Don’t come to me for parenting advice.
I might share some stories about lessons learned, I might have some relatable experiences in my parenting journey, but you won’t find me giving you answers or disciplining strategies. You don’t want me to, trust me. Four kids in, through every stage from potty training to puberty, I can not call myself an expert in any stage. Not even close. Every time I thought I had it figured out, I would have another kid who broke the mold and took me humbly back to my knees.
I will however sympathize with each of you sleep deprived, manicure needing, guilt ridden mommas out there and tell you, I am right there with you.
I recently had a random recall of an Oprah episode where a child psychologist gave some “positive parenting” strategies. This had to have been many years ago, at least 10, as I don’t remember the last time I watched an episode of Oprah, but for some reason I had a memory of it. The good Dr. was telling childless Oprah and her audience that we have to stop telling our kids to “stop”.
His theory was that the negative connotation we were giving our kids was not offering them reason or instruction for their behavior causing them to continue the bad behavior. Instead of “stop” or “don’t do..” we should be saying “do this..”
”TIMMY! STOP! Jumping on the furniture right now!” is replaced with “Timmy, this is not a trampoline. Our bottoms belong on the couch, not our feet.”
Hey, it seems legit.
I wish I would be less reactive when I see misbehavior in my kids. I wish I could just channel Michelle Duggar and respond to my kids in a sugary sweet voice with reason and instruction in my words, followed by a Bible verse that brings the teachable moment full circle.
But, I won’t lie, this never happens in my house. And as long as I am wishing, I wish I slept a full 8 hours every night, I wish I had a full time laundress, housekeeper, and a summer home in the Caribbean. But, I digress.
I obviously watched this guy on Oprah and thought his theory was brilliant, but then I failed to implement any of his advice. And somehow it popped into my memory a decade later, after ¾ of my kids are practically raised. I don’t know if it was God who caused the recall or the spicy Pad Thai I had for dinner, but you bet your biscuits I am going to try this method out on my 5-yr old. There is still hope for him. I’ll let you know how it goes.
I read of a similar theory in a story about two young boys climbing a tree while each of their moms watched from below. As they each climbed higher a strong gust of wind came. Both moms looked up at their sons, one mom yelled “hold on tighter!” while the other yelled “don’t fall!” The boy with the mom who yelled “don’t fall” instantly let go and fell to the ground, a bit bruised and shaken.
The boy who was given instruction was able to hang on until the gust passed and then climbed down safely. In this story I am the “don’t fall” mom. My kid is bruised and wailing and the other kid and his mom are holding hands and going home to pack for their trip to the Caribbean.
So, I have been milling over this difference in warning vs instruction. I began to think about how I interpret my own life’s “rules”. How do I respond when someone tells me not to do something, as opposed to good instruction? Admittedly, not very well. Tell me not to do something and I will surely find some justification of why I can and should do it. And I’m not even a toddler.
The Old Testament was full of don’t do’s and thou shall not’s. I guess God didn’t see that episode of Oprah. Why is He is telling us not to do all sorts of stuff when we can’t possibly stop? Because He is the perfect Father. These rules were put in place to reveal sin and our need for a savior.
He actually achieved the ultimate in positive parenting. Under the New Covenant He gave us the solution for all our problems. In His infinite wisdom He made us Holy by sending His son to take all our sin upon Him and offered Him up as a sacrifice to cover each one of our iniquities once and for all. Then, seeing no fault in Him, He resurrected Him and put His life into those who believe. So that we too could have all that He has and so we could be with Him forever.
And then, in the ultimate act of love and positive parenting strategy He replaced all his “don’t do’s” with one “Do”.
Jesus gave one command to believers. The one command that replaces the 613 commandments. Love. Because He IS love. When we believe in Him and abide in Him we can love like him. Love fulfills all the commandments. Just as Jesus fulfills all our need. And this is the best advice I can give parenting, or otherwise; Believe He loves you, love Him back, and then you can love everyone else.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it; Love your neighbor as yourself. All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments. Matthew 22:36-40
A new command I give you; love one another as I have loved you… John 13:34
For the entire law is fulfilled in one statement: love your neighbor as yourself. Galatians 5:14
Enter His Rest,