Relationships Matter. God Is A Relational God.

As I have been corresponding with people who are on the fence about gentle discipline, it hit me that God is a relational God.  Everything He does is to get us to become closer to Him.  That’s why it makes me sad that so many Christians believe that He does bad things “for our good.”  That doesn’t make us feel closer to Him unless we have some sadomachistic tendencies going on in us.

When it comes to disciplining our children, I find myself covering the same issues with punitive parents who just don’t understand what discipline really is.  So I am going to cover it again here.

Discipline looks at the whole child instead of focusing on behavior. When you understand the child and where he/she is in his/her development, you can set appropriate limits and figure out the whys behind behavior. Children are so much more than a set of behaviors or “sins.”  They are complicated, competent human beings that need our guidance.  They are new to this world and have immature brains and bodies.  This should not be used against them, but it often is.

Going from using external control such as spankings, time-outs, and taking away privileges in an arbitrary way to using internal motivation by meeting needs, setting limits, allowing natural consequences of choices to happen, validating feelings, allowing appropriate choices, giving alternative appropriate behavior and/or ways of expressing feelings, using time-in to settle down with the children and connect instead of isolating them is tough. It takes a lot of work and patience.

We use the Fruit of the Spirit A LOT when we choose to discipline rather than punish. But this is true discipline.  To grow heathy fruit, we must cultivate it, water it, and give it plenty of sunshine.  We must also do our best to protect it from the enemy, usually bugs and other animals.  We don’t beat the sprouts and fruit as that would ruin it.  So why do it to our children by beating them?

God is a relational God, so using discipline is focusing on keeping our relationships intact with our children. You may think that your relationship with your children is fine despite using punishment, but it isn’t what it could be as all children want to please their parents. They may behave out of fear instead of out of respect.  We want our children to behave because it is the right thing to do!  We want our children to have healthy relationships with others and with God.  Only true respect can teach children respect.  We must model respect to our children by respecting them and other people!  They are learning from our actions more than our words

Also, I am sure I have covered this in other posts, but I know people learn through repetition too so I will cover this again.   Fear and respect mean two totally different things.

The definition of fear is “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.”

The definition of respect is “esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability.”

Notice fear contains the word “evil” in its definition but respect doesn’t. And throughout the Bible God tells us to NOT be afraid. Therefore, to be reverent means to respect, not afraid.

Since God is a relational God, shouldn’t we do everything in our power to treat our children in a manner that produces a healthy relationship with us? We work hard to have good marriages by treating our spouses with love and respect.  Why should it be any different with our children?  God is over us and yet He calls us His friends (John 15:15, James 2:23, Romans 5:10).  May we treat our children how God treats us.

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Isn’t God’s Mercy For Children TOO?

I continue to ask this question every time I see a “Christian” claim that children must be spanked/hit in order to receive forgiveness and understand God’s mercy someday.

But God doesn’t do this to us.  All we, adults, have to do to be forgiven by God is ask God to forgive us.  God never punishes us before forgiving us and extending His amazing grace and love to us.  So why is it supposedly different for children?

Guess what!  It isn’t!  Nowhere in the Bible, especially in the New Testament, does it say that children must pay a price for forgiveness.  In fact, this is what the Bible says about mercy, and it applies to children too:

Titus 3:3-7, NASB:
“For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

So, yes, God’s mercy, grace, forgiveness, and love is for children too!

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Physical “Discipline” Is NOT Biblical Nor A Part Of The “Rod” Verses

Once again I have seen another Christian leader try to claim that physical “discipline” (I hate when people try to call corporal punishment “physical discipline” as hitting a child is NOT “discipline,” it is punishment!) is a part of the “rod” verses of Proverbs.  They just do not understand that the Hebrew meaning of the “rod” verses do not include the use of corporal punishment with children.

If they did, God would have provided more instructions on how, when, why, and at what age children should be spanked/hit.

