Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honor thy father and mother; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
It's been one of those days...
As a parent of three small children, soon to be four...(joyful, slightly anxious sigh...)
...I find myself often contemplating the idea of "obedience."
When our first child was a toddler, we began trying to instill in her the idea of first time obedience. That is, giving her an instruction and having her obey that instruction the first time, rather than asking and ASKING and YELLING and getting into a power struggle.
People often looked at me oddly when I would ask our 19 month old, "Are you going to choose to obey mommy or disobey?" And she would promptly respond, "Obey."
I think the odd looks were due in part to the use of such a big word with such a small child, (and frankly, a word more often associated with canine behavior than children's), and also because she would actually obey after this little exchange took place.
So, since then, our parenting with regard to obedience, has evolved into this rather simple exchange...the conversation goes like this:
Me: "What did mommy ask you to do?"
Me: "What did you do instead?"
Child: "I __________________." or, "I disobeyed."
Me: "So what does mommy have to do?"
Child: "Give me a spanking (usually stated while covering the referenced anatomical area.)"
We follow with hugs and I almost always remember to tell them I love them and am not angry at them, just want them to learn obedience. At various times we discuss God's instruction to parents regarding training our children, etc. etc. so they know why we do what we do...
So, today, I realized, I have been getting away from the first time obedience training format with Wyatt (3). I find myself tired, busy, or just lazy at times, repeating myself over and over and OVER again until I AM really, really angry at him. And by then, the training is futile. Angry obedience training does not work I have found...I have to do the training before the power struggle and frustration (on both our parts) has set in.
I woke up with firm resolve that today would be a good training day. I believe that before breakfast, I probably had the above-referenced exchange and spanking scenario about 20 times.
I called my husband...left a voicemail..."The children and I are not getting along well today and I think we need a separation period..." No one came to relieve me of duty, so finally at 10:30 am, we went to Bible study (an hour late due to MANY unfortunate disobedience episodes.)
Episode ONE: DO NOT GO OUTSIDE
I told Wyatt, "It is wet and cold and we are not having outdoor playtime today." As I washed the third of the four thousand dishes in the sink, I thought I heard the door open. Yes, indeed, it was Wyatt, outside, followed by a very intrigued Caden..."Well, what's the harm?" I thought; I'll let it go.
Episode TWO: DO NOT OPEN THE SAND BOX
I told Wyatt, "The sand in the sandbox is wet and muddy and you guys are in your clothes to go to church, so please don't open the sandbox." I ran inside to get a sweater. When I came out, both boys were in the sandbox, covered in water and sandy muddy mess. I could not spank Wyatt at that point because I was shaking mad...it is really hard to get Caden dressed at this stage of pregnancy because he weighs 32 lbs and still acts like a raving lunatic when I'm changing his diaper and clothes. The 17 month old psyche in a solid two year old body is not fun...
I could go on with the following thirty seven or so episodes, but I won't, because you'll start to hate my kids and that wouldn't be good, because they are USUALLY NOT LIKE THIS!!!
We changed clothes, and even though we were going to be AN HOUR LATE for Bible study, I thought, "If I don't get my nose in the Word of God, I am going to lose it and CPS will surely be justified in removing my children and throwing me in the nuthouse."
So off we went.
And I was able to regroup. It was during the study that I realized how tired I was and how little consistency I had been giving my boys lately with regard to discipline. Their behavior, in large part, was due to my own 1) Moodiness; 2) Lack of Commitment; 3) Lack of healthy food preparation for their little brains to function in a stable manner; and 4) Lack of prayer for mothering endurance (which I used to do daily.)
I had become lax. And I could not hold them accountable for my lack of diligence.
After a nap (thank you Lord for that answered prayer!!!), I woke up thinking about obedience. I wondered what God had to say about it for us as well.
God calls us to a life of obedience to him just like he calls children to obey their parents. (Proverbs 16:20, Jeremiah 7:23.)
God does not want us to obey Him for the sake of obedience or to make our lives miserable. Just like the reason God gives for children obeying their parents is so that their lives may be richer, more blessed, and longer, so it is for us. If we obey God's commands for our life, trust in His wisdom, and seek His direction for our lives, we will be more blessed as well...
...and much less wet and sandy!
We are going to get back to the consistent first time obedience routine, for all our sakes! Thank you God for awakening this realization in me today.