“Alongside” Parenting: Disciplining with Love

It was so loud. She was always SO. LOUD.

I closed my eyes, clenched both my teeth and the wooden soup spoon in my hand, and took a deep breath… swallowing my own instantly-flared anger. Lord, help me. I waited.

After a few seconds, when I could feel the wave of raging frustration slide back down and away from me, I opened my eyes and turned toward my enraged little four-year old. Compassion, I reminded myself, and thought about what it felt like to be her right now. And my heart softened. I knelt down to her level, and implored her with my eyes.

“Be careful honey… watch out for your anger, so it doesn’t get you in trouble!” Her eyes locked on mine, and I could tell my words had halted the furious stream on consciousness in her mind. Her face softened as she took in what I’d said. And then I saw it… tender surrender. “Ok, mommy.”

I hugged her, and we talked through whatever the problem was. This is now a very ordinary scenario in our day, but that day it had been a miracle – one of the first times in her highly emotional little life, that I had managed to reach her heart and help her stop the storm, before she exploded. Until that day, a five-minute screaming fit was inevitable any time “Hannah got mad,” and there was absolutely nothing I could do to stop it. Since the day she was born, my beautiful, vivacious, bubbly little girl had always been brimming with more emotion and intensity than she could manage. And I was exhausted from over four years of trying to manage it myself. More often, I ended up just mirroring her behavior, instead of influencing it… we were the both of us, just plain angry and worn out.

But that day changed not just my daughter’s success rate with her temper, but our relationship itself. It changed the way I viewed discipline and parenting in general. I started to understand my job as more of an “alongside” position, than an “standing over” one. We were in this fight together, my little girl and I… much more equal in our need for compassion and accountability, than I had ever realized before. It was humbling. But also unbelievably freeing… for both of us.

Our job is not to control our children… our job is to guide them in learning how to control themselves.

You might want to let that sink in a bit. I certainly did.

Parenting this way also brings a little more focus on how WE are controlling ourselves. Good, biblical discipline is more teaching than punitive… and if you want to teach something, you need to model it. Children imitate more of what they see than what they are told.

And so, these have become my two secrets to successfully guiding my daughter through managing her emotions: 1) Seeing her with compassion and humility and respect, “alongside” instead of “over,” and 2) Showing her the source of my own strength, in managing my own emotions… and the source of my strength, when I’m feeling desperate and out of control, is always prayer.

Teach your little ones to pray. Prayer is so simple, so informal, and so utterly life-giving and personal… and children take to it like a fish takes to water. If you guide them to relationship with God, they will learn very quickly to run to Him when they need him.

(I’ll never forget when my 2 year old son ran away from me into the kitchen, crying and praying, chewing God out about ME! lol, my heart was so softened that day, too… and I’ll tell you what, that sweet boy came back out of the kitchen just a few minutes later, his usual calm self. Prayer works… give them the tools, and they will use them!)

Ephesians 6:4 – “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.

Ephesians 4:2&3 – “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults, because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.

Matthew 7:7 – “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.”

I hope this is encouraging to you today, my friends… hang in there! Life is beautiful, and we have all that we need:) Hugs! πŸ’•πŸƒπŸ₯°

Mom Heart

Are you Brave Enough to Dream?

Good Morning, sweet lady! How are you today?:) Praying for you this morning, that your heart be filled with all the joy, peace, grace & love you need, to face whatever may be in front of you today!

There is a lot of dreaming going on in my home! That tends to happen when life gets tiring and messy around here, lol. What can I say… we are stubborn dreamers! πŸ€·β€β™€οΈπŸ˜‚πŸ’• When things get dark… light more candles;)

My husband and I have pushed through our tiredness this week to embrace a few extra late nights, take-out dinners, laughter and brainstorming sessions, to be more intentional with our days ahead, and make the best use of the moments we’ve got to work with. And we are SO excited to share with you as visions grow clearer, and plans get closer! For this year, I’ll be blogging and podcasting when I can, and posting encouraging tidbits on Instagram like I do…

But behind the scenes…

I can’t give away everything, but just know there is a lot of prayer and work going on, for YOU, friends:) Books are being written, gradually but ever-so-surely… music is being written and produced… projects are being put together… all with YOU lovely folks in mind. πŸ’•

Our goal as a team (my husband Chris and I), and as a family, is to get debt free, establish a sustainable homestead with our kids, and live a life of ministry and encouragement for others (he as a pastor and musician, I as a writer), but it’s not just a fairytale fantasy – it has already involved a LOT of tiring work, a lot of persistent brave dreaming despite the odds (hello debt, cancer, pandemic, and hungry family of six)!

But we press on!:) We keep writing, and creating, and praying, and laying down foundations. In the midst of crumbs and tears and tiredness and all the daily stuff.

I share this because I am excited, but also to cheer YOU on, dear heart! What are YOUR dreams? We all have them… God plants the seeds of such daring, beautiful fairytale dreams, deep inside us all! We live in a culture and an era that feeds us all the subtle discouragement that dreams are childish, irresponsible, unattainable things… and my dear, dear friend, that is a lie.

Don’t stop dreaming. And if you did, start again.

Dreams take a LOT of faith. A lot of time. But they are so worth the building:) So tell me… what do you dream of? I will pray for you! πŸ’•πŸƒπŸ˜Š

** For more hope and encouragement, hop on over to The Slow Scenes of Home podcast or Instagram. See you there! πŸ™‚