There are, literally, hundreds of ways to “discipline” a child.
I plan to write about many of them.
But before I do, let me write about a recent concept I’ve come across that will come alongside whatever form of discipline you choose and will undoubtedly benefit your child.
It’s called “tying heartstrings”, and it resonated with me the moment I first heard of it. It’s the piece that sometimes feels missing from my relationship with my almost-2-year-old. I believe that it’s the reason why certain friends of mine were spanked or slapped or otherwise “disciplined” harshly, but they still enjoyed their parents.
The idea comes from a book called To Train Up a Child by Michael Pearl. I haven’t yet read this book, but I plan to; and I’m not planning on liking it. These guys believe in ha-a-a-arsh discipline for babies much younger than mine, and I don’t think I’ll ever agree with it. BUT, I still want to learn from them what I can.
So, back to tying heartstrings. The idea is this: the discipline you provide for your child will feel like a downright betrayal if you haven’t also “tied strings” with that child. Tying strings builds a positive relationship which will help discipline to make sense to your child. It’s all those little moments of emotional connection that make discipline feel like love rather than hate.
It’s the kisses, the gentle smiles, the reflective talk. It’s the bedtime stories, and the lingering hugs. It’s the aspect of your relationship in which you reflect the love of the Father most acutely. It’s when you feel overcome with love…and you show it.
Hopefully, this doesn’t seem like mind-blowing advice. Of course these things are important!
But what caught my attention is the image they create and the simplicity of it.
You see, at times building a positive relationship with a toddler while also teaching him how to act appropriately feels impossible! But the idea is that each little positive moment that I can squeeze in will tie a string between us, and as those strings pile up in our memories, our bond becomes unbreakable.
Because let’s be honest, there will be freak-outs. I will lose my temper, he will lose his. I will make mistakes; he will yell a time or a hundred. I will fail to reflect the love that God has for my little people, and he will fail to accept my love.
But those strings between us will make it seem like the failures are the anomaly rather than the rule. The rule, the norm, will be emotional closeness and an exchange of love. Because when I’m open to it, Holy Spirit can lead me through HIS love to show MY love in all kinds of little ways, even in the midst of a day that may feel emotionally ruined, and even when I may not be feeling all that lovey. Some days will be wrought with difficulty and we’ll struggle to understand each other, but I can still give a little hug, a secret smile, or an empathetic look, to tie a string in between the chaos.
I can tie little strings because they’re just that–little. So even if the day overall seems irredeemable, there can be a handful of positive memories that will help build the foundation of our relationship. And that make him want to listen to my guidance.
And in a less dramatic day, where things are moderate but tinged with tension, tying strings wherever I can will get us through the muck and keep us close so that tomorrow our relationship can start afresh, built upon the strings of yesterday.