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Friday, October 28, 2016

"Discipline That Connects With Your Child's Heart" (Jim & Lynne Jackson)

TITLE: Discipline That Connects With Your Child's Heart: Building Faith, Wisdom, and Character in the Messes of Daily Life
AUTHOR: Jim & Lynne Jackson
PUBLISHER: Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2016, (320 pages).

Parenting is tough. Dealing with kids with particular challenges can increase this difficulty a couple of notches. How can overwhelmed parents cope with the flurry of active growing children? Recognizing the challenges and frustrations of modern parenting, authors Jim and Lynne Jackson shares out of their over twenty years of experience that discipline can be wise and gentle. This is made better if we can indeed connect with the heart of the child. The way to do this is to remember and to practice the four actions and four messages.
  1. Foundation: "You are SAFE with me,"
  2. Connect: "You are LOVED no matter what."
  3. Coach: "You are CALLED and CAPABLE."
  4. Correct:  "You are RESPONSIBLE for your actions."
The foundational message is important for the entire book, that the child feels safe with the parents. In order to reach the heart, parenting must be based on love, that engaging the misbehavior must also be accompanied by affirmation of the child's identity. Putting it another way, discipline not out to control but out to condition a child. Discipline a child not out of our own baggage of problems. Recognize our own weaknesses and emotional struggles and not let that become reasons to take out our frustrations on our kids. Learn to be a calmer parent through trust in God's Word and obedience even to instructions that we don't like. "Slow, low, and listen" are some practical steps to take when preparing to discipline a child. Learn to parent out of a relationship with God and God's love.

Following these foundational chapters, we move on to the three stages of Connecting; Coaching; and Correcting. In "Connecting," we affirm the child with our love regardless of what the child had done. See misbehavior as moments for affirming our unconditional love. This calls for appropriate timing for any form of discipline. Loving a child cannot be done only when in good times. It needs to be demonstrated at ALL times. This is how unconditional love can be powerfully shown. Recognize the connection between fear and anger and replace it with self-control and a gentle trust in God.

In "Coaching," we are encouraged to find opportunities to build positives at all times. This means learning to look beyond the surface of any misbehavior. Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all solutions. Aim for long-term goals and motivation, and align that with God's kingdom focus. Recognize the hidden gifts of children and help them discover and develop them. By identifying the use of proper words, planning a discipline strategy, considering the natural impacts, and delaying gratification, and learning how to deal with the twelve common misbehaviors like (talking back; yelling; stubbornness; strong-willed; lying; stealing; irritable; insecure; impulsive; whining; complaining; and defensive). There is a suggested response to each of these misbehaviors which parents in general would find helpful.

In "Correcting," we come back to the biblical principle of discipline, which is to restore the person. Help children to learn from the natural process, to enable them to find solutions to their own problems instead of parents giving them all the answers. Being safe is not only about physical but very much emotional and spiritual. Through rebuilding, reconciliation, and restoration, the path of correction will be more helpful for the child in the long run.

So What?
This book powerfully structures the key thesis of enabling children to feel safe with their parents, regardless of what happens. Through the processes of connecting, coaching, and correcting, the relationship between parents and children is anchored on a firm and strong foundation of love. The Jacksons make it a constant effort to point readers back to the Source of Love: God. Every chapter is written with a practical application in mind. Explanations are kept simple and vibrant through many real-life examples of parenting difficulties. They encourage readers to do a personal response at the end of each chapter so that the concepts can be internalized and applied where possible. I enjoy the part about "Kid Connection" which offers case examples and illustrations that would encourage parents to do something.

As the book is written from a Western or North American perspective, we should not be too quick to assume that it can be applied to all cultures. Readers will still have to contextualize their own understanding of their cultures using the book as a guide. The key motivation is to be connected with our children. This means learning to connect as parents to God, our Spiritual Parent. As we enjoy the way God loves us, we can take a leaf of God's attributes of benevolence, love, patience, and self-sacrifice, and to bless our children accordingly. This book indeed is a gift to help us do more of that.

Authors Jim and Lynne Jackson are founders of "Connected Families" ministry based in Minnesota. They coach parents, conduct seminars, and engage online regularly. They are parents to three children and ministers out of their over twenty years of experience and knowledge.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book has been provided courtesy of Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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