Saturday, January 28, 2017

Ten Commandments of Parenting by Glynis M Belec

It broke my heart when I clicked on the link. One of my former students who is now in University posted it. She’s a good girl with a lot of sense and compassion so when she was a little up in arms, I thought I would see from whence her anger came. She’d posted a Dr. Phil clip on social media, showing a mother berating her child with words no parent should use followed by extreme physical punishment. It included forcing her son to put hot sauce in his mouth followed by orders for him to strip naked and stand in a
freezing cold shower. The young lad’s screams tore my heart.

I knew it was a TV show. I wondered, then, why on earth would anyone tape something so vicious and then send it in to a TV program. Was there monetary gain? I never watched the show, of course, because this was just one clip. I could easily turn away, but what tugged at my heart was that this happens all the time in many different ways. I had to respond. 

Using 'weapons' to punish a child does not get the point across. It might stop the initial behaviour out of fear, but there are no lessons of 'why this is wrong' or 'why we don't behave like that'. It's just - that was your decision - here is your extreme physical punishment. That will work for a while, but soon a child will grow up to resent that and something very ugly seethes inside. Then when a child turns into an adult, and he/she hasn't learned anything about having good character or making good choices (or bad choices with consequences) then there is little or no character development. And the cycle continues.
I certainly don't mean we should shrug off the bad behaviour or blame the teacher or 'others'. But there are other ways. I always wanted my children to know they could be safe with me, even in their troubles. And if they did something wrong, they knew there would be consequences - but they also knew that there would be conversations with the consequences that involved patience and good listening. We need to teach children self-control first. Lashing out with something that demeans (the cold shower for instance where the chlld has to strip and be forced to endure such a frightening experience) is a terrible treatment. A home and family should not be likened to being a prisoner where the child can hardly wait to grow up and leave home, but it should be a safe haven where a child can come home even when they’ve done something wrong, expecting consequences but an abiding love.

One of the worst punishments for a young child is to feel that they have disappointed their parent(s). That emotion doesn't even enter in when extreme physical punishment happens. Self preservation does. And it will override any feelings of remorse. And then no character development can happen because the child is too busy being fearful. Yes this kind of consequence can stop bad behaviour for a while but it can also kill a spirit and open up a big doorway to volatile behaviour in later life.
No, I don’t know all the details of the ‘crime’ except this little boy (looked about 7 or 8) came home with a ‘yellow card’ which meant he got into trouble in school. Through his little whimpers on the clip, it sounded like he got into a fight with another boy about pencils.  I didn’t need to see the whole tape. I saw the heart of the mother and it wasn’t pretty.

Heart breaking.

I wonder if ‘Jesus wept’ again.

Then it made me think about how we handle trouble in this world – as adults. Do we lash out and point fingers, hurling insults and dividing families? Those can be vicious weapons, too. Sticks and stones might hurt our bones but calling names DOES hurt.  Knife wielding hurting people stab others because they want something – money, drugs, revenge. Gun-toting individuals think it is their right to shoot to get what they want. Who do we blame?

A parent who constantly criticizes and demeans their own child is setting that child up for trouble. It’s not always the case, but often bitter, angry, rebellious children who seek a sense of belonging outside the home are a product of poor parenting by bitter, angry parents.

What happened to love and respect? Patience and character building? Children misbehave. That’s not new news. (Psalm 51:5: Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity; And in sin my mother conceived me.) And parenting is not easy. That’s not new news, either.

I am not proposing a Pollyanna world, but I am proposing that it begins at home. Imagine what the world might be like if we really practised our own Ten Commandments of Parenting.

 1.       Thou shalt understand the commitment of being a parent and choose to be one because of God’s love of family.
Psalms 127:3 Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb a reward.

       2.       Thou shalt not incite anger in my child, but rather find ways to extend love, grace and hope. Colossians 3:21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

3.       Thou shalt teach my child about the love of God, including fair and acceptable behaviour using the Word of God as a guide.
Deuteronomy 6:6–7 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
    4.       Thou shalt set boundaries for my child and limits for his or her age, but if a child decides to extend themselves beyond the reasonable boundaries, then there will be fair consequences that won’t involve future mental anguish.
Proverbs 3:12 For the LORD reproves him whom he loves.

5.       Thou shalt be responsible as a parent for modeling behaviour, always being aware that little eyes are watching and learning and imitating.
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; Even when he is old he will not depart from it.

6.       Thou Shalt not take out my anger on a child; nor will I be worried about things beyond my control; instead I will pray and in turn my children will see this and know this is how to begin to handle matters that are tough.
Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

    7.       Thou shalt always remember that God’s love never fails and no matter what my predicament as a parent, His love is steadfast and sure so I should often remind my child how God is always faithful and a safe place to be.
Lamentations 3:22–23 The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness.

   8.       Thou shalt not worry. Children are sensitive and if you worry, they worry.  
Matthew 6:34 So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

    9.       Thou shalt use my inside voice and be kind when talking to my child and then kind words will come easier if I exercise patience (and remind myself how patient God is with me.)
Proverbs 16:21 Pleasant words promote instruction.

    10.   Thou shalt remember that when love is the driving force, the world becomes a better place. Happiness happens when love exists. Grace, peace and hope exist because with love as a foundation, the tendency is to want to please and not disappoint. Oh and the greatest … is love!

1 Corinthians 16:14 Do everything in love.


Glynis lives, loves, laughs and does an awful lot of reading, writing, publishing and praying in her home office. 
     Her latest children's book, JESUS LOVES ME WHEN I DANCE, celebrates and shows us that with Jesus Love, we'll never lose! 


Ruth Smith Meyer said...

How very true your words are and how sad when we see children being yelled at and punished in a way that brings no learning. I, too, wanted my children to feel safe, to be able to say it when they had done wrong, to find in their parents good advice on how to atone for their wrong doing and to apologize when they needed to. My daughter warmed my heart yesterday when she said one of the most valuable lessons we as parents taught her was when we apologized to each other and to our children when we had been in the wrong. Therefore by example, she learned it was the strong, right thing to do.

Glynis said...

That, my friend, is 'the fruit'. They watch. They learn. They do as we do, as much as we say 'do as I say, not as I do!' Isn't it wonderful when our children want to be with us when we are older? Thanks for sharing that.

Peter Black said...

Great post, with wisdom from the Divine. Thanks Glynis. No I've not been totally consistent in the parenting department and dealing wisely with the young charges in my life over the years. But mercifully, their mom (and grandma) went a long way towards offsetting my shortfalls. We have three terrific sons, who are having a marvellous influence on the youngsters in their lives.~~+~~

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