Faith Takes Practices to Develop

faith

I have fond memories of praying, “now I lay me down to sleep” each night before going to bed.  I can still see the colorful children’s bible stories my family would read at the dinner table each night.  I recall the rhythm and tone of Sunday worship services; standing to read scripture, reciting the Apostles Creed, sitting for the “long prayer” and knowing the end was near when the pastor raised his arms and pronounced the Aaronic blessing “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace” Numbers 6:22-27.

            In the fourth grade my teacher challenged her class to read the bible every night in order to win a prize.  My sweet tooth was as strong as ever and I conquered that challenge easily.  In sixth grade I went with my youth group to provide meals for homeless children in downtown LA.  In eighth grade, while at a youth group retreat, I put my faith in Jesus for the first time.   Through out high school I played the drums for my church worship team and was actively involved in youth leadership.  But, It was not until my senior year of college, eight years later, that this faith that had been planted in my soul as a child, had taken root as a teen, and was watered with the prayers of my parents began to grow. 

Those eight years of high school and college were long, slow, and sometimes frustrating years.  I longed for a connection to Jesus that did not materialize.  I struggled with guilt, doubt, pride, anger, and depression.  I attempted and failed to continue the practices of prayer, bible reading, worship, and service that had begun in my youth.   I hoped they would establish the connection I believed was missing.

Faith sprouted on a mission trip to Nicaragua, on which I came to the end of myself and discovered that it was my striving and self-reliance that stood in the way of honest connection with Jesus.  On returning to school I found for the first time that I could read scripture and actually understand the WORD.  The end of my college experience was the beginning of a faith journey that has progressed through starts and stops over the course of my adult life. 

Over the last several years I have been convicted of my responsibility to pass this faith on to my children.  I am overwhelmed by the enormity of the task.  How can I, a father that is passionate but struggling pass on something that is so fragile and broken?  At times I want to throw in the towel and succumb to the pressures of money, time, apathy, and culture. 

I was reminded today of the role I play in my children’s faith development.  I am called to plant seeds that the Holy Spirit cultivates into faith.  I am reading, Shaped By God: Twelve Essentials for Nurturing Faith in Children, Youth, and Adults” Edited by Robert J. Keeley.  Don C. Richter writes “Faith begins in practice, in words and songs and gestures and things we do with and for our bodies, with and for one another.  We learn to pray by praying.  We learn to serve by serving.  We learn to care by concrete acts of caring.” (Keely,pg 24) I was brought back to my childhood prayers and bible stories.  I was reminded of the practices that have shaped my faith over the years.  In the beginning they were clumsy, with out heart, and in the case of the bible reading contest motivated by greed.  These practices however having been awakened by the Spirit my senior year of college have been the soil in which my faith has grown.  They have become the “means of grace to nourish and sustain the life of faith” in me. (Keely, pg 30)

 I cannot awaken my children in faith, that is the Holy Spirits role but I can provide for them the raw materials of faith.  I can provide experiences of prayer, worship, bible reading, and service.  My hope is that these experiences will shape and inform their understanding of Jesus.  I trust that they will come to know him as provider, savior, master, and king the one in whom true connection can be found.

WHAT PRACTICES HAVE SHAPED YOUR FAITH OVER THE YEARS?

HOW ARE YOU PASSING YOUR FAITH TO YOUR CHILDREN?

HOLDING: The Day My Son Thought He Had Died

Psalm 18:16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.  He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me.

I have recently begun to view HOLDING my children as so much more than just physically carrying them.  Holding has become something that is physical, emotional, and psychological.

Two summers ago for about 2 hours my son thought that he was dead!  It was a beautiful day.  My wife and I took our family to a community swimming area, we were able to relax and watch our kids swim with their older cousins.  Near the end of our time at the lake two of our sons approached us in the water.  The older one appeared completely calm and said, “Dad I was freaking out!” The other was literally freaking out; he was yelling, screaming, and crying.  Apparently one of his siblings had taken a water toy from him and he was very upset.  My wife and I both gravitated to the screaming child.  We acknowledged the older one but picked up, consoled, and helped to manage the screaming one.  Both children moved on and we left the lake a short time later.  As we arrived home my wife and I remarked to each other how enjoyable the day had been and what a fun time we had had.

