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    Because I Said So

    November 26, 2007 by Brandy Vencel

    Today, I was supposed to write a post that was complete with excerpts from my new parenting book. However, the book wandered off. Yesterday evening, Cleaning Guy appeared. If you don’t have a Cleaning Guy, you really should get one. In our house, Cleaning Guy manifests himself whenever Mommy’s clutter piles get too large. He is amazingly easy on the eyes, and can turn Mommy’s mountains into molehills in no time flat.

    The only problem is that he often throws away stuff I need. Like a vague but important scribble on the left hand corner of a year-old list.

    Or a book.

    No matter. After pouting the morning away {well, pouting in between doing this thing we call living}, I decided not to be deterred.

    My newest edition to the library via PaperBackSwap is Withhold Not Correction. I can’t say that this book contains much that is novel. I have read maybe twenty discipline/parenting books so far, so I’ve read a lot of what there is, I think. And we’ve pretty much settled the issue of how to discipline and when. At least we’ve settled it for the ages we’re dealing with now.

    So why read more?

    Good question. A few reasons, I suppose. While I don’t read near the number of parenting/disciplining types of books as I did during my first couple years of motherhood, I think I still have a tendency to forget the things that were once so clear to me. As we move on, I don’t want to neglect important toddler issues simply because my oldest is no longer a toddler.

    More importantly, I think each author, though they might communicate similar messages, says things a bit differently, and emphasizes a different aspect of the process. This helps me process and assimilate the information, and it also helps me troubleshoot potential blind spots. Each author, like each parent, has their own blind spots, so switching authors helps me not adopt the author’s weaknesses as my own.

    In Withhold Not Correction, there are a couple of issues emphasized that I haven’t encountered before. The first is the idea that a parent’s authority, like a king’s, is given from God. Therefore, parents do not have the right to be tyrannical. Tyranny, just like it is in government, is an abuse of power. I have heard this issue addressed before from the perspective of how tyranny might damage a child, but never from the perspective of God’s delegated authority and its potential misuse. This was intriguing to me.

    But what I really wanted to talk about, what has taken me so long to get to, was that the author also believes that all parental discipline should have as its goal the love of God. Just as our own submission as Christians stems from our love and adoration of our Lord, so should we see our children transition as they age from obeying out of fear of consequences to obeying out of love and respect. Love and respect, by the way, not for the parent, but for the Lord, who put the parents in authority over the child.

    I have heard similar teachings before, but nothing very practical. I think we’d all agree that this is the goal, but the question is how to get them there. Withhold Not Correction suggests Scripture. Now, he does not suggest using Scripture as a method of spiritually manipulating the child. I think this would fall under tyranny, which the author already addressed.

    Rather, to translate this into my own words, the author suggests informing discipline with Scripture just as we do all other subjects in the home. For instance, when I teach about something in the natural world, I naturally teach them also about the Creator. So if I am disciplining a child, I should explain to them the Lord’s commands, and direct them to love Him through their obedience.

    Instead of “because I said so,” we say “because God…” This, I think, also helps keeps us from being a tyrant because it requires us to ground the rules in Scripture in the first place.

    All of this is to come to the part where I ask for help. I would like to compile a list of Scriptures that can help with problem areas. I want to keep the list somewhere in our home so that I have a quick reference. Are there verses you use with your own children? Were there verses your parents used with you? Are there verses you have heard other people use with their children? Please add them to the comments section. If we build a good enough list, I will rework the comments as a post matching up different issues with applicable verses.

    For now, here are some examples {without the book to reference, since it is still AWOL}:

    • Picking Fights:

      Better is a dry morsel and quietness with it
      Than a house full of feasting with strife.
      Proverbs 17:1

      The beginning of strife is like letting out water,
      So abandon the quarrel before it breaks out.
      Proverbs 17:14

      Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man,
      But any fool will quarrel.
      Proverbs 20:3

    • Lying:

      Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD,
      But those who deal faithfully are His delight.
      Proverbs 12:22

    • Selfishness:

      Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share…
      I Timothy 6:18

      He who is generous will be blessed,
      For he gives some of his food to the poor.
      Proverbs 22:9

      If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;
      And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink…
      Proverbs 25:21

    __________________

    More Posts About This Book:
    The Quotes that Should Have Been
    You’re Grounded!

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    5 Comments

  • Reply Brandy November 28, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    Jeana,

    I hadn’t heard of that book, but it sounds like exactly what I’m looking for. Thank you for the suggestion!

  • Reply Jeana November 28, 2007 at 1:15 pm

    Have you heard of “For Instruction In Righteousness” by Pam Forster? It’s tons of scriptures organized by topic, for this very purpose. You can get it through Doorposts.

    But a good handy one is “Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is good.”

  • Reply Anonymous November 27, 2007 at 8:53 pm

    my dad most often used spare the rod spoil the child. He used it daily and I thought it was quite effective.

  • Reply Brandy November 27, 2007 at 4:32 pm

    I agree with you that there is a line. Disciplining children who are not toddlers is fairly new to me, and I love the idea of incorporating Scripture right from the start. This is not to hit them over the head, of course!

    Our goal is not to raise children who obey us in the strict sense. It is to raise children who love the Lord and therefore do what is right. Discipline is just another opportunity for us to search the Scriptures together.

    The purpose of the chart was to have a quick reference so that the process isn’t as interrupted by Mommy flipping through the index trying to remember exactly where that certain verse that would be just perfect is.

    I suppose I should start memorizing references rather than just verses, and the problem would be solved this way, too. 🙂

    Another way of looking at this would be to see it in contrast to the postmodern world, where the rules are subjective, and mainly influenced by preferences and feelings. I want the children to know that the “rules” are a definition of reality, not my personal preference. I want them to know that I am subject to most of the rules just like them (though I am allowed to touch the Christmas tree, while they are not…hehe..). In other words, the house rule “no lying” is reflective of God’s desire that His people be honest.

    I see this as part of the overarching goal of being people of the Book. But, of course, as you are saying, love must always be the rule and the medium.

  • Reply Frieda November 27, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    Once again, it’s so important to be balanced in this issue. There’s a fine line between 1) teaching gently what the Scripture says about the issue a child is going through, and 2) using the Scripture to drag the child straight to the final point, to stop him from working through the issue. It’s far too easy to pull verses out that support the parent’s goal, and ignore the verses that support the child’s side of the problem. My parents (who were authoritarian, but not tyrants) had a Bible verse for everything. That was good; but they used the Bible to stop our reasoning processes. There was not much dialogue on any issue. The ultimate squelcher was, “Children obey your parents in the Lord…” and they resorted to it when (in my opinion) they did not have time or rationale to deal with things!

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