It is amazing what a little bite sized piece of high fructose corn syrup can do for a family dynamic. Simply amazing. Lately I have been employing some positive reinforcement in my child rearing. Turns out you can get a kid to do (or not do) A LOT with just a bright, shiny, sweet piece of delight called a SKITTLE.
Disciplining my kids has been one of THE hardest things I have ever done, and done, and done, and done. I saw myself before kids as not being willing to take a lick of slack and mellowed a little after the delivery. I decided I wanted to be lovingly firm, establishing authority early on so as to earn a place of influence in those later years. Yeah.
I still believe all that, it is just the practicality of all of it that is so dang frustrating. I mean you can't *"shepherd the butt" in the middle of Target... or can you?
(*this is a little term a friend and I coined after reading a great book entitled "Shepherding a Child's Heart" by Ted Tripp)
I was a little stressed in the beginning about being ultra consistent with our first child. She was a VERY smart and wonderful 18 month old and although I knew all my childhood developmental stages, this girl knew WHAT she was doing - just not TO WHOM she was doing. Hey little girls out there, listen up: It is not wise to cross a very pregnant female who is in an 1100 square foot house with 12 inches of snow on the ground 9 months out of the year AND whose husband works 120 hours a week while she is unemployed, in debt and developing a waist measurement that is TWICE her age. Not wise. Not one bit. But, live and learn. She lived to learn.
By the time our son was born and not even 5 months old, we "discovered" we were again expecting. The situation was not developing into one where being consistent and kind was going to come easily. Plus, momma had to go back to work before I did permanent damage to the psyches of those I loved most dearly. Sometimes, you should just shut your mouth and leave the room. So, I went back to work part time in the evening.
I suffered what I like to call post partum, antepartum, intrapartum and post-post partum depression. I use the term ' like' loosely here. It was a dreadful time for me, my husband and my kids. The anxiety, frustration, guilt, fatigue were all consuming. I thought I was never going to be normal again. This did not add anything helpful to my desire to be a great mom, loving disciplinarian and rich communicator. I literally had difficulty even talking. I could not read because the inability to concentrate was so severe.
But that is nothing a little Zoloft could not help!
I am being funny about this but it was very serious. I never wanted to be the type who had to take medication for mood. I mean, I understand it, I prescribed it for crying out loud and I would recommend it.... for someone else. I thought for me it would be a slippery slope of medication, medication side effects, counseling that would make me talk about "my childhood" and I just thought it was all a bunch of hooey.
My imagined self was going to have to come to terms with reality.
So, I decided that the price of crucifying the image, by going to a psychiatrist and beginning medication, was worth gaining the ability to be able to hear God's voice again in my life. I wanted to be able to read my Bible again, pray and have a conversation. It was the THIRD best decision I ever made. First was Jesus, second was my husband.
I don't think God made me have depression, but I wonder if it was a tool of discipline for me? I wonder sometimes. It definitely knocked me down a notch in the pride and self sufficiency department. I think it totally increased my mercy for others going through similar situations. Here is what I know though... I don't think I could have learned what I did and come away with what I did any other way. Was the season of depression worth it? Not sure. But I do like what I have going on now.
There is some pain involved in parenting. I wonder if God is pained by what I went through.
There is some serious power in parenting as well. I have spanked my kids bottoms in one day more than I ever dreamed I would in a year before I had kids. I hate doing that. But I also hate the idea that they would grow up thinking that their wisdom and direction is all they have. That obeying their impulses is the only way they have to learn. No thank you. I have the power to grow them into adults who love God and serve Him, or I have the power to literally destroy them. I cannot fathom doing the latter intentionally. It is the unintentional that I fear.
So what I do with that is apologize OFTEN and quickly - both to God and my kids; not as some "pass" to mess up again and again, but because I have a real desire to be a reflection of the One I love. It's called a new heart. I gotta keep it real. I think if I do that, God will cover the rest. Mercy is NOT getting what you deserve. Grace is getting what you DO NOT deserve. God is both. I trust Him to pour this out over my family and all my relationships. This is how He interacts with the affairs of men. He makes beauty out of ashes, He gives strength for fear, gladness for mourning, PEACE for despair.
I don't know how you were parented. God is a great Father. He doesn't let go, He's perfectly consistent, appropriately applies the pain, constantly calls in a small voice, has ALL the answers and gives encouragement when it is least expected for even the smallest successes. Who needs Skittles.