I mean, inflicting pain on a child is serious business.  Why would God leave it up to a bunch of sinful adults to figure out how to use corporal punishment?  And these sinful adults don’t even agree on what is “abuse.”  Here are quotes from the popular “Christian” advocates of spanking:

The child may be more strong-willed than the parent, and they both know it. If he can outlast a temporary onslaught, he has won a major battle, eliminating punishment in the parent’s repertoire. Even though Mom spanks him, he wins the battle by defying her again. The solution to this situation is obvious: outlast him; win, even if it takes a repeated measure” (Dobson, 1970, p. 45).

For example, a dime sized bruise on the buttocks of a fair-skinned child may or may not indicate an abusive situation. It all depends. In an otherwise secure and loving home, that bruise may have no greater psychological impact than a skinned knee or a stubbed toe. Again the issue in not the small abrasion; it is the meaning behind it” (Dobson, 1996, p. 25).

After you have spanked, take the child up on your lap and hug him, telling him how much you love him, how much it grieves you to spank him, and how you hope that it will not be necessary again. Then if he is still not restored, you are to check your own spirit to see if you have handled him roughly… [or] brought unholy anger on this holy mission, and if you have, seek forgiveness from God. If your child is still angry, it’s time for another round, ‘Daddy has spanked you, but you are not sweet enough yet. We are going to have to go back upstairs for another spanking'” (Tripp, 1995, p. 149).

“On the bare legs or bottom, switch him eight or ten licks; then, while waiting for the pain to subside, speak calm words of rebuke. If the crying turns to a true, wounded, submissive whimper, you have conquered; he has submitted his will. If the crying is still defiant, protesting and other than a response to pain, spank him again” (Pearl, 1994, p. 80).

It is very scary to me that they say different things, but yet, advocate harsh, “loving” spankings.  Also, dark skinned children must suffer much more pain than a lighter skinned child as bruises don’t show up as quickly on dark skin.

But since there is yet another “Christian” leader teaching parents to spank/hit their children in order to “Bibically discipline” them, I will explore the topic once again. I cover all of this in my book, Gentle Firmness.  

This time we’ll focus on Proverbs 22:15 (NASB) which states:

Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will remove it far from him.”

We know that the Hebrew meaning for “rod” is Shebet and that the rod was a large stick with spikes on the end of it.  The shepherds never used it to hit the sheep.  Shebet is also used in the Bible as a symbol of authority.

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The Biblical rod. Source: http://20reasonsnottospank.blogspot.com

The problem most Christians have with this verse as well as the other “rod” verses that seem to advocate using corporal punishment with children is that the Hebrew word for “discipline” which is Muwcar includes “chastisement” in the definition.

What confuses most pro-spanking Christians is that the English definition for chastisement includes physical punishment.  However, it means verbal correction as well.

When looking at the dictionary, there are many synonyms for chastise.

Let’s look at some of them: “Rebuke, Lecture, Scold, Reprimand, Bawl Out, Dress Down, and Lecture.”  Yes, it can mean physical punishment, but it also means many other things!

Given the Biblical context in which chastise is being used here in Proverbs, we are walking on very shaky ground if we choose to interpret it as a command to spank our children. God rebukes us all the time. No, it’s not pleasant, but it’s not in a harsh tone and He immediately forgives us when we repent. And yes, if we choose to do our own thing against His will, He will allow, not inflict, pain into our lives.  It’s called natural consequences.

Another issue with insisting on punishing and spanking/hitting our children and using the Bible to justify it is that Jesus suffered and died for ALL of our sins!  How come adults can just pray for forgiveness and they are forgiven?  But our children who are just learning don’t get grace and forgiveness until they “pay” for their “sins.”  How is this Biblical or Christ-like?

