Parenting Principles that Transformed my Life…Discipline is an Act of Love

A few weeks ago, I started a new series on parenting principles based on several parenting books I read over the summer (plus my own parenting experience so far). The first principle in the series was speaking positively about our children, affirming them while avoiding harmful and destructive criticism. Today, we move on to the second principle.

Parenting Principle Number Two: Discipline is an Expression of love

  • Do we really need to discipline our kids? This is a tough one! Some days, it’s so much easier to just let the kids behave however they want. But I have to remind myself that this is not true love. While it may be easier in the moment to not discipline my child, this is not in their best interests in the long term.
  • What are some strategies for disciplining kids? Each parent will have their own strategy and values regarding discipline but what I have found works well for our family is outlined in Brittany Ann’s book “Teach Your Children How to Behave”. The basic concept is teaching your children how to make the right choice rather than simply ordering them to “do” or “not do” something.  We as the parents then follow through with consistent consequences if they make the wrong choice. I am seeing the value of teaching my kids this from an early age.

Disciplining children is tough! It can make us feel like mean parents (yes, I have been called “mean mummy!”) and it can be tempting to take the easy route. As difficult and emotionally wrenching as it can be to discipline our kids, it is worth it for the long term character building of our children and demonstrates how deeply we love them!

 

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A Reason To Smile

Yesterday, after a particularly busy day, I embarked on my long drive home. One of my favorite parts of the trip is the moment when I cross one of the bridges connecting the island of Montreal with the mainland. I always take a sneak peek to my right where I can see luscious green rolling hills, wavy water and specks of white sails belonging to the numerous boats making their way leisurely through the water.

It is at that moment that I take a deep breath and smile as I anticipate seeing the smiling faces of my children waiting for me at home. Often, my husband and kids will call me on my drive home simply to say that they are looking forward to seeing me soon and that they love me. Those moments always give me extra strength and remind me of how much I have to be grateful for.

When mummy pulls into the driveway, after a busy day at medical school, I see excited young faces at the window, I hear the door bursting open and two little beings yelling with joy as they run into my arms shouting “Mummy you’re home”.

My mind flashes back to when I was five years old, and I used to rush into my late father’s arms when he would come home from a long work day at the hospital. I remember him swirling me around and around, him biting back his fatigue so he could spend some special moments with me.

Thirty years later, I am in a similar position with my children and I absolutely love the fact that I get to come home to them and that their excitement and joy remind me of how much I am loved and appreciated.

My husband and children give me a reason to smile everyday!

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Each Day is a Gift

One week left to medical school! I cannot believe how fast the summer has gone by! I have really enjoyed spending time with my family and watching the kids grow. Some of the things that I was reminded of this summer was how important it is to appreciate each day and to let those you love know how much you care about them. Each day is truly a gift!

I have found that taking stock of each day and meditating on what I have to be grateful for helps to temper the worries and frustrations of day-to-day life. Three things I read or heard this past week also gave me pause for thought:

  1. Let those you come into contact with feel that they are important and worth something: In the book God’s Hotel by Victoria Sweet, a California-based physician tells her story of practicing medicine. One of the hospitalized patients was a woman who was on her death-bed. When Dr. Sweet asked what else could be done for her, the patient simply asked for something different to eat at her mealtimes and to have new eyeglasses since her current ones were broken. I can imagine that the physician was taken aback by this simple request that meant so much. Sometimes we may feel that we cannot make a difference but there is always an opportunity to show appreciation even if it means asking a simple question or demonstrating a caring gesture.
  2. Forgive from the heart: In Matthew 18 of the Bible, Jesus depicts a vivid parable of a servant who owes a large debt to his master and another servant who owes a smaller debt to his fellow servant. The  master forgives the debt but the servant shows no mercy towards his fellow servant. Jesus explains the consequences of an unforgiving attitude and implores his listeners to forgive from the heart. Jesus’ choice of words touched me because ‘forgiveness from the heart’ to me implies a deep, complete and unshakable forgiveness.
  3. Prioritize your life: I had an inspiring chat with my oldest brother who is a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon based in Kenya. As I spoke with him about how he manages balancing his career with family, his words of wisdom rang true: prioritize your life. For him that meant 1) God 2) Spouse 3) Children 4) Career. Of course there are plenty of other things that make up our lives such as our social life and hobbies but often our family life and work are the most difficult to balance. Priorities mean different things to different people but having an idea of what comes first and what we are not willing to compromise on can guide us when trying to navigate the busy waters of life.
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 So grateful for my precious family! Each day is a gift!

The Privilege of Being a Mother

Today I feel amazingly privileged to be a mother. To see my children laugh and smile, to feel the soft touch of their hands on my cheeks, to feel their tight hugs and sloppy kisses, to witness their abundant curiosity, to watch them grow, learn how to swim or ride a bicycle, to see their independence, to be the one who comforts them when they cry or are hurting. To hear them say over and over again, “mummy, I want you” and “mummy, I love you forever and always”.

Motherhood is one of the most difficult endeavors I have embarked on. There have been many moments of tears and self-doubt, wondering how I can bear the responsibility of raising and guiding two very unique human beings. Yet, there have been so many moments of joy, happiness, gratitude, amazement, and an overwhelming love in our household that I hold simply as a miracle of life.

To my dear children and to my ever supportive, loving husband, you are precious gifts to me and I am so blessed to have you in my life.

Mummy loves you “forever and always”.

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My dearest children
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I love being a mummy!

Family Celebrations…and Summer Planning for Medical School!

