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NEWSLETTER

Whoa, Mom’s Serious! / ARLENE PELLICANE

It was my birthday, and my son did not want to cooperate. My simple birthday wish was to take family photos in the park. I asked 5-year-old Ethan to put on a navy blue shirt. “I want to wear something with a car! I will not wear that blue shirt!” he screamed at the top of his lungs. Matter-of-factly I told him if he didn’t get dressed in that navy shirt, he would not get any ice cream cake. That seemed to motivate him, because he headed toward his room. But alas, 10 minutes later, he was still shirtless. Deciding to let natural consequences take over, I told Ethan to get in the car. “But I’m cold! I want to wear a shirt!” he lamented. I threw a blanket over him and buckled up, knowing this discipline would work with Ethan (unlike some boys, he did not want to go bare-chested to the park!). By the time we arrived, Ethan was more than happy to put on that navy blue shirt. When you’re a mom, it helps to create consequences that make your child say, “Whoa, Mom’s serious!” There’s an underlying commitment required for the happy and sane mom. She must proclaim, “I will make any behavior I don’t want from my child counterproductive.” If a child flails on the floor, weeping and wailing because he or she wants something special that belongs to you, you ban the item for a certain period of time. If a child wants ice cream and demands it like a dictator, you withhold dessert for a few days (don’t worry, any child can survive this!). If your child uses a phone in a forbidden way, he or she loses that device for a while. Discipline is not a bad word; it’s a beautiful word. Discipline comes from discipulus, the Latin word for pupil. That’s where the word disciple comes from — as in a follower of Jesus is a disciple. Parents are to disciple their children, helping them grow in life and follow biblical instructions. As Proverbs 15:5 points out, “A fool spurns a parent’s discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.” The Amplified Bible puts it this way: “A [flippant, arrogant] fool rejects his father’s instruction and correction, But he who [is willing to learn and] regards and keeps in mind a reprimand acquires good sense” (AMP). Today, children need good sense more than ever. Yet if children learn through experience their parents will eventually give in, they discover acting foolishly and impulsively works. One of the reasons kids whine so much is that it’s highly effective. By the 10th time they’ve pleaded for candy, mom breaks down. The whining (the foolishness) is productive. But what if whining was counterproductive every time? What if a mom said, “Oh, I hear you whining. That means we won’t be having any candy today”? If you respond consistently like this, a child will quickly realize “Whoa, Mom’s serious!” I know from experience that this is often much easier said than done. Responding well to good discipline shows prudence, self-control, wisdom and discretion — characteristics kids need for a healthy adult life. Whether or not we have children of our own, children need to heed the wise instruction of loving adults for their benefit. The mom who’s labeled the “mean mom” may be the most caring mom in the neighborhood, enforcing boundaries and insisting on respect. So if you’re ever called a mean mom, or you are feeling weary from constantly disciplining — take heart! It’s hard work. You are doing something important … providing life-giving direction and leadership to the next generation. Dear Lord, help me to follow through and be consistent with the rules I give to the children in my life. Give me the physical and emotional strength to back up my words with consistent actions. Help the children I know respect and obey parents so they may prosper and grow. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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