Generation Cedar

Parenting is a hot topic.  Opinions swing from one end of the spectrum to the other.  And yet, there seems to be evidence abounding (mainly at Wal-Mart, for whatever reason) that there are some missing links to this colossally important job of raising children.

And while we’re on the topic, may I just boldly say, it matters to me how you raise your children, as it should matter to you how I raise mine.  We all live in this society together and whether we’re talking about smashed mail boxes or tax-payer prison costs, we are affected by the job each of us does as parents.

You can read all the books and try to figure out what sounds best to you, but I don’t think that’s the most solid approach to parenting.

In my opinion, there are several sure-fire ways to know what good parenting is. It’s not rocket science, but it takes dedication, wisdom and time–some of which many parents aren’t willing to give.  So it starts there…one must be willing to be a good parent before he can begin to figure out how.

From my limited experience–we’re still in the throes–I’ll share what we’ve learned so far:

The Bible. We so often look to other books before we glean from the plethora of practical wisdom on parenting from God’s Word.  It must be the starting point.

Balance, balance balance.  You can get the obedience part down pat and forget the joy of your children and it’s a disaster.  Or vice versa.  Parents seem too often to get lopsided to the detriment of their children and to their own sorrow and frustration.

Latch on to a mentor.  There are those who have gone before us and have done it well.  That is the benefit of “walking with the wise”.  Listen, watch and learn from them. Move in with them if you have to.  One of the detriments of our age-segregated society is the robbed opportunity we have of interacting with and learning from one another as we live life.

Establishing authority IS a key point. It’s just how you do it that matters. Some parents avoid this principle because they default to thinking of bullying or squelching a child’s spirit when they hear the word “authority”.  But a balanced view of parenting doesn’t do that.  It has to begin with your understanding of what your role is in your child’s life, the responsibility God has given you that cannot be abdicated, and then walking carefully in that knowledge.

Establishing authority also doesn’t mean your children should be afraid of you. If they are, something is wrong.  But don’t get fooled into thinking that you can’t establish authority in your home AND have an affectionate, loving relationship with your children.  This is precisely what it should look like.

God, our perfect parent says, “I love you immensely.  I love you so much that there are boundaries–things that are good for you and things that are bad for you.  My love requires me to establish consequences when you disobey.  If I didn’t, you wouldn’t be a true son.”

That’s heavy stuff and it’s our responsibility to model our parenting after that, with all the tenderness and grace our loving Father offers us.

A happy home is a healthy home. There are always moments of correction, rebuke or discipline, especially if you have several children.  But don’t let that allow a reigning spirit of gloom.  There should be plenty of laughter, joy and fun too.  For every time you say no, there should also be a yes!  It’s a spirit of truly enjoying your children, which will come naturally if you have established the healthy authority that causes a child to bring delight to your soul.

Pay attention to what you ask. I’ve been guilty myself and have seen other parents ask their children to do something that they weren’t willing to enforce. Since it wasn’t that important, they didn’t have the presence of mind or will to follow through to obedience.  If you really don’t care whether they come or not, don’t ask.  But if you do, prepare to enforce it; otherwise you train them to disobey.

Happy children know that there are parents in the home that are in control. They know they are respected and their parents expect big things from them. It is an insult to your children to assume they aren’t capable of obedience, rather than the popular notion that to require obedience is somehow the insult.

Happy children get lots of hugs and kisses and smiles and walks and looks in the eyes that say, “I’m so glad you’re my child”. They feel safe–both because of the established authority in the home, and because that authority doesn’t abuse its position, but rather, humbly accepts it as part of a demonstration of love to those in its care.

Don’t forget the balance.

Oh, and happy children don’t have counting parents 😉

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36 Responses

  1. Last year at the orchard my daughters got to see first hand the importance of parental authority as we watched a 2 year old break away from his mom and as he ran toward traffic she yelled “NO” and he looked over his shoulder at her and laughed as he ran faster. The crazy thing was after she caught him she scooped him up laughing and kissing.Yeh and what is it with Walmart?? Must be the same no matter where you live!!I struggle with being a very serious person as is my husband mostly, we grew up in homes where our moms had a great sence of humor and we both miss the laughter that breaks out spontaneously in that kind of home ,we try but it is not exactly a personality trait that can be forced, however our younger daughter is showing signs lately of having this trait and she has had me just busting out laughing a few times and it feels great,you would think if it could be learned we would have picked it up.We have hugs and kisses lots but I truely miss the laughter.I would say we have a mostly contented feeling at home but some out break of joy would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Great, great article. We have 14, 12, and 8 year old boys, and a 2 year old girl. We’ve always purposely trained our children and have been blessed by God through our efforts. But somehow our 2 year old seems to be different…consistent discipline, spanking, makes no difference. She is making our house a very chaotic, unhappy home. I want so badly to love and enjoy my daughter but everything seems to turn into a huge battle. I do not have mentors to turn to for advice and would truly appreciate any words of wisdom to help.

