Raising Happy Kids is Not the Ultimate Goal

I had just sent both of my sons to their rooms for arguing with each other and being unkind. Big brother refused to share his trading cards with little brother. Little brother rewarded his big brother with a bite on the hand in order to prove there is more than way to get what you want. If at first you ask nicely and don't succeed, resort to physical assault. Hmmmm... not the virtue I am trying to teach them. Trading cards were put away for the rest of the evening and the boys sat on their beds pouting and blaming the other. And while this incident was small compared to some of the other things they have been disciplined for, it still hurts my heart when I have to punish them. And it hurts my heart even more when I have to let them reap the consequences of their bad choices. 

In a world where helicopter parents hover over their children waiting to swoop down and rescue them the moment that they sense danger or trouble, I cringe when I see parents refuse to do the right thing and just discipline their child. There comes a time when warnings have been given, negotiations are finished, and children are waiting to see if we really mean what we say. At this moment we have to decide, am I more interested in seeing my child happy and disobedient or momentarily unhappy and disciplined? It is hard. So so hard to make the right choice. 

But parenting is full of situations where I make a choice to do the right thing, not the easiest. 

And please hear me, I am not saying I am an expert on parenting or know how to raise a great child in five easy steps. I've made plenty of missteps as a parent and I've got a long way to go on my parenting journey. However, by and far I see more parents who either don't want to or don't know how to discipline their children and raising happy children has become their ultimate goal. 

We are more concerned with them being Comfortable than with us being Uncomfortable. 

Trust me - I know that letting your child feel the consequence of their choice is an extremely painful and difficult moment. I can remember exactly the moment that each one of my children responded to me in a willful and disobedient manner for the first time. My oldest received his first spanking after being told repeatedly not to pull the plug out of the wall. My second born received his first one in the bathtub after being told not to pour any more water onto the floor. My third received her first one after refusing to sit down to drink her milk and promptly threw it across the kitchen floor. In each one of these situations they were all under age 2 and my heart ached as I realized we were transitioning from a sweet, happy, precious baby into sweet, happy, precious and willful children. And after each one was disciplined and cried like their heart was broken, I scooped them up and hugged them and told them I loved them. 

Because I love my children too much not to discipline them and I won't make excuses for their bad behaviors. 

Yes all children get overtired, irritable, cranky, hungry, or overstimulated yet it is not an excuse. They still get disciplined for bad choices, my heart still aches for them, and they are loved afterwards and reminded of the rules. 

There is a hierarchy of authority in our household and our children know it. We have a lot of fun together, we talk, we cuddle, and we have boundaries. Yelling at each other is not tolerated. Talking in a rude or disrespectful manner is a big no-no. Being bossy or sassy with an adult, oh heaven help the child who does this. Yet we have a home with pretty happy kids, who know the rules, understand the boundaries, and know that they are loved unconditionally. A loving parent always disciplines their child because it is the example our heavenly Father set for us. 

Keep in mind that the Lord your God has been disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son. So keep the commands of the Lord your God by walking in His ways and fearing Him. (Deuteronomy 8:5-6)

For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, just as a father, the son he delights in. (Proverbs 3:11)

No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11)

Discipline is not something we react to, it is something we prepare ourselves for. Since we have established rules and our children understand authority, a by product of that result is happiness, peace, and joy in our home. Now we certainly have days when things get chaotic, and I am counting down the moments until bed time, but in between the spilled milk and temper tantrums, we are teaching our children moment by moment how much they are loved because they are ours but more importantly they are His. 

Not too long ago I was having a moment with my son and reminded him of something I learned early on in my parenting years, "Honey, if you can't learn to obey your dad and I who you can see, how can you ever learn to obey your heavenly Father who you can't see." 

This parenting thing is so much bigger than me. In the moments when I feel like an utter failure, I am reminded of this truth. Our heavenly Father is a perfect parent yet even His own children disobey Him. Not because we don't love Him but because we are willful and stubborn sometimes (well a lot of the time.) 

Raising happy children is not the ultimate goal. Raising children who learn to love and serve the Lord with all their, hearts, mind, and soul in whatever they do, is our only goal. 


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