Sunday, September 16, 2012

Loving Discipline

It was a lazy Saturday morning.  No one rolled out of bed much before 8:00 a.m.  It was nearly 9:00 by the time I called the troops to breakfast.  They came thumping down the stairs with everyone talking at once.  As we were taking our seats around the breakfast table, Troy looked up at his dad and noticed a problem.

"Um, dad, you have something white on your face."

"No, I don't.  I just looked in the mirror and there was nothing there."

Troy reaches towards his dad's face to show him.  Dad pulls his head back.  "Back off.  There's nothing on my face.  You're just pulling my leg."
By this time the chatter has died down and everyone is looking at Dad.  Kayt chimes in, "Seriously, dad, there is something on your forehead."

The agitated response fired back, "Now guys, I just took a shower.  I get clean in the shower unlike some of you.  I looked in the mirror.  And I know there is nothing on my face."

All the children begin talking at once.

"Dad, there is something there."

"Really there is."

"Look in the mirror."

Troy getting exasperated said, "Ask mom."

As he looked at me I tentatively answered, "There is something there, honey."
"See!  I told you.  Mom doesn't lie," said Troy thinking he had finally made his point and Dad would listen.

Dad banged his hand down on the table.  "That's it.  I've had it.  Would you all just quit?  I'm getting angry now."

The kids try to hide their smiles and their giggles, but it's difficult for them.  I'm even having a hard time not laughing.

Dad asked Kayt to say the prayer.  She tried hard to get sober and pray, but there were these funny little noises going on all around her as giggles and snorts broke out now and then.

As we began to pour our cereal, the children once again tried to point out to their dad that he had a problem.  He continued to argue with them and refused to look in the mirror.  Finally, he turned around and picked up his Bible off the window ledge. He thumped it down with force on the table.

"I can tell we'd better start with Bible class right now," he said.

He opened the Bible and read,

"Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid."  (Proverbs 12:1)

Then he asked very seriously looking each child straight in the eye, "Now what can we learn from this verse?"

Troy couldn't help himself and blurted out, "You must not like knowledge very much."

Ignoring Troy Dad asked, "Kayt, what do you think?" thinking  he would get a more serious answer.  It didn't work.

She smiled and sheepishly said, "Dad is being stupid."

Reaching up Dad swipes the offending white blob off his forehead.  He then joins in the laughter as all the children finally realize they had played right into Dad's hand.

It created the perfect opener for discussing with the children about how to handle correction.  We have three teenagers and two pre-teens in the house.  Hormones are often running high.  Independence is being exerted.  Correction is often met with anger or argument.

As Les continued to share with our children the verses from Proverbs about a wise son listening to instruction, I could see the light bulb come on for a couple of the boys.  The object lesson had done it's job of illustrating to them how stupid they look when they do not listen.

(This idea came from a book I've been reading entitled, Parenting is Heart Work by Turansky and Miller.  They suggested having toilet paper hanging from your back.  We didn't do that because we were afraid the boys would grab it and ruin the illustration.)

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