Wednesday, January 23, 2013

"I was spanked and I'm OK!" FEAR

Growing up I had an abysmal relationship with my parents. I often fantasized about different ways of being able to live away from them...<evil laughter> ;) To this day I'm confident that they never liked or enjoyed me in any way and that this has left a permanent mark on my daily life.

But, I am able to see things from lots of perspectives...which enables me to be able to see the bad and the good. And, for many years if I was telling someone about my parents...after I'd say what I said above I'd always add the good they also did me. And, that good I felt they'd done me was that they were very consistent in punishing me.

If I did something wrong, there was no "next time you do this..." No. I got paddled. Once I was older if I did wrong I got something taken away...something other than a physical pain was administered swiftly and consistently.

For years I thought that this had done me good...that it had made me grow up to become a good member of society. But, I'm older now...and I understand things better now...and now...I can see that it really did me no good...

I love to watch crime shows and often I think that there's no way I'd kill someone because I'd just know that someone was lurking somewhere nearby and see me. I just know I'd get caught.

That "just knowing" that I'd get caught is something I've always felt confident that my parents instilled in me because I always got caught. I always thought this was a good thing they did for me.

I even had an example of how this helped me in real life. Back when I was just 21 I'd been a mess and struggling to survive on my own and I was approached by someone and offered what to me would have been "a gold mine" to make one simple trip into Philly...with drugs.

As soon as I began to ponder this I just knew I'd get caught. Or, raped. Or something bad would happen. Despite the fact that I was really desperate for money I said no. Fear won.

I think that most parents think that punishment makes their children become morally upstanding people. But, it only makes their children afraid of being punished...and even a dog will alter their behavior to avoid pain.

For Christian parents...I have to ask...is this what you really think God wants instilled in us? A fear of getting caught? My heart wasn't against transporting drugs. My heart was all for giving them a ride to get some money for myself. But, what stopped me was fear of punishment not any moral conviction that this business was bad or that doing illegal things was wrong.

"For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” 2 Chron. 16:9

"After He had removed him, He raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My heart, who will do all My will.’" Acts 13:22

Does fear of punishment make me become a person whose heart is completely God's? Does fear of punishment make me become "a person after God's heart?"

My parents were very consistent in administering punishment when I messed up which has made me very afraid of messing up.

But, what if instead of punishment...I'd received discipline?

Jesus had 12 disciples.
They were called disciples because Jesus disciplined them.
How do we see Jesus disciplining the disciples?

What if...every time I'd messed up...my parents had helped me understand what I'd done and...how to fix it? What if they'd shown me how to repair what I'd messed up and move forward in the hope of doing better next time?

"If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9

God is not interested in people who are afraid of pain and behave in certain ways so as to avoid it. God is interested in people who desire His heart...

"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love." 1 John 4:18

If perfect love is filling your child's heart...they will not have fear of you...and vice versa...In my own life I lived in fear of my parents. Was I well behaved? Yes! But, there was never love in our home. To this day I do not have a loving relationship with them.

And, as a parent...I am obligated to discipline my children or else I hate them. The Bible says that "the rod of discipline will drive foolishness far from my child." The rod of discipline is God's rod. It's the rod Jesus used on the disciples. It's simple to see that God's rod is love because God is love and everything He does is in love.

Therefore, very clearly, God's rod would cast out fear not evoke it. And, what does God think of those who fail to see this clear and obvious lesson in scripture??

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse!" Romans 1 

If my form of discipline...my form of exercising the rod of the Lord...is pain...it will evoke fear in my children. God is love. So, if I focus on "fear" in my discipline then there is no love...no God...in that because perfect love (God) casts out fear.  And, calling the "No parent is perfect" card is not a valid excuse...we're at least to strive to be perfect and to be imitators of Christ...

"Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Matt. 5:48

And, once being made aware of doing something wrong with our children if we don't change...

"Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin." James 4:17

You've heard that "the wages of sin is death" right? What kind of death? Death, tearing down, separation...in our relationships and in our lives. The discipline of the Lord leads to building up, to connection...to life!!

Growing up being spanked is growing up learning that God's discipline will hurt me if I mess up...and that is not OK. Growing up being taught to fear discipline is not OK. 


I was spanked...and yes, I'm a safe member of society but not because I was spanked...in spite of it.

Because of being spanked I have been filled with things that are definitely not OK...





