We got a couple of chances to make some big differences in our kids. Whether we understand this or not, our time with them is SHORT!
Here is a word of encouragement to moms and dads. A challenge to walk quickly to the side of your children and grab your moment of training when you can. Because in a blink of an eye from bending down to pick up your baby...in the next instance standing by the sink...you will be staring him in the eye! Our time to train and influence our children is today, NOT tomorrow!
Do we know at birth we can talk to our kids? They understand far more than they can communicate back. Don't miss these precious moments of these little ones hearing your voice.
The toddler stage -
Do we know that we can tell them 'NO'? I am surprised how many parents I come across that didn't know they could say 'no' and expect the child to obey. Too many times we think we need to wait until they understand. Oh...trust me, they understand! 8 kids later I can tell you they understand as INFANTS. Our training with the word 'no' begins the moment they can reach and crawl. We teach and train that there are tools, treasures and toys. There will be many swats on the hand and many, many hugs! Watch and enjoy as you see your toddler learn the difference in what is okay and what is not!
Young kids -
Do we know by this stage we can expect kids to obey, the FIRST time?! They know by this stage exactly what is happening. (Because we trained while they were toddlers and talked to them while they were infants.) They are now choosing whether they obey or not and can fully communicate back. Are we setting consequences and grabbing our moments to train well! We often find by K there are rarely times we have to spank and less time outs. They know when we ask them to do something they should do it with the right emotional response because we WILL follow up or teach right emotional behavior!
(At this stage we are living in each moment of training to the heart of the child, "Shepherding a Child's Heart" is a treasure of insight for a parent to read! The heart determines the behavior. We can discipline bad behavior over and over again but if you want to see life change then train to the heart.)
Older kids -
Do we know we are at a stage that we need to inspect what we expect? They are getting crafty and know how to sneak now! Time to stay on top and let them know we ARE aware. Helping train them to follow through with what was asked or expected. Time to continue the training. I find this to be a sweet age. They tend to want to please and they still believe you know best and they are open for Truth!
("Grace-Based Parenting" is a wonderful tool for parent's as you walk the coming years ahead! We will need to balance parenting with Grace and that isn't something that comes easy when fear, worry and concern creeps into our parenting.)
Preteen/early teens -
Do we know this is one of our last big pushes to train to what we expect? I have discovered that after about 14-15....we are past the parenting and into the influencing stage! THAT does NOT mean we don't parent! We still do....but they have already captured what they believe. You will not gain a lot of new ground with these kids than you already did prior in your parenting! This is the stage they are seeing you with different eyes. They want your approval but they want their independence. They want your love but they want their peers acceptance. They need you more but they will push you back more. Here is where we WALK WITH our teens. A tug-a-war of parenting, letting go, parenting, letting go, parenting, letting go.
Our Parenting role at this stage is changing or should be changing as our children age. "The Paradox Principles of Parenting" has helped us as we navigate between High Expectations and High Tolerance, how to dispense Justice and dispense Mercy, and how to teach through Values and teach through Results.)
High School and off to college -
Do we know this stage is a difficult one for parents and your teens? It doesn't have to be a nightmare but it can be bumpy from time to time. Good news....God loves them more than we do! Good news....He can still reach their hearts! Good news...You are still valuable to your children but they probably won't tell you this much! Our goal is to remain in a position of as much influence as we can with our older kids. We will apologize a lot. Give lots of extra grace and love. And we will enjoy any moment we can grab with them!
(I just read a book that I will require my older kids to read, "The Principle of the Path" How to get from where you are to where you want to be. Learning that if they end up where they don't want to be then a change of direction is needed not just intention. Our paths determine our destinations!)
What a privilege and honor that God has entrusted these children to us to guide, lead, love and point to Christ. Giving them the opportunity to see their heart, their direction, and their Lord will help them navigate through life on this side of heaven. Finding joy in the midst of hardship, finding forgiveness on wrong paths, and finding love and grace is ALWAYS at the end of the road.