Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Parent's Serenity Prayer

You may have heard the "Serenity Prayer":
God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
The courage to change the things that I can;
And the wisdom to know the difference.

-Reinhold Niebuhr

I've got my own version, for parents:

God, grant me the serenity
To accept my kids' natural temperaments,
The courage to lovingly discipline their bad attitudes,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

I want to respect my kids' natural temperaments. Yet I also want to be able to lovingly correct them when they are disrespectful. When they grow up and have careers, I want them to be free to be creative, yet kind enough to work well with others.

Yesterday Chickie wanted gum, and when I told her no, but that I might give her some later, she threw a fit. I told her because of her attitude, she couldn't have gum the rest of the morning. (That definitely didn't immediately change her attitude, but it did get the message across.)

Later she was getting dressed--and getting frustrated. She didn't want help but couldn't figure out how to get her shirt on right. She got pretty upset, crying angrily. I didn't offer any correction or discipline for that; I kept offering to help when she wanted help, and empathizing with her frustration. Finally she was ready to let me help her.

In the second situation, I respected her temperament--her independence and desire to figure things out, which leads to frustration when she has difficulty. (I can't expect her to perfectly handle frustration, especially at this age!) But in the first situation, her independence turned to sass--and that wasn't respectful. It called for a bit of rational discipline.

Those situations weren't too tough to deal with--but I know that being able to tell the difference between temperament and bad attitude is not always that easy. And as the kids get older, I bet it will get even harder.

So, God, please grant me serenity. Grant me courage. And grant me wisdom. I need it--every day.


Call Me Cate said...

I really like this post. I can see how it would be hard to discern where to let the children struggle, where to help, where to encourage, where to discipline. Chickie's independence is a wonderful thing (most of the time, I suspect) - I wish my own had not been so squashed.

Our Scoop said...

Love this. Perfectly said. Amen!

Heidi said...

PERFECTLY SAID!!!! Have you read Grace Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel? It's an AMAZING book. We went to an all-day workshop he was holding here (at the church he attends, which is where the friends who invited us also go). I highly recommend it . . . you've summed up a lot of the book just in your prayer!

Mellodee said...

The hardest lesson for me to learn as a parent was to give my daughter what SHE needed, NOT what I needed when I was growing up! Some of that I didn't learn until she was almost grown!!

SurvivorBlessing said...

Sounds like my day today!!!

Heidi said...

Because I have been struggling so much with my patience lately, as I deal with my two toddlers, I posted this on my FB because I think other parents can relate

Janell said...

Great post. We've had quite a bit of three year old raging lately, and reading this has been a good reminder that some of it is just frustration and I need to respond (or not respond) appropriately to that.