Monday, March 9, 2009

Who's Training Whom? Part 2

Proper Biblical training cannot take place without the Bible. Would you agree? We need it to guide us in every aspect of our lives, including this crucial task of passing the torch of light and life to our children.

I'm sure many of you have read countless books and articles on raising and training children; perhaps you are already an expert in the areas of discipline, education, socialization, and maybe even the nutrition of our children. My only input would be that if it doesn't match up with the Word of God, ditch it.

An area in which I notice many families struggle concerning their children is the issue of authority. I often think, "Who's in charge here?" Have any of you noticed this problem?

For example, I was grabbing a few things at our local small town grocery store last week, and I observed an interaction between a small boy (maybe 6 years old), his mother, and his grandmother. I was in the dairy section, and they were discussing the cheese he wanted to buy for his next day's school lunch.

Did he want the sliced cheese? No. And he didn't even want the convenient string cheese. Mom was trying to convince him (I know I am a little hard-nosed, but I am already seeing a problem.) that the cubed cheese would be better for his lunchbox. Unfortunately, the little boy had his heart set on shredded cheese.

I, too, would have thought, What? Do you know how much easier a slice of cheese would be in your school lunch than shredded cheese? Both Mom and Grandma could have taken 1 of 2 options (in my humble opinion). Either say right off the bat, "OK. I will buy the shredded cheese and you will learn the hard way. OR "No, I understand what is best for you and what is the most reasonable and sensible option (as the mother!). I am also the one paying for the cheese so I will choose what is the smartest use of my money. You get (whatever) cheese."

(If child would have whined or whatever at that point, I personally would then say, "OK. No cheese." But some of you are further down the sanctification road in the area of mercy and may not agree! ;-)

Nevertheless, my fellow shoppers did not take the "aisle" of training this day. Even after I had selected my purchases and was walking away, they were both still trying to persuade the little boy to choose another cheese besides the shredded. He was, as you might expect, behaving in a very spoiled way, whining and arguing with his mother and grandmother, insisting on his own way. Once I was in the next aisle, I could still hear it continue until the mother said, "Fine! Have your shredded cheese, but you will see!"

A great disservice occured that day. Mom forgot (or has never realized) that she is in charge. Her child should always know and be comforted in the fact that someone is in charge and it's not him! (A lesson our children should learn which will make it easier to understand that God is always in charge.) Somewhere in the past, she had delegated the authority to the little boy and seemed to be used to persuasion and arguing tactics herself. It seemed he was actually training her! He used whining, pouting, crying, and arguing to manipulate her. He was actually in charge, and he won the cheese battle! (and probably countless others. . .)

We all have seen it. We have seen situations when we want to say, "MOM! You are supposed to be in charge! It is your responsibility!"

I know I have fallen victim to it myself. When Big Brother was a little toddler, he was quite a handful for about 10 months or so. He was known to throw right down in the floor and demonstrate what a real temper tantrum looked like! At first, I was so naive I took him to the pediatrician b/c of the way he had begun to act! She checked him all over and then looked me straight in the eyes and said, "Mom, he is having temper tantrums." So humbling. . .

I remember one time eating with my parents and my brother and his family at a Cracker Barrell. Big Brother would not be quiet nor behaved, and I felt at my wit's end. My mother gently pointed out during the meal, "Rebekah, he's playing with your knife." I was so exhausted with trying to train this little wad of emotions that I answered, "I don't care, if it will just keep him quiet. . . ." (She reminded me of that for 8 years! :-)

(In his defense, he no longer throws temper tantrums. :-) He is quite the good-natured little man who brings great joy to our family!)

For that moment, you see, I had reliquished my role as the one in charge. I let him be in charge. It was only a table knife, but I should have been consistent with the obvious rule: Don't play with knives!

As parents, we are in charge, and it is our God-given responsibility. Last time we considered Proverbs 22:6, which specifically tells us to TRAIN our children.

When we allow the child to make the decisions and manipulate us, are we not, in effect, leaving them to themselves?

"The rod and rebuke give wisdom, BUT A CHILD LEFT TO HIMSELF BRINGS SHAME TO HIS MOTHER" (Proverbs 29:15).

In Ephesians 6, Paul gives similar instructions by telling the children to obey their parents and fathers to bring their children up "in the training and admonition of the Lord" (v. 4).

Yet, the Word offers hope for those who follow the Lord's plan in this area:

"Correct your son, and he will give you rest; yes, he will give delight to your soul" (Proverbs 29:17).

Obviously, it is God's plan for the parents to do the training and not the other way around! It is hard work and requires diligence and consistence. (And some require an even more intense amount of hard work and diligence than others. . . .ask me how I know! ;-)

We can all do it, with the Lord's grace and guidance. Let's strive together to raise champions for Christ as we keep our eyes on the cross, our focus on His Word, and our knees on the floor!
In the Heart of our Home,


Jill said...

Oh my! That's good. You should go on the road! Could your first stop be my house to get my cats in line?

Rebekah said...

Jill, you crack me up with those cats!

BabyDoll said...

Your post is very encouraging to those who have been around that block once and now going around it again! I have so forgotten what a handful a 3 year old can be. He's so sweet one min. and the next he is very demanding. "I'm in charge. I'm in charge." I'll keep reminding myself. I'm not as young as I used to be!