How to Love Your Kids and Like Them Too

Discipline. It's a scary word that conjures up images of switches behind the shed and nuns with rulers in hand. But I'm here to tell you that it's the thing that makes me not only love my children, but genuinely enjoy being around them.

We live in a Chicken Little parenting environment, where everyone around us is second guessing themselves and each other, where people are convinced that various parenting styles are dangerous or wrong, but really where most people just aren't very experienced parents. And maybe (just maybe) don't know what they're talking about.

Discipline is good for lots of things. It's good for setting kids up for success in school and sports and hobbies and future careers, it's good for their religious and moral development, it's good at keeping them from getting squished in parking lots. But it's also really, really good at making them pleasant to be around all day. For YOU. Because YOU are around them all day.

Don't confuse "discipline" with "punishment." Discipline will involve punishment, probably. Unless you are St. Anne or the Blessed Virgin, your discipline is going to involve some punishing of one sort or another.

But "discipline" itself is about control. Its first step is a parent being able to control her children's behavior and its goal is children being able to control their own behavior.

What that looks like in MY family is going to depend on MY family culture.

Because what is acceptable to one family isn't going to be acceptable to another. YOU decide if you can live with gleeful shrieks (I cannot) or getting clothes dirty (not a problem for me) or jumping on the couch (okay in the playroom, but not in the living room).

*I* am in charge of these particular kids, because God made it so. A CEO is in charge of creating a corporate culture, and of instituting rules and policies and expectations that will allow that company to thrive. In the same way, I have to institute and enforce rules that will allow my family to thrive.

So my kids are allowed to do some stuff that your kids might not be allowed to do, and your kids maybe shouldn't be allowed to do some things that I let my kids do. That's the beauty of a family culture, it can be very specific.

Of course, my expectations have to be reasonable and age appropriate. And what I can live with in regards to things like personal space and noise level and general orderliness of my home has changed quite a bit over the years. It had to.

And my kids all have different personalities and interests and that's fine. Discipline isn't about changing who my children ARE, it's about helping who they are to fit in with who all the rest of us are.

There's just no other way to say it: You get to make YOUR kids liveable for YOUR family. So you need to determine the few things that make your life the most difficult, make rules to fix those things, and be really, really consistent on enforcing them.

For me it would probably be: stay in bed during naps and after bedtime, come when you are called, say "okay mama" when I ask you to do something, no complaining, no tattling, no shrieking. But things like making beds, and lunchtime table manners don't get enforced with the same regularity. I want my kids to make their beds every morning, really I do, but it's not SO important to me that I make a huge deal of it every day. And we sit down as a family for dinner, but I pretty much let them wander about while eating lunch. I don't want to enforce a seated family meal more than once per day. But if you get out of bed during naptime around here, your world ends, because I cannot live with that.

Like the Blues Brothers, I am on a mission from God. My authority over my children comes from God. Even Jesus was "subject" to his earthly parents. I am pretty strict. Stricter, perhaps, than most parents. But I'm also really goofy and loving and affectionate and available. I think my kids are thriving. They are fun and funny and smart and creative. Having rules and expectations doesn't squelch kids. Not liking them does. And if I hate being around them because they are totally untrained and insufferable then I might be tempted to just let them play video games all day and avoid their company.

That's why I discipline my kids the way I do, so that we love being around each other. Hopefully other people like being around them too.

Thanks to Jenna from Call Her Happy for asking the question that inspired this post, and for posting the cutest little necklace ever that I can't stop thinking about.


It's been a while since I linked up with the lovely gals of Fine Linen and Purple, so . . .

Here's what I wore Sunday:

Nursing-Friendly Dress & Sweater: Anthropologie (borrowed from my sister!)
Shoes: Amazon
Scarf (for increased nursing-friendliness): not shown

Are you joining me for the BIG purse dump? Next Tuesday (4/25) I'll open a link-up here which will be open all week.

It's pretty complicated: Dump out your purse, take some photos, link it up.

You may wish to include the following . . .
  • It's my favorite thing in here.
  • Wow, I really have a lot of these.
  • I've been looking for those.
  • Huh. THAT shouldn't be in there.
The fine print (which I'm keeping big so you can read it): NO CHEATING. No early tidying. No funny planted stuff. God is watching you.

Hope to see you there. Happy weekend everyone!