My Child was Sad, and that was BAD

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There was lots of fun stuff happening, and I was loving every single minute of it, except when I looked at Rebekah’s tight, sad, face.  I gave her hugs, I asked her if she was OK, I mentioned it to John (husband/dad), and I queried her siblings, “Do you know what’s bothering Rebekah?”  I gave her more hugs (she seemed to want lots of them) and finally, I prayed.

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Rebekah is a writer, and we’ve had an ongoing issue about her using up school, chore, family and personal time on the computer–not writing, but looking up and reading about the somewhat ridiculous antics of various celebrities.  Recently when I asked her if she was writing she fibbed to me about it.  I don’t mind lies as much as I mind a child acting like I am the village idiot.  “Shut the laptop,” I instructed firmly.  “Do NOT get back on there until I say so.  You can write in longhand on your legal pads for now.”

And I went about the business at hand: celebrating:  Hannah was born on my and John’s anniversary and this year was, as all years, a celebration of the unmerited, beyond-all-I-could-ever-ask-or-think-or-imagine LOVE of Jesus.  Still, I noted and pondered and watched the expressive and beautiful face of Rebekah.

Hannah had her birthday date with John, John and I had our anniversary date, we celebrated both with a steak dinner and birthday/anniversary party, I went on my Hannah date, and finally, last night about midnight, Hannah, John and Seth were off to bed, and Rebekah found her way to a bit of quiet with me.

“Mom,” she said, “I got on YouTube today.  And yesterday. And the day before.”

“Why?” I said a bit sharply, reluctantly looking up from watching Creflo Dollar teaching about what the Bible says about speaking in tongues (very interesting stuff).

She looked utterly miserable and I was filled with compassion.  I scooted over on the couch and told her to come curl up next to me.  I took her in my arms and kissed her head.  “Rebekah, God forgives me absolutely when I make a mistake, and I forgive you absolutely.”

She began to cry, and I recognized that look, the sound of those sobs:  I try and I try and I just can’t seem to do what I say I will do.  I’m such a loser, blah, blah, blah.

It’s OK, Sweetheart,” I told her.  “Tomorrow we will talk and pray and make a plan about exactly what you want to be learning and doing and enjoying.  I want to see you practicing your violin.  Do you want that?”

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She began to cry again.  “I don’t know why I haven’t been doing that.”  Back to the self-chastisement, the recriminations and condemnation.

I was inspired as I thought of the “roaring success”  of breakfast (cooked by her and her brother, Seth, while Hannah and I were gone).  “There’s no reason you and I can’t cook more together (she loves doing things with me).  We’ll put that on our petition of things we want to learn and do.  Now, you just don’t worry about anything at all.  We’ll work everything out tomorrow.”

She was still curled up next to me, in my arms.  She sat up.  “I feel better now.”

I did a few things right:  I paid attention to my child, amidst all kinds of diverting activities; I responded correctly to all those hug requests; I shared my concerns with other family members, so that everyone would be kind, aware that “something’s bothering Rebekah”; I made myself available; I listened and suggested solutions, and she listened to me, because of the most important thing of all:  I said, GOD FORGIVES YOU ABSOLUTELY AND I FORGIVE YOU ABSOLUTELY.

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The Bible tells us that it’s His kindness that leads to repentance.  In receiving His kindness, we are able to extend kindness to our children and to our mates, and to ourselves.  Let’s do it! Amen.

Fathers, (and Mothers) Provoke Not Your Children to Wrath

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My motives are pure:  I love children.  They are of exceedingly great value in my eyes.  Therefore, when I see them, as in the grocery store not long ago, screaming at and hitting their mothers, I am more than grieved, shocked, and appalled.  I am mystified.  Or was.

I drove home sick at my stomach.  “I don’t understand, Lord,” I prayed.  “Why would a mother put up with this?  How does this happen?”

And insight came:  She hasn’t done the nurturing, she knows deep inside she has no right to admonish.  Ah yes, Ephesians 6:4, KJV–And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

That child was provoked to wrath, in this case I surmise by the mother as well as the father, because of the absence of balance.

I, for one, have always preferred nurturing to admonition.  John (my husband) told me long ago, that if I had to err, my children would be better off with a little less nurturing and a little more admonition.  My response was that I don’t have to err, not if my nurture and admonition are directed by the very Spirit of God Himself, and that I will nurture my children until their cups runneth over, thank you very much.

I secretly thought I would just leave most of the admonishing to him, and I know I have plenty of sisters who think this way.  Not good.

My daughter is acquainted with a young woman who said she wished her mom had married someone else.  This is a family where the mom never disciplined, so the dad had to be the bad guy.  Not fair, not healthy.

We must all be brave enough to examine our parenting in the light of scripture, and let our child’s behavior be the indicator of where we might be missing it, be it nurture, admonition, or simply complete disregard for the author and finisher of good parenting–that would be our child’s Creator.

