We're on our way through the store and she got "stuck." She decided she wanted me to buy a case of soda (which our family will consume in 12 hours and so I rarely buy it) and I just said, "No." She didn't feel like I was hearing her, I guess, and she really wanted me to buy sodas! So, she lingered behind, angry. My 11 y/o walked back to where she was and reached out to grab her arm and "make" her come along with us, but it didn't work out that way.
The 6 y/o stood her ground, grabbed her sister's hand and dug in her finger nails, breaking the skin in one place.
So, now...it's my turn. What am I going to do about this situation? What lesson will I teach and what will the 6 y/o take with her into adulthood regarding this moment? What example am I about to set?
At first, I was tempted to fall back into my old ways and do the lazy thing...and just scold her and tell her to tell her sister, "sorry." That temptation is always there. 10 years ago I'd have ended the whole situation in a matter of seconds and just scolded, and spanked that child.
But, trouble is...even when I'm out in public and "busy"...if I'm supposed to be teaching my little daughter how to be a good and godly adult someday...I myself have to resist the temptations to be "bad" and handle my problems the same way that 6 y/o just did (by striking). One of the biggest lessons I'll ever teach is my example, true? And, even in the instantly-gratifying-USA usually the right road isn't the easy one...
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it."
So, I stopped shopping, knelt down, and I asked her why she wanted the sodas so badly? She told me that she'd wanted to have some to share with everyone at home.
I asked her, "If I did something really mean to Dad to get you a toy would you be happy about that?"
She said she would not.
I asked her, "Do you think the other kids at home would be happy to know that she'd hurt Evy to be able to get them the sodas?"
She said they would not.
I then pointed out some other things to her...
- you were mad at me and so you were mean to your sister and that's not fair to her.
- your sister is only trying to help you and you hurt her because you were mad at me and that wasn't nice.
- when you feel better, which you will in a few minutes, your sister's hand is still going to hurt and that's not fair. She will have pain in her hand for a long time when you feel all better and it wasn't even her fault you were mad.
These are all things a grown-up can process and understand, true? But, little kids need to be taught how to see and process these things... (actually, sometimes grown-ups need help with this...and I wonder why?)
Because kidnapping is something our family has dealt with in real life in the past (* see below), I also asked her, "What do you think your sister would do if a bad guy came in the store and tried to take you?"
Her eyes got wide and serious...and totally focused on me. (Because she was not sitting there afraid of anything I was about to do to her...I had her full attention. She was not even a little bit focused on doing something to avoid pain...she was only listening to what I was going to say next...)
She said she thought her sister would try to help her. I agreed and added to it, "And, you know what? She would jump on that guy and do anything she could to stop him from hurting you or stealing you even if it meant that he would hurt her or even kill her."
Her eyes...at this point are totally glued to me. She was focused on what I was trying to teach her.
I then pointed out to her that she had just hurt that person who would even die for her all because she was mad at me. I asked her what she thought of that? She said that she thought it was very bad and mean. And, I then reminded her that she needs to never hurt the people who really care about her.
At this point now...she was almost crying.
And...she was not almost crying because...she was afraid I was going to spank her. She was not almost crying because she had just gotten her hiney smacked and was in pain. She was not almost crying because of anything to do with her outsides..but because she realized deep within her little heart...what she had done wrong to her sister. I'd gotten inside her heart...where the motivations (only part of our behavior that matters) for our behavior are...
Jesus said, “Are you still lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated? But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.
I picked her up then and told her how much I loved her and she just held me. I sat her butt on the cart's handle and pushed my way down the aisle with her in my arms till we got to the next thing I needed to throw in the cart and then I set her down.
Half way down the aisle...she was all better. And, she was also "a better person". She had learned a bunch of lessons...And, she looked "happy." She wasn't nursing her wounds (sore butt) and she wasn't upset at all for herself...
"the truth had set her free."
The two older ones were not where we could see them as we rounded the next aisle and I hear behind me that sweet little voice ask, "Where's Evy? I need to tell her sorry!"
And, as soon as we were all reunited she told her sister she was sorry and looked like she really meant it...because it had come from her own heart and was not something she was forced to say out of fear...
A lot of parents would feel like she "got away with it" and it's a really sad sad attitude for a parent to have because retribution...pay-backs...revenge for wrongs...is not for us to dole out to anyone. And, that is exactly what is in the heart of a person who feels someone needs to suffer so as to "not get away with" something. If you feel your child "needs to pay for what they did wrong" or "learn their lesson" by suffering...you're doing it wrong.
My little unspanked 6 y/o definitely "learned her lesson" in my several-minute disciplinary session with her.
She learned that...
- mom cares enough to stop what she's doing to help her
- mom won't hurt her when she's bad
- mom will tell her the truth when she's bad
- finding out that truth can hurt but helps you become a better person
- there is hope to become a better person when you make mistakes
- mom will still love her after she's been bad
- she should not hurt the people who love her
- she should not hurt people when she's mad
- when she lashes out at someone in anger that person will suffer for a while and that it's not fair
- her sister would probably die for her
These lessons will apply even when no one is around to punish her if she does something mean or bad again. She will not consider behaving this way in the context of, "Is anyone looking? Can I get away with it?" because she will never "get away" with behaving like this even if she is the only one to see because these lessons are in her heart now...
And, they would all be made invisible if they were in the shadow of a painful spanking.
Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord.
And, not just her...but me, too. What would I have missed out on had I been of the "spare the rod..." mindset an felt that I needed to "teach her a lesson" using my body against hear body and not my mind and heart connected to hers? I, too, would have lost out and learned a lousy lesson. The negative effects of spanking aren't just the child's...they're ours, too.
I encourage you...
Really look at how you act when you are "disciplining" your child. What example are you setting?
Really look at what you are teaching them.
Really look at what lessons they have absorbed. What lessons have you absorbed?
And, have you just taught that lesson with your body? Or...your mind and heart?
And, mostly...remember...that there is no fear in love. You may think you lovingly spank your children, but if they have fear of being spanked...there is no love in that. And, that fear will ruin any lesson you ever want to teach them...
Let the violence in the church stop!
From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.
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*KIDNAPPING and our family
Tori's dad was 4 when his parents went to Guatemala. He lived there 40 years. At one point in time there was a kidnapping ring in operation and Grandpa was on that list. One morning, my husband awoke to the sound of the dogs barking angrily. Armed men were "escorting" one of the neighbors and 2 of her children toward my husband's home.
Grandpa fled into the jungle. The kidnappers shot the family dog in front of them. Then, they took Grandma, one of Tori's aunts, and 2 houseguests. Ransom was demanded or they'd be killed. A military shoot-out with the kidnappers is what finally freed them.
A few years before that Tori's dad was taken out into the jungle and held at gunpoint while communist guerrillas burned their mission compound and my husband's airplanes. Tori's dad was to be executed that night but was released when help arrived.
When I lived there from 2000-2010 we had friends who were kidnapped and executed.
Finally, we were present when a mob burned a man alive and went bezerk for 3 days - chasing the police and army out of town. Tori's dad was taken hostage by the mob and I got a phone call from him during this informing me to get the kids out "now!" because our home was threatened. It was the most terrifying day of my life.
After that, there were rumors of people wanting to kidnap one of our children...and so now we live in Florida...(where even here we have wacko's who like to snag and harm kids.)
So, if anyone thinks it's "over the top" or an attempt to terrify my child into contrition by bringing up the "bad guy taking her" I think you better understand why I said that. It's a topic that all my kids have heard about and can totally relate to in a way your average American kid cannot...