Monday, January 19, 2009

Don’t Make Me Count To Three – Intro/Ch. 1

Welcome to the first week of our book study through Ginger Plowman’s Don’t Make Me Count To Three!  I hope everyone had the opportunity to get the book and read through Chapter 1.  If you didn’t, no worries!  Just join along with us anytime.  It’s a quick read and easy to get caught up.

Right off the bat, Ginger throws a small dart and pricks my heart on p. 13. 

Could it be that parents avoid these [discipline] issues because they are uncertain of how to handle them?”

Bingo.  I thought of all the times I have purposefully ignored Grace when she was misbehaving, just hoping that she would straighten up on her own.  Or gave her too many warnings.  Or threatened a spanking.  Guess what?  It doesn’t work.  I need to have a game plan.  I need to change my way of thinking.

Not only that, but I need to think beyond Grace’s outward behavior and focus more on her heart.  In today’s world, when one thinks of the word discipline, one might equate it with spanking, or punishment, or something quite negative.  Actually, the roots of the word discipline come from the Latin word discipulus (“pupil”) and discere (“to learn”).  The process of assigning some sort of punishment or consequence is only one part of discipline.  When we focus on the whole process of discipline including biblical teaching, Lord willing we will reach the heart of our child to promote lasting change and set the foundation for their future salvation.

I love that Chapter 1 focuses on the high calling of motherhood.  As a former career woman, I admit that at times I have questioned the importance of my place at home with Grace.  I think of all the children I taught and mentored and helped over the years, and I wonder if my life would be of better service in the “mission field” of our public schools.

Then I think of Psalm 129:3 which says:

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.”

And the command in Proverbs 22:6 which says:

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

And the promise in Proverbs 31:27-28 which says:

She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.  Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.”

And I realize that, yes, working with children in the public schools was a great use of my time.  But working with Grace in my home is a greater use of my time.

And, in closing, I also love that Ginger warns us to not let the ugly head of pride enter as we start to enjoy the fruits of biblical discipline in our children.  Just yesterday, I was humbled once again as we waited (forever!) for a table in Todd’s favorite restaurant to celebrate his birthday lunch with some friends from church.  Grace was fussy and complaining and impatient as we passed time in a crowded waiting area.  After taking her out for discipline a couple of times, she was better, but she certainly didn’t win any awards for behavior yesterday.  And I had to check my attitude several times when I found myself getting frustrated!  Thankfully, God answered my prayer and she settled down and let us eat in peace once we were seated.

That said, there is no “magical” or “biblical” formula for getting children to obey all the time.  Enter sin.  There has been only one person on this earth who has never sinned.  Our Lord Jesus Christ.  (Can you imagine what it must have been like to be his mother, Mary?).  Children sin.  It is a result of the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden.  We need to expect our children to sin.  We need to not be surprised when they sin.  And we need to learn how God would have us deal with their sin in our growth as parents.  Funny thing, at the same time we end up dealing with our own sin!

I hope that many of you will join in and comment on what particularly struck you in this week’s reading.  Even if you didn’t read, feel free to comment below on the topics raised.  Perhaps consider one or more of the following questions:

What do you hope to gain from this parenting study?  How do you feel about the calling of motherhood?  Why is it important to focus on the “heart” of discipline rather than just outward behavior?  How can we keep pride from entering when things start to get better?

I look forward to reading your comments!  Next Monday stay tuned for a post on Chapter 2!


Sarah said...

I am so excited to do this book study. I have read the first chapter, and I think what made the most impression on me was how much I don't give motherhood the "high calling" it is given in Scriptures. When I thought about it,I have such respect for teachers who teach 20-25 children daily and nurses who care for the sick and hurting, but I view what I do everyday as "just staying home with the kids." I want to do as the author says and respond to the high calling of motherhood "with passion."
It is funny that she ended the chapter with not being prideful when our children behave correctly, because that is such a difficult thing to deal with. Pride rears its ugly head so quickly when on rare occasions one of my children behaves when others are not. I must quickly repent and remind myself of how I hope others are thinking of (and hopefully praying for) me when the shoe is on the other foot. To keep from becoming prideful, I try to remind myself that it is only God's mercy that my children ever behave at home or in public. I also try to mind my own business. If I pay the proper attention to what is going on in my life and my children's lives, I have no time to be looking around to see what other children are doing. In church one Sunday, a friend of mine apologized for her child's behavior and said she hoped it had not distracted me from the message. I told her that with one eye on the pastor and the other on my own children I did not have any extra eyes to see what her child was doing. I pray that this would be the case more and more in my life.
I look forward to reading other's comments and seeing how others deal with these issues.

