Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Not long ago, I sat in church and noticed a young visiting couple having difficulty with their little one. As I watched, the young mother got up once during the worship, once during the announcements, and once during the message—three times— to take her little troublemaker out. Meanwhile, the dad sat there and did nothing. He was passive.
It reminded me of Adam in the garden when Eve was being tempted by the serpent. Eve discussed, listened, and ate. Then she gave the fruit to Adam “who was with her.” He had been there the whole time and done nothing. He had been passive. His passivity did not benefit his offspring.
When I was a young tyke, too young to remember the incident directly, I acted up in church. (My mom has related this story to me out of her compassion.) Apparently, I made enough noise to disturb the people nearby. My dad swept me into his arms and marched out of the auditorium and down the stairs to the basement of the church. There, he “warmed my bottom.” Then he instructed me that it was time to “dry it up,” meaning it was time to stop crying. In the intensity of that one-on-one moment, I calmed myself.
Then Dad carried me back upstairs and into the auditorium. After about five steps in, I saw Mom and let out a wail. That was a big mistake! Dad immediately whirled around, took me back downstairs, and again warmed my bottom. Knowing my dad as I later came to know my dad, I imagine he said, “Now, I mean, dry it up!” I did my best, sniffling and snuffling, but far from crying and wailing.
When we re-entered the auditorium this time, I managed to keep my noise limited to those same sniffles and snuffles. There I sat, through the rest of that morning, beside my dad, muffling my snuffling as well as I could.
Whatever age I was, that was the day I learned to listen in church. That discipline has served me well through the years. Because of him, I listened, I learned, I responded.
“Shorty” Currie was an involved dad. He didn’t sit back and watch my mother carry the family. He stepped up. Today, we need more dads like Shorty Currie. I am sure that he probably made some minor mistakes along the way, just as we all have. But he got the main things right: Don’t be a passive dad, take responsibility, lead the discipline charge.
This week, if he were still alive, William Carnelious Currie would be turning ninety-one. My brother, my sister, and I have benefited from his fatherhood. He was an active and effective dad.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
“She’s too cute.” Reason number one that we often do not discipline a little guy or girl is just cuteness. Apparently we must think that discipline will “uncute” them. I have scoured the Bible to find answers to the cute syndrome and I have stumbled on this thought. In Genesis 4, God states this to Cain: “If you do what is right, will not your countenance be lifted up?” Now I am not sure whether or not Cain was cute, but God does indicate that doing right improves the countenance and doing wrong hurts it. Doing well beautifies and doing wrong uglifies. If we want them to stay cute, we need to train them to do the right thing.
“He has such a strong will.” Some kids do have stronger wills than others. Their strength of resolve is resilient and seemingly constant. However, the answer is not to be a weak-willed parent! Definitely not. These four things are necessary with a strong-willed child: Look ahead, plan ahead, communicate ahead and keep your head.
The child is living by impulse and desire; parents must direct them with clear purpose and unity. Get together as parents and discuss what steps to take. Get counsel from someone who fought this battle and won. Work together. Be on the same team. If either parents sides with the child, the battle is lost.
I have seen men despise their wives when they were struggling with a strong-willed child. The child grew up to despise first the mom, and when he got big enough, he despised the dad too. Dads, back up your wives.
“I am afraid he will feel rejected.” This is a dangerous lie. The scripture teaches just the opposite by encouraging us that “the Lord disciplines those he loves.” (Heb. 12) Discipline communicates love. Boundaries, guidelines, and follow-through communicate belonging, true sonship.
As our arms surround our children when we hug them, so clear discipline and boundaries are like enfolding them in love. It’s practical love, not mushy, or cushy. Children need both kinds of love from us—the hug and the boundaries.
They learn that correction is part of life and part of belonging. Correction prepares them to face pain or difficulty and bounce back. It instills character. We don’t correct the kids that are not ours. Our own kids understand that. When we correct our children, they know they belong.
Or, you could take the easy way:
Instead of having cute kids, have ugly kids. That would solve the cute problem. Marry somebody ugly, then you can have ugly kids and be a good disciplinarian. Make sense?
Instead of having a strong-willed child, have weak-willed children. Easy to raise, but not much future.
Instead of correcting your children, let them grow up untamed. Pretend that God does not hold you responsible. Maybe they won’t feel rejected. Maybe they’ll expect everyone to treat them as softly as you do. Maybe they’ll grow up and life will be easy for them. Maybe they won’t face difficulty. Maybe.
Posted by Keith at 4:35 AM
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Between Christmas and New Year’s Day, we were able to unpack some book boxes and get some of our “old friends” out on the shelves again. In the process, we uncovered a treasure. Patricia had kept journals for each of our children when they were very young. Opening those pages was like stepping into a time machine, recalling memories long forgotten, laughing at the little everyday things that were so amazing. For a while, unpacking stopped and reading took over.
Concerning Anna, Patricia noted that she was fascinated with language. When she learned a contraction or a new phrase, “she would use it over and over again until it was mastered.” Today, Anna is fluent in Spanish and has also studied French and Arabic.
Concerning Patrick, “when other people entered the room, he would light up and come alive.” As an adult, Patrick has an ability to relate to almost anyone and can gather a crowd for fun or purpose.
In Will’s case, we found an old video, and there he was at two playing with a ball twice his size. As an athlete, he excelled in basketball and was a key contributor toward a state championship.
Looking back, it is marvelous to us to see that they all had early hints of who they have become. God had written into their DNA certain skills and abilities that would have opportunity to flourish and grow. Truly, they are fearfully and wonderfully made.
As parents, it is part of our joy to recognize these tendencies in our children and to help them develop. Sometimes we do it intentionally, but other times quite accidentally. God helps us see these glimpses of the future in our children; it is our opportunity to be working alongside the Father.
As you spend time with your children, watch . . . and pray that you will have eyes to see what God is doing in your children. You can have confidence in this: oOur Father will do his part.
Posted by Keith at 4:11 AM