Finally, sadly, some Christians do follow this verse to a “t” and spank their children for being children. Yet, when we really study this and other verses that seem to advocate corporal punishment with children, we see that there is no reference to spanking/hitting children.  It is also important to understand child development as God created children to think and behave the way that they do. To constantly hit them for being “unwise” by adult standards is neither Biblical nor fair. And you can’t beat foolishness out of children any more than you can beat the devil out of them.

Jesus has raised children’s status and has called us to be like little children in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. In fact, Jesus had plenty of time to teach about children and NEVER said anything about spanking/hitting them!

We are to drive out folly by teaching, guiding, protecting, and comforting our children. To do anything other than that, especially to take the above verse literally, would be to teach children that no matter what they do, they will never be able to measure up. Does this sound like the way to raise children up in the Lord?

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References (I don’t recommend any of these):

Dobson, J. (1970). Dare to Discipline. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

Dobson, J. (1996). The New Dare to Discipline. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

Pearl, M. (1994). To Train Up A Child. Pleasantville, TN: No Greater Joy Ministries.

Tripp, T. (1995). Shepherding a Child’s Heart. Wapwallopen, PA: Shepherd Press.

 

Teaching Expression Instead Of Repression

Happy New Year 2016!!

This Holiday season was a bit rough for my husband and me as it was the first Holiday season without his mom. But we experienced many joyful moments along wih the grief.

As the five month anniversary of his mom going to Heaven approaches this week, I’ve been, yet again, reflecting on how society treats negative emotion and grief. I’ve been surprised that even well-meaning friends seem to want us to hurry up and “move on.”

It’s during our darkest hour that we find many scattering when we need them the most.

Thank You, Jesus, that You never scatter when we need You. You quietly sit with us as we cry, scream, and even cuss. I’ve been doing that a lot lately as I continue to process my emotions of loss.

“Get over it.”  “Life goes on.”  “Stop focusing on your grief.”

That’s what I hear from others around me. If only it was that easy.

I have been looking for and finding joy amidst the pain. I have redirected my thoughts. And with the help of my best friend, I made a memory photo book for my husband and sister–in-law for Christmas. I knew this would be a hard Christmas without their mom. So I wanted to honor her and bring joy. They loved it. I have done productive things with my grief.

I like using my pain for good whenever possible which is why I wrote my book, Gentle Firmness, and why I’m working on a children’s book and a book for adults about my cerebral palsy. It’s also why I finally started blogging.

I want to help children and their families. I also want to glorify God. 

So, this post is another of many about teaching expression instead of repression because our first instinct with both children and adults seems to be “Oh, you’re ok.”

Well, what if the child or adult isn’t “ok?”  Shouldn’t we be like Jesus and sit quietly with them as they express their negative feelings?  Why do we pressure people from birth to repress their negative emotions?

Yes, at times, even I have been guilty of this.

If you have been following me or have read my book, you know I feel strongly about validating children’s emotions from birth. I explain in my book as well as in many posts on how to help children appropriately express and cope with their big, negative feelings.

Teaching and encouraging expression is vital to emotionally healthy people. I know many adults who were taught to repress their negative emotions. Some were even punished for having negative feelings. These adults now struggle to deal with stress and upset in a healthy manner. They also sometimes pressure people to “hurry up and get over it” because they either feel so helpless that they can’t do anything to help the person–young or old– and/or they are triggered by the person’s emotional upset and pain.

I am not one to repress my emotional pain. I need to reach out. I usually do so online since my family and close friends live all over the country. I find that if I express my negative emotions appropriately, I usually heal faster.

This grief is taking me longer. After all, it’s only been almost five months. And she had only been gone a few weeks before special days for our family hit…And then the Holidays.  And while I’ve lost many humans to Heaven throughout my life, my mother-in-law was the first close person to me that I’ve lost.  She truly was like a second mom to me.

I have found with my husband, his sister, and myself that when we try to repress our emotional pain, it ends up building and building until we blow up.

I have found that to be the case with children too. The more we ignore their feelings, the worse they behave.

