Friday, July 18, 2014

A Lesson in Parenting: A Broken Window

**A Disclaimer: I am in NO way claiming to have all the answers (for darn sure!) on parenting, I'm just sharing some things that these crazy kids are teaching me about myself and my parenting style, and how we roll around here.**

A few days ago, this happened...

Ohhh, why do my best lessons in parenting come from Grady? I had told him that he could not come inside the house until he had cleaned up the mess he made on the back porch. The girls were quietly playing on the floor of the playroom, surrounded by Barbies, and Barbie shoes, and Barbie cars and clothing. He tried to convince the girls to open the window and help him climb in. When they refused and then ignored him, he picked up a rock and threw it at the window in anger. The glass popped, and flew in little pieces all around the girls. 

The moment it happened, Grady burst into tears and hid behind the house. I picked the girls straight up out of the mess, and carried them out of the room. And then I walked outside. Grady came running out from behind the house, sobbing. "I'm so sorry, mama. I'm so sorry." I told him to sit down on the chair and wait, and then I walked back inside... and started laughing. Oh, I laughed and laughed, and shook my head. It was one of those "you have GOT to be kidding me!" moments. My eighteen year old cousin stood there staring at me with big huge wide blue eyes. My girls were shocked and horrified at the injustice of it all. And I literally laughed out loud (but of course my son did not see me!).

To be very honest, I don't think he actually knew that the glass would break like that, and I think it surprised and scared him. None-the-less, I brought him in, without any yelling (or laughing), gave him a box and he cleaned up the glass, and then vacuumed the room. We covered the window and then he went back outside to clean up the original mess on the back porch. 

That evening when Bryan got home from work, they measured the window, grabbed Grady's wallet and the two of them went to Ace. Grady had been saving his spending money to buy a plastic pool for the backyard, but instead he spent all of his money on a replacing the window he had broken. 

We try to make our children's consequences as close to "real life" consequences as possible. So when Grady breaks a window, he does what I would do in the same situation.  I would clean up the glass being sure to shake the glass out of Barbie's hair, then go to the store and buy a replacement with my hard earned money.

I didn't need to yell, or berate, or spank, or take the offense personally. The lesson was learned. Getting mad and throwing a rock in anger didn't solve anything. He still had to clean up the outside mess before he could come in. Also, throwing a rock at a window is not a good choice, because the consequences of that action just plain stink. 

Choosing to discipline this way lets me relax, because the choices these children make are their own. And the results that follow are their own as well. While it does take a little thought to think of appropriate consequences to follow, I don't have to feel guilty later for the way I behaved or reacted, or how hard I spanked or about what I said in anger. I don't have to get angry at all, and an actual lesson about how real life works is taught. It's a beautiful thing. And it works for us.

And while what works for us, might not work for you, or for your children, I want to encourage you to stretch beyond spanks and timeouts, and aim to teach your children about reality through real life experiences. God has given us a wonderful example of a Father's love, one full of grace and second chances, but also of justice and absolutes. As parents we have a wonderful opportunity to teach our children and mold them in the way they were created by God to be. They are fearfully and wonderfully made, and it's important to remember that while standing in the middle of broken glass.

Happy Saturday to ya, have a great weekend!

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