12 January 2011

"Loving Our Kids On Purpose" - Control v. Freedom

One of my goals for 2011 is to read 40+ books! My husband and I also make mutual goals each year. Coincidentally, we decided to read 3 books together, "Loving Our Kids On Purpose" by Danny Silk being one of them. Doubly worthy of blogging about, I'd say :) In processing and applying the tenants of the book, I thought it would be helpful to organize my thoughts in a way I could review them as often as needed (I'm pretty thick-headed at times!). I also am passionate about sharing my life experiences in order to impact others for good. What better way than to blog as I go?!

Chapter One thoughts:

The book has quite a lengthy introduction ("foreward", "preface", AND "introduction"!) and is followed by four chapters of approximately 30 pages each. I am intrigued by several points Mr. Silk had made so far.

Chapter One is entitled "The Heart of the Matter". It is truly reflective of the content. Early in the chapter he states, "Until our children can learn to deal with what is going on inside of them, they simply cannot learn to manage freedom." Freedom is truly the theme of this section. He gives a great example of something he and his wife employed as a parenting technique when their two boys were 6 and 4 years of age. They shared a room, and had begun a power struggle at bedtime, of course resisting the event. They decided to begin the "Room Time" concept in which they said, "It's room time. I don't want to see you or hear you until morning." The boys thought they had it made! After all, they didn't say they had to go to bed :) So they run off to their room and after only a couple minutes, they can hear them wrestling around. So Dad opens the door and says, "I can hear you!" The excuses start flying so he questions them: "Are you tired?" "Nah!" He proceeds to give them each a simple chore they must complete. This of course is completely deflating. After they struggle through a 2-min chore for 15 mins, he asks again, "Are you tired?" "Oh, yes. Yes, we're tired." Off to bed they go. Next night, same routine. When he asks this time, "Are you tired?" "Oh yes, yes we're tired!" Off to bed they went, learning already. Skip ahead about 10 years; older sister moves out and now the boys have their own room. As usual, room time is announced. Without Dad noticing, the boys head to the same room. After a few minutes, he hears them crashing around in the room. He yells from the couch, "Are you boys tired?" Within seconds, he hears two doors open and shut.

The subconscious is a powerful thing! And even more powerful: when children realize they have a choice. That they always have a choice: to exercise their own self-control - their freedom! - or to do something really dumb. Both have consequences. One is desirable. The other, not so much.

For me, this chapter reminded me that I have a huge responsibility as a parent to have my own inner house in order. That I need to process my own experiences as a child - what I experienced as 'parenting' - and be diligent about choosing what I want to carry forward and, even more so, what I don't want to bring forward into my parenting style. It also reminded that children want love. That love is the basic ingredient they want most. They want to be assured that they are loved no matter the mistakes they make or the disappointment they see in our eyes.

And I will wrestle with that. I know because I already have. My childhood memories of correction and discipline don't include the love message therefore when my children are disobedient or make disappointing decisions, I can be quick to correct rather than lovingly discipline them.

My take-away? Parenting is the biggest, most important job on the planet. Not an earth-shattering realization. But it is something I want to remember. Every day.

I'll leave you with this quote from the book:

"God has put a design and destiny within our children ... As parents, our goal is really to introduce our children to relationship with God by doing our best to relate to them like God does ... Honor brings power to relationships and the individuals in those relationships ... One of the primary ways we show honor to one another is by sharing power and control ... Loving on purpose means that we learn to let perfect love cast out all fear." -- Danny Silk

I encourage you: if this reflection got your attention on any level, go grab a copy of the book! Amazon has it for about $11 right now. You won't be disappointed.

Meanwhile, let me know your thoughts:

What have been your struggles/challenges with giving your child(ren) freedom?
(If you're not yet a parent, what do you imagine will be your struggle/challenge?)