Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Disciplining with Faith

In my social media posts, I tend to pick the happier pictures of the family... because
1. it's social media (and it's 90% fake news or at least it only shows a glimpse of what happens 10% of the day) and
2. who even has the mood to pose and take photos when things are bad *tsk*

One of our favorite activities together
Yet amidst the laughter, we have our struggles with our kids. The toughest part of parenting for me, isn't the pregnancy, recovery and breastfeeding (I speak from experience), sitting down and studying with them (it's still painful though), dealing with their tantrums in public (thank God for thick skin) or even dealing with the different styles of raising your kids with your spouse or in laws (no explanation needed). The worse for me is really when one needs to exert discernment in discipling.

You see, disciplining can result in many things... you can have really great outcomes where they listen to you (and we all live happily ever after), when they don't agree with you and defy you (and you don't know what goes on inside their minds) or when you are not even confident if you did the right thing even. So as you can see the majority of disciplining (for me) ends with something... negative, which means chances are after a disciplining session, I might
(a) lose my temper
(b) end up with at least 1 angry kid
(c) end up in tears at night wondering if I could have done things differently

Yesterday was one of the days when I was tested again. We had pledged $12 to a friend's kid's school fundraising campaign the day before which the mister had passed to Julian to place in the donation envelope, but the parents went home that night and told us that they only had the $2 and according to their daughter, Julz had taken $10 and kept it. Knowing how much he's fascinated by money, it is possible that it happened.

Last night, D was out for class and I was home alone with the kids. I asked Julz about the $10 and he told me that he had given to the girl that day and wasn't sure what happened to it subsequently.  After checking with my other kids, they all said the same version and he didn't play with it later. Since the $10 was missing in my house, it's obvious it had to be somewhere at home. Got everyone to look for it, but it was in vain.

I checked with my friend if his daughter could remember where she might last saw it, but no one could (sign that $10 nowadays isn't a big thing). My dear friends, would you trust your child or would you trust otherwise given the lack of evidence?

I made the painful decision of forfeiting $10 from Julz piggy bank. (Remember, this child of mine loves money). Julian cried, not because I asked him to bring down his piggy bank, but because I scolded him. I know this boy of mine isn't the best behaved kid amongst the 4 but when he is wrongly accused, that's his normal reaction. And my mother's instinct told me that (thankfully) he didn't take the money. But I wanted him to know that he needed to pay the price of not doing his job properly. Julian saves $2 each day because he doesn't believe in spending too much in school and he enjoys seeing his money grow, so $10 was probably a big thing for him. When he took the money out and passed me, my heart ached. I was holding back my tears and tried to look away so he won't see any trace of my eyes being wet.

The apology note he wrote
I explained to him that while it may not have been his fault entirely, it was because of his irresponsibility and oversight that got him into this. I think he understood it and a part of me was glad he could be detached enough to let go of his $10 for this.

We sat down that night and I got him to write a note too to the couple friends, because he was rude to them and since he was receptive, why not?
We ended with a hug and a kiss and said the night prayers with the rest of the other kids.

When the mister got home, he told me he would have waived the $10 but I disagreed. My argument is that, unlike God, we cannot be around all the time to get him out of situations like these. But we did agree to reimburse him on a later date on a separate occasion.

Everything seemed fine, but I went to bed with a heavy heart. If it was the right thing to do, why would my heart feel the ache? Parenting is never for the weak hearted and our views and decisions made can never be perfect, but as a catholic, the only consolation is I can always turn to the Perfect one who probably has tonnes of experience coping with disciplining... from afar.

A priest friend once told me that God has by far the greatest experience of dealing with children who defy and walk away from Him. He has also felt the greatest pain of sending His innocent child to die on the cross for the greatest sinner amongst us... (Think Hitler and whoever). But I suppose I'm luckier than Him since I can physically hug and kiss my child and remind him I still love him and not leave it to "faith".

You may not agree with how I handled it, and I don't claim to be an expert on disciplining kids even though I have 4 (and soon 5).

I shared before in my social media post that one of the blessings of having kids is the fact I'm seen more on bended knees before the cross, became more humble and more human. The best thing I could do last night was to go to bed, and pray that even if I didn't get the gift of wisdom, I hoped that my kids got the gift of understanding...

I hope God answered that. :)

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