Monday, August 8, 2011

Parenting the Heart

"If you sit nicely for this picture I'll give you a piece of candy."  I almost laughed at myself when I heard those words come out of my own mouth.  My husband was quite appalled when I told him later.  We were at his brother's wedding reception.  I had a toddler who had not taken a nap, was getting close to her bed time, and wanted to be left alone to boggy the night away on the dance floor.  But more importantly my brother-in-law and sister-in-law needed a family picture.  I knew to get my child to sit it was a bribe or a threat and a threat did not seem like a good idea at the time.

It worked.  She sat AND smile.  A momma got to rejoice in a miracle and a toddler got to enjoy some candy.

One of the things that God has impressed on Tony and myself is the need to parent our child's heart, not our child's actions.  When we parent her heart we focus on what the long term consequences may be.  We look more than what she is doing and into what we want her to become.  When we parent her actions we are solely looking at what she is doing.

But oh it is so hard (as you can tell from the story above).  It is so easy to parent the actions.  I react so easily to a temper tantrum that my child is having by yelling at her that we don't throw temper tantrums (great example huh?).  Its easy to laugh at something "cute" but disobedient she does but it doesn't help to teach her about the disobedience.  Its easy to tell her no or give her hand a smack.  Its much harder to stop and get on her level to talk to her about why she should not do something.   Its easy to think temporary and short sited and not worry about the future.

When I'm truly parenting her heart I look at the situation for more then just that moment and time.  I think through what could happen based on my response (whether letting her off the hook or coming down on her way to hard).  It forces me to talk to her.  I've learned to treasure our talking moments after a time out.  They are great teaching moments, everyone is in a much better mood, and they are full of hugs and kisses.  Parenting her heart takes the "me" out of it (and the emotions that go along with me) and helps me to focus on her.    

Oh how often I fall short as a parent.  It makes it so sweet when I can look at a situation that was right and say "Thank you Lord for showing me how to do it."

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