I’ve heard various Christians react to the apparent conflict between shepherding a child, and winning the battles of authority. Regardless of how you want to label the conflict, I had a good experience this morning loving and caring for my twenty month old.
She ran away with sister’s toy, and when I told her to return it, she clutched it tighter and said no, Mommy.
I came to get her and help her obey, but then she dropped the toy and said no again.
So I scooped her up in my arms and took her to the bedroom. She got a spanking for disobeying. I told her that she must obey mommy, and when I prompted her to say yes, ma’am, again she said no. Now I know that many Christian parents would keep spanking at this point, but I don’t spank repeatedly until “the will is broken.” There’s too much danger of abuse at that point.
What I did do was this: I told her that she must stay with mommy until she said yes, ma’am. She cried, and I knew that she understood it was her way or my way. After awhile, I put her in a chair and told her that she could get up when she was ready to obey. Then I took advantage of her immobility and pulled out my Bible. That reminded me again to pray for wisdom and direction.
After awhile she told me that she wanted to get up. I told her she could, but after she was ready to obey. I’d asked her before Are you ready to obey? but she had always responded no.
Finally she said yes, and when I asked her to say yes, ma’am, she did.
We repeated this process a few hours later in a different incident. She responded more quickly that time. I’m particularly interested that it came about that establishing authority was more of a focus than the spanking. The spanking was incidental (and although I know some will disagree, I think it may have been unnecessary). God’s Word allows for a multitude of ways to teach our children to obey. Sometimes we focus on the method rather than the goal.
I’ll be thinking on this for awhile.