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Teachable Moments - I'm Still Learning

posted Apr 2, 2017, 2:35 PM by Nathan Wheeler   [ updated Apr 11, 2018, 4:10 PM by Nathanael Wheeler ]
Last August, I married a woman who had 3 children (8-year-old twin boys, and a 6-year-old girl) from a previous marriage. She was divorced for unrepentant and continual infidelity by her spouse. She is, as typical of most women whom I've observed, lax on discipline - extremely hesitant to spank, and barely will even put them in time out. She's become frustrated that the kids don't listen to her. Last week, we had a little family meeting, in which I informed the kids that in the future, if I heard their mother have to repeat herself because they were not doing what they were told, they would be spanked posthaste. This was after she had yelled for them three times and none had responded. I yelled for them once, and they came running. Their excuse - "We weren't sure who she was yelling for..."

Anyway, a few days later, it happened. We were in a hardware store, and the kids were all playing with the demo lights, flipping them on and off. After they'd been at it for several minutes, she told them to stop. They didn't. I reminded them of what I had told them. When we got home, I went into the bedroom, and prayed a short prayer for guidance and patience. I pulled each of them into the bedroom one by one, with each one fearful of the discipline that was coming.

When I had been praying though, an idea had just dawned on me, which I feel was the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I walked them over to the side of the bed, and knelt down on the floor, which I often do, as it makes talking to kids easier). "Do you know why you're in here?" "Yes, because I didn't listen to mommy." I then patted the floor beside me, and asked them to kneel with me. I put my arm around them, and instead of spanking them, I prayed with them. I prayed that God would help them understand the importance of their obedience and respect to their mother, and for myself to be patient and loving, as God loves His children. Then I gave them a big hug, and went and got the next kid.

After all of them had been taken into the room, I gathered them all up, and had a chat with them. I reiterated the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden, how God had said when they ate from the tree, they would die, but then God clothed them, and let them live, but that God had said there were still consequences to their actions. I then explained to them that I had told them that I would spank them, but instead I had done what I could to "clothe" them, and that I believed that God would help them to be more respectful and obedient, but that SINCE I believed God would help them, they would be held to a higher standard.

I think that, at least for me, this was a great way to help them understand God's mercy and grace. As parents, and especially fathers, we are models of the Fatherhood of God. In general, how a child views the dominant male/father figure in their life is the view they will have of God. In that, there is the necessity for love, patience, kindness, gentleness, and yes, even sometimes, discipline.