Spring is coming. We have the tell tale white daisy weeds to prove it. In a few months I'll post pictures of our "snow" white lawn, covered in hundreds of these mini daisies. For now I'm just going to ask that you don't the random plastic garden furniture and melamine planks we've used through winter to keep our pooch out of our neighbours garden. They're trying to sell their home, and something about a feral Jack Russell Terrier barking at prospective buyers in their future garden and then sneaking back through the hole in the fence just seemed, well, unhelpful?
Some of you might like me a little less after this post. You will probably disagree strongly with me, and not be too fond of the way we parent. But I'm not here to make friends. Wait, thats a lie. Making new friends and learning from you all is exactly why I'm here. But whats the point in you making friends with a fake me?
We believe in firm discipline and strong boundaries. Don't rush ahead and take this whole thing out of context. But this is what we've been working through and feeling recently.
Hebrews 4 vs 12 says "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."
This scripture has informed and inspired they way we discipline. I've heard many messages on parenting. One thing that stood out from the rest was a simple "aside" in a message I heard when I was probably only 15. I remember consciously "bookmarking" it for when I was a mom. This is by NO means supposed to condense all parenting advice into one paragraph, this is mere something to consider alongside your convictions and the way you parent.
The advice went something like this. When parenting, it is important to be able to tell the difference between choices your child is making, and to be able to put them into one of two categories. Is the choice they are making, making a difference to their MORTALITY or to their ETERNITY? When our children hear us cautioning them, we want them to listen, not just hear.
The example given by the father of four (now fully grown and married off) men was his sons wanting to ride quad bikes on a friends farm. They had little experience on the bikes and teenage boys being teenage boys there were certainly risks to their mortality. They chose, as parents, to let them decide whether they would go or not. They laid out the risks, ensured that their boys where adequately trained in control and safety on the bikes, advised them again reckless behaviour and then gave them the choice.
He went on to explain that most of us, boys especially, have a taste for adventure. As parents our desire and instinct is often to protect them from every potential hurt that could arise. This can possess a danger in itself.
Many children, my eldest especially so, possess a very adventurous, independent streak. Most boys have a taste for "danger". Most Moms have a taste for overprotection. I never want my boys to feel smothered. While we do not tolerate disobedience, I've found myself reminded of this and questioning my motivation for some of the things I would naturally say "no!" to.
It is important that our children, especially those who are adventurous, are ALLOWED a sense of freedom, and a taste of danger. We let them climb. We let them ride bikes. We let them walk along the high wall most of the way to school. We let them jump around in their water filled sand pit in the FREEZING cold. NOT because its convenient. Because its ANYTHING but. We let them have their desire for adventure filled, even when it may mean and extra trip to the emergency room. Im not advocating for reckless behaviour, obviously, just a bit more freedom where **I** would naturally have said NO! We need to remember who our children belong to, and not to extinguish the adventurous fearless spirits He has given them. He loves them and He will protect them.
I pray this over my boys regularly - Psalm 121
I lift my eyes up to the hills - where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you - the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm, he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forever more.
We let our boys be fearless because we desire for our children to work out their "adventure seeking" in areas effecting only their mortality, so that one day, when we need to rebuke or offer a caution in an area that will effect their eternity, their forever relationship with God, that they heed our warnings. That they understand that we are not here to spoil their fun. That they know we desire them to have a full life.
We want our NO's to be serious. To have weight. And to be for their benefit, not our convenience. We discipline attitudes way more than we discipline actions. Its why I took all of these gorgeous pictures of Levi jumping around in dirty water rather that hauling him in and sticking him on a time out. He was outside playing on his slide with me watching from the kitchen window, when he realised that the rain had filled up his upturned sand pit. I saw the thought flash across his mind and by the time I got across the garden he was already standing, shoes on, in knee deep water. GRINNING. I couldn't kill his joy. So I enjoyed him, enjoying life. And then bribed him in with the promise of a warm bath.
In the end it turned out he really just wanted to be back outside. He made a run for it while I was loading his clothes into the washing machine.
And essentially, I was reminded, to be loving. Full of patience, kindness, gentleness and selflessness when it comes down to the crunch. When my washing pile grows just so that he can have fun.