These comments are in response to Diane’s comments here:
I don’t think we are ignoring it if we are displaying correct behavior on our part (which is your quest, from what I’ve read…mine too!) and teaching our kids to choose and model correct reactions (also on your 24/7 to-do list, I’ve seen). Those things are “gold” for those tiny ones. More is caught than taught when they are little bitty, I believe.
Diane, I think what you’re saying is that verbally correcting anger (as opposed to spanking for it) is an appropriate action. You seem to be making a distinction between various modes of responding to a problem, but maintaining a need to always respond. I like that.
First Thessalonians seems to give us insight that different actions fit different personalities and situations.
Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. I Thessalonians 5:14
What we don’t see from this scripture is whether not responding at all might not be a right response.
I’ve experienced times where my baby (19 months) is so angry that she is completely irrational. I can tell her that her behavior is sinful, but she won’t hear me. I can spank her, but that doesn’t stop the screaming. At some point, it seems as though the best action is to put her in her bedroom with happy music and let her come out when she is happy again. I can relate. Since I have always turned into a pumpkin at ten o’clock, I have several memories of crying late at night and my father saying gently, “Go to sleep, dear. It will be better in the morning, and then we can talk.” Even as an adult, my husband has also found that line of use occasionally. 😀
On the other hand, I’ve noticed my older children display the same anger more subtly. They’re not irrational or completely out of control like the baby can be, so I do correct this verbally in some way. I’m actually very consistent in responding.
I’m starting to see a little more clearly that my indecision is mostly related to “stopping screaming” (and as a related issue, “stopping crying”). I know of parents who spank to stop screaming and crying, and I’ve just not ever done it.
When Diane asks whether we as parents should ever ignore sin, there’s an underlying question that might help us come to a decision.
Maybe this is ignorant or overly-simple minded…but if anger is sinful behavior (regardless of the reason, except if it is “righteouse indignation”) then should it ever be ignored??
This question makes me wonder, Does God ever ignore our sin?
On the surface, we might say, absolutely not. Here are some verses that I’ve been thinking about along these lines.
If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? Psalm 103:3
Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins. Proverbs 10:12
Diane Heeney says
Yes, you are reading me right…with a little clarifiction (after all, this is the web). =) I believe responding has various faces. Sometimes it is “swats” (as we call them), sometimes it is simply verbal, sometimes it is witholding privileges, and yes, silence can be proactive too. But, I believe the latter is only true if it is for a season (full of prayer and watchfulness–proactivity!)…when the child is ready to be “good ground” and receptive (we moms know when this window of time is), then the medics move in with the healing power of the Word and prayer. I have found that sometimes it takes minutes (backing off while they contemplate in their room) or hours or in a few cases days. My kids tend to be more sensitive…my two year old shows potential for more “stalemates” to come in later years.
I had a situation just this weekend where we invited some friends over for dinner and I had the rare opporunity to ask an older seasoned ministry lady for some advice. My oldest daughter in particular had a hard time sharing me with this friend. While my friend was busy chirping to Kate (the little one), I pulled Erin on my lap and quietly asked her what the problem was. She was sulky and determined to stake her emotional claim on me. I gave her a couple comments to think about and sent her reluctantly outside with the other children. After our guests left, I approached her, sitting on her bed, still stormy. I handed her a few good scriptural reasons for the incorrectness of her behavior and asked her to think outside her box on the issue. At bedtime when I went to tuck her in, she was a different girl and asked my forgiveness. In that case it was a combination of reproving looks, targeted comments, including scripture, and proactive silence. Each situation is different, isn’t it?
Remember Elijah? Didn’t God say, “Go to sleep dear, it will all be better in the morning and then we can talk” to him? =) His fearful response to the threats of Jezebel was not correct…but God realized he needed some time, rest and physical rejuvenation in order to have the spiritual clarity necessary to have correct responses. That is not to say we avoid correction because Junior is tired or hungry or whatever…but there is wisdom certainly in considering the whole picture–body,soul,spirit–in finding the right moment to address issues.
