Titus 2:11-13

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus."

Friday, August 21, 2009

Embarrassed and Humbled

Why do children choose the most inopportune moments to disobey?  Are there any other mothers out there who are diligent in training and disciplining their children and yet have been utterly humiliated by them in public?  I think I have pretty obedient children (though they are definitely a work in progress!), but from time to time, even though they know what the consequences will be, they decide to make a public display of disobedience that must certainly make bystanders believe there is no such thing as training and discipline in my house.

Yesterday I took Abel and Amariah to the pediatrician for their (delinquent) well-child exams, and it was there that Abel attempted--and may have succeeded--to convince the nurse and doctor that my home is in complete disarray.  (It's not, but you would have thought so yesterday!)  It all started when the nurse asked Abel to take his shoes off and step on the scale.  For whatever reason, he had made up his mind that he wasn't going to do it; and he changed his mind only after Amariah went first.  If that wasn't embarrassing enough, he then literally refused to comply with the nurse's next request to lay on the table and get his length measured.  (As a side note, don't you think they could treat a three-year old like a three-year old instead of like a baby and measure their "height" standing up instead of their "length" laying down?...)  After my failed attempt to lay my writhing son on the table, I took him to the bathroom (where I would have disciplined him had we been in any other setting) and talked to him about how I wanted him to behave.  When we returned to the exam room, he proved the truth of Proverbs 29:15:  "The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother" (emphasis added).  Indeed, reproof alone did not do the trick; and I was most certainly ashamed as the nurse and doctor and I resorted to using force for every bit of the remainder of his exam.

Let me say here that it is so against my principles to use coercion and force in place of the rod and reproof.  Though I did appropriately address the issue when we got home, I hated that I felt trapped by Abel's disobedience because of the setting we were in.  I hate that I couldn't deal with Abel biblically at the time due to the fear of what the doctor might think.  I hate that our society has equated spanking with abuse and that parents have become paralyzed by the fear of being reported or having their children taken away.

Obviously, I write this post in some frustration; but I also write in humility.  I much prefer to look like I "have it all together" (even though we all know I don't!), so I was admittedly a little hesitant to share this story.  I decided to, though, partly because I'm curious how other Christian mothers out there would have handled this situation.  Is it wrong or unnecessary to be fearful of what society may say?  Is it detrimental to be inconsistent in an inopportune setting?  Truly, I am in no way looking for justification for my child's behavior or for the way I chose the handle it, but I would like to hear your thoughts.


Kim Doughan said...

Oh my. This is so weird b/c my 3-yr old did the same thing with being disobedient at Lowes the other day. This was also a place where I didn't know quite what to do, we were waiting for Adam to do his business and I had all three kids there with me.

I decided that the issue definitely needed to be addressed after she had continued to disobey several times in a row so I took her aside to a different aisle that no one was occupying and decided to give her a little spanking and talk with her there; however, right when I was spanking her it seemed like the aisle just filled with people. I didn't really care if they saw what I did, I felt as if I was calm and collective and not some angry parent who was worked up and just hitting their child out of frustration (even though I was frustrated, maybe more disappointed in her behavior).

I know that this is a touchy subject and I feel like we, as parents, should not have to divert from our consistent disciplining techniques that we know work. I know that sometimes we have to adapt, like maybe take them outside of a store to discipline or like you did to the bathroom (I have done that at church before).

It seems as if I would have done what you did and I commend you for even taking the time to do that.

Just my two-cents worth.

Jessica Pennings said...

Oh no Angela, you are not the only one who's child (trained and disciplined at home) has done that in public. Unfortunatly, we are disobedient sinners raising disobedient sinners. We can do all the training and disciplining we want, but it is in our children's nature to sin.

I don't feel like I have any place to tell a mother of 4 what to do, but you did probably what I would have done. Depending on where the bathroom is in relation to other people who might not approve of spanking, I will take Isaac to the bathroom to spank and reproof him. But we use an arsonal of disciplining rather than just spanking. Isaac was becoming numb to it so I have to feel out what will devastate him the most in his disobedience.

He wasn't listening to me last week when I took him to the wading pool so I did take him in the bathroom to spank him, but it was loud and I knew I would be safe. He threw a tantrum over markers in Walgreen's the other day, screaming and crying, I felt the same way as you described. In that moment I made the decision to discipline him right there in the aisle by taking away these 'beloved' markers that he wanted and I told him I would not be buying them for him because his behavior was unacceptable. That was far more devastating to him than a spanking at that moment.