Thursday, January 17, 2013

Elisa Story: You're a JERK!

Last night something happened between two of my kids and I reacted to it...not well...and my reaction led to my 7 year old stomping off crying and shouting, "You're a JERK!"

Rewind a few years in my history and she'd have gotten a few swats on the hiney for that and I'd have expected her to apologize to me!


But, I don't hit my kids anymore...I have had to learn to use my words rather than relying on my superior size and strength  to "make" my kids be how I want them to be and I have to admit that sometimes that just leaves me...stuck! (which is why I guess I used to resort to hitting?)

I watched her stomp away and felt guilty because not only does not spanking change how you see your children's behavior...but how you see your own. I was able to see how it was really me that had caused the problem...that I had really been disrespectful to her...and she was right in how she'd felt about it. 

But, despite my ability to now see my own behavior clearly because I've stopped being the judge and jury of my children's behavior...I still felt a compulsion inside to want to make her not act like that. That "old me" is still in there. The way I grew up and the "Christian" community I parented my kids in for 20 years is still in there jumping up and down sometimes saying, "This is the fruit of not spanking them!"

After about 5 minutes passed she came back to me all on her own and stood before me calm...sad...and said, "I'm sorry for calling you a jerk."

What did I just say about "fruit?!" :)

Because I've made that change from "spanking" to "not spanking" she felt free to express her frustration with me and safe to return to me once she'd calmed down. 


(I wonder if God wants our children to feel free and safe?)

And, because I no longer look at my children's behavior as something for me to judge and punish...I didn't look at her when she returned to me as a "disobedient disrespectful child giving me the apology I deserved"...but I was able to see her as an immature child doing her best to navigate the ups and downs of a relationship she has with...an immature adult.

I looked at her humbled little face and said, "No. I'M sorry. You were right. I was being a jerk and I shouldn't have been treating you that way. I'm sorry." 

(And, what does this teach her about all her relationships in the future? How likely is a child raised this way to end up in an abusive relationship if she's raised to feel right to not accept rude treatment?) 

I thanked her for apologizing to me...and told her that that was a very mature and good thing for her to do when she feels like she's done something wrong. I told her that she was right to feel how she felt and to be mad at me but that she needed to find better ways of expressing it than calling someone a jerk. 

(And, what would this teach her about how to react to marital spats someday?)

As I explained to her that her expression of her frustration wasn't good her eyes were open and glued on me and I could tell I had her full attention. I was not competing with any fears of being spanked as I had to compete for my children's attention in the past. She wasn't arguing or trying to justify or make excuses for what she'd done. She simply received what I said and accepted it. When I finished she nodded that she understood and she said next time she felt like that she would try to find a better way to tell me. 

Had I spanked her for calling me a jerk that would have been me punishing her. But, I disciplined her instead.

Then...without tears, without fear, without pain on her bottom...and without me having that icky feeling you get after you hit your kids...feeling valued and encouraged and armed with new understanding about relationships...she hugged me and told me she loved me.

She did wrong.
She felt free.
She felt safe.
She felt love.
She learned a lesson.

Isn't the fruit of not-spanking delicious?! :)


Cooperation vs Compliance: Love vs Fear

As soon as I saw this picture pass by my newsfeed of this common sight in Guatemala...it made me think of the difference between discipline and punishment...


It seems that most people believe that discipline and punish are synonyms (as in they mean the same thing.) But, they are not and do not mean the same thing at all.

Let's look at it in this photo (which was posted by a Guatemala tourism fan site on Facebook.) 

I don't know if this is two brothers...an uncle and nephew...or a man and his neighbor...or two random people...but it looks like a father and son...so this is the illustration we'll use...

The father appears to be teaching his son how to care for the family by gathering and bringing home what they call "leña" which they use for heating their stove to cook.

Dad could get the son to do this in 2 ways...by either inspiring cooperation or getting compliance from the child. 

Cooperation
co·op·er·a·tion [koh-op-uh-rey-shuhn]
noun
1. an act or instance of working or acting together for a common purpose or benefit; joint action.
2. more or less active assistance from a person, organization, etc.
3. willingness to cooperate
4. Economics . the combination of persons for purposes of production, purchase, or distribution for their joint benefit
5. Sociology . activity shared for mutual benefit.
Synonyms
collaboration - contribution


Compliance
com·pli·ance [kuhm-plahy-uhns]
noun
1. the act of conforming, acquiescing, or yielding.
2. a tendency to yield readily to others, especially in a weak and subservient way.
3. conformity; accordance


Cooperation is a thoughtful choice followed by an act to participate in something as an act of working together. Love inspires thoughtful willful acts of participating in your life. Love inspires cooperation. True discipleship can only be done in love. And, perfect love casts out fear.

