Friday, September 08, 2006

In Honor of Mr. Sad Spoon

I remember his face so vividly, and my apologies if I don't have the order of his appearances correct. The times I most often saw Mr. Sad Spoon were when he was traveling around in a purse. He would stay quiet and unbothered unless the child he was traveling with decided to disobey. After the second warning from the boy's parent, Mr. Sad Spoon would discreetly poke his head out and keep his eye on the boy to make sure he was obeying his mom. If the boy continued to act out...well, then he and Mr. Sad Spoon would evidently have to have a little meeting. I don't recollect Mr. Sad Spoon having to impart his wisdom too often, but there were definitely occasions.

I remember looking on at such times wondering as to the effects of Mr. Sad Spoon's particular form of discipline. Was this an effective means of correction? After my many visits to home where Mr. Sad Spoon was kept safe and sound, I was convinced that the answer to my question was "yes." I often looked on from a distance, wondering what was so distinct about this family's approach to discipline, their philosophy of raising their child, and how they came to know that this was effective. Even as an adolescent, I could see that there was appropriate correction going on. They were clearly doing something right, but at the time I didn't know how to articulate my observations or how to really dig deeper into why their means of discipline were so effective in raising up a child to love and fear the Lord. I didn't understand, and any form of discipline was completely foreign to me, so I simply assumed that they were really good parents. Don't get me wrong--they were great parents, but it was so much more than that, the reasons for which I have only recently been able to wrap my heart and mind around.

I am taking a class led by Dr. Stinson this semester on Parenting & Family Issues. This class has ministered to my heart much more than I was expecting. As many will agree who know me well, ministering to the family has always been a deep conviction of mine, so I was particularly excited about this class. Little did I know, however, just how much I would glean from the class discussions and required reading. Things that seemed like distant concerns to me for so long are now grabbing my attention, and I am finding myself meditating on passages of Scripture I would otherwise probably pass over (there's a bit of a confession for you--passing over portions of Scripture simply because they "don't apply.") What has blown me away in this class is just how much work it really is to train up children to love, obey, and fear the Lord. There are so many opportunities for parents to either boast in themselves and their progress, or spend hours awake at night in self-doubt over some poor choice they made either in a decision or harsh word spoken. There is much weight to the reality that parents are given the responsibility of teaching their children godly obedience and authority.

My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights. --Proverbs 3:11-12

Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him. --Proverbs 22:15

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. . . . For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. --Hebrews 12:7-11

In our recent class discussion, the professor emphasized that the goal of disciplining children is not punishment. The goal of discipline is pointing your children to true repentance. Parents are to approach their children with the attitude of, “I am a sinner desiring for my child, a fellow sinner, to know Christ and be cleansed—to experience real sanctification.” Dr. Stinson’s three older children were directly impacted by the discipline implemented in the home when it came to their individual conversion experiences and relationship to Him. The Lord very directly used that in their lives. That is so powerful…that those children will one day be able to say of their father that he displayed God-glorifying authority and discipline in a humble manner that pointed them to Him.

At this point, due to my somewhat rare medical condition, I may not even be able to have children. However, I can look to my own upbringing and see where I either benefited or was hindered by the general approach to discipline in my home. I can also look to families I know and have known, and so much more makes sense. Whether the reality of the particular family dynamic is encouraging and humbling, or discouraging and frustrating, I can better understand why those particular households run as they do. The question of why parents and children respond to one another in certain ways is more clear. Children are under the authority and wisdom and counsel of their parents, and parents are responsible for pointing their children to the authority and wisdom and counsel of their Father. Idols of the heart, whether covert or overt, will inevitably manifest themselves in the relationships between parent and child. Only the Lord Himself can guide and instruct parents on how they are to train their children, and He alone should be glorified in how discipline is implemented.

(Recommended: Peacemaking for Families by Ken Sande/Tom Raabe, and Shepherding a Child's Heart by Ted Tripp)


ckhnat said...

i'd be honoured

Panda-Mom said...

Wow. Pretty solid observation from someone who hasn't experience parenthood (yet! there are babies all over this world who need YOU as a Mommy!). No doubt, the hardest thing I have ever done is become a Mom. No one.....I mean absolutely NO ONE could have prepared me for parenthood and the realities it brings. I would not have listened to anyone trying to tell me how challenging and life-changing it is. I would actually get angry with other moms who would tell me, "You just wait until you have your own kids and then you'll see." or "You don't know, because you don't have kids." (These things were said at times when their kids were WILD and I just sat back and watched! I guess by me NOT responding they thought that I was judging) At the time most of these women were being a bit snotty towards me and I felt like my heart would break because they were torturing me with the fact that I didn't yet have children. To me it hurt. Now being on the other side I have made it a MAJOR point to never say that to a non-parent. Because I never would have listened to them and due to the fact that one can't comprehend any experience of another without actually experiencing it for themselves then I just choose to tell people that motherhood is very challenging, yet so joyfilled at the same time. My world crashed when I got the dream I always wanted in being a mom. It wasn't the dream I had imagined for so long. You see who you actually are and how you relate to your heavenly Father. There is no other job more important than teaching your own child the eternal importance of an obedient heart. The daily struggle to bend your child's VERY stubborn will to the way you know it will benefit them more is such a reflection of how God wants to do the same with me. Ouch. There is so much more to this whole story. My heart breaks when I see Chrisian parents just throw their babies to the wind and let the child run the household and the whole family wonders why their world is in constant chaos. I pray that we are doing right by Panda-Girl, but I thank God DAILY that there is no record keeping of the mistakes I have made with her. Forgiveness and second-chances abound in our house. We can talk later...