The older cousins joined us at our house and we settled the children downstairs to watch a movie.  As my wife and I discussed the enjoyable afternoon, our older son came upstairs noticeably upset.  He was in tears and could hardly speak through his emotions.  He climbed into my lap and I attempted to understand what was going on.  He explained in short tearful phrases that he was afraid he had died.  Slowly the story of his “freaking out” emerged.  He explained that he was playing on the floatilla of fun in the deep end of the lake.  He saw an older kid with no life-jacket on swim underneath an inflatable “bridge” that was about 3 feet wide.  We had told him previously to never swim under this bridge.  As he saw the older kid do it with such ease however, he decided to give it a try.  In his attempt to swim under the bridge he plunged his head under the water and swam with all his might expecting to resurface on the other side.  His life jacket forced him to the surface earlier than anticipated and became caught on a seam of the rubber floatilla.  In realizing he was not going to make it he freaked out and attempted to return from where he had come.  He said that he had to swim as hard as he could to release himself from the bridge before he popped up above the surface gasping for air.

I was shocked by his story and confused by his concern about being dead.  It seemed that although he had escaped drowning he was afraid that what he was now experiencing was death.  I was freaking out and feeling overwhelmed at the outcome that could have devastated this beautiful day.  I had failed at this moment to physically protect him and it was now time to emotionally and psychologically HOLD him.

I stumbled about attempting to elicit his entire story while simultaneously working to maintain my composure.  Praise the Lord he was safe! But what is a parent to do?

After two years of on and off again reflection regarding this very scary experience I have deciphered what has become my way of HOLDING to protect from harm.

Physically Holding:

            My son climbed up into my lap to tell his story, he desired physical closeness as well as strength to contain the convulsions and shakes of his emotionally charged body.  Physical proximity during times of fear and pain can be very comforting to children.  The natural rhythms of a parents breathing, heartbeat and voice serves to calm and regulate.  I have learned to become more open to physical contact.  Whether it’s holding hands, scratching a back, or applying sunscreen holding touch is a crucial ingredient in protecting a child from present and future harm.

Emotionally Holding:

            My son was overwhelmed with emotion.  He could not contain his feelings of fear, and uncertainty.  He needed a parent to be a container for these overflowing emotions.  As emotion pours out of a child and into the parent he needs to feel that the parent can handle it.  The parent can manage his own emotions in the face of the child’s very powerful emotions.  My son was also confused about what had happened.  Emotional holding helps a child to make sense of confusing emotions and circumstances.  Emotional holding seeks to fully understand the experience of the child without judgment.  For the child telling the story enables him to make sense of the experience.

Psychologically Holding:

            In the weeks following this incident I began to wonder if it might impact him long term.  He loved to swim, but would he refuse to get back in the water?  Would he have nightmares, irrational fears, or ongoing questions about death?  I continued to talk about the situation hoping to communicate that it was ‘ok’ to talk about and that recurring thoughts were normal.  At one point he stated that he thought about it often, so I wondered about his thoughts and even consulted a therapist.  Psychological holding is being your child’s therapist.  It is knowing when to talk and when to listen.  It is knowing when to seek outside help for your child and possibly for yourself.  Psychological holding is a parent’s ability to know a child in their mind, and heart.  It is the ability to mentalize the child’s inner experience and respond appropriately.

My son is OK, we talk about this day every once in a while but mostly it is just part of his story.  As his parent I am reminded that I cannot protect him from every danger, but that HOLDING him can help him to get through the scary things he encounters in life.  I can be his secure base to which to return when times get rough and life is difficult.

What scary/painful things have your kids experienced and how did you help them through it?  What was the hardest part about helping them through this difficult time?

Why Would A Good Guy Go to Hell?

My sons ask some really tough questions. They are so inquisitive, and curious about how the world works and why people do what they do.  Many times the questions they ask let me know that there is much more going on in their head than I realize.

The oldest has been working on a school assignment to memorize the Apostles Creed.  At breakfast one morning my wife was quizzing him on the phrase, “He descended into hell; and on third day he rose again from the dead.” After a few moments of thoughtful silence he dropped the bomb on us.

“Dad, Why would a good guy go to Hell?”

I could see the connections being made in his brain.   He was thinking, “Mom and dad have been telling me all along that this Jesus guy is good, they say He is perfect, He is God, He loves me, and that I can trust Him.”  “I also know that hell is a bad place.  I know that there is fire; pain, hurt, and that I do not want to go there.”

