Love Reasons and the Loveliness of “No”

There is a child in my church who looks like a fairy wood sprite.  Her hair is white, her skin almond pink, and her large and luminous aqua eyes slant up with intelligence.

Her voice is intriguing, and for me it defies describing.  Perhaps because I am more interested in the mobility and expressiveness of her face when she’s talking.  Were it not for the new daddy in her life who understands the value and loveliness of the word, “No,” this child might be easy prey for the enemy of her soul someday.

But the fairy wood sprite is winning, and if this new daddy has his way, her entire life will be a fairy tale.  She is learning that she is royalty, deserving of all the best things, which include discipline.

I usually sneak peaks at this child from afar, but Sunday I went so far as to kiss her white head when she wore a bit of a frown on that dear face.  “Here’s a feel- better kiss,” I told her as she passed, and was gratified to see her smile as she walked away.

This child doesn’t need yet another adult fawning over her beauty, trying to make points with her mom and grandma by giving her whatever she wants, feeling sorry for her because (until lately) she was daddy-less.

If this child does what most kids do, she will act up a bit now and again.  And again.  If her parents do what most parents do, they will ground her, speak sternly to her, get angry and tell everyone who will listen all about it.

But if these parents are bold and brave because they know they’ve done the training, the nurturing, the hard part in saying “No” when it needed saying, they will also have the strength and wisdom to speak straight to this child.

I imagine such a scenario as this:  “The answer is ‘No'”, Dad says, (parents agreeing ahead of time after prayers together for wisdom) “And I’m going to tell you some of the reasons why.”

Child looking mutinous, still standing, so very wronged is she.

“Sit down.  I want to look you in the eye because I want you to see the love in my eyes.”

Child sits.

“So many reasons.  The phone is keeping you awake, keeping you from other activities, making us feel left out of your life, exposing you to things that may or may not be healthy for you.”  Mom thinking the main reason is that the more her child is hooked up to electronic devices, the less respect she shows her parents, and she chases a niggling thought that sounds something like, “And whose fault is that?”

Child rolling eyes.

“Please don’t do that.  Do I ever do that to you?  Because if I do, if you learned that from me, I sincerely apologize and give you leave right now to call me on it if I ever do.”

No comment.

“But there is another reason.  I call it The Love Reason.  The reason that someone who loves to make you happy, who loves to see your smile and hear your laughter, who wishes every moment of your day was pure joy – the reason such a one as your ma or I can say the dreaded “N” word is The Love Reason.

Child looking interested, alert.

“See, if I notice a kid in the store hooked up to her phone, it exasperates me.  But when it’s the child God gave me to love, in kicks The Love Reason.  The Love Reason is also God’s reason.  He says “No” about certain things because He loves us and doesn’t want our enemy to get at us.”

“He has high hopes for us, a destiny planned, a hope and future beyond what we can ask or think or even imagine.  So, you could just say my Love Reason is Love.  I love you and don’t want you harmed, hindered, or set back.  I don’t want you following the crowd and not going on your particular and beautiful adventure path in life.

Child listening.

“It’s my job.  God gave you to me as a responsibility and a gift to steward.  Even God Himself doesn’t own you – He wants you to give your life to Him willingly.  But He does have Love Rights.  Love Rights include the right to say “No”.

“So, Love Reasons and Love Rights. I could bore you with all the science behind what that phone’s doing to your fine brain, but suffice it to say watching instead of creating and doing shrinks the imagination part of the brain.  I think we can agree imagination is a marvelous and precious thing.”

Child nods just a little.

“So, here’s the deal:  Along with the No Thing I’m going to do the Hard Thing.  I’m going to put myself at your disposal to facilitate electronic alternatives – creative, action things that you can think of to do.”

Parent wonders what possessed him to make this offer – Mom raises eyebrows very high.

Child is quick on the draw.  “I want you to help me build a canoe, and take me fishing.  And my bike tire is flat.  Plus Mom said we could have a tea party and I want to do that.  Tomorrow afternoon.  So, maybe we need to go to the store right now to get the stuff.”

Mom is laughing right out loud.  Dad takes deep breath.

“Well, it just so happens I’ve been looking at canoe plans on the Net.  Let’s go to the garage and see what we have and what we need, then we’ll go to Home Depot and the grocery store.”

“Isn’t that technology, looking on the net at canoe stuff?”

“Why yes, it is.  But I wasn’t just watching people build, and fish in, canoes.  I’ve been finding out how they did it.  And we’ll make one even better.  I’m thinking your canoe should have pontoon floaters on the sides so it won’t tip if you want to stand up and fly fish.”

“Can we make a campfire and cook the fish at the lake?”

“Absolutely.”

Phone forgotten.

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