Thursday, March 17, 2011

Learning to skate...learning morality...

Yesterday I went to the ice skating rink with the kids again. It was our 3rd time there. My 5 year old has progressed really well and it got me thinking…

Her 1st time there she could not even stand on the ice without help and I had to literally hold her up the whole time. The 2nd time there she found a “crutch” to use to get around on the ice. They have a bunch of those orange construction-site cones (can’t think what they’re called) there and the kids can hold them and skate. It’s really helpful. Plus then the highly unskilled skaters are “marked” with an orange marker!

Well, this time, she started off right away out onto the ice with one of those cones. Then, later I noticed her standing on the ice alone and I went to her, “Do you need help?”
She smiled and told me, “no.”
She had now progressed to scooting along the outer perimeter and grabbing the wall when she’d slip. It was the cutest thing!

I followed behind her and just shadowed her for the rest of the time we were there in case she needed help and of course, I was just thinking about child training and what I was doing and what would happen to her if I did something else instead…

What if when she would fall on her skates…I would make her go have a “time-out” and sit and think about why she’d fallen.

What if when she’d fall on her skates…I’d take something from her that she likes like a privilege and tell her that as soon as she can make it the whole way around the rink without falling she can have it back?

What if when she’d fall and totally wipe out and take out another kid with her…what if I’d take her off the rink and spank her?

What would any of these techniques REALLY accomplish as far as her learning to skate?
You all know it…it would crush her. It would ruin her zeal to learn to skate. It would take all the joy out of it. It would take all the pride out of her accomplishments. And, it would cause a huge rift in our relationship.

And, I know that people who are sold out on spanking being God’s way are like, “No, it’s not the same this it totally different!” But, HOW? Doesn’t the Bible refer to us as “falling” into sin? Don’t you think of the “fall” in the garden? Sinning is when we fail at the “skill” of being moral. And, our little kids are just as wobbly and unskilled on those “shoes” as my daughter is right now on skates.

1 Tim. 4:1 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons…
1 Tim. 6:9 But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.
Heb. 4:11 Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.
2 Pet. 3:17 Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.
1 Cor. 10:12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.
And, there are MANY OTHERS!

If I trained her to skate the same way people train their kids to be moral…she would fall (which would be humiliating enough) and then just imagine how you would feel if you were 5 and your parent took you aside and spanked you for falling? Imagine it. Don’t you feel it? Don’t you almost wanna just say, “Forget it! I’m not even gonna keep trying!” That’s rebellion. You know, there’s this “common” stereotypical thing people expect – that teenagers will rebel. It’s as tho’ it’s a normal part of development. But, I believe it’s a normal consequence of “traditional” (kid falls and you punish them) parenting. That’s why it’s so common for pastor’s and missionary’s kids to rebel. Those are the type of people you’re going to find to be most diligent in using physical force/coercion to get their kids to have moral behavior…

As I skated around with my little girl yesterday I was more solidified in the understanding as to how wrong it is to ever strike our children. Her precious little body with those tiny skates scooting along faster and faster…so focused…so joyful…so smiley…happy…proud she was! She’d once n’ a while slip and hang off the wall and she’d just look up at me with the cheesiest grin it was so sweet! And, there I was…just “ever-present” beside her…and when she fell I picked her up fast (if I didn’t catch her) or I’d catch her. I’d brush her off and comfort her. Twice she had a bad fall and she got really sad and I’d just pick her up and hold her tight for about 30 seconds and then she’d quit crying and get back to it again. I just thought the whole time about how I was “being like God” just being right there to pick her up…not offering criticisms…not punishing her for failing…just following her and watching for obstacles…ready to help her…feeling so close to her and enjoying her every tiny gain in her skills…

Training your child in any skill should be a reason to whip out your camera…should be a time when you can even get tears in your eyes as you see your child growing in whatever skill it is. But, the most important skill we’ll ever be responsible for teaching our kids is normally none of that. A parent teaching morality is normally following behind their child not to protect them (as is the Biblical rod) but to use that rod to whack their kid every time their kid messes up. Parents follow their kid in order to criticize and to punish…and when the kid falls rather than “brushing off” the effects of their “fall” and “cleaning them up”…we treat them like dogs and “rub their noses” in it, “Look at what you did!”…and there is no enjoyment in it…

We make our kids feel shame about their falling…and we make them separate themselves from everyone else and “think about what they did”…we make them “dwell on their sins”…”dwell on their mistakes” and then we wonder how they get older and can’t forgive themselves and have self hatred because they can’t get over things they’ve done wrong in the past!

The truth is just right there…right there in front of our faces every day…(Romans 1)

Once my 5 year old has the skills to skate she’s going to remember the pain that came from her own failures and the times she fell but the pain will not be remembered as coming from me. 

She’ll remember as she looks back that I was a source of safety, comfort, protection, and “salvation” from the dangers that were all around her as she learned this skill. 

Parents, your children should be able to see you that way to in the area of learning morality, because, that’s who the Bible says God is for us. And, we’re to be showing them what God is like…
Do your kids think of you with fear and know pain comes from YOU when they “fall”? Do they think that getting away from you when they fall is where they are safest? Do they see you as following behind them to catch them (in the act) when they fall so you can cause them some pain? Have you made it so that they feel like it’s safer not to even try?

Colossians 3:21
Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.

Eph. 6:4
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Satan came to steal, kill, and destroy…don’t continue to be robbed of the most precious, awesome, and rewarding relationship that you’re supposed to have with your kids…

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