Compliance is an act of yielding to another's will. Compliance is gained by having power over someone. Compliance is gained through fear. Fear is inspired by punishment, pain, and the threats of pain. Perfect love casts out fear...so if fear is the way of inspiring compliance then love is not part of the process...and since God IS love then God...is not a part of gaining compliance from your children through threats and use of pain/punishment.

Cooperative children want to be a part of your life. Want to please you. Want to work together with you...alongside you...because they love you. Cooperation flows from a healthy relationship. Cooperation is the fruit of not inspiring fear in your children. Cooperation is the fruit of not spanking.

Compliant children will do what you say because they fear punishment. Compliance requires no relationship. Compliance is the fruit of fear. Compliance is the fruit of spanking.

From the perspective of the One who has said, "Fear not!!!" which type of children is He looking for? Which type of Father is He?


Slave vs. Son

Would you say that slaves are cooperating with their masters or complying with orders?

Do your children cooperate or comply?

Are your children therefore your slaves...or your "sons?"

Which do you think is God's way?

Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God. Gal. 4:7


I wonder if the tendency of Christians to default to, "Well, we just can't understand these things we just have to have faith! God's ways are higher than ours! His ways are mysterious!" stems from the fact that their parents focused on gaining their children's compliance rather than cooperation?

If the parents expected obedience and did not give the child room to protest (or think) over the years this would have trained them to be compliant to authority and to be OK with doing things without understanding them. It would have even gone so far as to train these kids that this is the right way and the way God is. 

This, in my opinion, would be one more evidence of how when people like this claim that they were spanked and they turned out "OK" that no...they really didn't...because Jesus didn't die so that humans would say, "Yes Sir!" and march obediently and compliantly into heaven because we're afraid of the ultimate but whackin' (hell)...But that we'd cry out, "Daddy!" and run to God because we love Him!!!!

God wants people who are not afraid of hell because there's nothing that could keep them away from their Daddy God...not people who are running to heaven just because they're afraid of hell...


Which kind of parent are you?


  

Do your kids "do their chores" because they are inspired by you and love you and want to contribute to the home or because they know they'll get punished if they don't? Will they then someday run to God because they love Him or because they're afraid of hell?

Worth thinking about...





Monday, January 14, 2013

Tori Story! Fruit that says your'e not a failure!

I think most parents judge themselves and base their "goodness" or "badness" as a parent on how their children perform in one area in particular: obedience. If a child is obedient I think we (and others watching) feel like "we're doing a good job."

But, I don't think so.

Saturday night my 4 year old came running out of the bedroom holding the puppy. My husband was tailing her and saying things like, "Tori! You never listen to me!" He was quite frustrated with her and she was doing her best to not listen to him, it was obvious.

I caught it that she'd been manhandling the dog in a way he felt was too rough and had commanded her to put him down which is when her arms held the puppy even more tightly and she took off with him. Virgil was talking at her in his frustrated voice and just kept telling her, "You don't LISTEN to me!"

I was watching her and it wasn't just her words but all of her communication was telling him to go away. Her body was turned from him, her head was turned and her eyes were looking away from him.

Finally, she was turned the whole way away from him and she was kicking against his legs and saying, "Shut uuuuuup!" and "Go awaaaaaay!"

Dejected and feeling like a complete loser of a dad, Virgil sorta' just hung his head and walked away.

I was actually preoccupied with something else
and just not feeling like bothering getting involved (loser me!) So, I was just mopping the floor thinking about how strong the Pinesol smelled...and in a few minutes Tori pushes past me and says she "needs to go tell Dad something."

I hadn't talked to her or anything, right? I'd not scolded her, lectured her, or prompted her to do anything! Now, I was interested!! :) I put the mop down and had to follow and see what she was gonna do!

So, she went and found him and walked right up to him and said, "I'm sorry I was being mean to you." 

She then asked forgiveness and then told him why she wasn't listening to him. She was like, "I wanted to do this..." Explaining her case.

