Sometimes when you are a mother your children do things they shouldn’t. And, as their mother, and as someone who is present when the bad behavior occurs, you are the first line of punishment. But, there are times when some act deserves a “Just wait until your Daddy gets home!” At those times the children know that they have really, really messed up and are in for it.
Chad is a rare fellow who will sometimes spend a big chunk of his day just trying to teach the kids a lesson about something. I have actually witnessed Chad taking Adelade on a drive downtown to point out homeless people when she didn’t want to do her homework. The moral of the lesson was something like, “If you don’t do your homework you end up homeless.” You’d better believe when they got back she cheerily completed her assignment! So, I would have to say that generally my children want to avoid these encounters with their Daddy, where the lesson is concrete, the message is powerful, their wrongness is made quite obvious, and as much as an hour of their life is lost forever as the long and deliberate discussion goes on.
They would rather deal with their mama, who is a little more direct in her approach. I’m more likely to just say, “Stop it” than to spend an hour teaching a lesson they’ll never forget. I have no doubt that Chad’s method is more impactful, but it’s certainly not necessary for most mistakes that the kids make. Generally a short talking-to does the trick, and we move on with life.
But, then there are the moments when the kids mess up and make that age old request: “Pleeaaase don’t tell Daddy!”
This is a true dilemma for any mother who feels sympathy for her remorseful child–especially since she is also a wife who is generally open and honest with her husband. I lived one of these moments recently. Sawyer was working hard to build a car out of blocks. Emerald wandered over to where he was building while I loaded the dishwasher. I could tell that she was grabbing blocks, but this is a usual occurrence. I heard him telling her to stop. To make a short story even shorter, someone ended up getting knocked in the head with a block.
The hitter was much more devastated by this turn of events than the hittee. And the hitter begged me not to tell Daddy.
Well, I didn’t. (Of course, if Chad had asked about it, I would have told the truth. I just didn’t volunteer the information.) The hitter, who will remain unnamed, was so sorry about what he or she had done that I, of course, felt sorry for him or her. I gave him or her a stern lecture about not hitting, and all was well. I have no doubt that if Daddy had been present for the event the hitter would’ve been submitted to quite a interrogation and there would have been tears, devastation, forgiveness, hugs, and about an hour of the day gone forever. As it was, there were tears, devastation, forgiveness, and hugs, all in about five minutes.
You might say that I’m more of a drive-through punisher, while Chad is a gourmet dinner discipline enforcer.
I think one reason that our family has both types of disciplinarians is because both styles are necessary for dealing with our children. Both methods are effective, but one is certainly more painful for the kids. And, truthfully, one is more painful for the parents.
After all, I don’t enjoy seeing the kids enduring an hour long session after they’ve done something wrong, and I’m sure Chad has other things he would rather be doing than sitting there with teary-eyed children discussing what this act means in light of the Bible, and in the light of love.
I often pray with the kids at bedtime that we would all be obedient. I do this because as a parent I am constantly reminded of the importance of obedience, as I watch my kids make good and bad decisions that I have to deal with. It is a wonderful picture of the obedience that God asks of me. And, I can look at my life and see that He is sometimes a drive-thru disciplinarian in my life, and at other times He has to spend a lot of time teaching me lessons that I will never forget. And, I’m thankful that He does it both ways. I don’t think I could handle the gourmet approach every time I mess up because I mess up way too often.
And, I can see when I watch Chad painstakingly teach our children how to be that it must be painful for God to have to teach me those big lessons. After all, He loves me even more than Chad and I love our babies. And He doesn’t want to see me suffer through it. But, He does it because He knows it’s good for me. And He wants the very best for my life.
So, if you are going through one of those gourmet dinner lessons right now, take heart. Someday you’ll look back and remember how much time God spent with you to teach you what you needed to know. And you’ll see His love.