Monday, February 2, 2009

Don’t Make Me Count To Three – Ch. 3

Welcome to the third 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 3.  If you didn’t, no worries!  Just join along with us anytime.  It’s a quick read and easy to get caught up.

In this chapter, Ginger goes more in-depth about how to draw out issues of the heart.  Her first point was a good one…we need to talk WITH our children, not just TO our children.  This means listening and understanding what they are saying.  My favorite quote from this chapter was on p. 36:

“When you help your child to understand what is in his heart, you are teaching him to evaluate his own motives, which will help to equip him for his walk with Christ as he grows into an adult."

Isn’t that what it’s all about?  Equipping our kids to walk with Christ?  And while we’re helping our kids understand what is in THEIR heart, we also must deal with what is in OUR heart.  I’m going to lay it all on the line…I didn’t realize that I had an anger problem until I had a child of my own.  I find my patience waning thin and my heart welling up with anger at times.  Can’t she be quiet for just ONE MINUTE?  Do I have to help her with everything?  Why can’t she just obey me the first time?  Let’s face it…parenting is hard.  While it brings boundless joy, it also brings to the surface the ugly parts of our own hearts.  I’m constantly working through this with prayer, immersion in God’s Word, and my love for my daughter.  Do I want Grace to see an angry and quick-tempered monster?  Or do I want her to see a kind and forgiving soul?  What kind of parent would God have me to be?  How can I show the love of Christ in my actions towards my child?  Otherwise, why would she ever want to be a Christian?  It’s quite humbling.

For practical use, I love the example Ginger gives about sharing between siblings.  I used her method several times this morning when Grace and the little boy I babysit were arguing about our toys.  Since they are friends, I remembered the verse from Proverbs 17:17 that says “A friend loves at all times.”  The first time there was an issue I spent about five minutes talking with them and asking questions about how we could treat each other with love.  After that, a quick reminder “Are you treating Grace with love?” or “Grace, is that how we treat our friends?” was much more effective.  Until Grace said angrily, “Caleb, you’re not treating me with love!”  That brought up a whole new issue.  Anyway, Ginger’s method helped me this morning, and it definitely helped us focus on the heart issue of WHY we don’t steal toys. 

And that brings me to my last reflection of this chapter.  If we are going to train our children in righteousness, God’s Word must be on the tip of our tongue.  That means we need to spend time in God’s Word!  A good place to start is Proverbs.  There is so much wisdom in this book, especially for mothers!  I learned this habit from my mom, who has a Proverb to answer all questions in life.  There are 31 chapters in Proverbs.  Every day, I read the chapter that corresponds to the date.  For example, today I read Proverbs chapter 2 since it is Feb. 2nd.  Eventually, many of these bits of wisdom will commit themselves to your memory and be useful in your parenting journey.  This habit has greatly helped me, and I needs lots of help!

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 are some things you do to draw out matters of the heart in your children?  Why is it important to train our children to think like Christians?  How do you find time as a busy mom to read Scripture?

I look forward to reading your comments!  Next Monday stay tuned for a post on Chapter 4!

6 comments:

Deanna said...

I thought the example she gave about fighting over toys was good, but I am not sure I agree with just dealing with one child at the moment. I think opportunity often arises to discuss both children's heart issues. For instance, when it came to sharing toys I found that once you encouraged one child to wait until the other was finished, the child playing with the toy might become determined to never be finished. I think this has to be dealt with as well, and I often would tell them they had a certain amount of time to enjoy the toy and then would also need to share. This gives both children the opportunity to consider the other person.

I would also like to say that as the "old lady" of the group there are two things that it is helpful to keep in mind. First, while you will see some short term results in your little children, remember that they will not be "finished" until somewhere in their 20's, so don't get discouraged when it seems like you are not making the progress you should be. These heart issues will be a constant problem for them until the day they die (kind of like their moms!). It takes many years of hard work to help them see these things in themselves without your prompting.

Also, remember that while it is your responsibility to raise your children in the fear and admonition of the Lord, it is also true that you are still being sanctified. God is a multitasker, and while He is helping you train your children,He is also training you. I think it helps our children to see us being honest about our own need to obey - "mommy has to obey God by making you obey" This helps them see that the rules are not arbitrary.

Christa said...

This chapter reminds me to train myself. Pulling out the deep waters takes practice, and that is what I need to remember. It was so helpful to be reminded that we are doing this to point them to their need for a Savior. Parenting is such a huge job, I am glad we have a God who guides us and provides instructions.

Joanna J. said...

Deanna,
I would never think to put you and "old lady" together in the same sentence. You are much too youthful! When I was a teenager, I thought you were SO COOL. (Still do!) Anyway, thanks for your thoughts on sharing between siblings. Your comment makes a lot of sense and gives me something to think about. Thanks also for the reminder that our children need to see us being submissive to God's commands.

Joanna J. said...

Christa,
Amen, sister. This chapter was a good reminder to me, as well, of the BIG picture.

Sarah said...

I had to read this chapter a few times to wrap my mind around it. What I have found with my children is that some are easier to draw out than others. I have one child who can recount every detail of an incident along with how he felt at each moment of it, his sin, the others sin, etc. with little or no prompting. So this way of discipline is fairly simple with him. My oldest child, however, requires a bit more ( a LOT more actually) drawing out. Since she is older I have found it helps sometimes to let her contemplate on the incident herself for a short time before digging into what happened. For younger ones though I have to strike while the iron is hot.
I try to raise my children now to think like Christians, so that if the Lord is merciful and save them, they will have a good foundation and not have to undo wrong thinking that I could possibly have taught them.
And to do this of course, I have to know the Scriptures to apply when dealing with my children. The time I need to do this is only found by giving it priority in my schedule and knowing that even if it means school starts a little late or I have to get up earlier than I might like that I am going to read God's Word today.

Joanna J. said...

Sarah,
Like yours, my daughter is hard to draw things out of. She has a hard time verbalizing her feelings, reasoning, etc. I know she's young yet, and time and practice will help her grow. And I definitely have to strike while the iron is hot or she'll forget all about it! Thanks for the reminder that it's good for our kids to see us giving God's Word priority.