As I recently shared, our home has become more peaceful lately. I never realized how much influence my attitude had on so many people and things, but sticking to speaking peace over our home really made a huge difference. If you missed the post about bringing peace into disciplining your children, you can read about it here.
Following that simple mindset change came a strategy we decided to give a try when there were concerns that simply speaking peace over didn’t readily mend (since any honest parent will admit there is not a single method that works for every child every time). While on our annual beach vacation with friends and family, I got to see a full week of a strategy that our friend used with her daughter the same age as our Savannah (5 years old). Whenever a rule on their family rules list was broken, our friend had her daughter sit down and copy sentences related specifically to whichever rule was broken. The English teacher in me has never been a fan of using writing as punishment—it’s hard enough to get kids to enjoy writing. But seeing this in person was completely different.
The process was simple. A rule was broken. A very short explanation of what was not okay about it was discussed, and quiet time to write about it followed.
Now, to contrast that with an ounce of the drama I was experiencing: A rule was broken. A very short explanation of what was not okay about it was discussed, and literal clawing at the walls, screeching, and dropping to the knees ensued. No kidding. Every single time I tried to explain why something was not safe or allowed to be done, I immediately began competing with my children for who can become the most irrational person in the universe. Most times, we ended in a tie. So what gave? Why did my scenario look like a scene from a psychological thriller and hers was pretty cut and dry? My kids NEED an emotional transition. They just cannot harness their heightened emotions that quickly. They have to get some cooling off time before we can even think about rationalizing things together. Mine would have to come in a different order is all.
Since God had really been speaking a lot to me about peace, other words from the Fruit of the Spirit naturally followed. My home needed more than just peace at this point. We needed love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control as well. So, after we returned home from vacation, I immediately established our own house rules: Live out the Fruit of the Spirit. We sat down in a calm, happy moment and talked about what each word meant and examples of what living them looks like and what they don’t look like. Each night, we would say the Fruit of the Spirit in our bedtime prayers to reinforce their continual need in our lives. I also explained to them what it would look like when they didn’t follow the house rules. They would go get their writing paper and the Fruit of the Spirit print out and bring them to me. I would point to which fruit they were not living out, write that word at the top of their paper, and send them to their quiet space to write out the word several times and hopefully reflect on it. Afterward, we could sit together and talk about what went wrong and how to approach the situation differently, to live out the fruit.
Although we are only about a month into this routine, we have already seen a major shift. The frequent, unnecessary and emotionally draining outbursts are now a rarity. We ALL get a cooling off period to reflect on our actions so our upcoming conversations can reflect Christ. I am able to stand in confidence that I’m parenting our children in a way that honors God. My children walk away feeling loved and invested in, instead of shamed and rejected. A legacy of Christ-centered living is being reinforced each day, which is all I could ever ask for as a mom, like you, who strives to do her best for her babies.
What strategies have you used to infuse Christ into difficult parenting situations? I’d love to hear your victories!
(Savannah reflecting on Peace and Joy)