Let me start by stating: I never knew four year olds could ask so MANY questions!
Since my daughter turned four it seems every other sentence from her mouth is a question. Depending on the day this can be a bit overwhelming while other days it is endearing. Some days the questions are all about faith, Satan, and God. Boy oh boy, does that girl know how to postpone a nap time with this Mommy! Then we have the days where the questions have only to do with food, toys, and babies.
Today her questions led us to a conversation about consequences.
After lying about hurting her brother Madi’s consequence was a spanking. (Hold the growls my non-spanking friend.) This interaction sparked not only a great conversation w/ my four year old but great insight for myself.
Whether a parent spanks, uses time out, soap in the mouth, or just positive enforcement… ultimately, every parent is vying for the same goal: To raise our children to become well rounded adults.
In our house one reason we implement consequences is to teach our children that throughout life (outside of Mommy and Daddy’s house) there are consequences to their actions. In our house one example is…
* If you use your mouth to speak something nasty than something nasty gets put on your tongue (soap).
As a parent, it is my job to consistently provide consequences and rewards for their words and actions. Not to be mean. Not to force my authority. To teach my children to think before they act or talk.
I want my children to recognize that their words and actions affect others.
With that said: When the consequences given to children come from parents who are angry, tired, and/or sad what are we teaching them?
Is it right for our children to inflict a consequence on someone else based on their emotional state?
I will be the first to say this part of parenting is SO HARD! I cannot count the number of times my voice is raised and I feel like inflicting consequences on my children. But the minute I parent according to my emotional state the message sent to my kids is blurred. Personally, this is where my parenting becomes drowned in prayers. I know I don’t have that much patience and calm naturally stored up inside of me. I need some supernatural Holy Spirit help. lol
Nothing I type is new or profound. Simple and true- that is what I am going for.
Here is what is true: Consequences exist in our world. Let’s simply come alongside our kids and lovingly- consistently teach them, talk with them, and show them how to live.
From the book of Deuteronomy where we read about God’s laws for the Israelites:
from chapter 6:
These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life…. The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
* side note *
Did you know that (to) parent is both a noun and a verb?