Good Question

Posted on November 6, 2008 · Posted in Discipline, Parenting

Fathers, do not exasperate your children;
instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians
6:4

Comment from Rob:
I appreciate your ministry. Thanks for calling on Dads to be Dads. I have a
question regarding discipline. I come from a family that has severely strained
relationships on all fronts. Mom vs. Dad, kids vs. parents, everyone vs.
everyone. When I came to Christ my relationships improved, but the strain is
still there and my wife and I are working on that. This strain is what makes
the following situation difficult. We have a 19 month old son and when we visit
my parents, he needs to be corrected. Correcting him is no problem for my wife
and me, but my mom will yell at him sometimes over us while we are correcting
him, or before we can get there to correct. She also will grab him and say
"Bad Boy" before we can get there. I love my mom and to her credit my
brother and his girlfriend have let her discipline their kids (12 and 8), so
this is how it works for them. I am not comfortable with the situation. I think
discipline needs to fall in my court when I am around. She should just enjoy
being a Grandma. The reason I haven't said anything to her is because of the
strained relationships and the fact that my brother has set a kind of norm for
how Grandma acts. How can I deal with this situation in love and not offend
needlessly? My mom is in a Bible Study with us…I want her to meet Jesus. Any
help or resources I can look into would be greatly appreciated.

Rob, thanks for your comment, question and encouragement.
You are correct when you say discipline is the responsibility of the parents,
particularly the father. You are also
right in not wanting to offend unnecessarily. I would suggest you start by having
a conversation with your mom explaining that you want to use the Bible as your
guide in raising your son, and that means you have a particular way you want to
handle discipline.  You could mention
that you realize your approach is different from your brother's, and that is a
bit awkward for you.  Assure her that you
appreciate her desire to help, and acknowledge her years of parenting
experience, but lovingly tell her that you believe it is your God-given
responsibility to discipline your children.

Your son is getting strongly mixed messages about his
behavior. This is not a good thing for him. You can appeal to her that it is
not good for children to have radically different methods of discipline applied
to them. You can tell her that this is part of what it means to be a Christian
parent. Your words to her should be gentle, but firm and clear. If you are
uneasy or abrupt in the way you tell her, then you will be giving her a mixed
message. You want to follow the model of Proverbs 16:20-24 and use pleasant,
respectful words with you speak to your mom about this. Being pleasant, clear,
respectful, and gentle with her may  defuse
concerns she may have. Speak to her privately, before any occasion where she
would “jump in” happens. She probably thinks she  is helping you; remember, it's hard for your
mother to stop “mothering” you by showing you how to be a parent. But what you
can say is that God, in the Bible, has given this responsibility to you. Then,
when you are with her it would be wise to stay in close proximity to your son,
just in case she acts out of habit.

It is also possible that she may not respond well to your
request. If this happens, reassure her of your appreciation for her, but remind
her that before God this is a responsibility that you must retain. If she
refuses to honor your request, then you may have to limit her exposure to your
child. Lord willing, it won’t come to that. If you and your wife are gentle,
appreciative, and firm, and if you stay close to your son when you are with
your mom, then things may work out just fine. Of course, you want to pray and
ask God to bless your efforts to talk with your mom about this subject. Your
demeanor can make a world of difference. This may also be a good testimony to
your brother. By honoring God in this way, you will also help her to see what
it means to follow Christ. This may actually drawer her closer to coming to Christ
than if you allow things to go on as they are.  Let me know how it works out

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