Monday, 21 May 2012

Loving our kids on purpose...........

                                           
                                                       Image courtesy of 'Loving our kids on Purpose' by Danny Silk




Today's blog is veering off from Home -Ed on a tangent! But it is a parenting issue! I have attempted to share with you my thoughts and interpretations of a book I have been reading.....

This week I have embarked upon reading a book recommended to me by my play therapist and charity organiser friend Helen. Helen runs www.lullabyafrica.org - check it out!

'Loving our kids on Purpose' by Danny Silk shares a Christian outlook on parenting, which I understand isn't for everyone. However, I think it raises some really relevant points to today's parenting approaches and the possible mistakes parents can make. Those points I will be sharing with you in this blog entry! We will be looking at behaviour, love, your bottom line as a parent, intimidation and choices. Are you ready? Then lets begin!

Children are discovering the world around them, the world they live in and need to establish their place in. Often they have many questions, need reassurance, explanations or need rules, boundaries and expectations. It is from this view point that I believe parents are children's point of guidance and stability. They provide answers and boundaries/expectations.  However, in today's society, it seems,  some parents adopt the approach of becoming their child's 'best friend'. Which is a totally different role altogether. Often parents with this approach fear their children, seem scared of parenting them in case their child dislikes them or 'rejects' them. But as Danny  Silk points out 'love drives out fear' (taken from 1John 4:18).

The Bottom Line.......

What is the most important issue for you as a parent when interacting with your children? I'd like you to scribble your answer down on a piece of paper right now............

Danny has worked with many parents whilst running 'parenting workshops' . He meets parents describing many kinds of 'undesired behaviour'. His first question to them (after letting them unload their 'woes') is 'What is your connection with your child? Describe the heart to heart connection between the two of you'. 
Powerful words!! How many of us can reel off a list in the blink of an eye of behaviour our children display that 'annoys, aggravates, stresses us out, pushes our buttons, frustrates us'??!!! Go on admit its easy to come up with! But how quickly can your explain the heart to heart connection between you and your child? Sure after a few minutes of thinking it through we can come up with an answer, but it is in no way as instant as our 'list'. Danny believes our viewpoint as a parent needs to shift. Our most important issue for us as parents when interacting with our children should be love. Love is our bottom line. How many of us wrote that on the paper?

Obey me......
For many parents obedience is their main goal. Most of us want well behaved children right? So getting them to obey will make them behave. Well Danny would beg to differ (although he isn't flat out saying allow them to disobey you!). He states ' ... the goal of obedience and compliance is an inferior goal. Although obedience is an important part of our relationship with our children, it is not the most important quality.' He goes on to say ' Love and relationship are the bottom line..' Below is an example he uses in his book which I think illustrates the point really clearly. It certainly gave me something to think about!

'Your sixth grader comes to you with his report card, which reveals he is failing. How do you think you would respond to such scenario? For most parents, their immediate attention is on the child's lack of compliance with his school environment and/or their parental expectations. They work to set their child on a path back to a good student position by communicating their disappointment (and often their anger) and giving instructions on how to behave better. There is nothing wrong with this approach in general. But it perpetuates a problem because it never really addresses the 'heart' issues that led to the mistakes in the first place.'


How often have you shouted at your child's behaviour/lack of compliance without thinking about the reason it may have occurred. I too am guilty of this! Sometimes in our own frustration or lack of control we may even resort to spanking. This is a whole other topic which could be a blog entry in itself, but I would like to touch on it here in the context of intimidation.

Intimidation.......
Parenting can be described as a tool kit we draw upon for raising our kids. For some parents the only tool they posses is intimidation. They try to convey to their kids that they are in control of their (children's) lives using this tool. Many parents believe that when their children present failure, rebellion, disrespect etc they must gain control by intimidating their children into changing their minds. This intimidation is linked with anger and anger can lead to violence, and so the cycle perpetuates. Intimidate,  violence and anger to gain control over people- children learn quickly!

 This is a visual analogy that Danny uses in his book to clearly represent intimidation. Children quickly want to become the 'big truck'.
Rather than intimidate, Danny writes that we should be giving our children choices and teaching them about freedom. I'm beginning to agree!

'Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it' Proverbs 22:6

Choices and freedom.........
As a parent giving children choices can be difficult. It requires forward thinking and an understanding that you have to follow through on what they choose. Quite rightly, children can feel cheated if they make a choice in a situation and then that choice is disallowed. For example, if you say 'stop fighting over that book and share, or else the book will be taken away from you' and they choose to continue fighting then you say 'I've had enough of your fighting- go to bed'. Your child/ren will feel wronged. The choice was stop fighting and share, or continue fighting and the book is removed, not be sent to bed! Some children make this choice (of 'punishment') because they are unable to resolve conflict on their own. They prefer the choice you give them.
Children need to be taught what freedom and choice feels like, looks like and how to prosper in it. They need the confidence and skills to make their own decisions, whilst allowing them to mess up in a safe and loving environment. Allowing choices teaches children that they are in control of their actions, but actions have consequences. And it is these consequences that children must be made aware of in order to make a choice.

I go back to one of my first statements about parents being the person to provide stability. If you choose not to allow choices or do not follow through on a child's choice in order to show consequences then you are not providing stability.

I will leave you with one last word from Danny Silk- 'To fear our children's poor choices is to teach them to be afraid of freedom'.........................................




                                                         


More information can be found about Danny Silk and his parenting workshops at www.lovingonpurpose.com

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