Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Obedience (01/31/05)
TITLE: Where’s The Handbook?
By Corinne Smelker
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Where am I going wrong? Why does it seem other parents’ snap their fingers and their kids’ rush to obey and fulfill their every whim? Am I the only parent on the face of the planet to have high-spirited children? My girl friend looked after my youngest the other day. She was a little apprehensive — she has watched my tribe before and they sort of overwhelmed her. OK, they ran rings around her and left her dizzy, vowing celibacy for eternity, but that’s a whole other story!
However, she told me it was a pleasure looking after the smallest of the clan. I said it was because the kid was single, and my kids are best experienced in ones. But, put them in a room together and watch group dynamics explode! High spirits doesn't just run through my family, it gallops, trampling all underfoot.
So, where do you draw the line between child-like playtime and disobedience? I can’t expect my children to be little automatons now, can I? And yet, is that what I presume? I hate the idea of saying, ‘do this and they ‘do that’ because then I feel I have lost control.
When I was little my father put the ‘fear of father’ into me. If he gave an order, it had to be done immediately, with absolute obedience, or I would feel the wrath of the belt, and the warmth of his stale breath as he stood two inches from my face and bellowed. I once overheard him confiding to a colleague that he yelled at me to relieve work stress. Gee, thanks Dad.
I don’t want to be like that — but I surely don’t want to be one of those parents who don’t follow through either. When my kids deliberately disobey, they need to know there are repercussions, ones which I have no problem enforcing.
I was, by absolute control and physical force, made to be compliant and submissive. When I moved from the oppressive environment, I discovered I am really quite high-spirited and married a person who is a free spirit too. Is it any wonder then that we have produced a batch of high-spirited, creative kids?
What do I do with them now? Really, each one should have emerged from the womb with a book titled, “I Am [Insert Name Here] And This Is What You Do To Make Me Obey.” How much easier my life would be.
But then…but then…if they came with the instruction manual, would I have taken the time to know the child, the individual? Would I have realized that one responds better when I say this, opposed to doing that? Would having a manual be a cop-out? Perhaps not for everyone, but for me it would.
Of course, I am not without recourse – I have the best resource in the entire universe to help me on my perilous quest to bring my children to adulthood intact — God the father and His Word — the best manual because no matter who the parent is, or the child, the answers on obedience are found right there.
So, before the next bout of high spirits invades our home, I think I will take some time to read my manual and talk to the author of said manual on the best way to apply the principles found therein to each one of my uniquely individual children.
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