Last week was a beautiful week in many ways. After finding out about my medical school acceptance, I spent a wonderful day on Wednesday with my son Caleb secretly making banana and chocolate-chip muffins and designing birthday cards for my husband whose birthday was on Thursday.

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My trusty assistant helping me to make muffins for daddy’s birthday

 

My husband and I also celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary on his birthday (yes, we got married on his birthday and now he can never forget the date of our anniversary!). Thirteen years ago, he asked me to be his girlfriend in my native Swahili language after requesting the translation from the Kenya High Commission (embassy) in Ottawa. It was such a beautiful surprise and we have experienced so many adventures together along the way. Despite the challenges of marriage and parenting, my husband has helped me grow in so many ways and I feel so blessed to be married to such a wonderful person who respects me and loves me unconditionally.

We spent our anniversary by going out for brunch at our favorite restaurant and then out to see the new Captain America movie at the cinema. It was fun! We also brainstormed the logistics of the next few months in preparation for medical school. I just love how enthusiastic my husband is about embarking on this new journey with me!

On Friday, we attended orientation at Caleb’s new school. Yes, that’s right! My little man is starting Kindergarten one week after I start medical school in August! He is so excited about starting school! We were very impressed with his school and how passionate the teachers and principal are. We know he will be in good hands. He will learn primarily in French from Kindergarten to Grade 4 and then switch to 50% English/50% French. He is already bilingual and I’m so happy that he will have the opportunity to improve on his grasp of the French and English languages.

All through last week, I received supportive messages from friends and family and also from some of my future classmates who sound so enthusiastic about this new journey. I look forward to meeting them in person!

This is on my to-do list in preparation for medical school:

  • Take Basic Life Support class (CPR and AED): scheduled for early June
  • Update immunizations: scheduled for mid-June
  • Financing my medical education: meet with the bank, apply for government financial aid and scholarships.
  • Look for a second-hand car to commute 5o minutes downtown: we decided that public transport would take too much time since I would need to take 2 buses and a train to get to school. I want to be very efficient so that I can maximize time for the family.
  • Parking permit: Fortunately, I am eligible to park in the building where most of my classes will be because of how far I live from the university and because I have young children. My parking permit is reserved. I just have to pick it up and pay for it in mid-August.

I am so grateful that I get to have a full summer with my family before beginning medical school. I know our lives are about to change drastically. I know the road will be long and challenging. But I am really looking forward to the fascinating things I will learn and also to the forging of wonderful new friendships.

Crossing the Bridge of Forgiveness

Today marked the fourth week of our study on the “40 Days of Love“. This week’s topic tackled the challenging issue of demonstrating love through forgiveness. We have all experienced hurt in our lives in some shape or form and it can be so difficult to get past it, to forgive and move on. What does forgiveness entail?

As difficult as this can be to do, especially when we are going through hurt and disappointment, forgiveness means letting go of the desire to get even, responding with kindness and not keeping a record of that wrong. The hardest part about forgiveness is that we are called to keep on forgiving even when the offense is repeated!

Forgiving is NOT minimizing the seriousness of an offense. In choosing to forgive someone of a wrong, we are not saying that what they did was of no consequence or was justified. The pain is real and it’s important that this is acknowledged. Once we have forgiven a person, what’s next? Candid communication, willingness to change negative behaviors and time are needed to rebuild and regain the trust of the person who has been hurt.

I am learning that forgiveness is a decision. We decide to move past the hurt and avoid falling into the trap of resentment and bitterness. In looking through the lens of forgiveness, we actually begin to see the hurt that the other person is going through. When people lash out or hurt us, they are often going through something difficult themselves, which gets taken out on others. Part of the healing between both parties is acknowledging the hurt on both sides, letting it go and moving towards reconciliation. This can be very difficult to do in some situations, but vital to the healing process.

Why forgive? Aside from the release and freedom it gives our souls, it shows a humility that we too are imperfect and need forgiveness.

Week 4 Challenge: Is there someone who needs your forgiveness? Try to work towards letting go of any resentment or bitterness towards that person.

“Love…keeps no record of wrongs” 1 Cor. 13: 5

“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you…” Luke 6:27-28

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another…” Col. 3:13

 

 

Loving People Enough to Tell Them the Truth

Today began the third week of our study on ‘40 Days of Love‘. Today’s topic was one of the most challenging topics so far! How to have a loving confrontation…to speak the truth in love. I am personally not a confrontational person. I prefer to keep the peace and not rock the boat.  But I have been reminded that love is not just about warm feelings or happy smiles. It is also about facing hard truths and being able to impart that to someone else in a respectful but honest fashion.

How does one approach someone in order to tell them a difficult truth? It is certainly a scary proposition. We may worry how our message will be received, what the other person will think, whether we will be rejected or whether the relationship will end. But the reality is that in looking out for the other person, and in genuinely loving them, it may be a risk we have to take. Yes, the friendship may end…but it may also be a turning point for that person by showing them something in their lives that is negative or destructive. Or it may bring the relationship to a deeper level knowing they can trust you to tell them what’s on your mind.

Speaking the truth in love is one of the hardest things to do because we have no control over the outcome. But we can find ways to direct the conversation in a loving and respectful way through our tone of voice, body language, by recognizing our own inherent weaknesses, and by affirming how much you care for that person regardless of the current situation.

Week 3 Challenge: It can be a challenge to confront someone with a difficult conversation. But it could also be a positive turning point for the relationship if done in a respectful manner without being judgmental. Is there someone you need to speak to about your frustration or about their behavior?

Love…rejoices with the truth” 1 Corinthians 13:6