I surprised my wonderful 15-year-old girl today.  She looked at me with shock and a little dismay.  She asked me if she was allowed to do something and I responded with, ” Well, that’s probably not up to me anymore, that’s a decision you should make.  Should you do that?” The first time I said that to Connor he responded to me with, ” I would rather you just tell me what to do.” I laughed and said, ” Yes, that would be easier for you but it is now your job to decide and to step in and follow God.”

Part of the reason my kids are so surprised by my stepping back is that I have been the driving force in their life.  I am an obey the first time, ‘but Mom’ has been banned in our hours for years, be kind or you will answer to me, I don’t threaten, I promise, kinda Mom.  I am not a yeller or a screamer but break the rules and the posted consequences will happen.  Whine and complain and you will have a taste of apple cider vinegar for not using pleasant tones.  Complain about being bored and I will find a toilet for you to clean.  I believe in working hard and then playing hard, but if you forget the work hard part, you will not be playing.  If I say no, I mean no. If I say yes, I will do everything I can to make that happen.  That’s the Mom I decided to be years ago.  We run a tight ship during those young years.

I firmly believe that in those early years, it is our job as parents to make clear rules and follow them.  I believe we should teach our kids the Biblical or moral reason why we do the things we do.  We need to make the Bible the clear answer to why we do the things we do.  We speak kindly and pleasantly because Proverbs says, ” Pleasant words are sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”  We treat others things with respect and even better than we treat our things because the Bible says we are to ” Love your neighbor as yourself”.  We obey right away because it says in Ephesians, ” Obey your parents in the Lord for this is right.”

We work hard in those young years to hide God’s Word in our heart and we work hard to not merely be hearers of the Word but doers of the Word.

There comes a time, though, when we need to loosen the reigns and start letting our kids lead.  In our house, it seems like it starts happening around 15 or so.  Puberty is mostly over, their hormones start settling down and they start living what they believe. Then it’s my job to back off and let God.  I become an advisor, not the leader.  I am the coach on the sidelines. Will they make mistakes?  Yes.  Will they have some failures?  Absolutely and I think that’s good. It’s hard but it’s good.  I want those first mistakes and failures to happen while they still live under our roof so that we can help them mitigate the consequences and teach them how to get up, shake off the dirt, deal with the hurt and try again.  I also want the chance to be able to see is there are any major gaps in their learning and have time to fix that.

It reminds me a little of how I educate my kids.  When they are in grammar stage ( earliest learning – about 5th), I teach them straight facts, yes and no, make sure they know their math facts, their phonics, know their grammar rules.  In the Logic stage ( Middle School), I start teaching the why’s of all those facts, we start to make connections, they decide what they think about those facts, they start taking baby steps in independence.  In the Rhetoric stage, ( High School and beyond) they take what they know and make it their own.  They not only know what they think about those facts, they have opinions and start sharing those opinions.  They take what they know and start to think about how they want to change the world.  They should be managing their time, their assignments and books.  The early years I have the reigns and the plans but by high school, I need to be letting go and letting them take the lead.  The key to this is to teach and discipline when they are young.

There are a few resources that were helpful to us when our kids were young.  I need to note that I didn’t follow any of these things 100%.  I took everything and tested it against the Word of God. I also took everything and thought about it and tested it against what I knew of my children and their personalities.  Personalities do matter when training your kids.  Our expectations of each of our kids have always been same but not how we get there. Having twins with opposite personalities trained this into us fairly early.

****clicking on the colored links will take you to the Amazon page for that resource.  This helps me to fund this page. Every resource I recommend I have used and I own, in several cases, I own multiple copies.

I Want to Enjoy My Children – I worked through this book when Connor was an infant.  It was the very first parenting book I ever read and it really spoke to me about the parent I wanted to be and the desire I had to enjoy this whole scary parenting thing.

Hints on Child Training – I originally bought this book because the author is the grandfather of Elisabeth Elliott and I loved the story of her life and had read many of her books.  However, once I got into it, I really appreciated his perspective.  One of the things that struck me was how he spoke about the fact that every time you ask your child to be obedient they do have a choice.  They can choose to obey you or they have the choice not to.  I am not taking away their choice, I am just following through on my word.  This thought helped me think through my opinion on Love and Logic parenting.  Some of the wording is a little archaic but it’s worth it.

Shepherding a Child’s Heart – This book really helped me when I was dealing with a very strong-willed girl.  It felt like we butted heads every single day and I was very concerned that I was going to ruin my relationship with my sweet little girl.  The idea that I needed to look at heart training versus behavior modification was life changing.  It helped me to pick my battles and focus on what really mattered.  As a cautionary note, the author promotes the idea that spanking is the only viable discipline technique and it is one I found completely untrue.  Spanking was NOT the most effective technique in our home.

Everyday Talk – This book changed me.  I realized that how I spoke and thought about everyday things affected my kids.  As I am very verbal and my tongue is my biggest sin issue, this book helped me to further tame my tongue and to think about what I said in context of how it might affect my kids.

Creative Correction – This simply was a great book to help me think of ways to provide consequences for my kids.

Spiritual Parenting – I helped teach this book in a parenting class at church this spring and I found that it closely aligns to my own ideas and thoughts in parenting.  It didn’t always give the most practical how to’s to accomplish those ideas but as a foundational philosophy of parenting, I found it pretty right on.

Babywise  – I hesitate to recommend this series of books because I have found far too many parents take the series and use it far too legalistically.  However, this whole series has really practical tips.  Self Control hands?  Genius.  The Umbrella of Obedience?  Really helpful visual tool to help my kids understand that stepping out from our covering and the covering of God’s protection is not in their best interest.  Take the tips and use them but don’t fall into the trap of making this your parenting Bible.  Your only parenting Bible should be the Bible.


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