Joanna J. said...

I loved what you said about wanting to respond to the high calling of motherhood with passion! It is humbling and exciting at the same time to think that what we do now will impact what kind of person our children will become. Todd and I were recently wondering what will Grace say about the way she was raised when she is an adult? I pray that she will look back and know that we did our best to raise her in the Lord, and that we were passionate about being her parents.

Christa said...

Since she pointed out the ways we can ignore discipline. I have been MUCH more aware of how often I was doing that. Needless to say, being aware has made it easier to not overlook things, but some days can be really tiring. However I am seeing the sweet fruit of being consistent.

sunnysidemom said...

I have read this book, and I am so happy to know that there is a better way to raise our children. For me, I believe that as a child I was disciplined moslty out of anger. I find myself falling into this same pit...all to often. It is very hard to stop and look at my heart and my child's heart to get to the root of the issue at hand. It will take much discipline to train myself to stop and loningly and patiently deal with the issue in a Godly, Biblically reproving way. I was so glad to find this book, and I do believe that it is a very important job we have raising children. Look at our world today, most parents aren't even raising their kids...society is...daycare, public school system, Tv....etc...Anyhow...just a few thoughts from my way...:)

Joanna J. said...

Good point, Christa. Consistency is tiring at first, but it can pay off in the end if we stick with it. The first time I finished reading this book, I set aside a couple of days to stay home with no appointments, errands, places to be, etc. I spent those days training MYSELF on how to respond to discipline issues. It's definitely hard work, and with God's grace I'm becoming more consistent. Even if Grace doesn't always make the right choice, at least she knows what to expect!

Joanna J. said...

Thanks for sharing, Sunnysidemom. I think you brought up an excellent point about anger. This book is about examining our heart as much as it is training our children. I think the main reason that "society" does not accept spanking is because so often it is done out of anger. When we are not in control of our emotions, it can actually do much more harm than good. I feel for you because I struggle with anger at times as well. I often have to take a moment to pray and ask God to calm my heart to respond with love and patience during discipline. It's even more difficult to overcome when anger is something that has been experienced and ingrained since childhood. Thanks for joining this group and following along! It's been great to hear how other moms deal with the same things I struggle with!

Anonymous said...


You will forgive my late participation, please. I spent Monday and Tuesday in bed sick, but I was able to get the book later in the week and read.

The Lord willing, I'll have time for chapter 2 by the time you post.

By the way, I'm hearing echoes of your father in your writing. ;-) He is a blessing and an encouragement as we continue to train our own children. As you know, we have been at this for years and see so many more to come. Please pray that we will not grow weary. I look at our youngest and know how deep and true our dependence on the Lord must continue to be. He is faithful!

~Kevin (not really anonymous)

Audra said...

I truly believe that I was always meant to become a stay at home mom, I just never realized it took so much work! After reading chapter 1, the topic I have to work on most is on being prideful when my child is an "angel" compared to all of those "heathens"...say at birthday parties, the mall, fellowship with friends. Just last weekend, some girls that I grew up with from the time we were babies all got together for a small reunion...thanks to Facebook!!! I pounded Vincent all afternoon leading up the the visit with what I expected of him while we were at this new house full of people that he had never met. He was the oldest of all of the kids and he was the only boy as well. He acted like an angel, I mean played with the babies, made sure everyone took turns with the toys and even cleaned up all of the toys by himself. Everyone patted my back and I tried to be humble and told them that he wasn't always such a great house guest but deep inside I was grinning ear to ear with secret pride.......Welcome disgrace. Not 10 minutes later we (me and my 3 yr old) met my father for dinner. I was, well, I was bragging about how good he had been. Then, as soon as I finished gloating about my near perfect child he flipped his switch and was all over the place. We went to the bathroom FOUR times for discipline. And as my father so eloquently put it, "The act's over". Which was so true. I tell him what I expect of him in new and out of the ordinary situations but when it is a simple shopping trip to the grocery store or having a meal at a nice resturaunt, I also need to be preparing him for what kind of behavior I expect and why. I have found he does so much better when I spell it out for him. Lots of times, I just expect him to know but I have to continulously remind him and myself for we both have so much to learn.

Joanna J. said...

Thanks for sharing your story about Vincent. I think we have all had similar experiences! I like your idea about preparing our kids for situations by gently reminding them of the "rules" before we get there. Please give Vincent a hug from Aunt Joanna!