The “should we ignore sin” question I believe is rhetorical…the answer being “no”. How can we? The cost is too high. If we believe no sin is a small sin, then the ramifications of ignoring sin are too serious. If nothing else, it sends a silent message to our kids…”This one doesn’t matter”. Our kids need to know that if silence is mom’s choice of response, then that is not the end of the story, and the other shoe will eventually drop (aren’t I full of metaphors today). In other words, they learn to count on sin being dealt with. Our job is to be consistent and vigilant.
Good parenting is “game on” all the time. It requires grace in great measures to execute it well. We need refreshment and encouragement to keep on keeping on (I found in some research years back that the shields referred to in Eph. 6 were actually designed to link together to form a united barrier against the enemy–a neat picture of what blogs like ours are all about). Keep on keepin’ on! ~Diane
Diane Heeney says
Clarafiction???=) No, what I said was really true…not fiction! I meant to say, “clarification” ha. You can tell I am a “re-fried bean” today.~Diane
Barbara H. says
I don’t know that ignoring anger is ignoring sin — it would depend on whether the anger in itself is sinful. As you illustrated, dealing with a child who is overtired is a different thing than dealing with a child who angry because she didn’t get something she wanted or because she had to let another child have a turn. With older children we can go over the concept that even tiredness is not a reason to explode or sulk, but I would still handle that differently than an outright temper tantrum (unless they well knew that certain actions, like hitting, weren’t allowed even in anger and did them anyway.) To me maturity level comes into play here as well.
Thanks for sharing. Good thoughts all around. I do think that just like God deals with us in different ways, so should we deal with our children according to the circumstance. In this sense, there are bigger and smaller sins (and I do think maturity comes into play here). I’m still thinking this through.
Diane Heeney says
Concerning maturity, yes, the understanding of the bigness of sin may not be developed…but that is our job as parents. We help our little ones to “get the big picture”…offense against God is big. So big that the sacrifice of His only Son was required to cleanse even the most “insignificant” (horizontally speaking) of them. If my child is not obeying me (assuming I am guiding biblically), he/she is saying “I won’t” to God’s command (Eph. 6:1) first. That is big. I believe it is supremely important for our kids to have this “black and white” understanding in our gray and compromising world.
Diane, I like what you say here and don’t disagree. I suspect what I do is less shocking than what I’m saying. I’m truly attempting to look at Scripture and what I learn about God therein as I consider how to respond to my children. Perhaps you can pray that God gives me wisdom in this area. In the meantime, I’m curious to know what mitigating circumstances would cause you to show mercy to your children?
Diane Heeney says
Please allow me a little time to pray and formulate an answer to both your posts. I think we both know the dangers of spontaneity in a blog setting (so easy to shoot off “something” w/o adequate forethought), and this topic deserves time, prayer and prep. I have several “plates spinning” right now (just finished kids mission conference and now have a pastoral candidate visiting, plus tomorrow is my boy’s birthday and we are also flying my mom off tomorrow to FL to live with my brother….whew), but things will slow down after my older two leave for Red Cliff on Monday (oh yes, need to pack too!). I’ll be able to send something more thoughtful and clear. Thanks for your patience…and you pray for me as I pray for you. I am no “child-rearing guru” (is anyone really?)…I am a first generation Christian (as is my husband) with no at-home role model. My husband and I are figuring this out as we go and lean hard on the scriptures. =) ~Diane
No problem. I have the blessing of a godly heritage, but I have found that I still have to search for my own daily wisdom. I’ve enjoyed the exchange, as it has resulted in much reflection on the word of God, and not my own ideas. I think that’s a good thing.
Diane Heeney says
This has been good for me also. I have been studying the mercy of God and keep going deeper. In the ESV the word mercy is often translated, “steadfast love”, which is interesting to think about. I thought of those two as rather cause-and-effect…you show mercy because you love….rather than being synonymous.
You asked, “what mitigating circumstances would cause you to show mercy to your children?” Just as in the discpline arena, there is no “cut and dry” rule, n’est-ce pas? For an identical offense, I may choose on one occasion to cut some slack while on another occasion I’ll hold my ground. For instance, my two year old has been told not to touch the stove. She has done it several times since, and received swats. This last time, she touched it when it was much hotter than she expected it to be. No serious burn, but enough sizzle value to make a lasting and tearful impression of the wrongness of her action w/o needing additional punishment.
