Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Spare the Rod

Doni was just barely 5 years old and perhaps the most beautiful of all God’s creation since, well, Lucifer. At 5 she had a little devil in her that needed exorcism. Deanna had told her to do something 4 times and for times she flatly refused, receiving the appropriate exorcism process that was not achieving its intended purpose. This was in the days when the advice of Proverbs could be applied literally and liberally. Given the PC sensors that may read this I will be sufficiently vague. Let them read Proverbs themselves! It will do them good. The Fifth attempt and exorcism ended the battle once and for all. In tears Doni finally admitted to mom “I guess it’s just better to obey the first time.” We never had to revisit that territory. As a teenager Doni asked to be grounded a few times just so she would have an excuse to stay home. Doni was pretty easy on me as a dad, but then came the boys! Early on I was sure I would be able to, shall we say with specific applications of some of Solomon’s parenting principles, not spoil them? I had learned some things from my dad. My dad was a pretty strict disciplinarian. To defy him openly would have been the equivalent of suicide by cop. He made a believer out of me when I was young so challenging him openly as a teenager was out of the question, that and it hardly seemed fair since he was an invalid anyway. His version of spare the rod was to take away my car keys, a fate worse than death for a teenager living in a rural setting. I knew the rules…and how to get around them. I never lost my car keys! Death threats are really meaningless if there is virtually no chance of getting caught. I would like to tell you a really good story here but either I was really good or just never got caught. Personally, I’m gonna stick with the really good story since there is no surviving evidence to the contrary. I really wanted to be a really strict disciplinarian with my kids too, you know, put the fear of father and Father in them. Problem was, DONI. Do you know how hard it is for a father to put the fear of God into a beautiful little girl? Fortunately, mom had no such misgivings and had largely resolved the issue up front. I do remember the day she crushed my strict disciplinarian parenting skills to oblivion. She was about 12 and I was dutifully speaking quite harshly and loudly with her expressing my disagreement with an inappropriate attitude that girls can occasionally have. At the end of my eloquent soliloquy, Doni looked straight at me and said with a tone approaching defiance, “when you talk to me like that it only makes me want to rebel all the more!” Here’s where it really gets bad being a preacher. I know scriptures command that I NOT provoke my children to wrath, which evidently (or obviously to some) I was doing. I was outnumbered and out maneuvered, which in retrospect really wasn’t fair. No way could I fight against Doni when she evidently had secured the assistance of the Holy Spirit. I lost that battle, but won the war. It was hard for me to relearn how to do things, especially when it was on the job training. My way was so simple going in. I was bigger so they better obey. Unfortunately years later my kids came up with the 5 year rule. They claim that after 5 years they can tell about what they did, but did not get caught. The list is horrifying. Don’t ask. On a few occasions the were caught doing something that was really out of line. On a few of those occasions there was NO punishment legal to pay for the crime adequately so on those rare occasions I simply offered mercy and let the Holy Spirit do whatever correcting was appropriate. What I am certain of now is that obedience tied to threats is only useful if there is a reasonable chance of catching them. The older they get, the better they get a being sneaky. Remember what you got away with? Fear of punishment has its place, but I like what really worked in the long run for me. Love and mercy. There is nothing to rebel against, only something to be embraced. That is the way God has chosen to deal with us


jolleyzoo said...

"The older they get, the better they get at being sneaky.".....I was hoping to pass over this fact of life while raising my own children, I was pretty happy thinking they were going to be the few where this statement was not fact. THANKS :)
So Love and mercy does that ALWAYS work? What if you find Landen O2 bottle floating in a tub of water, thanks to a older sibling?
They know better, but they keep trying me.

Doni Brinkman said...

Ahhh...I remember that day well. Actually you let me carry on for quite a little bit because I also remember telling you that my temper came from you and that we both just really needed to agree to work on it. Hee hee. I am not doing so well these days either - you seem to have grown past it. :) Want to come over and deliver that speech to me now?

heidi jo said...

I think Doni only recently told me about that situation with MamaZ. She was using that story ON HERSELF to encourage me to be willing to go further than Seth when it comes to some exorcism, uh, discipline issues. Apparently I'm still not quite getting it right. Maybe I need to have a talk with MamaZ on this one. :)