"Faith is taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase." -Martin Luther King, Jr.
I love this quote so much. For many Christian and secular parents, turning away from punitive parenting and corporal punishment to gentle and firm parenting is a huge first step in faith. It means rejecting what most of the culture is teaching and doing. It also means getting ridiculed and told that your children will turn out as "brats."
It means for us Christians rejecting a very prevalent church doctrine that is touted as "Biblical truth." While the Church is ever so slowly coming to the realization that God never intended for children to be spanked/hit, many are actually afraid to come out of the closet due fear of being told that they and their children are going to Hell.
And though the gentle parenting movement is growing and there are a ton of resources on the Internet for how to truly discipline our children, it is often still a lonely journey as sometimes finding other local gentle parents is very difficult.
Often parents moving from punishment to discipline don't know what TO do instead. They've only experienced painful corporal punishment. Taking a first step despite not being able to see where the staircase leads is a a huge leap of faith. It's scary to go against the grain. Children are viewed as property and burdens in this society. We who are standing against this must have faith that we are making a difference even though we don't always feel like we are.
Yes, we must have a lot of faith in this gentle parenting movement. I often get weary trying to teach and advocate for the respectful treatment of children. There are many days I want to give up. But then I'll look into the eyes of an innocent child and think, "If I don't speak up for them, who will?"
This verse also encourages me to keep going. "Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary" (Galatians 6:9). Yes, God and Martin Luther King, Jr. are right. Faith is taking that first step when we cannot see where we are going.
Stephanie G. Cox, M.S.Ed.
author of Gentle Firmness