Benjamin Rush had a lot to say about the education of women during post-Revolution America. While I certainly don’t agree with all that he said, the thing I liked most about what he said was a comparison of the way women in “modern” times are praised versus the praise Solomon gave the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31. Read on and let me know what you think about his assessment.
Alright, I’m struggling as a dad. I have some big questions. So I thought I’d just throw out what I’m thinking and get some discussion going. Hopefully, we can come up with an answer together.
I understand that my job is to discipline my children. I am to train them up so they can be productive parts of God’s kingdom and man’s society. Part of that means using the rod. At the same time, I’ve learned that the mere threat of the rod doesn’t necessarily produce great behavior in my children. In some cases, it simply helps them get really good at being secretive and avoiding detection.
There have been some times where something has happened, we have no idea which child did it. We threaten and cajole and don’t get any closer. I know some suggest simply punishing them all, but I keep going back to treating others the way I want to be treated. I don’t want to be punished for something I didn’t do just because the one who did it won’t fess up. On some occasions, we finally got to a point of saying, “Look, somebody here has lied. We know what lying can do to your heart. We know the guilt and shame it can produce and we don’t want you to live with that for the rest of your life. When whoever the guilty party is has had enough of the guilt and shame, come talk to us. We won’t punish you, we just want to help you overcome this sin.”
In most cases, the guilty party eventually comes clean with us in a private setting. We have a good talk. I think the child was helped.
For a time, I wondered, “Hmm, does punishment not really work? Is that hindering my kids from being honest with me? Should I remove the threat of punishment?” But I can’t square that with the Bible. Obviously the Bible talks about parents disciplining and punishing their children.
Then I got to thinking about how God deals with me. I saw four things and I’m trying to figure out how to bring them into my parenting with consistency and wondering if I’m even on the right track. Here is what I saw.
- When I’m caught in impenitent rebellion and dishonesty, God punishes.
- When I come to God to penitently confess my sins, God forgives and shows mercy. He doesn’t punish.
- Whether I’m in impenitent rebellion or penitently confessing, God lets me face the natural consequences of my action.
- When I penitently confess my sins, God teaches and provides boundaries to overcome the sin in the future, pruning and disciplining me.
So, here are my questions for you.
- Are the above four points accurate? Is that how God really deals with us?
- If they are accurate, how do we implement the same strategy in our parenting?
- When should we punish? When should we show mercy?
In other words, if my child confesses before getting caught, is there never any punishment? How do you distinguish between punishment, discipline, and natural consequences? You tell me.
Thanks ahead of time for letting me know what you think.
And remember, God’s way really does work for our families.
Regrettably, ABC won’t let this video be embedded (I’m still wondering when these folks are going to get with the program and recognize allowing this stuff to be passed on only helps them). Anyway, check out the video at the following YouTube link.
Then, let’s talk about it.
Helicopter parenting: What do you think?
I guess it’s been a couple of months ago now that my wife asked me to start having Bible studies with each of the kids. My initial thought was, “What? Are you kidding me? Do you know how much work I have to do each day?” I couldn’t believe she was asking me to add this in to my day. Sure, I want to have some family time in the Word each week, but add in three Bible studies?
I wondered if she had forgotten that we had just moved to work with a new congregation. I was busy trying to meet people. I was establishing new studies with people, trying to visit with guests in the congregation. Not to mention we had moved from a congregation in which I had to preach once a week and now have to preach twice (I know, I know, most of you other preachers are playing the violin and weeping for me). How could she ask me to do this?
I was conflicted. In fact, I felt guilty. I knew this should be something I wanted to do. After all, I am the dad. My job is to lead my family. My job is to raise my kids in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. But at first, all I could see was the sacrifice of my time and how it would get in they way of my “job.”
Then something hit me. If one of my neighbors called up and asked for a Bible study, I would be all over that. If a visitor in the church asked for a study, I would jump at the chance. If anybody in the congregation asked me to have a study with their family and their children, I’d be making all kinds of room in my schedule. Why? That’s my job. It’s what I do. It’s who I am. I study the Bible with people. I’m always looking for opportunities to do that.
Suddenly it became clear. I now have three opportunities to study every week with someone. These three people are extremely important to me. I want them to serve God more than I want anyone else to. Why on earth would I get upset about scheduling time with them to study the Word? Now, no matter what, I get to have at least three Bible studies per week. I get to share God’s word with three people. Sometimes we get a lot out of it. Sometimes it is a struggle. But this is my life. It’s what I do. I can hardly believe I was ready to miss out on the opportunity just because I was having a skewed perspective.
I bring all this up because I’ve met a lot of dads (and moms) who bemoan the fact that they have always wanted to be able to teach someone the gospel, to have personal work or evangelistic studies and help others get to heaven. They are sincere about that, but they consistently overlook the very people God gave them to teach.
Why not set up your first weekly Bible study? Why not do it with your children? You can do it with them as a group or work with each of them individually. Either way, if you’re looking for someone to share the gospel with, why not do it with your kids. They need it too.
