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Trusting your Savior with a Troubled Heart"

{Listable Life} The Hardest Thing about being a Parent

Being a parent is: amazing, awesome, wonderful, rewarding, heart warming,
 and pretty much the best thing ever.
Being a parent is also: difficult and confusing.

Mmmm… Pushpop!

Parenting: Once you think you got it figured out, you find out you don’t.  Such is the life of a parent!

So today’s Listable Life is: 5 Hardest things about being a Mom.  Scratch that.  I have to much to say about the #1 hardest thing about being a parent.

 E has become a full blown toddler.  He wants his way not now, right now.  He whines when he wants something but doesn’t know the word for it.  He is climbing (Lord, help me.)  He is into everything.  And he is starting to test us. My precious angel? Testing me?  No way….YES WAY.   Here is how he got his first “spanking” a few days ago, which was actually just a single bottom swat that he could probably barely feel.
Eli: You see me playing with this lamp plug that I just pulled out of the outlet and am now putting back in?
Mom (in a loud, assertive voice and removing him from the situation): Eli, NOT SAFE. (I try to not use No all the time)
Eli: *runs back over to outlet and pulls plug out* 
Mom (in louder voice): ELI, NOT SAFE!!! (removes him from area again)
Eli: *runs back over to outlet* This time with a huge grin on his face while pulling out the plug really slow as if to say “watch me mom.”  I know his “testing mom” face.
Mom: *pop on the bottom*
Eli: *death curdling scream because he’s pretty sure I just tried to assassinate him.*
Oh my goodness.  Being that it was the first time I “spanked” him and his diaper probably kept him from feeling anything, he didn’t expect it and it probably took him off guard, which is why he cried like he was dying.  I walked across the room and sat down.  He came right over to me (even though it was me who popped him) wanting to be consoled and held.  And I did just that, explaining to him that Mommy spanked him because she doesn’t want him to get hurt.  He may have understood only a small bit of that, but hopefully eventually he will get it.  Now please don’t judge me, but I do believe in spanking and I feel there are biblical reasons to spank.  Defiance and dangerous situations are the only 2 things we will spank for.  The punishment must fit the crime.  Taking something that Mommy says is “not yours” is not punishable by spanking.  However, running towards the street and playing with the outlet covers/plugs are, especially when you combine them with that “look at me mom. I’m totally not listening to you!” smile.  And I know he knows what “not safe, not yours and no” mean.  He has clearly shown me he understands those phrases.
Swatting on the hand = big grin, even if I do it where it should sting.
Time out = Tried it.  Didn’t work.  I think he is to young to understand this yet.  In a few months, this is definitely something we will utilize.
I’m so confused and sometimes don’t know what to do or if what I am even doing is right.  When he has a major meltdown and gets angry because I take something away that he shouldn’t have, or because I won’t let him have what he wants, Mommy walks out of the room and he HATES that.  I do not give in to the “scream my face off to get what I want” thing.  Ya, I know. I’m a mean mommy. I feel like its the right thing to do, but my heart breaks when he has a meltdown!
This sweet guy misbehavin? Never!
Rather than give in, I try to use each whine/screamfest/meltdown to teach him.  I have been working on lots of new words with him so he can begin to tell me what he wants.  He is on vocabulary explosion right, learning like 1-2 new words a day!  For example: for the past few days he’s been going to the fish tank, pointing at it and letting out a big loud whine that perhaps the entire neighborhood could hear.  I am trying to teach him the word “fish” followed by “please.”  Whenever he lets out that giant whine, I say “ask nicely to see the FISH.  Fish please.”  He says “pwease!” Light comes on.  After a day or two of this, he now goes over to the fish tank, looks at me and just says “please” without the scream.  VICTORY!  We are still working on the word fish though.
This whole discipline thing is so confusing though.  I don’t want to lack discipline in such a way that causes my child to grow up to become a snotty I-get-my-way-or-else kid.  And I also don’t want to over discipline so I get the I-behave-around-my-parents-then-do-things-behind-their-back way either.  Finding that balance is so hard.  And you pretty much set that tone during the toddler stage because what you do now through young childhood will reflect on how your child behaves as an adolescent.  I am reading a book called Dare to Discipline by James Dobson.  It was written in the 70s and updated in the 90s.  It’s an older book, but I am devouring it. It is seriously really good!  Rebellious behavior is expected, but how you handle it can really mold your child into what they become.  And that is so scary! I want to do it right. I want my children to grow up knowing Christ and that Mommy and Daddy disciplined them because we love them more than anything in the world.
One of my favorite things this book has said so far is to discipline immediately following the “crime” followed by parental warmth and love when the sad tears (not angry tears-those are to be ignored) and clingy-ness happens post swat/spank/timeout.  This parental love, shown after discipline has taken place, reassures the child that it is the behavior, not the child himself, that the parent rejects.  At least I am doing one thing right!
There is an example in this book about a mom who tells her young 5 year old to put his toys away and go brush his teeth while she scurries off to take care of the younger child.  The 5 year old knows that he can keep playing cuz mom will come back in and say it again with a little more emphasis.  He knows that the 3rd time, when moms voice is hostile, that she really means it.  Mom is then crabby because she has little control over her child unless she is “hostile sounding” and the kiddo knows what he is doing- squeezing every last second of playtime in because mom doesn’t really mean it until the hostile voice comes out.  I don’t want to be that mom.  I want the kid to listen to me the first time (oh i know it’s not gonna happen all the time) but I want that mutual respect between child and parent.  And figuring out how to do it is so confusing and scary.  Consistency is key, I know.  But first you got to figure out what to even be consistent with and what works that will speak to your child.  One kiddo may need a firm loud voice and burst into tears, and another may be a stubborn, fiery little red head, who doesn’t care if you swat his hand.  Sheesh!
I want E to understand that we love him more than anything else in this world and because we love him so much, we have to teach him to obey because we want to take care of him and protect him.  We want him to understand and appreciate boundaries because that is what will make him feel secure.
How do you figure out how to parent with grace? How do you discipline where the balance between love and control are evident to your child?  That’s what we are trying to explore right now and it is one of the most difficult, scary things ever.
“When a child asks, ‘who’s in charge?’ tell him.  When he mutters, ‘who loves me?’ take him in your arms and surround him with affection.  Treat him with respect and dignity, and expect the same from him.  Then begin to enjoy the sweet benefits of competent parenthood.” -James Dobson
Ahh, if only there was a button that flashed green to confirm we are being “competent parents” and a red button to tell us when we are doing something wrong.
But alas, there are no buttons.  Our only hope in parenting is trusting in God to lead us as parents. 

And pray. 


Linking up at MTDL and Momof6

If you are a parent, what have you found that has worked for you and your children as far as discipline goes?  What parenting style do you pursue?  What’s your opinion on spanking? (keep it civil, people!) Share in the comments!

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