When is it too far?

I can’t tell you how many times I question myself on this… When have I taken the discipline too far?  Am I being unreasonable?  Are my expectations unrealistic?  Even with an “extreme”  consequence, will my child get it and have some kind of breakthrough?

Tonight, these thoughts were at the forefront as one of my precious children had to sit and watch the rest of us participate in decorating our Christmas tree… something we’ve always enjoyed doing together.  The problem? Lack of obedience, crummy attitude, and decisions to not do as directed during school because he didn’t like what his requirements were.  I always ask myself, (hopefully before I committed myself to a consequence!) if my requirements were too much, or if they are going beyond the scope of our intentions for our children’s’ education.  But typically, we fall back on saying that our requirements are high, but not out of their reach.  We love to help them, and give them plenty of space for learning and understanding challenging concepts.  But when it comes down to them being more willing to play (and we KNOW they are getting lots of time for that) rather than applying themselves for a while in their schoolwork… that’s where we feel it’s about character that we want to mold.  It’s not about the school, in fact, at all.

This same child showed the same lack of excellence yesterday when serving another family alongside Mike and I.  And, quite honestly, that’s not new.  This is a real habit of attitude.

He was so brokenhearted when I told him what his consequence was because of his actions today, and my heart broke along with his.  The thought of my baby (a designation I give all my children) boy missing out on fun family time hurts so much!   But to allow him continue this pattern of behavior will be more hurtful to him in the long run than missing out on this one special event.

When things like this happen, I spend a good amount of time (sometimes, perhaps too much) making sure my kids understand the why’s of their consequence, and not just because I said.  They can really see for themselves where they went off track.  As I actually wrote down a record of this child’s attitudes and behaviors today – both good and bad – he could see that he was having more bad attitudes than good.  By far!   (And as a typical homeschool mom, I utilized a pie chart to enforce both my point, and his “real life” math skills.  I couldn’t resist! haha!)

I feel that one of the best things Mike and I can do as parents, is not only train them with consequences, but do our best to get their heart on board with ours.   For them to understand that the consequences are not out of anger or frustration on our part, but a natural result of their behavior.

Sigh… I hate painful consequences.  But as I watch my children meet their fate, I am struck by my own as well.  What are the natural consequences of my behavior, my modeling, and my parenting.  We tell our children that grown ups get disciplined by God, and that it is more painful than the consequences they receive – though there’s no way they can really understand that.  But it’s so true.  I strive to do my best, and be spirit-led in parenting, but I make SO many mistakes.  I pray that a natural consequence of my mistakes will NOT be that my children walk away from their Savior… or sever their relationship with us.  Too painful.  Too much.  Please God… hear my cry!

So I go along my way… reaching out to my children’s’ hearts.  Mold their behavior the best I can.  Love them as often as I can and in every kind of situation.  Try to remember to smile more.  And pray.

And pray.

And pray.

When is it too far?  I guess when it’s done out of anger, or resentment.  But if we take it too far, and still take the time to listen to their heart, and have them hear ours… perhaps there is time to back out of it and give them another chance.  Or at least ask their forgiveness.  Taking it too far, is just as detrimental as not far enough.  Both extremes will produce a result that is not the heart of a loving mother and father who desire their children to grow up in the ways of the Lord.

And I must keep in mind that I am not trying to perfect them by the time they leave home.  Just as I am not trying to teach them everything they could possibly learn in their life through their daily schooling.  More importantly, I give them a bearing on what’s important, how to learn, how to grow.  Then whether I am there or not to guide them, they will be able to navigate through life with maturity, responsibility, patience, self-control, and most importantly: love.

What I can tell you, is that my sweet boy accepted his consequence with grace.  He very gratefully sat in the same room we were in and watched and listened as we talked about Christmas memories and made some new ones.  And with a soft heart, he gave me a hug and thanked me.  I’m sure he’ll have a lot of incentive tomorrow to keep his attitudes in check. 🙂

I adore my children. ❤


your thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: