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 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 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 uncle and nephew...or a man and his neighbor...or two random people...but it looks like a father and 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 either inspiring cooperation or getting compliance from the child. 

co·op·er·a·tion [koh-op-uh-rey-shuhn]
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.
collaboration - contribution

com·pli·ance [kuhm-plahy-uhns]
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 if fear is the way of inspiring compliance then love is not part of the process...and since God IS love then 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...

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