(I think it's also noteworthy that she saw what a lot of parents see as "disobedience" as "herself being mean.")

This is what spontaneously came out of my 4 year old who has never been spanked, punished, OR even told, "Go tell so-n-so you're sorry!!!!" Never done that kinda' stuff with her. BUT, what we have done with her is modeled those behaviors ourselves...

We parents make mistakes. And, I feel from what I'd observed that in Virgil's effort to do what he thought he needed to it wasn't so much that she "wasn't listening" it was that he was failing to make himself heard by his "telling her what to do" approach. This would be why she was rejecting him.

He said afterwards that he felt like a failure and always does because the kids "don't listen to him." But...I asked...what do we want? Do we want kids who grow up to be "obedient" adults? (The Nazis were obedient adults) 

Or, do we want kids who will become grown-ups who will stand up for what they want, stand up for what's right, reject temptations and even commands to do wrong, and when they feel someone has been offended by them to immediately go and make peace with that person?

You can beat obedience into a kid. You can make a kid grow up to be an obedient adult. But, the 2nd type? You can't force that. In fact, "punishing" and "spanking" kids really makes this whole scenario impossible. Tori did this out of her own heart's desire to fix what she felt was wrong and she clearly FELT bad for how she'd treated her dad. Her focus was on the failings of her own behavior that she all on her own identified as her "being mean."

You can train a kid to go apologize...out of compulsion and perhaps after years of it can make them form a habit. But, the sincere desire Tori had in her heart that compelled her from the inside to go fix what she'd done wrong can only come from love...never fear.

So, why does a little girl that has so much love for her mom n' dad...who feels so safe in her relationship with them..."disobey?" 

A dear friend of mine reminded me of Jesus' words that, "If you love Me you will obey my commands" so maybe it all comes down to the relationship at the moment? And, maybe if our children "disobey" maybe we need to focus on encouraging their love...not obedience? If Jesus says that we will obey if we love Him? What comes first is the love and the obedience follows? Not, that our children must prove they love us by obeying? 

I don't know. I'm still trying to figure it all out. 

BUT...what I do know for sure is that the whole thing with not spanking/hitting them...pays off for us in the end. I have had kids who I did spank/hit for disobedience, and, they never did stuff like this spontaneous apology. They were always too concerned with "covering their own butts" that they couldn't really see what they were doing in a situation like that...as tho' the huge threat of pain stood between them and the mirror that they needed to look into to see themselves. All they saw was the threat of that hiney whackin'!!! And, with that monster looming over them all they could do was attack it...with rationalizations, denials, excuses, and counter attacks...

Perfect love casts out fear. 
Tori's not afraid of us.
I guess it could be said equally in reverse...fear casts out perfect love.
It's a sickening thought to think of what would change in our relationship with Tori if we were to begin to focus on punishment and spanking/hitting her for not obeying!
And...you definitely reap what you sow. 

The fruit is delicious and nutritious ;)







"It is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance"



Friday, January 11, 2013

Tori Story: Being punished for venting

I recently had an interaction that left me shaking for days with frustration...

A mom...a Christian missionary...whose oldest children are 3 year old twin sons...posted on fb that at home the boys are well-behaved but one of them morphs at church into this little wild man and has even tackled the other one and wrestled him right in the aisle! What to do?

I made the suggestion to find out what's going on with him. Is she doing something "different" at church with him that he might be reacting to? 

She'd commented that "he knows he won't get punished till we get home..." So, I asked if that meant that she didn't have "time" to focus on him at church and maybe this could be what he's reacting to?

A few other "Christian" people posted that she should hit him. And one lady encouraged this mom to keep a wooden spoon in her purse at all times!

<sigh>

The mom who made the post was someone I really really admired and thought was awesome. Someone I actually know in real life. So, I later ended up in an email conversation with both parents that just left me flabbergasted.

I was told that one of the grandfathers of the boys found my suggestion that the parents look at their own behavior and see what might be bothering the boy "very offensive" because I was suggesting that they might be doing something wrong! 

BUT...what immediately struck me was that for this loving grandfather...the exhortations by others for the boy's 200 pound father to hit his 30 pound grandchild were not offensive.