So his little brain reasoned quite logically, why would this good guy go to such a horrible place?

 Isn’t this the question on which the whole world hangs? Why did Jesus die on the cross descend into hell and come back to life?

I attempted in my feeble way to share surprise and wonder with my son.  Isn’t it amazing that Jesus went to hell on our behalf?  Imagine how horrible it would be if you and I had to go to hell for all the bad stuff we do?  Or, what if the only way for us to be right with God was to live a perfect life?  How good does a person have to be to be ‘ok’ in God’s eyes?

This question from my son revealed to me anew the wonder of salvation.  I AM NOT GOOD, NO ONE IS GOOD apart from the sacrifice of Christ and it is only through his life, death, and resurrection that I have hope for the future.  This good guy went to hell so that I don’t have to.

Thank you Lord, for teaching me through the thoughts of a young boy.  Thank you for working in my child’s heart and planting the wondrous seed of faith.  Grow in him this seed of faith allowing it to blossom through trust in the powerful work of Jesus Christ.

My Wife Went Out of Town and I Asked For Help

Several months ago my wife started preparing me for the inevitable.  A long time friend was getting married and she floated the idea of attending the wedding. She would be a plane flight away while I stayed home to care for our four young children.  My normal response in these situations is silence.  I am trying to remain calm, and avoid totally betraying the feelings of anxiety and frustration that immediately crop up.

I love my kids, I am a very involved father, and I am passionate about impacting the lives of my children.   When it comes to parenting alone for a weekend however, I am a mess.  I really desire for my wife to have time of her own, I desire for her to connect with old friends, and I have had many chances to take such trips.

My problem is that I get overwhelmed; there is just so much to do.  There are moments when things are going fine, and then there are moments when it feels seconds away from implosion.  As I move through the days doing my best to stay one step ahead of the chaos the feeling becomes more powerful and out of control.

So, with this trip on the horizon I asked for help, my mom came into town and my sister and her pre-teen daughter spent time lending an extra hand.

Somewhere in the middle of the weekend I started to wonder if I was betraying my fellow man.  I have read several articles lately and am aware of a pretty significant movement of dads looking to improve the image of fathers.  I have felt that I am a part of this movement.  I do desire to demonstrate that men are capable parents.  So, I wondered if asking for help made me a sell-out?  Had I become a hypocrite in the world of active fathers?

After some reflection I have decided that no, I am not a sell-out or a hypocrite, I am just me.  I am laid back, low energy, low structure, introverted, reflective, and male.  When I enter a group of people I hang around the edges, observe for a while, and then settle into a conversation with 1 or 2 warm personalities.  My wife is outgoing, high energy, high structure, extroverted, logical, and female.  When she enters a group of people she jumps right into the mix, moves from group to group, and meets many new people.

I am struck by the fact that our different personalities also reflect our different styles of parenting.  She is perfectly comfortable managing and directing the crisis of taking four children to the grocery store.  She responds quickly in many situations and is adept at moving from child to child, while maintaining focus on the task at hand.  My reflective personality causes me to respond more slowly.  I want to think things through.  I wonder how my words in this moment may impact the future development of a fragile psyche.  I analyze motivations, body language, and tone changes all in the hopes of responding perfectly as to avoid any further complications.

Isn’t it amazing how who we are as people, so totally impacts who we are as parents?  I am very thankful that my wife is not like me.  I am also thankful that I am not like my wife.  Our personalities and parenting styles are complementary and we have become a really great team.  She is a force of energy, passion, excitement, and structure.  I am steady, thoughtful, calming, and relaxed.

I am beginning to realize that my anxiety and frustration with parenting on my own may not be the result of deficient skills.  I think it is more like losing a valued teammate.  I think I am a better parent in the presence of my wife.  We work well together and support one another.  She gives me strength and I give her stability.  Asking for help is like inserting a sub, the new player can never replace the trusted veteran but neither does it reduce the value of the remaining player.

 The weekend with my wife away went much better than I expected.  It was a nice opportunity for my children to spend time with their grandmother and cousin.  I enjoyed having new team members at my side and am thankful to have learned a lesson about accepting my weaknesses and strengths.

Oh, and my wife points out that it took three of them to replace the one of her!!

This Post originally appeared at The Good Men Project

Permission to Laugh

This morning was a little different than normal.  I was taking the boys to school.  My wife was leaving early to drop our daughter at daycare.  She had to dress professionally in preparation for her clinical training day.  The boys had slept in a little longer than normal and we parents had taken advantage by sleeping in ourselves.  Things were going OK but we were late and nerves were running hot.

