Parenting is hard. Is that the most obvious sentence ever?
There are always so many things we could be doing differently. You could be the mom who dresses her kids in adorable and trendy outfits, you could be teaching the children's catechism or doing lots of crafts, you could be making menu plans full of hidden veggies and high-protein no-bake cookies, or you could be taking them to a variety of sports activities throughout the week.
That’s only scratching the surface of the choices that we have as moms. Even harder questions arise when we are dealing with how we discipline our kids. Tantrums, talking back, fighting, complaining - just thinking about how these are often handled at your house may send you into hiding with some chocolate in the bathroom.
Sara Wallace, in her new book For the Love of Discipline, knows there isn’t a simple answer to our parenting problems. She knows it’s hard work that we can only do with the work of the Holy Spirit because of what Jesus has done for us. She writes to come alongside us and share some of her wisdom like the friend and mentor we all want in our lives. Sara has been blogging at Gospel-Centered Mom for years and always has some of the most helpful God-glorifying tips for moms. When she writes something, I usually try it.
In this new book, Sara shares a refreshing balance of theory and practicality that is truly gospel-centered, recognizing the goal of our discipline and parenting is to show our kids their Savior over and over again. Isn’t that what we truly want to mark our parenting? Discipline is so much more than just a tool for survival in raising children.
Part one of the book dives into the “Why” of discipline and this gospel-centered parenting with real-life examples, encouragement, and Biblical truths.
Just to share one example, I really appreciated her insight on how we can help our kids learn to stand in awe of God by addressing their fears.
She contrasts Man-centered awe (“You don’t have to be afraid of the dark because the bathroom light is on and Mom and Dad are right around the corner.”) with God-centered awe (“You don’t have to be afraid of the dark because God can see in the dark and he can see you. He made the darkness, and nothing scary can hide from God.”).
After giving two more relevant examples, she writes, “You can see how it would be perfectly appropriate to use both answers to comfort our kids. But, while the world stops at the first, we have the amazing privilege of offering our kids an even deeper comfort.”
As a homeschooling mom of five boys ages 8 and under, she has been blessed with a wisdom for parenting that is obvious as she writes but she has also done the work to explore what that all means from which we can benefit in this book.
Part two then gets into the “How” of discipline. Sara gives examples and the reasoning behind how things operate in her house for tantrums, sibling fights, hearing “no” from a child, and many of the other daily occurrences that come with raising little kids.
You could easily pick one of her strategies to implement in your home this week. Sara is writing during a time when the reality of five little boys is fresh in daily life and so she is sharing what is really working for her in this season. She admits it isn’t always perfect, which is helpful because we know she’s being honest.
I especially appreciated (and have been implementing) her explanation on how she simplifies a larger concept (so over time teaching what it means to have good communication skills - no screaming or whining, being polite even when someone is bothering you, asking nicely, etc.) into a small phrases (like “Use your words”). This way instead of needing to give a lecture each time, you can just use this small phrase that Sara calls a “word bundle” to help your kids. It’s hard work in the beginning (and you'll obviously need to re-visit them) but it's worth it. Check out chapter 9 in the book for a much fuller description.
I strongly believe there is no one-size-fits-all approach for raising kids. There are too many options and personalities of both kids and parents. I really appreciate Sara’s writing and desire to help other parents point our kids to Jesus. If you have young children and want to do this kind of gospel-centered parenting, I think you would definitely benefit from this book.