When Morgan was a toddler, and Madison was a newborn, I was making my way on foot to my parents house. I needed to cross two acres of pasture using a footpath. It had recently rained and the storm had caused limbs, and bunches of Florida's Spanish Moss to lay scattered across the path. Obstacles not normally there and easy to trip on. It was the end of dusk and was nearly dark. Holding my baby in one arm, and helping my toddler over the branches and debris with my other hand, all while carefully making sure I, myself, didn't stumble and fall. It was a precarious situation.
I remember thinking, "Wow. This experience is exactly like parenting. None of us really KNOW what we're doing. We're all just carefully doing our best to get our children down the path of life with as little harm as possible."
Immediately God's Spirit responded to my thoughts of woe and said, "Not if you're studying scripture. My Word is a lamp to your feet, and a light to your path."
I wasn't particularly feeling spiritual, so it shocked me that God's grace would extend to me without even searching for it. That moment of correction and insight made an impact, and I've tried to be diligent in using His illuminating tool. Thankfully, in those times I attempted worldly shortcuts, I had parents who would remind me to turn the light back on, and caution me to stay on the path. It's easy to adjust one's eyes to maneuvering in darkness. And yet, it's dangerous & costly. I truly am grateful for correction.
My babies are now both taller than me, each are carrying their own "lamps" and together we are quite able to pursue God's callings on each of us as individuals. They've not been perfect. I've not been perfect. We've experienced temptations and sins, forgiveness and mercy, battles and victories. And all along, that beautiful light of truth has faithfully illuminated our path.
We think that there's no parenting manual. When a baby is born we jokingly say, "They don't come with a manual!" But they DO! In fact, the manual is available before the baby is born. And even more importantly, The Creator of "the product" went to great lengths to make sure we'd know how to properly raise & train His heritage to bring out their greatest potential and value. We've simply deemed it archaic, or not relevant. But my experiences with the Bible, first as a child whose parents used its parenting methods, then being a parent and using its instruction, has proved it to be the best manual in the world.
What we don't have in the Bible are passages telling us, "You'll feel weird, awkward, possibly even 'bad' for spanking your child." What I've seen happen is that parents of toddlers experience this, and decide it's too uncomfortable. So they do one of two things; 1. They revert to modern philosophies of child rearing. 2. They turn a blind eye.
The problem with reverting to modern philosophies is that 99% of those high-minded philosophers are atheists whose opinions are not truth-based. They are philosophies born of children who's parents didn't pattern their lives after the Word of God. Therefore these authors and television personalities typically come from homes which had addiction abuse, physical abuse, verbal abuse, and other wounding behaviors. The pain and darkness endured in these families have been horrific. They transfer their experiences into their philosophies and opinions about parenting. Why would we then follow the advice of those who were neither raised by the methods of The Creator, nor have they raised their children by God's methods? It's foolish to do so. It's crippling to do so.
The other alternative to not following the parenting instruction of the Bible is to turn a blind eye to our children's misbehavior. Rather than feel the awkwardness of a spanking, we'd rather let them be rude, impolite, make a mess, and many other far more disruptive behaviors. But the problem with this is that not only is the poor baby (or child) not learning, but the parent who refuses God's training methods is building an immunity to their child's disobedience. The parent builds a tolerance to behaviors that those outside the home are APPALLED at. The parent can't even see the bad behavior clearly because they've become calloused to it. Then, one day, without realization or warning, the child finally crosses whatever emotional line the parent has. The parent EXPLODES in a fury that causes damage far beyond the shortly-lived stings of a proper spanking. Most parents order their lives by this method. They'll use the philosophors methods partially. But the endless explanations are LOST on a child. They merely give the child more time to ponder deception while the parent rambles on and on in a lullaby-voice that puts the child in a stupor. Science has proven that a child's brain DOES NOT function as an adult's brain. Attempting to use the team-player skills you've learned on the job, or the communication ideas you've gotten from a leadership book IS NOT WHAT YOUR CHILD NEEDS. (For those of you who do not know, I have brilliant children. But long explanations never amounted to an ounce of good.) The parent's line of tolerance can change from day to day, hormone to hormone. It's unfair and cruel to a child at how unpredictable this "line" can be. The scripture prescribes that we use spanking. Accept it.
A proper spanking is NOT across the face. It is NOT connecting to whatever part of the body the hand happens to strike out at. It is NOT with the backside of a hand, nor with a closed fist. A proper spanking is in fact across the non-organ-holding, fatty tissue of the buttocks or upper thighs. It's an emotional experience, but it IS NOT a violent experience. It's a stinging experience, but it is NOT a violent experience. Your job isn't to require tears. Your job isn't to incite screaming. If your child stands stone-cold while you sting his skin with a few strokes. So be it. Don't let this determine, "Spnskings don't work." God didn't call you to demand tears. He called you to teach your child the consequences of the disobedient are not pleasant for ANYBODY. Not pleasant for the parent. Not pleasant for the other siblings. Not pleasant for the child.
A proper spanking must be a consistent experience. By that, I mean a parent must break the habit of turning a blind eye. EVERY time. Every time. And again I say and add, EACH AND EVERY TIME the child does something that is disobedient, and not productive to their character. Then that child must experience the sting of consequence. You may see your child touch a glass figurine at your home and you tell them to not touch it. But then they, in fact, do touch it again. Your job as the parent is not to excuse their disobedience. Of course they'll have an excuse. Perhaps they didn't hear you say it. Or perhaps they didn't realize you meant don't touch it again, ever. Your child can come up with the most pitiful voice to explain why they disobeyed. It'll break your heart. And your own brain can come up with even MORE excuses for them. But the bottom line is that you said, "Don't touch it." No more explanation is needed. If your child touches it, and there is no following spanking, you have damaged your child in a most extreme manner.
By not delivering the consequence you have taught them to repeat the behavior. You have stripped them of the safety and protection of discipline. Why would parents be so cruel to their children? Why would parents force their children to grow up not knowing where the line is? Why would parents be so uncaring as to not recognize that those outside the home do not have the same tolerance as the calloused parent for misbehavior? People who think spankings are cruel have never felt the safety and protection of KNOWING the rewards of obedience and the consequence of disobedience.
If you want an exact copy of a house you've seen, you're going to have to follow the exact plans to get the same house. Don't assume or hope your toddlers and children will be patterned after godliness simply because you're bringing your kids to church. Specific parenting behaviors laid out in scripture will bring about the outcome of a delightful teen. FOLLOW THOSE PLANS TO THE LETTER!
To the mothers in my church, I am wide-open for you to come to me in-person and ask how I'd handle something your baby, toddler, or child is doing. Whether you follow the advice is your business. (We'll ALL know what advice you followed when your child is about 11 years old.) I don't want to answer questions about anything after the age of 13, because that's the stage of path I'm currently being led by God's Word in. I'll answer those questions after I get mine past this piece. But my outcome and experiences, my mistakes and trials have made me feel extremely confident in answering questions for parents of those children under the age of 13. I will gladly show you how the Scripture can be applied and relevant to our current culture of parenting.
I’m grateful for the parenting manual in scripture. Chuck modern philosophies. Stick with the organic methods of The Creator. I'm so glad I did!
Side note: Normally I write a blog piece and immediately publish it, grammar-warts, and all. But, I'm a hardcore people-pleaser, and THIS one had me shook. I've re-read it a half a dozen times, I've asked other moms for opinions. I know it's going to make some people mad, other people embarrassed... But I also believe it's correct. I've been to Gethsemene, and I'm prepared for the crucifixion.
So, off it goes to cyberspace.........