“I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God- it changes me.”
― C. S. Lewis
― C. S. Lewis
I believe in the sun even when it's not shining. I believe in love even when I don't feel it. And I believe in God even when He is silent. (quote found on the wall of a concentration camp)
Saturday, March 14, 2009
The Confusion of Beyond Consequences Logic and Control
I have had many conversations over the last couple of years about the approach we use with our children.
It wasn't until after a post yesterday that I actually understood where the confusion comes from when folks don't quite understand.
I don't think the approach is really that different from what we have always done, minus a few time outs or a grounding or even a swat or two from long ago with the boys.
I think the difference really is the "Outlook" or "Perspective" from where you parent.
There is no question that you love your kids.
BUT...Are you parenting your child in a state of panic and fear of the future, wanting them to turn out perfectly or better than you did? Are you hoping that your parents will be proud of your skills and that others will applaud your efforts? Are you feeling like everything they do is a reflection of you personally? Do you feel that their spiritual values are totally dependent upon you and not the Holy Spirit?
Are you parenting from deep love in your heart that you pour into another individual, giving them guidance, spiritual understanding and acceptance, and loving them on a path that leads to life? Not reacting to their "off the trail" adventures to the never land of destruction, but shining the light back on the trail so they can be gently guided back?
I think that is where the confusion comes from. "What about when they go off that path? How do you not REACT?" "Why wouldn't you REACT?"
Reactive parenting winds up being usually like "arm chair" parenting. Stop that!
I said Stop that! If you do that again, you are going to get a time out! That's it! TIME OUT! Don't look at me that way! Who do you think you are? I am your mom and you WILL OBEY ME NOW! YOU WILL RESPECT ME! YOU WILLL....."Don't you roll your eyes at me!..... And those little heals dig in and those little eyes no longer look at the crazy fuming person who is supposed to love them and they forget all about what they did but start to feel defensive and scared and wonder if they are going to die or if mom and dad are going to love them any more and then when they are alone in their room with all that time to think... they say, "why bother", I'll never live up. They don't care. I have to take care of myself. I have to survive. All those little things they think are not true. But they don't know that, their experience tells them something different. Because they HAVE been abused. They have been neglected. They have been wronged and rejected.
The idea is instead of react, RESPOND. Responding requires planned, self controlled thought out direction. It is studying and knowing what will work best for your child to bring them back on the path.
Reacting is instant. It doesn't require thought. It usually reaches way back to somewhere in our past and brings out the worst in us. And the thought "Why did I just say what my mother used to say to me?" Where did that come from?
We ALL react sometimes. I know I do. The goal however, is to get to a place of naturally RESPONDING. I truly believe that can only be done with much prayer and supplication, surrendering our hearts to our Lord and learning to treat our children as HE has treated us.
He Brings us to a place of complete TRUST. We go off the beaten path when we don't trust Him.
He gently woo's us back because he is slow to anger and abounding in long suffering, patience and kindness. While we hated him, HE LOVED us. He knows us, from our very inward parts.
As we get to know our children, we learn to respond to their needs. When we respond instead of react, it puts the child in a place where they can begin to trust. When they are able to trust, then it isn't so scary to let go of control and allow themselves to be guided and loved by a parent.
This does not mean, you don't discipline. This does not mean they get away with horrid behavior. To discipline is to teach and to guide. It is to provide knowledge about life by modeling it to them.
As our children learn to trust us, and as they become more relaxed, there are natural consequences that will happen in life during the course of a regular day that will also help to guide them.
In BCLC there is a model called the Window of Tolerance. In a traumatized child the window is barely open compared to a child who is being raised in a nurturing environment.
The goal is to get that window open wider and wider. You will see a huge difference over time as you respond to your child's needs. And eventually that window will look like any other window. That is the goal.
Here is an example of how a parent would handle a younger child in a store.
If you ask them to not grab things in the store and their little hands keep on grabbing; simply taking them home is a natural consequence to grabbing. Explaining gently that they must listen to mommy is very important at a later time when they are calm and you are calm, that is the teaching and guiding time.
You spoke truth to them that they can trust.
You responded to their disobedience.
AND THEN, after things were calm, and they were in a place that they could listen, you go back over the event that occurred in a loving manner and explain what is expected. Communicating with them at a very deep level. Children respond very well to this.
Then, before you get out of the car next time, you gently remind them of what they learned the day before or the hour before..... "remember what we talked about"....and give a big hug.
My guess is, and my experience has been, even with my boys,that it only needs to happen once. And you no longer have kids grabbing things in the store.
Very simple, very calm, and problem solved.
For the parent who says, "if you touch that again,I'm going to spank you, or we are leaving if you do that ONE MORE TIME, and then thousand times later, the parent opens a yet to be purchased bag of chips in the store to keep the little hands busy" etc. This parent has taught the child 4 things.
1. You don't mean what you say.
2. The child has upset you.
3. The child is rewarded with chips for unwanted behavior
4. Mom lets me have things without paying for it.
No lesson of value was learned.
People will ask though: "Where is the discipline?" I think what they are asking is, "what punishments do you give out?"
The answer is, leaving the store was the natural consequence. It isn't a "consequence like, If you do this then I do that." Those types of things usually don't teach much.
AND with a child with a low window of tolerance, it will teach NOTHING.
The discipline, which is teaching and guiding takes place during that calm discussion time where you can reach your child's heart, talk about their behavior, their fears and their frustrations. At THAT time you can offer them the "tools" I talk about so much. What you are really teaching is true discipline, which is self discipline. You are teaching them INWARD discipline which is much more powerful that outward control because of threats of punishment. You are really reaching their hearts.
As time has gone on with our own children including our famous Joseph....:) we have seen those windows of tolerance open wide. It has taken longer for some than others, but through loving, consistent guidance and direction, they are all doing well and we are quite thankful.
I have also learned a lot about myself. I am enjoying parenting so much now, and feel free to just love them as individuals. Each of them. All wonderful 7 of them.(even though 4 are grown) :) My instruction to them spiritually is freed too. I don't feel like I have to open their heads and pound in truth. I have been guilty of that before. I just need to model it to them through my life.
I think it was St. Francis of Assissi who said, "Share the gospel daily, and if you have to, use words."
you can read part 2 here