The boys were eating their biscuits and jelly, while my wife was holding our daughter and trying to prepare her breakfast at the same time.  She needed to rinse a bowl in the sink when it happened.  She flipped on the faucet, the sprayer nozzle stuck and water went flying across the kitchen soaking her, our daughter, and the floor.  The surprise of the cold water caused my wife to let out a loud high pitched scream, which scared the 9 month old daughter causing her to cry.

The boys and I sat eating breakfast not knowing quite how to respond.  The 3- year old covered his mouth trying to keep his breakfast from spewing out as he stifled a giggle.  The 5-year old let out one lone giggle and then shut up quickly sensing that mom might not appreciate his response.    I stood there dumbfounded remembering the night before when I had the same problem but was too lazy to find a solution.  The 7-year old forced out the obligatory, “don’t laugh, it’s not funny!” reprimand of his younger brothers.

Now, this situation could have gone a number of different ways, but thanks to a patient and playful response things took a positive turn.

My wife paused a moment, seemingly to gather her super human strength, took a breath and said playfully, “well, it was kinda funny!”

                  The boys burst into laughter!  They let loose with belly laughs and howls that are normally reserved for only the most hilarious moments.  The previously tense feeling of the morning had been shattered, nerves had been instantly cooled and we shared a family laugh in a stressful time.

As I reflected on this moment I was struck by the importance of giving children permission to laugh.  They desperately wanted to laugh, but they needed to know it was safe.  My wife could have responded with anger, and continued the morning with increased tension and pressure.  In her patience and playfulness however she sent the signal that she could laugh at herself and they could follow suit.

We have laughed about this moment several more times in the days to follow.  We remember back with our boys about the time mom got sprayed by the sink.  We share mini moments of laughter in the midst of the daily grind.

What a blessing we were given, a moment to laugh on a busy hectic morning and a lifetime to remember that wonderful feeling of connecting in joy through the power of laughter.

What are your funniest family moments?

Do As I Say Not As I Do?

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children, and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us. Ephesians 5:1

I learned another important lesson of parenthood the other day, and like many other lessons this one was the direct result of something involving my child.  My family and I have had the wonderful blessing of spending this Christmas with my wife’s family.  Her brother is here, her sister’s family, parents, and of course, the associated kids.

One of the great things about visiting with family is watching the children play together.  They spend the days outside playing with bicycles, searching for treasures, and building friendships.  Two days ago however we ran into a little snag.

My wife and I had left the house to run an errand with two of our children.  We got a call from my mother in law that something had been broken at the house.  It appeared that one of the two boys we had with us was the culprit.  Driving home we decided that the “suspect” would have a private talk with grandma before he moved on to any play activities.   We knew that she was not upset but that she wanted to reinforce the lesson of confessing and apologizing if you have damaged a piece of someone else’s property.

As we pulled into the driveway I parked my father in laws truck next to my brother in laws relatively new car.  Since it was the holidays and we had two kids with us it was a bit of a struggle to get out of the car.  I opened the door and began unloading the boys and the packages.  As the “suspect” jumped out I leaned to my left and bumped the truck door pushing it further open into the passenger door of my brother in laws car.  I put down my belongings, pulled the door partially closed, and surveyed the damage.  I had left a dull silver/grey scratch the size of a quarter on the dark black paint.

My first thought was, “Oh Sh*t”. My second thought was, “he may never notice, maybe I could wipe it off.”   My third thought jumped right to my poor son marching his way to a private discussion with grandma about the stone cross he had broken.  To be a father with any integrity and character, to be the father that I claim to be, I must tell my brother in law what had happened.

I went inside and watched as my son sheepishly spoke with his grandmother telling the story of how the stone cross came to be broken.  As expected, she was not upset with him.  She only asked that next time he tell her when something at her house was broken.

Moments later my brother in law walked in the house and I sheepishly told him about his car.  I apologized as he walked outside to check on the damage done.  As expected, he was not upset with me and only thanked me for telling him that it had happened.

I wonder who learned the bigger lesson?  My son won’t remember this experience and I am pretty sure “not me” will be blamed again in the future.  I think this lesson was a Christmas gift for dad.  I learned that the way I live my life speaks much louder than the words I say.   This was a simple reminder that in order to raise children with integrity, honor, and love for Christ, I must first possess that which I hope to pass on.

