenting, mainly in our relationships with our kids.....though it may not look, surface wise, like we are growing, to others, I know the heart of our family is knitting together in a way it never has and I believe that brings the Lord great joy!!!

Bino Manjasseril said...

Great thoughts Lydia! As a parents of two little kids (2&4) we always struggle in the area of parenting from a grace perspective. I agree with the ways you were talking. As the kids acknowledge our love, they start obeying. I wouldn't think obedience (true, natural) comes from law/rules. But I also think that we have to 'discipline' our kids, but the question is what does it mean. Like you said, there is no cookie-cutter ways of doing it. As God leads, we do it on a situation by situation basis. Otherwise we become very legalistic which takes all the joy of parenting away. Each child is unique, each parent is unique, each situation is unique, the way God works in each person's life is unique, so how can we come up with a set of principles? Love has to be our motivator, and as they (kids) realize it more, they tend to act within our will/likings as a way of expressing their love back, the same way we live our Christian life.

Nicole said...

I like what was said, "There is no cookie-cutter ways of doing it. As God leads, we do it on a situation by situation basis."

I have no children as of right now, but have struggled with the spanking issues and realize that if it comes to that, I would spank, but not for every little thing. My parents spanked my brothers and I as we were growing up, and a fine line was drawn when it went too far. I feel like I will spank but only when it is absolutely necessary. I think there are other techniques that work just as well, if not better for certain situations. I have an early childhood development degree and have a good understanding of other disciplinary tools and techniques and use them in my nanny job where I am currently working. It has been fun to observe others outlook on the whole ‘spanking’ issue, and I frankly agree with others a lot more than how I was raised! That is not saying that I don’t believe what the bible teaches about this subject, but the outcome of other disciplinary techniques have worked!

Have you heard of Love and Logic, by Jim and Charles Fay? It is a very good disciplinary book that teaches how to discipline your child and not use ‘punishment’. It is a good resource if you’re interested!

In Freedom, Nicole!

Dan Bowen said...

Interesting - normally I wouldn't have dreamt of contributing to a discussion on spanking of which I have no experience as I am not a parent! It was just that I was listening to Rob's last session in Los Angeles when he was speaking last year and in some off-the-cuff comments he made before getting into his preaching, he did address preaching.

I loved his spirit! He did admit he spanked Ryan and Bonnie and his other son (whom I don't know his name!?! Oops!) - but it was a last resort in response to only rebellion. His heart was that the children were raised as Lydia said in a spirit of abounding love and the children would learn that a quiet "no" meant NO. There didn't have to be any shouting. When the boundary was crossed, Rob and Glenda weren't afraid to use the spoon (he said NEVER use the hands - they are only for blessing) but again all in a spirit of grace.

It was wonderful to hear that. My parents did indeed smack us and quite frequently because my old church followed the letter of the Old Covenant law; "Spare the rod and spoil the child". So I would say we were over-smacked actually. What highlights it is that my parents don't smack any of my younger siblings at all now that I know of. They have definately mellowed with age.

I wouldn't say that the smacking itself embittered me against my parents. I do think it is inbuilt in children that your parents have the right to discipline you as long as you know why you are being disciplined. Which to give my father his due, he always did explain why we were disciplined.

The painful memories are more when he hit out in rage and anger and unjustly. But hey - he was human! What IS painful in my memory is that the Christian school operated corporal discipline and my parents gave loco parentis to the headmaster. So I did get the cane at school. And that DID embitter me I am sad to say. I didn't feel (and still don't) that man had any right to physically hit me at all.

It's the parents job and the parents alone in my view - BUT in an atmosphere of grace and unconditional love.

lydia joy said...

Bino, thanks for sharing and I like how you summed it up, love has to be our motivator. What's our ultimate goal in parenting, just to have obedient well behaved kids ..which would be the legalistic end old way of good!!! It's definitely a day by day learning to walk by the Spirit and totally rely on God's grace!!!

I like that you shared even though you don't have kids, you are getting ready for the future in a great way!
I think spanking can work, no doubt, it's just so easy to misuse it, that we are using it as a complete last resort, and it only has to be minimal, since they are not used to it, when we do it, it is far more effective. Like today for example we had an issue with one son that through talking, removing priviledges and teaching he was still stuck in a particular pattern that we do not condone. So we used the rod, spoon, whatever and it really was effective. A huge lesson was learned through this, my son saw we were serious enough and the issue was serious enough that we would have to use the rod to wake him up to this pattern. And now he can remember that, if I don't want it to get to that....anyway, there is much more I could bring up here, but I think you get my drift.
I have seen spanking become so out of balance and turn kids into little Pharisees cause they the rod for every misbehaviour, I am not sure it brings heart change genuinely. I don't want to just get what I want out of my kids, I want to build understanding and trust and respect both ways. I want my kids to think for themselves and learn the hard way sometimes. I also need to learn to be consistent to teach and train that's enough said right. Thanks for your thoughts and info!

lydia joy said...

Thanks for what you shared!
Yes I have heard Rob bring up parenting from time to time. He also used to be legalistic back in the day...but, it is refreshing to hear him say, we weren't perfect parents, we forgot their birthday's even at times, but the main thing is they fostered a love for God and now they are all serving God!!
I do agree that the "spare the rod and spoil the child" passage is O.C. and certainly overused and abused by Christians worldwide all in the name of, disciplining in a biblical way! It is grievous that many have had to go through harsh discipline as children! But God is able to turn it around and use it for good, somehow He does this!!!
I agree no one should ever have the right to punish a child physically other than the parent, and even then I think there are laws out there these days against it....yikes! When I was in elementary school the teachers were permitted to spank the children so long as a witness was present.....oh well, back in those days, it was accepted for whatever reasons! I got paddled a lot for really stupid reasons, like not finishing my milk at lunch, and you know what, my parents never knew about it!!! I am not bitter about it, but I would speak up these days if that were happening that's for sure!!
Anyway, I pray God heals you from those past hurtful memories and experiences, He's good at that for sure!!

Anonymous said...

...any ideas on grace-parenting teenagers?


lydia joy said...

Ask your kids....then ask God!
No really I do mean that, but my oldest is only 9, and sometimes I think he already acts like a teenager. I wish there was an easy answer to that question, I can only say from being a teenager myself, the elements I would have like to have seen more would be non-judging, total accepting of me no matter how I screw up, open communication, quality time and love, love, love.......and a better understanding of the Gospel of Gods Grace and really seeing that it indeed is GOOD NEWS!!!
Our pastors have teens across the board and have a youth minisrty now at my new church, if you are ever interested in traveling to my area.......