Does this visual remind you of your parenting style?
You probably recognize that formula from a math class somewhere in your past. It guarantees that every time you add A and B together, you get C. So 2 + 2 always equals 4, and 1 + 5 always gives you 6. Every time. It’s simple. It’s reliable. It’s predictable.
That certainty is why formulas are the go-to parenting method for so many moms and dads. And you might not even realize you’re doing it.
Here’s the test. If your children aren’t behaving the way you’ve raised them, do you think to yourself, “Wait a minute. We’ve taught them this, and we’ve taught them that. Why aren’t we getting the correct results?”
Your confusion may indicate that deep down you want parenting to be predictable. You set boundaries. You discipline accordingly. You expect very specific outcomes from your children’s behavior.
We all want to raise obedient, respectful, faith-filled children, and we all want to know, “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?” Figuring out the answer and connecting with your child at that point is the best way to determine the best form of boundaries and discipline.
There’s something of an art to parenting. There are patterns. There are tendencies. But those are far different than formulas. Our little tots are born with temperaments and personalities that we can’t control. We can only influence.
That’s why authors Jim and Lynne Jackson say you shouldn’t strive only to manage your children’s outward behavior, but also to deepen key internal messages that will empower them 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 help you to engage your child’s heart. It can help turn your parenting from this
Jim and Lynne Jackson are with us in our studios to share how parents can instill their children with healthy God-given beliefs that enable them to better manage their own behavior and to walk in wisdom.
The Jacksons lead parenting workshops around the world and have authored the book Discipline That Connects with Your Child’s Heart that’ll be the subject of our conversation.