I just planted several tomato plants in my yard, with the hopes of having fresh tomatoes soon. I’m sure that among the elevate your marriage family, there is a wide range of experience in gardening. Regardless, I’m sure you all know HOW to grow plants. Right?
So, what would happen if I had just looked at my tomato plants and demanded, “GROW!”
“Grow, plants! GROW! Not that direction, Grow taller! Produce tomatoes NOW!”
Think my neighbors would be concerned? Probably. Think my tomato plants would respond favorably? Probably not. If that was all they had, they would probably refuse to grow.
Thankfully, my parents taught me better! When I brought the tomato plants home, I put them in a spot with just enough sunlight and gave them enough water until I was able to get them planted. When I was able to plant them, I used rich soil, picked the spots I thought would be best for them, and watered them when I was finished gently planting them in the dirt.
Now, my job is to wait. I’ll keep an eye on them to make sure they are getting enough water. As they get bigger, I’ll stake them so they have enough support to not break under the weight of the fruit I expect them to produce. I’ll treat them gently so I don’t break them down. Simply demanding a plant or seed to grow will not force it to grow.
In fact, even doing everything I know to do, I have no guarantee that every plant with thrive and do well. There is only so much I can control.
Funny how similar a plant can be to a child. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a strong emotional attachment to these plants… they’re only plants. But children, on the other hand- children enter our lives wrapped around our hearts.
My question for you, then, is simple:
Are you nurturing your children, or are you just demanding them to grow?
It breaks my heart how often I see parents focus only on the correction/redirection/punishment aspects of discipline and fail to give attention to the relationship that is the foundation of effective discipline.
Discipline without relationship leads to rebellion. Every time.
Demanding that your children follow directions, sit up straight, clean their rooms, always use their manners, never interrupt, never make a mess… and so on… without having a secure relationship as perceived by your child WILL NOT BE EFFECTIVE.
It doesn’t matter how many times you raise your voice, it doesn’t matter how firm or even harsh your tone is, it doesn’t matter how many privileges you remove… if you do not focus on building a good relationship with your child, you are wasting your time.
Your child needs to know that you love him or her unconditionally. Even when they make mistakes.
It is not your job to FORCE them to follow every rule and act like miniature adults. It’s not your job and it’s not possible. It IS your job to guide your children. Provide the plant stake that will give them support and help them to grow in a healthy direction that will produce good fruit. It is your job to be sure they are in the light of the sun/Son, have plenty of healthy spiritual/physical food, and (living) water. THAT is your job.
- Give a hug when you feel like screaming.
- Stay calm when you don’t feel like acting calm.
- Be loving and nurturing as you enforce the rules you have set.
- Enforce the rules – it shows you care even if they don’t like it at the moment.
- Model God’s love to your children (Yes, scripture tells us of God’s wrath, but it is always borne out of His great love for us).
If you want your children to produce “good fruit” in life, provide correction while focusing on maintaining a good, nurturing relationship. If you spend your time barking orders from a distance… you’ll not get the results you may be hoping to see.
Keri Kitchen is a devoted wife and mother, blogger, author of Love Isn’t Selfish, licensed mental health counselor, and founder of The Carys Rainn Foundation. To read more about what God is doing in her life, visit her blog at www.aftertherainn.com