During our email exchange both of the parents seemed completely unresponsive to anything I presented them with. They brought up "pro-spanking points" that I'd just addressed in earlier emails. They seemed to be made of rubber as everything I brought up just seemed to bounce right off of them. The dad even went so far as to attack my character and my Christianity when he told me that the reason I don't see the wisdom in hitting children (spanking) is because of my "earthly mind" and something to do with my god...intimating of course with that small g that I am not following THE God of the Bible (because I don't believe in hitting kids!)

<sigh>

So, they made me picture myself banging my head against a brick wall. I was incensed. So, what did I DO with my frustration?

Well, I'm 39+4 ;) so...

I typed responses to them.
I ranted to my family members about things they were saying.
I ranted and "shared" on a private anti-spanking group on Facebook.
And, I asked for the conversation to cease.

That's what I did...because I'm...39+4 ;)
But, what if I'd been a toddler?

Once-upon-a-Time...

I was getting the kids ready to head out of the house and across the street to the store we had in Guatemala. We were there shoeing ourselves up and my baby at the time (Tori) was then a toddler...

She was resisting putting shoes on. I had selected some shoes and was telling her to put them on and she was just refusing. She kept saying, "Sparker! Sparker!" And, just NOT putting her shoes on. I was getting annoyed. 

And, so it went...me telling her to put her shoes on and she basically saying no and repeating some foreign language at me, "Sparker! Sparker!"

I was in a hurry. I was getting frustrated. It occurred to me when it was happening that this was "one of those moments" where the "old me" (the spanking me) would have threatened her with a spanking and then followed thru as she was clearly being disobedient! I was giving her a direct command and she was flat out refusing!!!

So, Tori was now actually lying on her back kicking her feet screaming, "SPARKER!" and then my eldest daughter had a light bulb moment...

She said, "I think...she's saying she wants her sparkly shoes."

We had gotten her some pink sparkly shoes at Payless recently. 

I looked at Tori, "Do you want your sparkly shoes?"

She sighed, whimpered, "Yes," and all the tension left her tiny body.

All that time she'd been trying her very best...her hardest...to express herself to me...to communicate with me...and I'd been unresponsive. To her it was as tho' I'd been "made of rubber" perhaps as everything she said to me just bounced right off of me. 

Basically, I was frustrating the daylights outta' her just the same way my friends were frustrating me in our conversation about spanking. I was making her want to bang her head against a wall! She felt the same frustration I feel sometimes! Except, all of the outlets for my frustration were unavailable to her. She couldn't rant, post, or retort. Her only outlet for her frustration was to cry and kick her feet. 

So...what if I was met with punishment for venting my frustration?

What if when I got that frustrated in my attempt to communicate with my friends and I went to my husband to rant about it he hit me?

What if when I posted about it on Facebook the others in the group would have attacked me?

What if I was told to "be quiet!" and then "hurt" in some way for expressing my frustration with my friends?

I think the answers to those questions should actually really be thought about and understood because that is often our children's realities. 

That is what a spanking would have been for Tori if I had spanked her for "her disobedience" and her "tantrum."

Kids are people too. Just like you n' me just smaller, weaker, and less experienced. They are little people who have limited resources for dealing with stress. Their God-designed resource for dealing with stress is supposed to be Mom n' Dad...yet how sad that in our world Mom n' Dad have now become the primary source of that stress. And, at these times when children are most in need of "discipleship" what they get instead is punishment for acting their age.

The fruit of not spanking in this story is that Tori learned that if she can figure out a way to make herself understood that the world cares about how she feels and that she can change the world if she expresses herself. She learned that it's worth fighting to get me to hear her and she didn't learn to expect pain from me if she does not express herself in a way that's pleasing to me.

What are your little people learning from you?

"In your anger do not sin."
"God does not lead you into temptation but instead will provide you a means of escape."
"Do not let the sun go down on your anger."

So, how much like Father God are you as a parent? When your children are being tempted...do you provide them a "means of escape" (a place to vent their frustration) or do you punish them for it and teach them to always let the sun go down on their anger and keep it all stuffed down in side?

Does your parenting represent a well thought out understanding of scripture as a whole...or do you boil your way of parenting all down to a 2012 American English interpretation of a handful of verses about a tool that ancient shepherds used?

"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge."

(And, note...God didn't say "the world" is destroyed. He said, "My people.")

For those who actually love truth (aka Jesus) I'd say it's more than worth thinking about...



Tori's Sparker Shoes :)






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