      1. Wow. Do I feel your pain! I have four children (3 boys and 1 girl). However, my troublemaker is not the girl. Our second oldest son is quite the little pistol (he’s five). No amount or type of discipline that is working for the others is working for him. He does like to be a “helper”, so as long as I keep him busy, he stays out of trouble. But give him 5 minutes of “idleness” and he has found a way into trouble. He is not good at free play, he needs structured play to stay out of trouble. Perhaps your daughter is the same way. Give her chores to do as mommy’s (helper) and see if she is proud to be “a good helper”.
        Just my thoughts.
        Rachel

        1. My oldest son (now 3) is like this. I’ve found that consistent discipline helps even though some days I wonder if I’m getting through. And just as you say, if I keep him busy and working he transforms into a well-behaved child. If he is idle or “bored” you better watch out! Children like this seem to need a Purpose. So I agree with R.F. —- find something she can do and so that she will be fulfilled. Challenge her! Too often we think “they are just children” and don’t expect enough from them.

          I’ve taken comfort in the fact that God has made him stubborn and hard working for a reason. We just have to channel that to something useful and above all else teach him that he is a person under authority, both us and God.

          Just my 2 cents and I would love to hear other bits of advice!

          1. Just to reinforce what I mentioned earlier, my sister-in-law struggles with her middle son. He is just like my son (two peas in a pod:) The only way to keep him out of trouble is to keep him working. His father came to help my husband with a project in our basement and brought him along. For eight hours straight he shoveled dirt into 5 gallon buckets for the men to empty. Needless to say, he didn’t get in trouble that day! As long as he is kept busy with an “important” job is does fine. I think these children have so much energy that they need an outlet for it. Good hard work seems to do the trick!

      2. I definitely wouldn’t feel qualified to give advice, but perhaps you’d like to check out Dr. James Dobson’s “The New Strong-Willed Child.” I have found his books extremely helpful, and this one might be right up your alley.

        1. I read the Old Strong Wiled Child, and it helped. But what helped more than anything is to pray. Pray over them, out loud, with your hands on their heads. When there is defiance or disobedience (same thing, I guess)stop and start praying aloud. Have you and your husband pray over her at night. “For we fight not against flesh and blood, but spiritual principalities.” Take the battle to the Lord, He knows just how to handle it. And, in the praying for her, He may show you things in your husband and your parenting that, while worked for your 3 oldest, cannot work for your newest cutie.
          I’ll be praying for a renewed spirit in you to battle this the Lord’s way, and for her heart to be softened to the Lord. “Do not grow weary in doing good, for in due time you will receive your reward”

      3. I truly appreciate the sweet, godly advice and encouragement that I’ve found here today. The Lord has opened my eyes today to some definite failures on my part towards my daughter..with the busyness of having older children, their homeschool studies, and activities, I haven’t included her as my “helper” like I should. It seems that I’am always rushing to complete the next task, and then there is always something else “important”…God has shown me that I should focus more (much more) on the eternal.
        Thanks especially to Kelly L, your reply brought tears to my eyes….God is so good and I know that He loves my children even more than I do. Years ago, we would pray out loud over our boys, but somehow quit doing that. But you better believe that praying over our children will make a comeback in this house. Thank you for your advice,kind words, and your prayers.

        1. So sweet of you to say. But really, I felt like it was God who was downloading those words. But I am glad you said they helped, it was a nice confirmation that I was listening to God.

  2. Love it!! Keep preaching! We have been parenting 7 for going on 23 years now and you are spot on with your advice!! We have been deceived by the humanistic worldview that has insidiously infiltrated every corner of our culture. And our culture has been reaping the fruits of that flawed view for the last several generations. We MUST do this job correctly. We must raise our children with a proper understanding of authority and responsibility, giggling and laughing all the way! :)Love the book: Don’t Make Me Count to Three! by Ginger Plowman and have given it as baby gifts because it says what you are saying. We have to correct and instruct in righteousness. Thank you for your wisdom!! New reader and am glad to have found you!

  3. I SOOOO needed this post and encouragement this day~~ Yesterday was a day of lots of OH MY~~ Praise the Lord He has given us such wonderful instructions~~ My little blessings can keep the momma busy~~ I love it however some of the craziness could go away and I would be okay with that~~ Thanks for sharing~~
    Blessings~~

  4. Really wonderful points. I agree with all. Now just to continue to implement them 100% of the time, that is the goal!

  5. One kind of counting that works for me: “See if you can get this room picked up before I get to 20 (or whatever)”. They work fast and learn counting at the same time. But the type you’re referring to is a bad, bad idea. “Obey right away” is our goal! Not that it always happens, but it’s the goal.

