Friday, August 08, 2008

Real Life Discipline

The issue of obedience has been on my heart lately, probably because we have had a lack thereof the past month. With us moving, going on vacation, the children sleeping over at cousins several nights in a row things have not been in a normal routine. My husband and I have also been discussing the convention on the "rights of the child" lately, which may have something to do with it. One of my children may have overheard some of this and began using a few arguments when talking to me. "You know I have rights to and I should be allowed to do whatever I want." "I don't see why I have to do what you say all the time, I have my own mind and can make my own choices." "I'm not your servent, I shouldn't have to do any of your work." "I can't get in trouble for saying that, because I am just saying how I really feel."

As soon as I started hearing some of these statements I knew I had an issue that needed dealt with, before an attitude of rebelliousness or disobedience set in. So I crossed everything off my calendar that would seperate this child from me for the whole week. In other words she would not be going to cousins, friends or even Achievement Days Activities and I would be remaining home. This, of course, brought on tears and a tantrum. So now I got to deal with the problem head on.

The first issue was bringing her back to a state of respectfully listening, so that we could have a conversation. This meant that she got to stand in the corner. At this point she tried refusing, but after further discipline she learned I was serious and she did stand in the corner for ten minutes. This was hard on her partially because we were finishing the Shakespeare play and the other kids were really involved in it and she hates to not be included in something that is fun. I stood my ground until we were done and then set the other kids to work and brought her over to me. I asked her if she had thought about her behavior while she was in the corner, she was flippant and I sent her back. Two minutes later I called her to me again this time she reluctantly acknowledged that she should obey and not talk back. I had gotten outward obedience, but not reached her heart. I knew that without reaching her heart, she would continue to be rebellious inside and so I had to revisit this issue until I had her heart.

At the time I had to go on to something else. The next day she cried all morning, because it was the day she was to miss her activity. I explained to her that this was neccessary until she learned to obey happily. I told her my reasoning behind it and then invited her to come with me on errands. She reluctantly agreed. She then picked on her brothers, got in trouble and felt genuinely bad. I knew it was time to approach her again. So I took her in my arms, hugged her and talked to her about how she felt when she acted meanly and disobeyed. I then asked how she would have felt if she hadn't. We talked about all of the fun things one can do, when one obeys the rules. We talked about what it would be like if Dad and I refused to do things just because we didn't want to. She hugged me and then she went on.

The rest of the day was much better and she occasionally stole a hug and said, "I am trying to obey Mom. You know, it's like that story that says If you obey, you will be happy all day." She prayed that night that she would learn to obey. Yet, I knew the situation was not done, because I don't want her to obey me, because I say so. This kind of obedience can only last so long, like until I make my next parenting blunder.

So I waited and the next morning another opportunity for discussion presented itself. We were eating breakfast and started talking about God and how he wants us to return to him and how we will be judged after we die. We talked about how as we repented our sins would be washed away and at the judgement through Christ we would be found clean and be able to be with Heavenly Father again. After talking awhile, my son turned to me and said, "Mom, this is very important for us to know. Thank you, for teaching this to me, it is the most important thing in the world." I told him that is why God had set up families with parents, was so that parents could teach their children to follow God. He had commanded the parents to do this. I then took out my scriptures and showed them Moses 6:57-58 "57 Wherefore teach it unto your children, that all men, everywhere, must repent, or they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God, for no unclean thing can dwell there, or cdwell in his presence; for, in the language of Adam, Man of Holiness is his name, and the name of his Only Begotten is the fSon of Man, even Jesus Christ, a righteous Judge, who shall come in the meridian of time.
58 Therefore I give unto you a commandment, to teach these things freely unto your cchildren, saying:" I then asked them if they knew what God had told the children to do. I flipped to Ephesians 6:1, which all my children have memorized, but when they began to recite, I slowed them down and said let's read it. "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right." Then I said, you see, parents are supposed to be following God, they are supposed to be "In the Lord" and then when the children obey their parents, they will be "in the Lord" also. It's a pretty cool plan, isn't it? They agreed that it was and we talked about how Daddy and I were not perfect, but we were a little further along then they were, so we were allowed to be their parents and help them to return to Our Heavenly Father. I then asked them why else they think God might ask children to obey their parents. They thought for a minute and then my daughter said, so that we can practice obeying our Heavenly Father. Exactly. We need to practice obeying someone who loves us, and wants what is best for us even when we don't understand all of the reasons we are asked to do something. My children agreed that made sense and then willingly did their school and helped with the chores that needed done.

I followed this up with smiles and hugs and kind words when I've seen her doing kind things and extra things and peace has been restored. It is interesting to see how much happier and content she is versus a week ago. It is nice to again have her heart.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I taught the lesson in primary this last week and it was on obedience. It's funny how the lessons seem to go with my life.
Thanks for your lesson to me. I need to learn more obedience too.