I pray that my boys see more of Christ in me than they do of me.  I know that it is only through His grace that any child of mine will become a child of His.

 How do you experience God’s grace in parenting?

Stuff Dads Say is a FREE BOOK

 Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding. Proverbs 4:1

I am always a little shocked by how much my children actually hear what I say.  It is even scarier to realize how much they watch what I do.  Several years ago I had picked our boys up from school and was driving home when from the back seat I heard my oldest say the word stupid.  I quickly turned around and said,  “Son we do not say stupid.”   Later that same evening the boys and I ventured into the back yard to play in our sandbox.  As I dragged off the cover, designed to keep the neighbors cat from pooping in our sand, I discovered a nasty deposit.  I scooped out the poop and said under my breath, “stupid cat”.   My son came running over from about 15 feet away, tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Dad, we do not say stupid!”  Ouch, the painful humility of realizing my own hypocrisy.  I was reminded of how powerfully the words and actions of a father impact the lives of their children.

I strongly believe that the messages fathers send, stated and unstated, have a profound impact on how their sons (and daughters) come to view the world, God, themselves, and others.  “Stuff Dads Say” is a short and encouraging read covering the top ten most important messages all children need to hear from their fathers.  I believe these messages should be sent over and over again throughout a child’s life.  They are paying attention and will gain understanding.  The question is, understanding of what?  This challenging E-book will be available Free for the next three days only.  Browse the list below for a sneak peek.

The most important messages every child needs to hear from his father:

  1.  No kicking in the face
  2. Where does it hurt?
  3. Come on, I need your help
  4. Let’s go on an adventure
  5. Oh, Let’s try that again
  6. Let’s go help mom
  7. How are you going to handle that?
  8. I’m sorry
  9. What do you think about that?
  10. How do you ask nicely?

I have caught myself saying each one of these phrases.  Before having kids I never imagined that they would become part of my parenting vocabulary.  I am excited to share with you how they have shaped my journey as a father and how I believe they continue to shape the way my sons view the world.

What Do You Think About That?

A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son grief to his mother. Proverbs 10:1

There are parents all across the U.S. struggling with the foolish decisions of their children.  I myself have often wondered about my own son, “why did you do that?”  I really wish that children came out of the womb with all the tools they needed to make wise decisions.   Unfortunately children are born ill equipped for the thousands of decisions they will make in there life time.  How then do we as parents train our children to make wise decisions?

I believe that we train children to make wise decisions by asking the question, what do you think about that?  When children become teenagers they are suddenly required to make many decisions.  If when they get to this stage they have never thought through the consequences of a decision or solved a problem on their own, they are in for a lesson.

I like to start out small and young.  Asking children at a young age what their favorite color is, food, movie, game, friend etc…  All of these questions require a child to think about their wants, desires, and at some level what is valuable to them.  These are not the ultimate values of life but they are the beginnings of determining the ultimate values.  One of the most important things to focus on as a parent during these conversations is truly seeking to understand your child’s inner life.  The more you are engaged with understanding your child’s thoughts, opinions, and values, the stronger they will hear the message, “what you think is important to me.”  If you value their opinion then they will see value in it as well.

As a child increases in age and practice it is wise for parents to begin asking their opinion in more significant ways.  What sport would you like to play? What assignment would you like to do first?  What do you think about this bible verse?  What is important to you in this?  The more opportunity they have to express their opinions about a wide variety of topics the more confident they will be in their opinions.  The more confidence they have in their own opinions the more likely they are to make decisions based on their values rather than those of their peers.

It is not possible to guarantee that our children will always make the right decision.  It is possible however to provide tons of practice and rehearsal for the moments when their values are really tested.  When the pressure is on they will rely on what is most comfortable and familiar to them.  Parents can influence what is most comfortable and familiar by engaging in thoughtful and challenging conversations.

More articles available at www.parentingboysraisingmen.com

Let’s Go Help Mom

 I learned a very important lesson about marriage even before my wife and I got married.  She was living in Texas and I in Southern California.  She came to visit and meet my parents for the first time.  I was excited to show off my hometown and my parents were elated that it looked as though I might be moving out of the house at some point in the future.  My then girlfriend however, got a glimpse into how she would be treated as the future Mrs. Mark Vander Ley.

