Does this formula remind you of your parenting style?
You probably recognize that from a math class somewhere in your past. It guarantees that every time you add A and B together, you get C. So, 3 + 2 always equals 5. Every time. It’s simple. It’s reliable.
Which is why formulas are the go-to parenting method for so many moms and dads. And many don’t even realize they’re doing it.
Here’s the test. Does your child’s behavior ever make you think, “I didn’t raise him (or her) that way! Why aren’t we getting the correct results?”
Your confusion reflects a belief, at some level, that parenting ought to be predictable. You set boundaries for your children, and you expect very specific outcomes.
Every Christian parent wants to raise obedient, respectful, faith-filled children. To achieve that we often ask, “How do I get my children to do what I want them to do?”
But maybe that’s the wrong question. It’s better to ask, “What’s going on in my child’s heart that they choose the behavior they do?”
Figuring out the answer and connecting with your child at that point is the best way to determine effective boundaries and discipline.
There are patterns to parenting. There are tendencies. But those are different from formulas. Parenting is an art that requires us to recognize that we can’t control our little ones’ temperaments and personalities, only influence them.
That’s why authors Jim and Lynne Jackson say moms and dads should strive to deepen key internal messages that will empower their children to make more positive choices.
Jim and Lynne suggest parents dedicate themselves to communicating these four messages:
- You’re safe with me.
- You’re loved no matter what.
- You’re called and capable.
- You’re responsible for your own choices.
That perspective can help you pull back from formulas and enable you to engage your child’s heart. It can help turn your parenting from this
Jim and Lynne Jackson are with us on our Focus on the Family Broadcast “Conveying God’s Love Through Discipline.” They’re sharing how to instill your children with healthy God-given beliefs that enable them to better manage their own behavior and to walk in wisdom. Join us on your local radio station, online, on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or on our free phone app.
The Jacksons lead parenting workshops around the world and have authored the book Discipline That Connects with Your Child’s Heart, available to you for a gift of any amount. Visit our website for more information. If you can’t afford it, we’ll find a way to get it to you.
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