Raising three small children can be exhausting. As parents, we all love those cuddly, sweet moments filled with “I love yous” and tugs at our shirttails. We also love the excitement from experiencing their successes alongside them and the laughter from impromptu tickle monster games. But these aren’t the parts of parenting that drain us. It’s the disciplining that thins out our hair, slops some crow’s feet beside our bloodshot eyes, and makes us feel like we’re a part of some trendy new 5K called The Discipline Dash (and the free t-shirt we got is stained with a familiar variety of unidentifiable splotches). As a mom of three girls and an educator of all age levels, I am knowledgeable enough to know the basics. Consistency, clear and reasonable expectations, and role-modeling are key elements to disciplining children. And with my oldest daughter, it was all natural, effortless, and effective. Then enters our middle child. Raleigh is a force to be reckoned with, and made me question my self-proclaimed expertise. She wasn’t even two when her Sunday school nursery teacher told me I had nothing to worry about with this small yet mighty kid defending herself. For a long time, I felt like I was teetering on the edge of destroying a really valuable trait and enabling an unhealthy habit- I yearned for a reprieve in some middle ground.
I wish I could tell you this amazing story about how my first course of action was to seek discernment from God and while basking in rays of light from the heavens, God enlightened me. Nope. Instead, I got on Pinterest <Insert face palm here.> I began reading some really great articles about gentle parenting and created a board to keep all of my findings and inspirations handy. I did learn a lot from the readings and resources I found. I tried to be slow and steady with completely changing the way I looked at discipline for our household, especially for my spunky 3 year old. Overall, yes there were some improvements, but the looming issues were still there, the biggest being that our home still felt like it was lacking peace.
Eventually, I realized this wasn’t something I could resolve in my own strength. While Pinterest was a great resource in the moment, my knee jerk reaction should have been to pray and continually seek God’s resolution. That’s not quite as easy as typing into a search bar, but the results are astronomically better every single time. So, I slowed down, prayed daily into the situation, and observed what God was telling me through everyday life. The word He delivered to me repeatedly was Peace.
What would make things easier for our family? Peace.
Why is Raleigh struggling so much with self-control? No Peace.
What is something that only God can provide in this mess? Peace.
Why is my oldest so emotional? No Peace.
A very close friend of our family’s posted a list of house rules in her kitchen, and during a recent playdate my eyes and mind were immediately drawn to the line about home being a peaceful place.
God was definitely sending me a message, so I meditated on this word every day for a few weeks. Finally, God sent instruction to me on what to do with this Peace thing that had been brewing and I was stunned by the simplicity:
Speak Peace over your household.
I began using the word Peace in my prayers over my children and husband. When I needed to talk to the girls about behavior or redirect, I used the word Peace with priority and gentleness. In casual conversations with the girls or my husband, I would slip in the word Peace (but not in some absurd way, like “Hey, babe, can you pass the Peace?”). And to my surprise, speaking Peace into our home, breathing that life into everyday circumstances, made all the difference in the world. Shouting and tantrums went from constant to occasional. All of that energy I was wasting on chaos control was redirected into spiritual investment in my entire family. God was modeling for me how to sow seeds of peace to reap the abundant fruits of peace. And, Ya’ll, I’m not exhausted.
I can’t wait to share with you soon about how this lesson from God lead us to adopt and apply a specific and simple way to handle discipline and correction that has changed our home even more drastically!
What are some ways you have tried to bring peace into discipline in your home?