Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Embracing who they are

Our younger son has recently started hitting his brother. He hits when provoked, and hits when completely unprovoked. Bryan and I are doing our best to disciple, redirect and train Luke, but some days it seems our efforts are to no avail. Yesterday I asked my Facebook friends if they had any success disciplining this kind of behavior with their children. Most replied saying to allow our older son to hit back. This is exactly what Bryan had suggested the day before, but I am hard-pressed to imagine my 60 pound son hitting my 38 pound son! It does seem like a very logical solution though, so we've decided to give that a shot since nothing else has worked... You should have seen the look of glee on Zach's face when we told him that he was allowed to hit back! This could end disastrously.

As I was reading through my friends' suggestions, I came across a post from my friend Annie. She talked about how her mother raised 4 boys and 2 girls. Annie said that her brothers were very rowdy and rough with each other and her mother was so godly and patient that she allowed her kids to be who they were... Her mother had the patience to allow the kids to run circles through the house while she played her piano or did her devotionals in the other room. I simply cannot imagine that kind of patience!! But it is truly that kind of patience that I would like to have.

I believe that it is important to discipline and train our children. We will continue to work on eliminating hitting; however, I think I need to do a little work on myself too.

As I have thought about Annie's mother, I am reminded of the way Bill O'Reilly talks about his mother in his book A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity. He writes about how his parents had definite rules and expectations, but that his mother also nurtured his individualism. He repeatedly says that he was high-energy and had a tendency to be a hooligan and prankster. It's been a while since I read his book, but he pretty much says that his mother had a lot to deal with in him, and that she was always consistent, nurturing, accepting and encouraging. I want my kids to think of me that way when they are all grown-up.

Our boys are definitely high-energy. Only time will tell if they will be hooligans and pranksters, but I can certainly imagine a lot of that in Luke's future! During these days of constant high-energy, loud silly noises and creative imaginations, I find myself feeling self-conscious about my kids' behavior when they become rowdy or won't sit still in public. When a waiter shows up at the table and comments on how we have our "hands full" or when a friend refers to them as "energetic" (with that tone that sounds like they disapprove), I feel a twinge of insecurity and find myself wishing the kids would just "behave". As I think about Annie's mention of patience, I think that is largely what it boils down to for me. A lot of times I expect my kids to be "as well behaved" as the other kids who are around; and all patience goes out the window when they are "not". However, I feel I have come to realize that it is not a matter of my kids' "misbehavior" as much as my impatience, expectations and pride. To borrow a phrase from Bryan, I sometimes want to "fit a square peg into a round hole". Out of pride and impatience, I sometimes want my kids to be cookie cutter children, just like the "other kids"... whatever that means!

My honest desire is to nurture and encourage my children's individuality. I want to have the patience that will allow me to go with the flow, accept them as they are, nurture their interests and creativity, and not spend so much time each day nagging them to settle down, be quiet, quit running, and ask the invisible friends to leave. God designed my children to be exactly the way they are, so I think it's time for me to stop trying to change them into something else. This is suddenly reeking of John Eldredge's Wild at Heart.

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14


JMom said...

Tonya- I came over after your comment. I think this is such a hard balance. As you know I am struggling with this. I certainly do not want to 'break their spirit' but I want them to understand society's expectation of them--and self control is a fruit of the spirit. The trouble is, there is a lot of room in between those two poles.
I don't knnnnooooowwwww! More prayer for me! :-)

Tonya said...

Amen sister! I'd forgotten about that fruit of the spirit thing... Like you said, it is such a difficult balance.

LC said...

Well I don't think you are alone. I think your boys are great and every mom has 'their hands full' at one time or another. I would like to thank you for your post as it is something I too sturggle with and need to work on.