By Alicia LaCasse
I believe my parents did their best to love and raise my brothers and me, and I really do think we turned out pretty great. That said, even before I became a mother I knew I wanted to discipline and make decisions differently than my parents.
When I was a kid, it seemed my mom was the decision-maker and disciplinarian, and my dad didn’t have much of an opinion. He didn’t spank and didn’t really yell much. The stock answer to, “Dad can I…?” was usually, “Go ask your ma.” Generally, as long as we let him watch Andy Griffith and stayed out of his hair, it seemed we never heard much from my dad at all.
There were other times that I recall my mom saying, “No,” and my dad saying, “Yes.” I didn’t see them working together to make decisions, and remember feeling the tension between my parents when it came to us kids. It seemed like a parenting partnership was a struggle for them. Because of this, there were times when our family felt disjointed. As kids, we played one parent against the other and behaved as if getting our own way was more important than how anyone else felt. We often felt insecure and made a lot of mistakes that upset our parents and surely dishonored God.
Colossians 3:20 says, “Children, always obey your parents, for this pleases the Lord.”
I believe it’s a lot easier for kids to please God and obey their parents when they are being loved and disciplined consistently. When my son Marshall was born, I decided I wanted him to feel peace in his home and secure in the love of his parents. I realized this would require me to be teammates with his dad.
Here are three ways we’ve partnered together as parents:
1. We make decisions together.
Marshall’s dad and I have an ongoing conversation about the way we are raising our son. Whether big or small decisions about Marshall, we make them together. Kids begin to understand problem solving when they see their parents working together.
2. We have each other’s backs.
When disciplining, Marshall’s dad and I back each other up. Even at 2 years old, Marshall knows that right and wrong do not depend on the parent. In addition, I have decided that even if I disagree with his reason for or method of discipline, I won’t do so in front of our child.
3. We treat each other with respect, especially when our son is watching.
Because Marshall identifies with his dad, I make sure he sees me interacting positively with him. I want Marshall to have a healthy self-esteem, and if he believes that I think his father is good, my son feels that he is also good.
I am not a perfect parent, and I know I will make many mistakes in the course of Marshall’s life. My hope is that by being mindful of how I’m parenting, I can better raise my son to intentionally honor his parents and know that he is pleasing the Lord.
Alicia resides in Hugo with her 2 year-old son Marshall and their two cats, Frank and Milo. She tweets at @amlalilac.