  6. Kelly – this is one of your best posts ever!!! (Now, don’t you go gettin’ a big head about that – balance, remember??) LOLOL 🙂
    Years ago, my then-toddler was being a bit snarky when I asked him to do something. I warned him and the behavior continued. I was busy doing something else “important” at the time and was (hangs head in shame) – parenting “out of the corner of my eye” rather than watching with both eyes. My very wise dad was watching this scene play out (over and over w/ the “warnings”)…and very calmly asked, “How is he supposed to know which warning is the one that really matters”? He said it in such a kind manner – I didn’t feel judged by his words, just blessed. I immediately did one of those “fast repent” moments, went to my son’s level and explained how important it was that he listen (the first time!) to me.
    Since that time, my hubby and I have had many “oops” parenting moments – but some of our most tender memories have been in going to our son and apologizing to him and asking his forgiveness – seeing that smile and then receiving one of those awesome – “forgiven and forgotten” hugs. Our son (at 14), knows that that door swings both ways. We try to give him back those smiles and hugs when he comes to us to ask our forgiveness. The advice you’ve given applies to toddlers to teens alike. Thanks for sharing your wisdom! 🙂

  7. I desperately need help. I want to be a loving mother and I absolutely agree on the importance of obedience – the first time. However, when they don’t obey, I get personally offended and mad. And hanging my head in shame, I take it out on them. I recently visited another family with grown children and I see the resentment and attitude in the older daughter and I see the negative, belittling, demanding-obedience-or-else expectation of the mother – and I know I am JUST like her! I try to hold it in and talk sweetly and encourage obedience, but then it explodes. I watch other mothers and I can never see how they handle the disobedience – because I don’t SEE their children disobeying! How do you avoid getting personally offended and emotional when they disobey?

    1. CP,

      How old are your children? The best advice I have about “not getting offended” is that we have to have the right perspective of the whole parenting thing to begin with. We were not given children just to “make mind” and if we are getting offended (and we all do sometimes) it’s because our focus has shifted to what they’re doing against “us” versus what they’re doing against God.

      If our ultimate aim is to raise children who love GOD and obey GOD then we are motivated differently to train them. We should be sorrowful but not offended if they are developing patterns of sin (i.e. disobedience) and we must always point them and ourselves back to the main point: God is our authority.

      1. They are 5 and 2. It’s mainly been the five year old who simply sits and ignores me. She’s not defiant – she just ignores me, or is SO slow and gets distracted (“please put on your socks” ..3 minutes later.. “I said, please put on your socks.” …. 5 minutes later she still has not put on her socks!) The two year old is going to be the defiant one. Her first sentence was “i don’ wanna!”

        Thank you for the reply. It’s true – my focus is on what they’re doing to me… I will make it a matter of prayer!

        1. CP,

          Understanding that you are helping the obey the Lord when you help them obey earthly authority is the starting point. Beyond that, it’s a consistent, concentrated effort.

          I would “start new” by sitting down with both of them and explaining (and maybe apologizing?) that you have not been consistent in requiring them to obey and tell them you are going to change that because you love them so much.

          Then, when you tell them to do something, I like to say, “Look at Mommy” so there’s no question of whether they didn’t hear, etc. Then I ask for a response (“Put you shoes on, yes ma’am?”)

          At that point, if they don’t obey it’s defiance and they should be disciplined. Very calmly, with a brief explanation that the Bible says, “Children obey your parents”.

          If you are consistent with that, it won’t take long and they’ll understand.

        2. CP – My kids are a little behind yours (2 and 3), but the behavior you described in your daughter reminds me of my 3 year old not long ago–and I discovered that her behavior turned out to be my fault! I offer this not as an accusation but becaues I wish someone had enlightened me a couple of years ago on it! (and it may not be the case with you and your daughter, but just an inkling I got) If your kids are anything like mine, they jabber non-stop. Well, I realized that I tended to tune my daughter’s non-stop jabber out, occassionally saying, “Uh-huh. Sure, whatever you say, sweetie.” Or, she would ask me something and my reaction was typically, “Hold on a second. Mama’s doing something. Hold on.” Only to make her wait not a second but two or three minutes until I addressed her again. Well, a few months of this, and she turned the tables on me: She started ignoring me when I spoke, tuning me out, and telling me that she was doing something when I asked her to pick up her toys or get ready to leave. It took about three weeks of really paying attention to what she was saying to correct the behavior–and I still slip up from time to time, but overall, the improvement has been astonishing–in both of us. Anyway, I could be way off track, but I really hope that helps.

          God bless,
          Bethany

  8. So, we count… Only the numbers represent not how many seconds they can continue to disobey, rather how many “disciplines” they will receive for not obey the first time they are asked to do something.

  9. Kelly,
    I’m not yet a parent, but have worked off & on in childcare & education… I must say: love this post!!
    ” it matters to me how you raise your children, as it should matter to you how I raise mine.  We all live in this society together and whether we’re talking about smashed mail boxes or tax-payer prison costs, we are affected by the job each of us does as parents.”

    That is an excellent statement!!

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