READ Proverbs 22
We all have Proverbs 22:6 ingrained in our biblical parenting toolkit, “Train up a child in the way he SHOULD go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” We moms wonder if & pray that we have helped set our childrens’ feet on the path that God would purpose for them-using scriptures to train & fashion their character.. .But, have you ever considered the FLIPside WARNING of this exact passage? There are 2 sides to every coin, after all. It’s all how you emphasize the phrasing: “Train up a child in the way HE should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” a completely different mindset, worldview, & outcome!! Contemporary culture is PCing parents to “spare the rod” (which spoils the child). “Woe to you, O land/household, when your king is a child, and your princes feast in the morning!” Ecclesiastes 10:16. “The rod & reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” The scriptures, especially the book of Proverbs, trains us parents in the way we SHOULD go, with the confidence that if we “discipline our children, they will give us rest” (Proverbs 29).
Ok, 2 more cents: DISCIPLINE & PUNISHMENT. I learned this lesson many years ago, before I was married, in leadership training with Bible Study Fellowship. We were empowered to tackle a room full of toddlers which had a Little Tikes slide as the temptation/centerpiece in the middle of the classroom! I was absolutely amazed at how we could manage this crew of motley minis!! We navigated minefields of dysfunction & distress with these simple imperatives:
1. We walk up the steps & slide down on our bottoms.
2. If you choose to walk up the slide, you will be invited to have a talk with the teacher outside the door.
….singing the chorus of “Trust & Obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to TRUST & OBEY“. ..we transition from bible story to playtime.
Jubilant toddlers form a line at the steps, except for Jack. “Jack, remember, we walk up the steps and slide down on our bottoms.” | DISCIPLINE is training a child in the way he should go.
Jack smiles and proceeds to climb the slippery slope, upward. ..to the chagrin of eager bodies, exercising a new lesson in patience, itching to slide downward. There are no willowy threats in this room, no, “I’m going to count to 3”. ..and we don’t allow the insurrection to continue until all the adults are exasperated to the point of an emotional outburst and yelling, “DON’T DO THAT!!” when we have hit our own tipping points as little ones have started to cry & meltdown.. . | PUNISHMENT is giving an apt consequence for the infraction at hand.
Nipping mutiny in the bud, as the newbie childrens leader in training, I am assigned to practice the parenting lesson. Deep breath. I reach out to take Jack’s little hand in mine, smile, & invite him to come and have a chat. Outside the door, hearing the muffled giggles of pure joy that must seem like a world away to the little pirate prince, I kneel to eye level with the now, wide-eyed Jack. The devious smile has flipsided in reverential fear. This is when we share understanding with the little rebel :: Logic + Love. “Jack, what is the rule for enjoying the slide?” Respectfully he answers, “We walk up the steps and slide down on our bottoms.” “Yes”, I explain, “This way, everyone will safely enjoy the slide. I care about you and all the children here. I want you to be able to enjoy the slide. In fact, Jack, you are the oldest boy in this class. You could be the leader and show everyone how to use the slide safely! Are you ready to go back and try it again?” nod, nod. big smile!
Jack, a 3 year old, rose up to the challenge! He obeyed the rules of the slide & led his classmates, cautioning those who would start to backslide. He also came to trust my loving authority and would save a seat for me next to him at snacktime each week!! A disciplined son gives rest.
What pocketful of parenting gems have you gleaned from this month’s 31 for 31 challenge in the Book of Proverbs?
#IAMWise #IAMPowered #IAMPoweredToParent …COMING SOON to the I AM Powered Series