What do you get when you put together a Family Studies major with a Criminal Justice major-turned social service worker? Two people with LOTS of ideas, thoughts and concerns about human behavior and discipline.
My husband and I talk about parenting....a LOT. Before we were married we began talking about how we saw our family. What we liked growing up, what we felt could have been different, how we'd like to raise our kids, our thoughts on homeschooling, whether or not spanking is effective, etc....We have a variety of books on our bookshelf about parenting, discipline, and even homeschooling. We take each book not as a reference guide, but merely as a discussion starter---and the homeschooling book? We just want to be educated should we ever decide that one or more of our children would benefit more from being educated at home.
With both of us having backgrounds in the foster care world we've seen "discipline" go horribly wrong. We watch what others around us do and talk about what methods we feel are or are not effective....but mostly, we just talk about what we'd like to try.
Lucy is nearing the age where she can recognize a few things that are not acceptable behaviors---but we get that she still needs a lot of reminding that we don't play with DVD's. :)
Now my husband and I have both been guilty of being the parents that literally say "NO" all day long...and often at increasing volumes. But last week (after one of those days) I felt really convicted about my attitude. Sure, I'm exhausted, sore and growing a baby--but Lucy doesn't get that. She's just exploring her world and I was trying to stop that explorative spirit. The next day at MOPS--our speaker further tugged at my heart about nurturing my daughter's creativity and changing my focus from worrying about the "minor" things.
That night (and into this weekend) my husband and I talked at great lengths about how can we teach our daughter to obey us as parents while also not creating an environment so controlled that we kill her curious spirit? We don't have many answers yet---but we're on the same page and enjoying the discussion. We know there are certain things that she must learn she can't touch---and the other things? Well, it's merely an annoyance for us to have to put all the towels back in the drawer for example--but for her, it's a good 15 minutes of fun finding the towels, unfolding them, lining them up on the floor and then sitting on each one. It takes us two minutes to clean up---and soon she'll be at the age when she can start helping.
It's easy for me to forget sometimes that my daughter is only 14 months old...and developmentally she can't possibly remember or even predict what things are off limits...especially in new environments. My husband's job and my education have continually reminded us of that fact and the fact that discipline can (and often should) look differently for each of our children. We're learning, talking and adjusting our ideas and expectations---which honestly, I feel like is the best part of all of this. We know we're going to have days when we fail miserably---but we'd like to be able to get it "right" most of the time! :)I love that my daughter is curious. I love that she doesn't show much fear and will willingly go play with other children and hug family members she hasn't seen in a while. I love the excitement in her eyes when she figures something out or discovers where all of her shoes are "hidden". I don't want to kill this curiousity by saying "NO" to every minor thing and losing my cool daily.
....and for that, I'm going to need a LOT of grace :)