But like you I do at times feel trapped by public disobedience. There have been times I have told Isaac what my expectations are of him before we go into the public situation and I tell him what will happen if he disobeys me. Sometimes that is a spanking and sometimes its a removal of privaledges. I have found that works sometimes, but its not foolproof b/c of his nature to sin. All I can do is make sure in his moment of disobedience I find a way to make sure he doesn't 'win', and depending on the situation it might be right at that moment or it takes place after we are in a 'safe' environment. These are the moments I find God uses the most to teach me as a mother :). But you are so not alone!!!

Marti said...

You are so not alone. Don't you remember this day ;)


Hang in there and keep doing what God is asking you to do as the mother of Abel, Amariah, Elliana and Isabel...

Angie said...

I can say we have all been there and done that. My children learned really fast with me that I did not care who was standing in front of me, or where we were at if they were miss behaving mom took care of it. My beloved on the other hand would not discipline in public for many of the reasons you mentioned, and that is when he learned our children would give him problems, so he adopted mom's philosophy really quickly.

Mine are now 18,17,16,13,12 and we have a 2 year old. I do not regret not sparing the rod. I have wonderful children who love the Lord.

Rearing children is such an honor given to us by our Lord Jesus. When they are all small it molds us into the people He would have us be, and have them be. Be strong in the Lord!!

Daughter of the King of Kings

Linda said...

It is so hard to deal with that in public. I know sin must be dealt with but it is hard sometimes.

Even my darling little grandchildren misbehave at times! (:>) But by God's grace we all get through it.

Last week I went to garage sales with my daughter and her six kids. One of them was not having a good day! He usually isn't like that,...but for some reason he was being naughty.

My daughter dealt with it by talking to him sternly, (since she was driving),...and then she said,..aren't you ashamed that Grandma is seeing this side of you?" He straightened up and all was well. (:>) But sometimes it isn't that easy.


I think you will do fine with the Lord's help.

Linda @ Truthful Tidbits

Stefanie and Elliot said...

It sounds like you handled the situation pretty well. The teacher in me wonders if you thanked Amariah for her good behavior and gave plenty of positive reinforcement so Abel would see how much you liked good behavior rather his unacceptable behavior. When Landen was around 16 - 17 months old, he would not lay still for a diaper change for anything. I finally got him to lay more still by thanking and praising him when he would lay for even a little bit. Eventually, he started laying still for a whole diaper change...I am probably going to have to use the same technique on Adellyn!

Angela said...

Thanks, everyone, for weighing in on this discussion! I really appreciate all the comments. You each mentioned a different aspect of child-rearing, making the conversation feel quite complete! :-)

Kim, you raise a good point concerning the importance of disciplining with a calm and collected demeanor. I think the absence of anger is what makes "spanking" different from "hitting." And I commend you, as well, for not being afraid to be consistent with discipline in a public place. If we can show our kids that disobedience will always be handled the same way no matter where we are, they will surely be less apt to act up in public.

Jess, I can relate when you say Isaac was becoming numb to spankings. We went through a time with Abel where I felt like the spankings weren't getting us anywhere. Though I was tempted to turn from spanking, I never stopped using the rod because I knew I had to believe that God's promises concerning the rod are true. However, like you, I began taking some other disciplinary actions (such as sending him to his room) in combination with the rod, and then I began seeing more progress. I like what you say about making sure the child doesn't "win." That is so important. And about the sin nature in children--perhaps the fact that it is so evident in children is what makes being a parent so sanctifying.

Marti, I admit I was actually thinking about your "I believe I was tested today" post on the way home from the doctor's office that day! Right or wrong, it made me feel a little better about the display my own child had just made. :-) Thanks for the encouragement that God will guide me as I raise the children He has given me!

Angie, I agree with you that children will act up when/where they think they can get by with it. I appreciate your testimony that all the hard work pays off!

Linda, I'm a little ashamed to admit that what you say to do--PRAY!--is what I tend to forget. Thanks for the reminder that I need to be diligently praying for my children.

Stefanie, I agree with you that positive reinforcement is important. The last thing I ever want to do is to make my children feel like they can never be "good enough" for me. I do praise their good behavior often, and I love to see the look on their faces when they realize how proud they have made their Mom!

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