I've been asking God to teach me about his heart for disciplining our children.
I’ve been praying this prayer for a while. Perhaps for two years, two months and nine days? Maybe for longer; maybe since the little guy was growing in my womb. The urgency comes and goes and parallels the seasons, phases, developmental steppings of our beautiful Isaac Jay.
And God is faithful; He answers and will continue to answer for years and years to come.
Something I’ve carried with me has been Hebrews 12:10: “They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best…” It’s referring to fathers, but it’s true for mamas too… we do what we think is best when disciplining and raising our children. And that’s honourable and good.
My own mama is a careful advice-giver. Every parent has a different style, and hers (as well as my dad’s) has been to give a well-balanced perspective and then to trust us to make the right decision for ourselves. I don’t remember when she started doing this but I remember being a teenager and wanting to know what she wanted me to do; wanting her to just tell me so I wouldn’t have to make a decision myself.
At the same time, my siblings and I have now become accustomed to my ma’s carefulness and may not appreciate her direct advice on the occasions when it is presented to us. I want to respect her for her mothering and care, and sometimes this is expressed in the form of passing on mama wisdom.
I think it was for all the above reasons that I loved a recent email from my ma. I spoke to her on the phone one morning last week about Isaac. That afternoon she sent me the following, providing me with some parenting advice. Here it is… pretty much word for word:
“I would suggest you try to see the end result of nearly everything you tell him to do. If you have no time to wait, just tell him to choose between 2 things and you will guide him to choose 1. Make things simple and clear. If he whines, just tell him what you need him to help you do. Ignore the crying. He knows you love him and it's not your job to stop him from crying. Your job is to teach, to love and to guide him to be a loving individual with his own mind. You may borrow some of Ben's strategies, but make sure you do it your own way. Of course in the family, you have to communicate with Ben what you need him to support you. You are the mother. You know what Isaac needs. Sometimes he needs a firm but loving hand. Pick the battle to fight and don't put yourself in a power struggle (easier said than done). Always forgive yourself and try again. Sometimes you don't want to deal with him during your menstrual cycle because your hormones are wacky. Give him to his dad. The reward of patience is a beautiful individual, knowing what he wants with your loving care.”
And there’s her beautiful heart, in her straightforward, no-nonsense, filled out with love, way. Love for her grandson and love for her daughter, all rolled into one long run-on listy paragraph.