My favourite part of the world cup was the vanishing spray (yes I’m being serious). The use of this spray is genius! At a free kick the referee marks out a line that opposing players have to stand behind. The rules state that you have to stand a certain distance from the ball but anyone who has watched football knows that players rarely do keep their distance. The rules haven’t changed, but there is now a line to remind you where you should be.
Good parenting requires boundaries. Children will feel more loved and secure as they grow up if they have boundaries but children will also test and challenge any boundaries that are given to them. We parents usually say we have boundaries and rules but when our angelic offspring break them what do we do? It’s very easy to turn a blind eye or to become forgetful but if we don’t enforce boundaries then our children will always be in charge.
I’m not an advocate of harshness, shouting or smacking. None of these are always wrong if used in the right way at the right time, it’s just that I believe that positive parenting is better. The vanishing spray is positive refereeing. The line is drawn as a friendly reminder not to cross it and mostly in the matches I watched it actually worked. I wonder what the equivalent of vanishing spray is for parents? How do we remind our children what the rules are?
Children respond better to reality than to philosophy. Just watching our children and heading off trouble is the best way to reinforce the rules. Often I fail as a parent because I’m trying to do too many other things in the same room as my children rather than parenting them. When I don’t give my children my attention they are more likely to kick off or to actually kick each other. Engaging with them and spotting things going wrong at an early stage means you can intervene with a simple word or two, preferably quietly and discreetly.
Engaging positively is also important. Do you mainly speak negatively or positively to your children? No, don’t do that, stop biting your brother, put your sister down etc? If you are having a really hard time with a child, then do something fun with them and praise them as you have fun together.
Helping older children understand why a boundary is there is also helpful. Why is GTA V a game that will damage your child’s view of the world and other people? Do you know the answer to this question if you have told your child that they can’t play it? Have you discussed it with them rather than saying just saying no?
Boundaries are important for children but they are also important for all of us. What gives you your values? For me it’s the truth I find in the Bible which is primarily expressed in the commands to love God and to love each other.
Have you ever given the Bible a chance? If not why not read Marks gospel (you can read it online here) and see what Jesus taught. I really believe that what Jesus said makes sense.