Raising a strong-willed child ain't no crystal stair. I imagine spanking some fear ino him might work to get him under control, but hitting just isn't a natural reaction for me so I don't do it. It's not deeper than that. Also, I'm sure I dont want a kid who governs himself based on fear. Now that I'm homeschooling Zack, I spend a lot more time googling for articles on how to manage. He is five now. I keep hearing that is a magical, transformative year for children. I'm seeing glimmers of him maturing, but we have about three quarters of a year left to see some magic and transformation.
I ran across this great one by Dr. Laura Markham on how to raise a self-disciplined child called Parenting Your Strong-Willed Child. It's very informative and affirming to me. I particularly like what she says about obedience:
"Strong-willed kids feel their integrity is compromised if they're forced to submit to a parent's will. And, really, you don't WANT to raise an obedient child. Morality is doing what's right, no matter what you're told. Obedience is doing what you're told, no matter what's right.
Of course you want your child to do what you say. But not because he is obedient, meaning he always does what someone bigger tells him. No, you want him to do what you say because he trusts YOU, because you are the parent and have his best interests at heart. You want to raise a child who has self-discipline, takes responsibility, and is considerate -- and most important, has the discernment to figure out when to trust and be influenced by someone else."
Ephesians 6:1 was the first bible verse I memorized and it was read to me ceremoniously before I received a beating of love for being disobedient. Whether that is responsible for me being as close as you're gonna find to a "good girl" my whole childhood, or whether that's just who I am naturally, I'll never know. But I do know I felt then and now that that was some twisted stuff. I do know that I was and am loved beyond measure though, because of the words and everyday actions more that the hitting. Coming from a culture that sees corporal punishment as a natural and necessary and even biblically required part of parenting, articles like these, about positive outcomes of positive parenting, help assuage the guilt I have over not being a parent who spanks my kid. Yes, guilt. Spare the rod, spoil the child is not just a saying in my world. It is believed that discipline is synonymous with hitting, and if you don't hit your child, you don't love them. That message is such a part of my fiber that I do feel a bit of guilt. Don't I love my child? Does he know how much I love him? Will he resent me for not hitting him one day? My heart knows that it's the boundaries and discipline and loving treatment that convey how much I care, but because of where I'm from, my brain has questions. I digress.
It's week two of homeschooling! My son goes to Spanish Immersion school twice a week and is home the other three days. He still has soccer, swimming and piano and this is how things will be until second grade. By then, hopefully, we'll both be ready for him to move on to another full-time school environment. We're doing pretty good right now. Now that he can read his own books, I use losing bedtime reading time as leverage for good behavior and it's like his Super-Stubborn Boy kryptonite. I think he's starting to learn that it's a lot easier to just embrace his boundaries and enjoy his freedom-when he gets it. Today was the first day that we haven't clashed. Spending so much time together with so much to accomplish everyday, I think we're both learning how awesome our days can be when we practice patience and mutual respect.
My adventures in homeschooling continue. We have another weekend of Austin theatre fun, and Monday, we're back to it.