Recently, the wife and I have become a bit frustrated over some behavior manifesting in The Princess, our 9 year old daughter. She’s our oldest child and our only daughter. Her reactions to her brothers’ sinning against her could make Rosanne Barr take notice.
Of course we love her, and we passionately want to raise her to be loving and respectful. We also want to raise her to know God as the forgiving and sovereign Lord we know Him to be. So, often it’s more difficult to simply get her to respond to us with obedience. A long time back I remember Deanna teaching our kids the idea that they are expected to “obey, right away.” Over time, I know this will pay off, teaching our kids to obey us first, and then seek understanding or context.
Anyway, back to the Princess. She will often respond to her brothers, after one of them has sinned against her, with a “freak out episode” that is sometimes more puzzling than angering.
I’ve recently sought some alternative methods for getting her attention. Of course, there are times when some behavior just merits a consequence that sucks. Sometimes we all just need a swat. (If you desire to debate the merits of spanking, I welcome your thoughts. Just not here. Use the Comment page.)
However, there are also times when the consequence merits a lesson that teaches more than the immediate results of pain.
I was listening to Mark Driscoll recently when he described the methods they use in his home for discipline. Without going into all the details, they simply illustrate the Gospel, and highlight sin and our role in it. I took note.
On a recent afternoon, after I woke up, the Princess exploded on the Sniper. I got her attention and immediately I was reminded of the lesson from Pastor Mark. I took the teachable moment and began explaining that she had sinned against her brother. I exhausted the idea, and a light bulb went off! It hit me that in her daily tasks for homeschooling, she sits and copyrights a Psalm each day. The Word of our Lord is already entering her heart, even if it’s slow.
So I told the Princess to get her notebook, loaded with a third of the Psalms, and instructed her to read through and find at least one verse that she could learn from, based on the conflict she had with her brother. Of course, she returned quickly, insisting that Psalm 3 was it. Well, maybe it was, however I insisted she go back and give it a stronger effort.
She returned much later with a clear change in heart. She read me…
“For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover him with favor as with a shield.” Pslam 5:12
She went on to explain that when we do the right thing, God protects us. His protection isn’t the reward for doing good, it’s the end result of choosing His path, which is righteousness. (Those are my words for her thoughts.)
I was blown away. She had taken the redirected time to spend time in God’s Word, and came back touched by it.
It’s so cool, being a parent.