I've noticed that us women who have struggles with anger, frustration, and impatience in our parenting seem to have one common refrain, "I know they need consistent discipline, but I just don't have the energy for that right now."
I have said it. I have heard others say it and nodded and "mmm-hmmm"ed my understanding. Today, I am compelled to call it what it is: bullcrap! (Yes, I said that on here!) The fact is, believing that I am too tired (or too ill, old, alone, worn out, beaten down, abused, hurt, whatever) to actively parent is - for most of us - buying into a lie straight from the pit of hell. (Here is where I will insert the caveat that I am referring to the general population of mothers, not to those who are in the throes of critical illness or family tragedy. In those instances, I have no doubt that "I can't handle it," is the absolute truth. These are the circumstances where family, friends, and especially the church must step in and help.)
If I am nitty-gritty honest, when I say "I just can't do it anymore! I'm so tired," what I really mean is: I am too selfish, I am too lazy, I am too busy. Too selfish to set my own agenda aside, to stop what I am doing, to focus on child-training. Too lazy to get up from the couch/office chair or walk into the next room in order to exact discipline. Too busy with my stuff (housework, ministry, writing - ahem) to take a break from the task at hand in favour of raising good people.
Funny thing is, my selfishness, laziness, and business ultimately create more work, cause me to expend more energy, and take up more time than active parenting. By being selfish, lazy, and busy, I am leadiong my children to be needy and demanding. "Mooooom, will you/ can you/ I need/ I want!" When I am doing my own thing too often, the kids will do what they can to garner my attention. Attention-seeking children can quickly turn into patience-sucking monsters, and next thing I know I am bellering at the top of my lungs in hopes of regaining control.
Out-of-control children = out-of-control mommy. But as James Dobson says, "Trying to control children by screaming is as utterly futile as trying to steer a car by honking the horn."*
So, how does one find the energy to dive wholeheartedly into the murky waters of active parenting, immediate discipline, and an in-control household? Well, I'm working on that! I'd love to hear the strategies you use, both for training your children AND for motivating yourself. What works in your home?
* Dr James Dobson, The New Dare to Discipline, pp.36