Dear MOB Society:“I am struggling to find balance in my parenting. I find that I discipline more than I show love. I want to show Christ in the day to day and I am struggling to find a way. I feel like I can’t get it right. Can you help me?”
Oh dear Momma, can I ever relate!
In my efforts to raise good and well-behaved boys, I have often been out of balance. I have parented like a military sergeant instead of a loving mother. My words have sounded more like a bark than a blessing. This is a struggle I know all too well.
I’ll never forget a time when my first three boys were all under five. I was on a roll one day, scolding them for one thing after another; All law, no grace. Finally my oldest son looked at me and said, “Mom, I guess I just can’t get anything right.“
My heart sank as I realized that this parent-pleasing kid felt completely hopeless.
And then I too, felt completely hopeless.
In desperation, I began to turn to other moms who have gone before me, to wisdom in parenting books, and most of all to the Scriptures to find help in navigating this truly challenging task of balancing discipline and love.
The most encouraging thing that I have found is that our Lord is actually a perfect example of both discipline and love. With God, the two go hand in hand. Instead of being mutually exclusive, they are in harmony. I can look to God as my example as I try to make my way through this crazy-beautiful thing called parenting.
Here are five of the most helpful lessons I have learned from the Lord’s example in the area of parenting with discipline and love:
1. God disciplines us because he loves us. We have a loving Father who cares enough about us to discipline us. He invests time into us because He has a plan for our life. This should also be our heart toward our own children. We should do our best to communicate this principle to our children so that they understand the motivation for our discipline. When they know that our love motivates us to discipline them, they can accept it and grow from it.
2. God’s discipline is done lovingly: The Lord does not discipline us in anger, and we ought to never discipline our children out of anger. Sure, we’ll get mad plenty. But we must have the self control to deal with our feelings, and only discipline when we can do so with our children’s best in mind. It is important to discipline in a way that teaches, trains, and instructs our children’s hearts first and foremost.
3. God’s voice is tender and merciful. The Lord convicts us of our sin, he does not condemn us. Therefore as we correct our children, we must do so in such a way that does not make them feel shame and guilt so much as correction and love. There is a big difference.
4. God always gives second chances. Proverbs 24:16 says, “Though the righteous man falls seven times, he gets back up again.” Do we encourage our children to get back up and try again? How many second chances has God given US? Always keep that in mind!
5. Our Heavenly Father runs to us when we run to him. If we need any reminders of how the Lord responds to us when we turn from our sins, just read the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32. Be a safe place for your kids to come to when they have sinned. I have a rule with my boys: IF they come to me and confess a wrong, I promise forgiveness and grace (though there still may be consequences.) IF I FIND OUT ON MY OWN about something they have done wrong, the consequences will be much worse.
If there is any advice I can offer, it is to continue to get to know the heart of your Heavenly Father. There is no better teacher. There is no better example. And He will give you everything you need to love and discipline your children well.
Monica, the Grommom
This post is part of our first series of 2014, Hope for the Messiness of Motherhood. Find all of the posts in this series here.