A big difference between effective and ineffective parenting lies in the word ‘persistence.’
My three children were playing with cards contentedly at the dinner table when out of nowhere my oldest starts crying. Now sometimes, when she cries, I dismiss it as an episode of ‘crying wolf.’ This situation was a bit different. Perhaps she could have cried less and maybe she exaggerated a bit, but the tears were genuine. I quickly found out that my two year old full out punched her older sister in the nose. Now she’s a little tike so a full punch for her isn’t too bad.
[Feel free to debate my chosen approach, but remember the main goal here is persistence.]
Sometimes I don’t want to deal with one more fight at home, but then there are times when I remember why an engaged parent is so critical to raising children. When one of my children does something wrong I have them make a statement of what they did wrong and have them ask forgiveness. Now at two years old this needs to be very simplified. So with her I required her to say, “I will not hit.” (In retrospect, this may have been too many words as she’s not quite putting full sentences together quite yet.) However, she refused to say anything and I could see in her little heart a stubbornness that refused to feel remorse. So when my children aren’t being cooperative they go to sit on the stairs to have a little break until they’re ready.
Here is where persistence comes in. She knew she had to go to the stairs, but wouldn’t let me take her. She trotted over there by herself and plopped herself down. After a few seconds she came back and I asked her if she was ready to say, “I will not hit.” She was not so I sent her back to her spot. She willingly trotted back and then a little later came back, but she again was not ready to make her statement. Cute right? However, this happened at least five times, but I’m thinking about eight times. This gets a little frustrating and the temptation is to just give up and move on. Giving up would have significant consequences down the road. Each time you make an expectation of your child, then fail to follow through, it becomes far more difficult in the future. So persist! Persist until the job is done, an expression of remorse is made and relationships are restored.
I did (thankfully!) persist. And it did pay off. She eventually said, “Not hit.” Then our next step is asking forgiveness. For my littlest, this will take some more time to develop, so for now, saying, “Sorry,” and giving a hug is sufficient for me.
So why persist? Because if I didn’t I would have missed out on seeing my children be restored in their relationship, my littlest would have learned that it’s ok to hit and both my girls would have sustained a small little scar in their lifetime relationship. And most, importantly, I would have missed a moment in time to teach my children that when relationships are broken, they can be restored. Doing this leaves a little hint in our home that, apart from Jesus, relationships could never be fully healed.
Persistence leads little ones to Jesus!