It Begins In Your Mind

Parenting is hard work. I’m probably preaching to the choir with that statement. If you’re a parent you know parenting demands time and energy and money…and often more than we ever knew we had. But, did you know parenting begins in your mind? How we think about our children and our role as parents plays a tremendous impact on how we parent. It can make parenting more difficult or it can make parenting more enjoyable. For instance, do you think of parenting as being a shepherd or guard? Consider the differences.

  • A guard mentality thinks of children as prone to bad behavior. They expect children to misbehave and act disrespectfully. Shepherds, on the other hand, believe children desire the security of knowing they are accepted and safe within a caring relationship. They see misbehavior as communication of some need or fear, perhaps a feeling of insecurity within the relationship.
  • A guard focuses on maintaining the rules. They fear grave consequences if those rules are broken. As a result, the guard maintains a position of authority over their children. A shepherd focuses on meeting the needs of their children. Although they maintain a position of authority, that authority is based on relationship.
  • Guards discipline from a foundation of punishment, often with a harsh tone of voice. Shepherds discipline from a foundation of relationship and concern. Their voice is familiar and welcome in times of enjoyment and times of discipline.
  • Guards maintain order through fear of punishment. Shepherds maintain order through loving structure which provides security and safety.
  • Guards focus on making sure everyone knows the rules. They know the rules inside out and expect everyone to know them as well. Shepherds focus on knowing the people under their care. They know their interests, vulnerabilities, strengths, and weaknesses.
  • Guards expect compliance. When compliance does not happen, they have the philosophy that “they made their beds let them lie in them.” “They get what they deserve.” Shepherds sacrifice for those in their care. They show a grace that teaches better behavior and restores relationship. They focus on the emotional connections that strengthen and sense of belonging that nurtures growth.
  • Guards push those under their supervision to complete, unthinking compliance. They demand obedience. Shepherds walk ahead to lead those for whom they care into “paths of righteousness.” Shepherds lead by example.

You can imagine the impact these thinking styles can have on how you interact with and discipline your children. Which style of thinking best describes your parenting?

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