Parents, you know you’ve done it. You’ve given a threat to your child, hoping it would break the monotonous strong-willed fit. A threat you just knew would stop the madness. And then it happens. Your child acts as if you hadn’t spoken a word. They continue down the path of disobedience with no chance of letting down.
It took me forever to think of an example because my children are perfect (sarcastic). Ok. Here’s one. One of my daughters decided to hold her ground on a wrong behavior. After several attempts to give her choices to change her mind, I threw out, “If you don’t stop, you will not get to go to your friend’s birthday party.” I know, Ridiculous! But, I really thought it would work. So when she decided to ignore my request, I had a decision. Do I make her stay home from a birthday party? Do I affect another child that had nothing to do with this punishment?
What would you have done? I’m sure there are 1000 choices.
I know every good parenting book says to make a boundary and stick with it. If you don’t, threats are just that, ONLY threats. If you give threats and never follow through, children begin to ignore you and disrespect your authority.
But, what if you made the boundary in anger, or exaggerated the punishment thinking you will never have to follow through. Do you have to hold your end of the bargain? Or, can you show mercy?
Some questions I ask myself when I access punishments (the questions I should ask BEFORE I give the ”if, then” statements):
1) Did I exaggerate the threat, thinking it would influence change?
2) Does the punishment fit the crime?
3) Am I punishing myself?
4) Did I make my decision out of anger?
I’ve also learned through the years that it’s ok to tell your child you’ve made a mistake. To admit imperfection:
1) Helps children see parents aren’t perfect.
2) Helps children see themselves as imperfect, too.
3) Gives a great example! Admit wrongs and ask for forgiveness.
4) Helps children know realistic expectations. Parents don’t expect them to act perfectly. But, they do expect them to change their behavior and ask for forgiveness from whomever they hurt.
So what did I do when I needed to keep my daughter home from a birthday party for punishment? I’m not saying I did the right thing, but I tried to make the best decision after reevaluating the situation.
She only got to go to the birthday party for the last 20 minutes, or so. She gave her friend the gift and told her she was sorry she couldn’t come earlier. I didn’t make her say why in front of everyone, but her mom told her later. Thankfully, there were several other friends at the party so my daughter wasn’t missed as much as at a small party.
I didn’t follow through with my original threat. But I did still use the party as a punishment. I could have changed her punishment, which I occasionally do. When I have to change the punishment, I definitely explain why my first choice wasn’t going to work.
I’ve also learned that I can’t enforce all my rules on other people’s children. When someone’s child comes to play, I hope they will act nicely. But on occasion, I realize other children need correction, too. I can’t use the same punishments I do with my children (they don’t have a bedroom at my house to send them to, thankfully). And sometimes, it’s best to just send them home.
So, what does this “parenting” post have to do with Syria?
First , let me preface. I told myself that I would never discuss politics in my blog. I’m also glad I’m not in President Obama’s shoes, making huge decisions that affect the whole world. I don’t have the answers, just questions.
What questions should the U.S. ask about the Syria crisis?
Would my parenting questions apply?
Are exaggerated threats given in hopes of influencing behaviors?
Is Syria U.S.’s problem? Or, is it like a child that doesn’t play by the rules and sent home?
Does the punishment fit the crime?
Are innocent people affected?
Are we punishing ourselves?
Are we making decisions out of anger?
And how does a delayed decision play into the whole process? Is it wisdom? Is it weakness?
What do you think?
When I pray for wisdom with parenting and for our nation’s leaders, I rely on the Word of God (Bible).
Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
Fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (NASB)