For me, writing a blog has been an interesting window into my own
brain. It turns out I think very tangentially. Who knew? (Husbands are not invited to answer).
Every post I start writing makes me think of three others I
ought to do alongside, or before, or instead of, the one I’m working on. <Hey,
look, a squirrel!>
But the one that comes up most often is this one. Because it’s the most fundamental to the life
we are able to live with our children. It is the crux of our parenting
style. It means that taking our kids to
Mass, and the grocery store, and Europe is, more often than not, pretty enjoyable (rather than the rolling disaster that people expect when we tell them our plans).
It allows me to homeschool, and take afternoon naps. It gets our
chores done. It has created for us a
very happy home.
|From our trip to Rome. I think Our Lady looks
particularly authoritative here, don’t you?
As I discussed here, when I had my son, I had little to no experience with babies or children. I have just one sister, and we grew up without cousins in town, or really even any friends with babies or little kids in their families. So everything I knew about raising children I knew from parenting books and sitcoms.
But here I was, with a sliding glass door that opened right into all these different parenting styles. There was the single mom of a son, who insisted that she wasn’t going to saddle him with gender stereotyped parenting (he dumped the baby doll out of his stroller, folded it up, and immediately started whacking the nearest tree with his stroller-sword). There was the family from Germany with two little girls who were quickly denuded anytime there was water present. There was the little prince, a boy with a mother AND a grandmother to fawn over his every achievement and pretty much ignore his sister.
|Jack at a princess party. Sad girl not pictured.|
The child who never got punished for anything would stand in the sandbox screaming about how unfair the world was because other children were allowed to own their own sand toys, but the first and second grade boys who were made to bring any candy they received home in their pockets so they could put it in their Saturday Treat Box would come by my house of their own accord to see if I would like them to take my baby for a walk so I could have a little rest.
I could not refute the evidence that was right there before my eyes. I know that there are many ways to parent successfully. I don’t claim
that my way is the only way. But I will tell you that it works for
I like to focus on the idea of authority
rather than discipline. Although, of course, discipline (and even
punishment) is involved. I prefer to think of “disciplined” as something YOU ARE
rather than something that happens to you. My end goal is that my
children’s discipline would come from within themselves, rather than from
me. It is my hope that they do as I ask
without the need for punishment. In order
to make that happen I need to be able to inspire their obedience by my
that child to US. On purpose.
bigger, or stronger, or smarter, but because that’s the way God made it. Even Jesus was “subject” to his
mother and earthly father (Luke 2:51).
Not because they had earned it but because, as his parents, they were in
a position of authority over him.
learn this lesson with small things now, they will be able to apply it to big
|That’s my baby doing the bullying. Poor Timmy.|
I read this quote in the Catechism on the day I
began writing this post:
makes his own body an obedient subject and, by governing himself with suitable
rigor, refuses to let his passions breed rebellion in his soul, for he
exercises a kind of royal power over himself. And because he knows how to rule
his own person as king, so too does he sit as its judge. He will not let
himself be imprisoned by sin, or thrown headlong into wickedness.
pretty much sums it up.
touch the TV, he would incur a punishment.
Repeat. But eventually, he got
it. I will never forget the day I spied
him through the doorway, standing in front of the TV, reaching his pudgy little
hand forward, then pulling it back.
Clearly, he was waging a tiny internal battle, between his shoulder
angel and his shoulder devil. And
finally, he stamped his foot and turned and walked away.
to subjugate that desire, and overcome that tiny 1 1/2 year old temptation,
won’t he be in a much better position to resist the bigger temptations of future
Instead, I could have distracted him from his desire to touch the TV and redirected his attention to something that he was allowed to touch. That would certainly have achieved my goal of not having him touch the TV at that moment. But he would have lost that small opportunity to “rule his own person as a king.”