Recently I received an email from a discouraged mom. She was struggling, and asked if I had any parenting tips for the discouraged mom.
Haven’t we all been there? We may not talk about it, and often even hide our feelings, but we all face times in our parenting and homeschooling journey where we need encouragement.
One of the best things you can do is find a good friend who is at the same stage as you and can relate to the struggles, or find a veteran mom or homeschooling mom who has completed the journey and is willing to share thoughts and encouraging words with you.
Below are some of the thoughts that I shared with this dear mom who is discouraged.
Parenting can be very tough, and discouraging – it’s a spiritual battle for our kids, so the enemy is going to fight us. Also, it’s common to question if you are doing things right.
My biggest piece of advice regarding the common question of “Am I doing it right?” is that none of us can be perfect parents, but we can ALL be praying parents! God wants us to depend on Him, and invites us to come to Him for wisdom. Also, He can work in the hearts of our kids when we ask Him to. If He can change the heart of a king, He can change the heart of our kids. Pray for your kids regularly, and pray for wisdom as you train them. Prayer is one of our most powerful resources!
I think much of parenting is about refining US, the parents! God brings out our imperfections and weaknesses, and helps us to see areas where WE need to grow to better guide our kids, and be an example.
A few things I would suggest:
1. If you don’t already do so, I would HIGHLY recommend using Scripture when your kids show wrong behavior.
Point them to God’s Word, and in a kind way let them know that their behavior didn’t please Jesus when they (lied, weren’t kind, disobeyed…..) Read a verse or two on the topic, and then talk to them about it. Always remind them that because we love Jesus, we want to obey His Word and please Him. (If you need a resource to help with using Scripture, look at my ebook “Training & Correcting the Heart With Scripture“.)
Using Scripture will help keep you focused on the heart issue, and also keep you calm when the kids are frustrating you. After sharing Scripture with them, pray with them and have them ask God to help them in the area they are struggling with.
2. Make every effort to be consistent.
To me, this was always a challenge! But your kids need to know that the rules (which you have based on God’s Word) are the same everyday. If they can’t do something one day, they shouldn’t be allowed to do it on a different day. Have pre-determined consequences, and follow through with them calmly each time, reminding them of what they did wrong.
Often, we just expect our kids to know what behavior is expected, and we get frustrated with them when they don’t act the way we want them to. When they act wrong, it’s important to take the time to talk to them about why it is wrong (show them what the Bible says), and what the right response or action should be. Then practice the right behavior. Kids love role playing, and it is a great way to reinforce the behavior you are looking for.
After teaching and practicing, watch and when you see them showing the right behavior, praise them. Make a big deal of it, and let them know how pleased you are that they obeyed, were kind, etc. and that they made Jesus happy too.
I have found that praise goes SO far in parenting, and is a greater motivator to do right than fear of discipline or punishment is.
4. Keep in mind the goal of keeping your kids’ hearts.
Anytime we discipline, we have the potential to close their hearts to us, or to draw them closer to us. When we have their hearts, they want to please us and are open to our teaching and instruction. When we lose their heart (often this happens when the parents discipline in anger), they no longer listen to us, and we lose the opportunity to influence them.
5. Often when our kids act up, it’s because we have been distracted and aren’t paying attention, or they just want us to spend time with them.
At the young ages, we need to keep them close and pay attention to what they are saying and doing, and teach and train as needed. This will take time, but it is so important to deal with an issue when it arises, rather than letting the “little weeds” go.