The other day I was at Aldi (a grocery store, for future reference) when I saw myself reflected in another mother. This mother was obviously stressed and speaking sharply at her 9ish and 12ish -year old daughters. They were "helping" and making things take two and three times as long by taking things off the shelf that the mother didn't want and she'd have to put it back etc. It happens all the time with every child, and every parent understands the annoyance (luckily my kids put M&Ms in the cart and then I say "ooo! good idea" lol).
Perhaps this mother was under an unusual time crunch or just needed to pee (heehee, I've been there!). Her girls took her shortness in stride acting very accustomed to her sharpness of tone. But the whole scene made me feel sorry for the mother and ashamed of the times I spoke harshly to my own boys. Especially this made me feel bad because my boys are 2 and 3 years old and not 9 and 12.
I am a very lazy parent, which is only exasperated by the constant fatigue of pregnancy. And I have decided that I don't want to be this mother in ten years. I'd rather have my boys fill my cart with items I have to then return to the shelf than to speak to them in a manner so condescending (this mother didn't say anything mean to her kids; it was all in her tone). I wouldn't speak to an adult that way (except my husband, and now that I realize that, I'll have to work on that too) no matter how troublesome they were being so I shouldn't speak to my child that way either.
Do I want to discipline my children or punish them? Discipline takes time and effort and is not for the lazy parent. Punishing a child for acting like a child is easy and simple: just yell or hit. (I do believe there exist the possibility of spanking in an appropriate setting; but I also believe that usually parents are just punishing instead of disciplining when they do spank. This is an entire different subject and I don't feel like getting into it. Chances are you have already made up your mind one way or another, anyway.)
I like to explain myself to my kids. Even if they don't understand it trains them to know that they deserve to be treated like a person and it trains me to see them as a human-being and not just the larva stage of becoming a human.
10 Commandments for Parents: Forsaking All Others. That was icing on the cake, as the saying goes. What commitment do we make to our children? We are in covenant with our spouses. But we don't even have a contract with our children. Perhaps some kind of ceremony is in order. I don't know what my husband would think of that. I don't think our children need to be committed to us in the way that we should be committed to them. They have "honor your father and mother" and I have witnessed that as long as parents do a good job, their children will honor them. But if parents are embarrassed by their children then the children will respond to that.
Do I value other adults and their opinions above my children?
Do I value whatever activity I'm doing more than my children?
What has God called me to do?