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!


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!)


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?


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 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 express herself 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 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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