It is essential to understand the big picture of parenting before we jump into the day to day job of parenting. The big picture should coordinate our parenting actions, it tells us which are the big rocks I need to deal with and what are the small rocks that may irritate us but aren’t that important. At its highest level, parenting is about helping our children to adopt a God-given belief system that will guide their behaviors. Satan is the Father of Lies who deceives us into thinking untruths of God and ourselves. Jesus Christ is the truth and He calls us know who God really is and who we are as his children. Remember in the Garden, Satan lied to Eve about God’s motivations, about her needs and the rewards of disobeying God. That battle is fought in our minds before it shows up in our behavior.
But there is a big difference between knowing the truth of God and believing the truth of God. We are often fooled into thinking that ‘knowing’ and ‘believing’ are the same thing – they’re not! You can recite what you have memorized from the scriptures and that tells us we know that verse(s) but it is not a belief until it drives our behaviors. A belief has the element of ‘trust’ that gives us the security to change how we live.
So as parents we are most concerned (big rock) about the beliefs our children or grandchildren are learning to trust. Their behaviors will lead us to see what are the beliefs that have captured their hearts and minds. The root of all repetitive behavior is a belief that we trust, it creates an attitude in our world of emotions and that culminates in behavior.
A valuable exercise is to list the exceptionally good and bad behaviors of each child. This would only include behaviors that are repetitive. Then see if you can figure out the belief(s) at the root of each behavior and the attitude it creates in your child. The deepest beliefs do not come from mental wrestling that resulted in a conclusion. But they come from a life experience where the belief is embraced emotionally without being conscientiously examined. So often the child has not even expressed the belief with words. An example: a child that is always being compared to a sibling with better behavior might hold the belief that they are defective and are a disappointment to their parents. That might create hostile behaviors toward that sibling or unexplained anger toward the parents. But be assured all repetitive behavior has a belief fueling it.
If we follow a model of parenting that is reactive, we will deal mostly with just behaviors. That leaves the belief unchallenged so even if we stop a particular behavior, the belief will be express through other behaviors.
The picture of the seedling with ‘parenting under it’or the Sadler video clip of parenting.
It is not us, but our children that develop our parenting plan. They are not mature enough to develop a good parenting plan – but we succeed to their plan most of the time anyway. Listen to that – we are letting our children own the parenting plan. Here is an observation that comes from many interactions with families. “Whatever the child is doing that causes a problem with my expectations of how family should work, gets my focus and attention.” The same is true for school and neighborhood.