Friday, October 3, 2008

Train in Righteousness Part II

I had some time to finish reading Ginger Plowman's "Don't Make Me Count To Three!" while Grace was playing on the McDonald's playground this afternoon. (See previous post). What a great book. It is full of practical, specific, biblical parenting advice. A couple of things I read today really struck me.

First, obedience should be all the way, right away, and with a joyful heart. In other words, our children should obey us completely the first time we ask with a good attitude. My problem is "right away." Ginger said that "delayed obedience is disobedience." I have been guilty of repeating my instructions to Grace several times and then accepting her "obedience" when she finally does what I ask. If you are a parent, does the following interaction sound familiar?

"Come here please."

[child ignores you and keeps playing]

"(Name), I said come here!"

[child looks at you, then goes back to playing]

"(Name), come here right now!"

[child looks as if she is ready to come, then decides she'd rather play]

"(First, middle, and last name), obey me now. I said to come here!"

[Child finally comes]

"Thank You!"

At times I have been SO guilty of this. Basically, I have been reinforcing her disobedience. Do I really want to have to tell her to come here four times before she runs in front of a car? Definitely not. I am going to start giving her an instruction clearly one time, and then disciplining her if she does not obey immediately. It'll probably take a lot of time at first, but hopefully she will get the message that it doesn't count as obedience unless she obeys me right away.

The other issue is "with a joyful heart." This is probably the hardest part for kids. Emotions to some degree are difficult to control. However, the way they express their emotions (their attitude) is a choice. Kids can choose to obey with a respectful attitude. As a school counselor, I can remember telling kids to "control your emotions....don't let your emotions control you." This doesn't mean that kids are to deny their emotions and keep them locked inside their hearts where they will fester and grow. As parents, we should be willing and able to listen to our kids calmly and respectfully explain their struggles. These times of communication are the perfect way to show our children their need for a Saviour and the forgiveness that comes through salvation.

Another thing that Ginger recommends is telling your child how many "swats" he/she will receive when spanked. This is a way to demonstrate that you are using self-control and not reacting out of anger. I have never thought of doing this, and I can see this as another way for me as a parent to "check" my emotions.

And, this leads me to what I believe is the most important thing to keep in mind when disciplining our children: OUR heart. Are we spanking out of anger for being embarrassed or inconvenienced? Are we administering discipline as an sinful emotional reaction or out of love for our child? I believe that this is the single, most important factor when parents claim that spanking doesn't "work." This is also a reason why spanking is not accepted by secular society.....they have never seen biblical discipline done calmly and with a loving attitude! I believe that when a parent loses self-control and disciplines out of anger it causes more harm than good to the child. It builds resentment and fear. It does not reflect the gracious mercy of our Lord. At times when I find myself responding in anger to Grace's behavior (and it does happen!), I try to remind myself of the grace that God showed by sending His son to die for me, a sinner. How thankful I am that He forgives when I sin against Him!


Mrs. Sprinkles said...

You know, I hear you about disciplining the first time. That's something I struggle with as well.

Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home said...

Isn't that a wonderful book? I just wrote about struggling with requiring first-time disobedience as well, but I've read this book and it had so many gems of wisdom in it. I think I need to read it again. Thanks!