And remember, God’s way works for your family.
Today’s Bible reading over at giveattentiontoreading.com really hit me about how I deal with my family.
The verse that really got me was Hebrews 5:2, “He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness.” The Hebrew writer was talking about the Old Covenant priests who had to offer sacrifices for themselves as well as for the people. They could deal gently with others because they recognize their own weaknesses.
That hit me regarding my preaching and relationships with brethren. But it also made me think about my wife and kids. It really struck me that usually I’m most harsh with my wife and kids if they are making a mistake I have made. I think in some ways I can get really harsh because I can trick myself into thinking I’m better than I am. If I come down really hard on them about the issue that means I’m not soft on the issue with them and really I have a good handle on it. I can make myself feel better than them by really letting them have it.
Interestingly, the Bible says my own weaknesses should have the exact opposite affect. Instead of my weaknesses making me more harsh with my family, they ought to help me address my family with gentleness.
This is especially true with my children. How often I see them make my mistakes and out of the noble desire to protect them from the consequences I’ve had to face I start getting mean, harsh, controlling, and even manipulative. In my mind, it is about protecting and preserving them. That seems noble enough. One of the things I’m learning is that when I’m mean, harsh, or controlling, I usually just push my kids to keep making the same mistakes. When I approach them with gentleness, recognizing my own weaknesses, even leading with my weaknesses, that seems to help them a whole lot more.
I’m making a personal commitment today. Before I start getting on to my kids for anything, I want to first think about my own weaknesses. I want to remember that I am beset with weakness. That way, when I deal with their weaknesses, I can do so with the proper spirit.
Have a great week and remember that God’s way works with our families.
As is often the case after I spend a week with parents I think are doing a better job than me, I have loaded up on parental encouragement in the form of books. Thank you Half Price Bookstore. I’ve come across one that I think is going to revolutionize my thinking about my job as Dad and my expectations of my children.
The book is Rite of Passage Parenting: Four Essential Experiences to Equip Your Kids for Life* by Walker Moore. Our job as parents is to bring up our children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). Bring them up, that is, lead them to maturity and adulthood. Moore suggests our American culture has lost four essentials to help bring our children up to that maturity.
- Rite of Passage
- Significant Tasks
- Logical Consequences
- Grace Deposits
I haven’t finished the book yet, but I’ve read enough to be excited about its promise and if the book falls flat in delivering good advice the mere concept has opened my eyes to a better way to work with my kids. Sometimes I think he is over the top with his satirical humor (perhaps the result of working as a youth minister–one can tend to forget that in writing a book for parents he no longer has to shoot from the hip with excessive humor). Additionally, some of his illustrations fall flat for me because of the difference in perspective on things like prom. However, I’m getting a great deal out of this book and I look forward to telling you all about it when I’m finished.
Today, I thought I would simply throw out the concept and leave you with a passage from the book to whet your appetite.
Walton’s Mountain Revisited
While I was growing up, my parents used to make us sit through (back then, it seemed more like “suffer through”) a television show called The Waltons. Each week the show reached us throug the vision and voice of John-Boy, the eldest son of John and Olivia Walton. John-Boy worked with his dad on a farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains and helped him run the sawmill.
Today, this show might be considered politically incorrect. For instance, John and Olivia actually expected John-Boy to work–planting corn, feeding livestock, and chopping wood. He and his six siblings had to do their chores in order for the family to survive. You would never hear his dad say, “You know what? We ought to let our kids be kids. They’ll grow up soon enough.”
If The Waltons had been written about our modern-day family, the show would look very different. First of all, no one would expect John-Boy to help his family. While his dad tried to keep the farm going, John-Boy would sit in his room, playing video games. His sole responsibilities would consist of making his bed and taking out the trash. He could only accomplish these tasks, of course, with tremendous whining, complaining, and snorting like a bull poised for attack.
If the contemporary John and Olivia ever dared to let John-Boy go outside, he would certainly have to be covered from head to toe in protective gear. Can you see our modern-day John-Boy coming out to chop wood? He would have a helmet–not just any old helmet, but one that had passed all the government safety ratings. He would don protective eyewear, elbow pads, and safety shoes with reinforced steel toes. His parents would make sure he had a rope tying the axe handle to his wrist. That way, if he let the ax slip, it wouldn’t go very far. It would have a safety shield covering its head so John-Boy wouldn’t accidentally cut himself. Of course, it would also come with a safety DVD so he could learn which end was sharp and how he should always keep it point away from his face. Finally, the ax would come shrink-wrapped in clear plastic–the kind that even a nuclear blast can’t break free.
I’m sure you get the idea of where this is going. I can’t wait to learn more about helping my children become adults. I’ll share with you what I learn as we’re going along.
*This post does contain affiliate links. Hey, I’m trying to help you with your parenting. Why don’t you help me with mine, click the link, buy a book, help my kids. Here’s another chance.