Serenity Parenting

Line of Jeub Kids

The idea of “serenity parenting” apparently has been published before, as referenced as a part of “Twin Research” in an article from the Wall Street Journal. Read this article! It is precisely what we often try to tell parents.

Parents should lighten up. I call it “Serenity Parenting”: Parents need the serenity to accept the things they cannot change, the courage to change the things they can, and (thank you twin research) the wisdom to know the difference. Focus on enjoying your journey with your child, instead of trying to control his destination. Accept that your child’s future depends mostly on him, not your sacrifices. Realize that the point of discipline is to make your kid treat the people around him decently—not to mold him into a better adult. I can’t say that I completely convinced my wife on any of these points, but we made reasonable compromises—and we found that raising twins was a lot of fun.

This is very similar to what we try to say in our book Love Another Child. We addressed the “high strung” parent who lashes out at the child. We see it all the time, but it usually is not the fault of the child. We mentioned the Serenity Prayer in Chapter 8, “Loving Your Child.” After explaining a difficult situation between a mother and her son, we run through a number of different ways to handle it. Here’s how it is in the book:

We have a solution, and, as with marriage, it has everything to do with love. For us, the Twelve Step Process prayer works miracles. It’s called the Serenity Prayer, and it is prayed by millions of Alcoholics Anonymous members around the world. It’s a beautiful prayer by Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr:

God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

This is a most profound way to show our love to our children. Like with our spouses, we should become students of them. Know them. Find the things that are easy to love and help them grow. There are those things we must discipline, but the example above is sorely in error. This parent has shut off any positive aspect of Tommy, as well as any potential solution.

We like this idea of “Serenity Parenting.” How about you?

About Chris & Wendy Jeub

The Jeub Family live in Monument, Colorado. They encourage couples to love God and love one another, building an atmosphere of love in their homes.

  • Bernadettelock

    I think you guys have got this spot on!! Children are little individuals but as most parents know they all have developmental milestones they all must go through ( from the terrible two tantrums to the teenage years of asserting their individuality and independence) and again this varies greatly. Some children are very easy going others more strong willed lol. We try at home to set an example for our children to show them at least one “right” way to behave or treat others. But again depends on the age/maturity of the child. Some behaviours can be molded others take time to develop. One thing i tell other parents that ask for advice about raising their child is they just need to be patient. Take a few deep breaths if necessary before reacting to what their child is or isnt doing. And remind yourself that how you react is much more powerful than the words you use. :)  

    • http://www.largerfamilylife.com Tania @ Larger Family Life

      Ok, I should have read this before my super long post to Ginger.  In short I would like to say, “What Bernadettelock said” !!

  • Cherygoin

    Thank you for that. High-strung parenting is passed from generation to generation. I have to be reminded often from posts like this that I need to chill out or I start acting like my parents , as that is how I was raised.

  • Erika Shupe

    Thank you for this today, Wendy.  I needed this little reminder.  I haven’t finished the Love Another Child book yet; I haven’t had hardly any time to read anything at all.  But I’m all the more looking forward to getting to this part of your book.  I think I need to relax a bit in parenting… *hugs*  Blessings on your efforts today.  =)

  • http://www.clarkchatter.blogspot.com Ginger

    I agree with most of that for sure! I’m not sure about this part: 
     Accept that your child’s future depends mostly on him, not your sacrifices.

    If that were true, I wouldn’t need to bother making sacrifices for my children. I wouldn’t bother with homeschooling them, and making the inconvenient decisions all day every day to stop what I’m doing to train and instruct my children in God’s Word. These things are HARD! Homeschooling my children requires that I depend on Christ for patience and wisdom and creativity daily. And these sacrifices absolutely make a huge difference in who my child will turn out to be.

    This part sounds like worldly wisdom to me: 
    Realize that the point of discipline is to make your kid treat the people around him decently—not to mold him into a better adult.

    The point of discipline is to address the sinful selfish heart of my children. Changing behavior (making them treat people decently) is easy! Changing their hearts and helping them learn to depend on God’s Word is hard! 
    Treating people with decency seems like a really low aim in my opinion.

    I do agree with the prayer and it’s usefulness in parenting. While I desire to change my children’s hearts and point them to Christ, I cannot change their personalities and learning styles. 

    Great food for thought!

    • http://www.largerfamilylife.com Tania @ Larger Family Life

      “I agree with most of that for sure! I’m not sure about this part: 
       Accept that your child’s future depends mostly on him, not your sacrifices”

      Now I read that differently and agreed with it.  Not that I’m disagreeing with your comment either.  Let me explain. My children range from 18 down to 10 months old.  My husband and I, like most parents, have made many, many sacrifices for our children over the years.  However, this does not guarantee that they will always appreciate them, understand them or even acknowledge them.
      Our primary goal is to teach our children the morals and values to hopefully become good adults with, yes, good strong morals and values (which is where I found that I didn’t completely agree with “Realize that the point of discipline is to make your kid treat the people around him decently—not to mold him into a better adult.”  

      While we can sacrifice and do our whole hearted best by our children when they are young, there will come a time when they are going to start stretching their mould and trying to see how far it ‘ll go without breaking.  Our sacrifices didn’t matter when there is a hard headed teen eager to figure out the world on their own.  The oldest two made decisions and carried out actions that just a couple of years ago I would never have imagined as we had done everything “correctly” or so we had thought.  What I have learnt now is that no matter what you do when they are young, there will come a time when they will be trying to assert their own independence.  Sometimes they’ll make good decisions, before that they might make a few bad ones.  Where I first blamed myself for the bad ones I finally realised that no, I didn’t do anything wrong and yes, they were now old enough to realise that their actions had consequences.  

      Thankfully, they are coming out of the other side now and yes the values we spent years trying to instill are fighting their way through again. At the end of the day the lessons they learned in becoming adults were also lessons for us as parents to children becoming adults and I know now that despite our many good intentions and plans for our children, the ultimate responsibility on the adults they choose to become is solely down to them and not us. 

      Chris and Wendy, feel free to tell me if I have the wrong end of the stick but this is how I myself translated that first comment. 

  • Danielle B

    I think when love and grace is at the center of everything we do, it’s much easier to let go of the areas that we may not be able to change in our child. If we’re carrying all of our concerns to Christ first, through prayer and fasting, He’ll show us the opportunities to really reach our child’s heart. Anything else is just robotic obedience, not necessarily coming from a true heart for service or obedience. The book, “Grace Based Parenting” by Dr. Tim Kimmel has really opened my eyes to that line of thinking. God doesn’t boss us around or force us into submission in any way. He loves us into a right relationship with Himself, using grace and mercy as the means to initially reach us.

    Good post!

  • Janetkiessling

    I love that phrase/ prayer………so often I refer to it!!!