When I was a kid, my parents’ go-to punishment was to have me set up with several fresh pieces of paper and a sharpened pencil and write and write and write. The wording varied, depending on the offense, but from my own memory, I think the majority of the sentences I had to write centered around my sassy attitude. “I will respect my mother and father when they tell me to do something and will not talk back.” Or something similar.
But seeing how often I had to write sentences like that goes to show how poorly I was learning the lesson of custody of tongue (I still struggle with it today! I like to say that God gifted me a quick wit; He didn’t mean for me to use it with a sharp tongue).
Although I didn’t learn the lessons perfectly (or at all…), I still do appreciate the concept behind sentence writing. Repetition is the mother of good habit. If that’s true, then it would hold that repeating sentences may well make us stop and think about saying no to bad behavior and choosing virtuous behavior instead.
Maybe the idea of writing as a discipline isn’t, then, wrong, but maybe the way my parents…and their parents and so on…prescribed it as a discipline isn’t the most efficacious.
And now as a parent, I am often in the position of disciplining my children…I mean somedays it feels NONSTOP. Raising a child with right behavior is a lot of work, but it’s good, fruitful, and important work. Sometimes, though, I feel like I’m missing opportunities to make the most out of a discipline moment, and we’re just skirting by, rushing through that time, to get back to whatever else is going on. Or my children upset me for the umpteenth time and I don’t know exactly how to handle them yet again or in a particular situation.
So with all that in mind, God bless Sally Follett and her book The TimeOut Papers, which were developed over many years of parenting and homeschooling her own children. The TimeOut Papers (a copy of which, after talking to Sally, will be delivered shortly to my own home!) gives precise examples of discipline moments, prayers to help children habituate right behavior, and Scripture passages to drive home that this guidance we give to our children isn’t something that Mom and Dad says so it’s true, but shows that our home rules are based in God’s Word and so are very important to learn and obey. And I’ll be honest, after reading through a preview copy of the book, some of Sally’s prayers, though meant for children, would certainly apply to my own life!
For moms and dads who want to optimize these moments when we need to discipline our children, listen to this episode! You can download the episode below or listen to it on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play or anywhere you normally access podcasts. The Catholic Mama is there!
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