            She returned to Texas and we continued our nightly phone calls.  She gave me the news in her characteristically straightforward manner.  “If you treat me the way that you treat your mom, we will not be getting married.”  She saw the way that I treated my mom during that visit and was not impressed.  She wisely knew that a son who disrespects his mother is a son who disrespects his wife.  I am thankful that she called me out on this behavior before we got married.  By the time the wedding came around I had made some growth.  I am still working to model for my boys, the level of respect and honor that their mother deserves.

            Another lesson came when my wife and I served as mentors for a young married couple.  Like in many cases I learned much more from this relationship than the young husband I was mentoring.  One day we decided to hold each other accountable for serving our wives in unexpected ways through out the week.  This might mean emptying the dishwasher, taking out the trash, picking up around the house, or making breakfast.  Basically, it was getting off my “duff” and doing something without having to be asked.

            This experience softened my heart towards my wife.  The accountability of this young married man helped me to put my wife first.  He helped me to step up and lead through service.  I still struggle with selfishness in this area and have plenty of room to continue growing.  I am hopeful however that my boys will get the message of “let’s go help mom.”  I am convinced that they will learn to respect their mother, and women based on the example they see.

            I hope that dads will humble themselves and follow the command to, “love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Ephesians 5:33

In what ways could you serve your spouse this week?

Oh, Let’s Try That Again

“As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.”
Psalm 103:13

Do you ever find yourself correcting your children for the same thing over and over again?  Sometimes I think, “I put you in a timeout for that yesterday, and the day before, how many times do we have to do this?”  At times I get frustrated, why are they not learning this lesson?  Do they not understand what is being taught? When will they learn?

Unfortunately the answers to those questions are: no they do not understand right now and it will be a long time before they do.  I have learned that many times we parents misunderstand how discipline works.  We seem to think that our children are like piggy banks.  They come to us empty of knowledge and it is our job to fill them up with the lessons of life so they know how to act.  Each time we discipline is viewed as dropping a coin in the bank.  Once that “coin” has been deposited the lesson is learned.  One deposit equals one lesson right?

It has been helpful for me to think of children as wheat fields, rather than piggy banks. A wheat field is spread out as far as the eyes can see with stalks about waist high.  If you were to walk across the field and then look behind you, it would be possible to see a slightly worn path where you had been.  If you walk that path one time it will eventually go back to its original state.  If you walked over that path hundreds or thousands of times however, it would be well worn and very clearly visible.

Think of these paths as experiences in your child’s life.  Each time they have a similar experience, it is as though they had walked down the same path.  Imagine the “throwing a ball” path.  The more they throw a ball the more worn that path becomes and the better they get at throwing the ball.  Athletic trainers call this muscle memory neuroscientists call it a neuropathway.  The more they experience a certain behavior the more likely they are to repeat it.

Applying this analogy to how children learn from discipline can be helpful in understanding why we find ourselves correcting the same behavior over and over again.  Sometimes those behaviors have become well-worn paths and in order to change the behavior we need to create different paths using different experiences.

I recall speaking with a mom whose son had a habit of taking things that did not belong to him.  She had decided that instead of the normal punishment she would begin to practice picking things up and putting them back down.  Her plan was to create a new neuropathway.  She wanted to create the experience of seeing something that is not his, wanting it, looking at it, and leaving it be.  I was blown away by her wisdom she was not sitting back and waiting for her son to steal so that she could react with a consequence.  She was proactively creating new experiences, and neuropathways.

I believe that viewing our children as wheat fields rather than piggy banks can be extremely helpful for parents and children.  For parents it can help to reduce anger.  When I am trying to fill a piggy bank and it seems that the lessons are never learned eventually anger is the result.  When parents are angry they are less able to parent effectively.  When we view discipline as creating healthier pathways and experiences I am more able to remain calm and view an incident as yet another opportunity to wear a desirable path.

In our house we love redo’s when our oldest hits his brother, we say “Oh, let’s try that again.”  And we repeat the situation in a more appropriate manner.  When our youngest throws a fit, “let’s try that again.” Prescribing the words to use telling us how angry and upset he is about what happened.  As we repeat over and over again these experiences of positive behavior the paths become worn and behaviors more common.

We don’t do this perfectly, but we are working to create new pathways for ourselves, of patience, compassion, and joy.  I am hopeful that you will as well.

Please start a conversation and leave your thoughts and comments below.