Right now, I'm reading The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson. I'm about halfway through it. My brain has been thinking lots about the ideas she puts forth on parenting. One thing I've really taken from it is discipline as a model for the sin, repentence, forgiveness, grace aspect of our relationship with God. A lot of times discipline gets listed as a wrong behavior vs. right behavior. (Which it is.) But when we stop at this description, we fall short of modeling the way God deals with us as people who sin. Parents need to encourage their children to claim the wrong behavior, to feel badly for it and ask God for forgiveness, to ask others who were hurt because of it for forgiveness, and then to show grace and forgiveness. Parents also need to follow this model when they sin especially when they do so in front of their kids. It all sounds so simple but I know that in the heat of the moment, it is truly hard to do.
I also have been thinking about parenting from an attachment standpoint and recognize how D and I will be parenting children who, for all of our love and affection, will possibly always have a piece of them that wonders "Why wasn't I good enough to stay with my birth mom?" Parenting a child who may struggle with attachment is different but it certainly doesn't mean you don't discipline. But I know I've already had some worries about knowing what to do to deal with the attachment part while disciplining. As a teacher, discipline comes relatively easy to me. I've had to be creative, I've been forced to keep my cool rather than just blow up, I've had lots of difference experiences with lots of different children. But the attachment aspect of it is a bit overwhelming to me. Generally, I worry about doing things right and parenting is no different. It's so easy for me to think that because I did x instead of y my child will be scarred for life.
But this book puts focus on grace, which I love. I've always done that as a teacher, even when disciplining in a public school. Grace is so important for my kids to receive. Grace that doesn't overlook bad behavior but loves them in spite of it. Grace that tells them "No matter what, you are always precious to God not because of what you do or did but because of Whose you are." Grace that chases them and pursues them even when they push away and run for cover.
I also liked the way grace was applied to parents who have failed or made mistakes. Something I read this week from this book was that children don't need perfect parents, just authentic ones. As someone who can get a bit stuck in perfection mode, this was encouraging to me. I will make mistakes as a parent but it's up to me to make sure those mistakes honor God and teach my child about God. I love that God will not let even my worst moments go to waste. The idea of dealing with my sin in front of my children in a honest authentic way helps me to see how those mistakes can be used by God for good.
The author also spoke of the role of the Holy Spirit in discipline which I have to say I had really not thought of. Again, it's a simple concept but one I just hadn't really considered. She wrote that it is not a parent's job to convict a child of his mistakes. That job belongs only to the Holy Spirit. Are parents responsible for guiding a child to hear the Holy Spirit? Certainly. Are parents responsible for telling them what the Bible says about a specific behavior, thus imparting Godly wisdom to their children? Definitely. But parents cannot make a child repent. I can make a child feel badly. I can make a child feel scared. I can make a child not want to do something again for fear of punishment. But only God can affect their heart. For me, that was reassuring. It's not all up to me to make sure my kids turn out right. God will work on their hearts, if I let Him.
Okay, this is a bit long. I hadn't really realized how much I had been in thought about until I started typing. As far as the book goes, it would be on my recommend to others list. For me it has helped me connect the ideals I've had in my head about how I want to raise my kids with some concrete examples of things I can do. The author has also written another book called The Ministry of Motherhood which I'm also planning to read. Hopefully it will a productive read as well.