A child taught to honor others will know himself also worthy of honor.
The little caterwauling (five-year-old or so) brat in the grocery store the other day was not being taught honor. Her mother, in ignoring her whines and screams, was dishonoring her child and all the rest of us.
“Shut that kid up,” John muttered when they were still at the front of the store. By the time they reached us I was more than slightly annoyed. And so I did the mature thing: I waited until the mom wasn’t looking and made a face and stuck my tongue out at the little darling. She paused a moment and returned to her routine, and when the mom turned away again, I again did my thing. She frowned and shut her mouth. Hooray, Hoorah!
I would have liked to go that that mother and say, “I’ve raised several children, and I could help you with this if you’d like,” but my experience tells me that people of dishonor are also proud. People with the least reason to be proud of their parenting skills, are often the most proud.
Pride lives in the same house as fear and ignorance, and it’s a strong house, a fortress nearly impenetrable. But sometimes a mother gets a smidgen of common sense, and has enough respect for herself and the world around her, and even for this child who has been mistaught all her life, to make a change. Sometimes she has enough courage to say, “Hey, maybe I could be wrong, maybe there’s a better way than the way of insanity, which is where this child is taking me. Maybe all those guys with those initials by their names and yet no successfully raised children of their own, maybe those guys aren’t as smart as the Maker of my child.
The Word of God (no, He’s not dead and you’re not smarter than He is) says He chastens those he loves, and we’re to follow His examples. The Word tells us to raise our children in the nurture and the ADMONITION of the Lord. The Word tells us Jesus left us the Holy Spirit as our Counselor.
Why then, would we choose the latest parenting fads written by people who don’t even know God and who never read the Maker’s manual, as gospel?
I see moms who want to personally raise their children, who love them desperately, and choose to stay home and to work from home, in order to be there for their children. And yet, having been raised in totally structured, controlled, unnatural environments themselves (daycare) they want to structure every waking moment of their child’s life.
There is an upside down and backwardness to this: On the one hand the child has no rules, no fettering chains of bedtimes, mealtimes, behavior standards. He will decide when he’s ready to be potty trained, when he goes to bed, if he wants to eat Lucky Charms for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And yet, when it comes to a child’s work, which is play, every moment is ordered and structured. Beginning with feeding an infant, there is a schedule, a device from Hell guaranteed to make both mother and child crazy. Rather than, as I was with my daughter Rebekah, wishing the baby would wake up so you could have a lovely cuddle and talk and nursing time, the mother is either waking her child up to eat, or listening to her cry and refusing to meet her needs.
“She can’t be hungry, she just wants to be held,” is actually used as a defense for scheduling. So what if she just needs to be held? Hold her!!! Babies who aren’t held at all actually die. Holding is part of the deal.
If you have a large, muscled, healthy baby, he may be an almost permanent appendage. You may feel, as did I, that all you do is nurse. So what? Again, part of the deal. So deal with it. Sometimes babies nurse often because they’re going through a growth spurt, sometimes it’s because the mother needs to eat more red meat and drink more milk. Milk made of Mountain Dew and Twinkies will not sustain the incredibly rapid growth of a baby.
I had a friend once who breast fed her baby until three months, when she gave it up. “I just couldn’t eat that much,” she said. I can definitely relate. It takes a lot of food, and in my totally unpopular opinion, you need to start adding big people food much earlier than the experts say. Their allegation that early table food leads to food allergies was never true in days of old, when food allergies were almost unheard of. I say feed them real, organically grown, non-processed foods and they’ll be fine. And pray. We refuse in Jesus’ Name all such inconveniences as food allergies and illnesses in this house. It’s called calling on God’s promises and acting like you actually believe them, but that’s an entirely different subject. Or is it? Isn’t God’s Word the beginning and the end of it all?
Back to babies: Rebekah used to finally wake up, grin at me, nurse a little, then stop to coo and grin while the milk ran out of her mouth. I would laugh with her. Guess what? She’s grown now and we’re still laughing at and with each other, still cuddling, still nuts about each other.
The “experts” telling you to do all these nonsensical, extremely inconvenient and painful parenting practices never tell you the long term outcome based on their own personal experiences. My guess is that if they follow their own advice they don’t have good personal outcomes to report.
“Well, they say now babies need to make their own decisions,” a young mom said recently to me. She was holding a toddler with blue feet. It was snowing and bitterly cold, but this child didn’t want to wear shoes that day. “What,” I wanted to ask, “do they say you should do when she gets frostbite?”
What I simply said was, “Well, sometimes.”
A child (as evidenced above) of one year doesn’t have the wisdom to decide if she’s going to wear shoes in a snowstorm. That’s one of the many reasons she has a mother. If she can’t trust her mother to have the use of her tongue for forming the word “No” this little girl is in for it.
This child makes no demur when the mom puts her in the car seat. She knows from long experience that when she gets in the car she goes in the car seat. Why can’t she also learn that when she goes outside in the wintertime she wears shoes? Why can’t she also learn that when she walks across the grocery store parking lot she has to hold her mommy’s hand? No child’s psyche was ever irreparably damaged by having her tiny hand lovingly and protectively held by one bigger and stronger, until that day she is old and wise enough to know to look both ways. Regardless of what they say, this doesn’t happen in babyhood or during the toddler years.
A child who learns that when her parent says “no”, she actually means “no” is a fortunate child. A child who learns that the world isn’t all about her, but that according to her mother’s loving and sacrificial example, the world is about the privilege of having other people to love and to consider. To honor.
A wise parent will make sensible rules and expect them to be followed. Some of ours were respect for other people’s property (stay out of your siblings’ rooms unless invited), no running or yelling in the house (honoring adult nerves and sensibilities), good table manners (honoring other diners). I could go on, but the point is this: Children must learn that all people are worthy of honor and respect, and that this includes them personally. And one of the first ways they learn this is from a parent who isn’t afraid to do the hard thing: to honor her child not only by nurturing, but also by disciplining, training, and teaching them the honor of others.
The big payoff among many smaller payoffs: This child will be set up to honor God.