I have been so blessed with well behaved children. I would love to think that it is all parenting, but I know that so much of it is just who they are, who the Lord made them to be. I also know that I am only the parent I am for two reasons:
1) By the grace of God. I did not inherit good parenting skills, while I love my mother very much and have a very close relationship with her, she just did not have time to do a lot of parenting, between dealing with my dad and working, we just didn't get as much of her as she would have liked to give us. I do believe if she had more time with us I would have learned much from her, she had an amazing upbringing. My dad has had major depression and anxiety issues my whole life, so I didn't inherit any parenting skills from him either. He mostly parented out of anger.
2) My husband taught me. As you probably have realized he was married before and already had a child from his first marriage. He is very good about learning from his mistakes, so he brought to the table what had worked with his son and what didn't and lots of patience.
Many times people comment on our children or ask what we are doing that is working. So, first I want to let you know that we are no experts. We still have battles all the time and it isn't uncommon for me to dig out some books and have to try to figure out how to deal with it. Know that we will never be perfect here, so though we may improve our parenting skills we will never be perfect parents. But, we can work at it and learn as much as possible so when they are grown our good will win out over our bad. I wanted to share some parenting books that I have found to be very helpful.
Parenting with Scripture (A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments) - Kara Durbin This book works with topics. For instance the first topic is anger. First it gives you the definition of the word then it gives you scripture. For anger it gave Genesis 4:6-7, Psalm 37:8a, Proverbs 15:1, Proverbs 22:24-25, Ephesians 4:26-27 and James 1:19-20, each of these has the verse already printed on the page. There is a see also section that gives you verses to look up. There is then a discussion section that gives you ideas of how to talk to your kids about it. Then there is a take action section, essentially a challenge, something to do to work on the problem (i.e. For one week Take a deep breath and count to ten when you feel angry, use the time to think how you can handle the situation calmly). I love this book and really use it. Yesterday the girls were arguing about really silly stuff that easily could have been worked out if they had not been being so selfish. I had them sit and write the definitions of the words self-centered and compromise and then a couple of verses to go with each one. I read and discussed them with them before they had to write them.
Creative Correction (Extrodianary Ideas for Everyday Discipline) - Lisa Whelchel This book also gives scripture, but my favorite thing about it is the object lessons. I am not naturally very creative, so it's very helpful to have a resource for this. I do believe that children learn more when they are doing something. For instance when her son was using hurtful words toward his sister, she had him go outside and hammer nails into the fence posts, then she had him pull them all out. She told him those nails were like his words, that even though the nails were no longer there, there would always be a whole left where they had been, just like our words. (I hope I explained that well enough, I told you I'm not creative). She also gives prayers for them to pray when they are dealing with something in particular.
To Train Up a Child - Michael and Debi Pearl Okay, I really like this book. I think it packs all of the important aspects of discipline and training into a pretty short, but very wothwhile read. I will caution you that I don't agree with every single thing that they say and do (as a friend of ours says "Even a mule knows to chew around the briars") I do believe that this is a very biblical perspective on raising children and I believe that with consistency it will produce very godly children. A word of caution the first few chapters seem to only deal with discipline and can make the pearls seem pretty harsh, however when you get on into the book (chapter 4 I think) they begin to talk about tying the heart strings, about how important having a close loving relationship with your children is. He will tell you that discipline without relationship and training will only produce angry children. I encourage you to read it and tweak it to fit your family.
Also check out www.raisinggodlytomatoes.com .
I also want to add that no matter what you do, it will not be fruitful if you are not consistent. I believe that consistency is one of the hardest parts of parenting. I go in spurts. I will do really well for a while, then I will begin to feel like my home is getting out of control and that is always a sign to me that I have dropped the ball and need to regain some consistency.
I pray that you will find this helpful. Be blessed!