Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Disciplining done by the undisciplined

I thought I had some idea of what it would be like to be a parent. I didn't just have rosy fantasies about a chubby cherub, slumbering peacefully; I figured there would be screaming and pooping and tantrums. But I couldn't envision what an all-consuming task it would be. Twenty four hours a day. Seven days a week. Someone always watching what you do. Listening to what you say. Repeating what you yell when you stub your toe. I didn't realize I would have to brush my teeth after I snacked on Cream Cheese and Chives Wheat Thins because Frankie can smell them on my breath when I get her from her nap ("I smell something. What is it you are eating, Mommy?"). I didn't know she would reenact my discipline of her with her stuffed animals ("You screamed again. You need another time out. Sorry. She's crying. You disobeyed me when you screamed. I'm sorry. You forgive me? OK, let's get back in. No fussing"). I didn't realize that not only could I not sleep until 7 am but I also couldn't be sick, or take a bath alone, or run up the stairs to quickly grab something ("I WANTED TO COME WIIITHHHH YOOOOUUUUU!!!!"). I didn't realize how constant the task would be, how every moment we would be steering in a direction, good or bad.
We've started trying to back up our corrections of Frankie with Scripture. We want her to know why something is the right thing to do, not because we say it is, but because God does. So we try to keep our voices even, stumbling often, and teach her what it means in Proverbs 15:1 that "A gentle answer turns away wrath." And we try to make her commit to her words with Matthew 5:37 "Let your yes be yes, and your no be no." It sometimes feels overwhelming though, the job of shepherding a child in obedience when your own heart rebels so much.
I like what my BSF manual says about the importance of discipline: The measure of a child's obedience and response to you now will help to initiate a habit of obedience, which is of great importance in her response to the Lord as she grows.
God has entrusted us with our girls and sometimes I am speechless with the responsibility of tending the fertile soil of their little hearts.

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