There’s a movement in our culture that is gaining momentum. Gentle Parenting. My husband and I would fully put ourselves in this category. Although, we haven’t always. We spanked. We yelled. We broke. We broke ourselves, our children and our home. Seeing this brokenness we decided that we didn’t have to parent the way our parents did. We began to see that there is a better way. And it doesn’t include hitting or yelling.
Through my journey in parenting I have come to a bit of a metamorphosis in the ways I look at my children. From, “they are little sinners that need to be constantly corrected” to “they are little people that are not quite mature.” I have begun to see my children as people that I am guiding instead of seeing them as heathens I am fighting. This subtle mindset shift has completely changed how I discipline and place boundaries in my home. My children are sweet creations of God. They were made by his hands in their mother’s womb. They are ultimately his children and it is my responsibility and commitment to God and His promises that should influence the way I see and discipline my little image bearers.
“How we view our children is how we behave towards them. How should we best view our children? As little ones made in God’s image?”Don Owsley of Relavate Ministries
In what ways does understanding this help us see or discipline our children?
- We see image bearers
- We see people who are not yet mature
- We put an emphasis on the fruits of the spirit when we discipline. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things.” Galatians 5:22-23
- We remember “Connection before Correction.” – Dr. Laura Markham
- We understand that our children are sinners and need gentle guidance to remember God’s commands
- We realize how patient our Lord and Father is with us
On a practical level, my expectations are clear and age-appropriate. They know what they are to do when they wake up. What they are to do at bedtime, and so on and so forth. And while it is not perfect, I’m not sure anything could be at their ages no matter how hard I try, I am finding that discussing the expectations beforehand and clearly placing boundaries like a “hedge of protection” help my children to feel secure. When children know that they can trust your word, that your yes is yes and your no is no, they feel safe and protected, thus many discipline issues just fade away.
We still have bad days. We still struggle at bedtime. But, I am now better equipped to handle these tough situations in a new light. Leaning into God and letting Him be the ultimate Father to my sweet babies.