Much has to do with; 1) Is it a first offense (IGNORANCE)? (in this case I’ll give warning and instruction as to why the conduct is unacceptable and provide tools to follow through obediently, including scripture–it is mercy to give the tools for success, it is cruel and unreasonable to expect my kids to intuitively know what is expected of them by God and/or by us as parents); 2) or is it outright direct disobedience of a directive (WILLFULNESS) that has already been discussed? (I always make my kids repeat directives so I know they heard me right and can be held accountable for knowing the correct and expected course of action…I’ll ask, “Did you know this was wrong?”); 3) perhaps it was a result of childish thinking (FOOLISHNESS) which requires mercy in trying to understand the mind of the child and steering the reasoning process in a biblical direction…ie. my son is not allowed to play with sharp knives; but I discovered two steak knives in the livingroom one morning and discovered after listening to his explanation that he was planning to use them to defend himself against a mouse he had seen running across the floor (long story, but we live in the country and we had a little “friend” running around in the kids’ bedroom–Michael was sleeping on the floor until we could get his room re-arranged for him, and the mouse ran across his sleeping bag and creeped him out, so Michael went to sleep in the livingroom…he is quite fearful)…in this case his fear had kicked into overdrive and this was his “thinking as a child,” logical solution…be “armed and ready”! We sorted through his fear and came up with some other alternatives that did not require slicing and dicing rodents. =)
I have also found that my own emotional state must be guarded carefully or I may knee-jerk out of anger when I ought to be manifesting more patience and mercy (I am learning the wisdom of allowing some thinking time to elapse before addressing my kids–it simmers me down so I can sort things out biblically and it also provides some reflection time for the offender). In addition, my mercy level is much higher when there is clear indication of a repentant spirit (when my smallest buries her head in my lap and covers her face as opposed to then she grins from ear to ear and sings, “Sooor-eeeeeee” or the “I’m sorry I got caught” attitude), which I believe is biblical from examples of God’s own dealings with His people.
I also believe we can be merciful in the midst of punishment. God punishes for our betterment, not to vent anger (it is because of His mercy that we are not consumed!). I need to do the same. In dealing with disobedience, it is important for my kids to know I still love them, although I do not love their sin. We talk, we cry, we pray together all as part of the process. As a side note, ever wonder how come He was so patient with the children of Israel in all their disobediences, but would zap others off the face of the earth instantaneously? I think it must go beyond the fact that Israel was His chosen people. Need to study that out.
The Blue Letter Bible defines mercy as “when that which is deserved is withheld to the benefit of the object of mercy”. I need to be in the Word so I remember how I myself struggle with obedience on a daily basis…this in turn cultivates a forgiving spirit in myself toward others, and gives the Spirit tools to work with in giving me discernment about whether punishment is “deserved”, and of what sort it ought to be that will prove the most beneficial. I found a good quote from “The Joy of Knowing God” by Richard Strauss: “To be stern and exacting or to insist on getting even with those who have injured us, exposes a heart that has no concept of its own degradation.” How I handle discipline situations should emulate God’s attitude toward sin. He can’t ignore it or excuse it; but He does choose to view it with a purposeful heart…that purpose being reconciliation, not just restitution. The “swats” should not only hurt, but also heal. He is not willing that any should perish and desires for all of us to walk in the light so we can be cleansed and in fellowship with one another and chiefly with Him (1 Jn 1:7). John Piper wrote, “The reason God is slow to anger is not that he doesn’t notice our sin, but that he forgives it.” I am not necessarily about everything he is about; but this is a good thought from his site, http://www.desiringGod.org There is more God is teaching me, but I’ll stop here. This is a good topic to “chat” about. Thanks for listening.~Diane
Diane– Your thoughts remind me of God’s commentary with the children of Israel when He led them a certain way because they were not able to bear the shorter route (Exodus 13:17-18). We see God’s mercy illustrating the truth that he does not give us any temptation greater than we can bear. I am with you. I need wisdom to know when to show mercy to my children. I do think this is related in some way to deciding what sins to mark, and what sins to cover. I’ll be thinking about it. Thanks for the conversation.