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Just a Little Spanking for You, Mommy, Should You Choose to Accept it

For kinder, gentler parenting advice and admonitions, go directly to the end of this post and read about Sally Clarkson’s book, The Mission of Motherhood.

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Counting to three.  Counting to three loudly.  Counting to three with threats (or rather, promises about to be broken). Is there anything sadder, sillier, more tiresome, or less effectual than a counting mommy?  I think not.

I ask myself, “Why?”  I ponder the questions, “Why can’t they see it doesn’t work?” and “Who is responsible for this parental drivel?”

Hell.  Hell holds the reason, the source, the blindness, and the responsibility.  Worst of all, the outcome is Hell–the Hell on earth of frustrated and angry parents living with bratty kids, and frustrated and angry kids living with witless parenting.

And books from Hell, written I surmise by:  men, or women who have nannies, or perhaps women who have never had a child, and yet, unbelievably, think they have the tiniest clue what they’re talking about.

What are the clues for me, the reader, that such authors have no clue?  A listing of some of the most glaring offenders begins with “The Fairness Doctrine,” reminding me that yes, there is something more tiresome than counting.  It’s grown-ups (well, in age at least) whining, “It’s not fair,” and teaching their children that fairness is their birthright, that everything and everyone should bend over backward to make sure they get their “fair” share.

Perversely, Fairness advocates, having taught their children greed, and disrespect, will insist they share and even give away favorite treasures to the neighbor’s even greedier get, or a whiny sibling. The child with the strongest will and weakest mother will win (and lose) in such encounters.

Fairness Doctrine devotees are also often proponents of “reasoning” with their little geniuses, and vehemently opposed to spanking.  I can hear it now, echoed by more than one lily-livered mommy, “Spanking is violence,” she says with pious horror and superiority.  “We don’t hit,” she adds in that valley girl affectation which makes real women squirm.  And yet, these children are often violent–screaming at and hitting their parents and siblings, without the slightest beginnings of the self-discipline necessary for life.  I submit to you where there is no natural order (that would be parents, rather than children, in charge) the most tyrannical and least qualified will rule.  Yes, there are households where two-year-olds reign.  Could anything be more ridiculous?

Yes.  We progress!  There is yet a further level of ridiculousness in today’s anti-logic parenting mantras.  They don’t spank, but they whine, wheedle, gripe, groan, endlessly and mindlessly repeat themselves, raise their voices, scream, and even cry.  “You made Mommy cry,” she blubbers.  PA-THET-IC!  Very probably she isn’t smart enough to spank.  Indeed, if she thinks spanking is violence, if that is what it is when she does it, perhaps she’s at least right in this one thing–she should not spank.

“Boys will be boys,” she smirks.  And criminals will be criminals, Mommy Idiotica.  Anything, it seems, is preferable to training your son that the world wasn’t expressly created for his amusement and debasement.

 “Safety first!” she mimes to justify keeping her listless, pasty-faced children indoors just because it’s nippy outside, as though it is actually good parenting (or even doable) to protect kids from any and all possibility of physical harm, even as she parks them in front of the TV at every opportunity, paying little or no attention to the mind-numbing and soul-bending messages bombarding their malleable psyches.

“Oh, kids are tough,” she explains as though she actually believes this lie, and also believes she possesses the wisdom of the ages.  Kids are humans, and therefore complex and beautifully fragile and sensitive beings, affected for good or bad by every single moment of their lives, and even more so, by every thought, word and deed of their parents.

These are a few of my (non) favorite things, and I have the credentials to talk about them–I have successfully raised world-changing (as opposed to weak, whiny, selfish, indecisive, crowd-following, world-destroying) children, and I have loved (almost) every minute of it.

P.S.  Villages are nice addendums, perhaps, but they cannot make up for ignorant, lazy, and irresponsible parenting.  Effective parenting is very hard work, so just accept that and get on with it. Prepare yourself for the long, long, long haul of teaching, re-teaching, training, praying, searching, paying attention, reading that same book over and over and over, praying, reading the Words of Jesus, and did I mention praying?  You don’t get overs on this, so live in the now–you have NOTHING more important to do than getting to know your child’s heart. Know that this parent/child training is ongoing and rigorous, and will stretch and grow you like nothing else on earth. Know also that the rewards are beyond compare and comprehension.  They are, as my daughter Hannah used to finish each night as we said her prayers, “peace and love and joy!”

P.P.S.  Should I write a book, entitled perhaps, “No One Loves a Brat, Be She Mother or Child”???  Speaking of books, the very best book on parenting I’ve ever read was by a woman raising world-changing children:  Sally Clarkson, bringer of great light via her masterpiece, The Mission of Motherhood