Parenting is hard. Having to raise children and train them, guide them, discipline them in hopes of them one day exercising their God-given free will in a saintly manner is tough! It pains me when my sweet babes are making poor choices, when they continue on the path to undesirable consequences. I can only imagine the pain our Father feels each time we choose a way different than the one He designed and offered us.
Lately, we have had a lot of tough love around our home. For whatever reason, our girls have found it funny (literally, tonight) to disobey. The privileges are running short around here! I won’t go into details of their poor choices, but they are five and seven…you can probably imagine myriad ways girls can find trouble, as we all have before. I find myself needing a system to deal with it, something more effective than what has felt like on-the-fly reactive discipline.
Last week, gymnastics was taken away for one practice time. Sadly, it might be a lost privilege for the rest of the season, which really breaks my heart. My girls are good at the sport, and truly love it. They have joined a mini-team, have special team leotards, and a mini-meet in two weeks. We have spent lots of time on this…I so much want to see them perform their routines. And yet, the lack of obedience, respect, and attentiveness to school work means they cannot participate. I pray they make good choices in the next few days! This is consequence I fear I might regret enforcing so rigidly.
My husband and I talked about a system to encourage good behavior. During Lent, we had a sacrifice bean jar. Each time the children did something kind, sacrificed something, did what they were told right away, etc, they put a bean in the jar. They loved watching their sacrifices add up. We decided to take the idea through the year. They each have a jar, marked with their initial, to collect pretty colored beads in for each good deed, obedience, kindness towards family, etc. we are hopeful this will encourage them. As they see their good deeds increase! I am considering rewarding them when a certain amount of beads are collected, as even more encouragement!
Something else I have considered is a list of rules or consequences for poor choices. These would be specific, like for talking back, refusing to complete a chore, not completing school work, fighting, arguing, etc. Each poor behavior would be followed with a predetermined consequence, always the same. I hope to make a list soon, and post it where we can all see it often. My girls will be reminded of what discipline they face,many my husband and I will be on the same page!
This part of love is tough! But I must remind myself that love is also patient and kind! What a delicate balance in raising our children to be saints.