It is truly better to encourage a hurting child or adult to express their negative emotions. Children will require guidance and discipline (teaching, not punishing) to learn appropriate ways of expressing themselves, but it is so much healthier for them.

Also, boys have the same right to cry and be emotional as girls. It is NOT “manly” to repress any negative emotions!

May we do our best to encourage expression rather than repression. Believe me, children and adults will be forever grateful if you validate and quietly sit with them as they do their best to process their big, negative feelings.

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The Brain Overload During Meltdowns Is REAL!

I was recently reminded that the total brain overload and loss of control in children during meltdowns is very real! Why? Because it happened to me!

I’m 34 and was recently at a public place with my husband and some other family members. At this place, I was treated disrespectfully.

Now, due to my severe cerebral palsy, people often treat me as a child or a person with a mental disability. Usually I take it in stride. I never make a scene in public. But, unfortunately, this time was different.

Instead of just brushing this person off and moving on, I lost it and yelled and said things that I regretted as soon as my brain came back under my control. My husband and family were trying to calm me down but my brain was stuck in “fight or flight” mode.

Looking back, it was weird but I had truly lost control of my impulse, self-control like young children do. My brain just got stuck. Usually I can talk myself down and use self-control. Not then.

After a few minutes as my brain came back to me and God gently convicted me, I realized I’d REALLY blown it. I wanted to disappear or run out. All I could do was look out the window and cry. I couldn’t stop crying.

Thankfully, my husband got me out of there, but not before I willingly and on my own accord, apologized to the person I had yelled at. The person graciously accepted my sincere apology. Of course, I prayed and asked God for forgiveness as well.

Once we left, I also apologized to my family. I felt awful that I acted so horribly. I still beat myself up over the incident even though weeks have passed since the incident occurred.

If you have been reading my blog recently, you are aware that my husband and I are grieving the loss of his mom, to whom I was quite close. It has been a rough few months for us. Looking back on this incident, it is obvious that grief played a major role in my very embarrassing public meltdown.

After all, I had never done this before in my life!  No, grief is not an excuse for my inappropriate response, but it is a good reason.

My point in telling this embarrassing story that I wish I could forget is that I think many adults think that children can control themselves in a full blown meltdown. They believe that children are just trying to manipulate us into giving them their way.

I can assure you from my incident that children absolutely can not control themselves during meltdowns. The brain gets overloaded with stress hormones and they truly lose control. Getting angry, yelling, spanking/hitting, shaming, or otherwise punishing them will only keep their brains in this heightened stress state longer. Had my husband and family scolded me or punished me, it would have only escalated things. Instead, they spoke calmly and offered comfort which allowed my brain to get unstuck in order for me to calm down and make things right. My tears became tears of godly sorrow for messing up.

When our children are in the throes of a meltdown, the best thing we can do is speak quietly and calmly to them and offer comfort until their brains come back under their control. The “fight or flight” response is very real and extremely powerful. The sooner we help them get out of that mode, the sooner we can teach them healthy calming and coping techniques to prevent that from happening most of the time as they grow.

We can also teach them that there are times throughout life where the stress and pain is too much for them to bear and they may get stuck and make a complete and utter fool of themselves, but God and we will be there to support, forgive, and help them through it.

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Victory Is Through Jesus, NOT Through Law And Punishment!

“But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:54-57).

If sin is the law, then our “law” for children is sin; demands thrust upon them they cannot possibly meet due to their current understanding and level of development.

To further clarify, expecting toddlers to stay away from breakables and punishing toddlers when they don’t “obey” us is thrusting the “law” on them, thus, making them deal with sin before they can even understand what sin truly is, and adding feelings of anger, hurt, and confusion to them by punishing them is sin.

Putting the breakables away takes the “law” away, therefore, removing the power of sin. “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6).

Also, expecting first time obedience of children is thrusting the “law” on them as God does not even expect first time obedience of us!  First time obedience is neither biblical nor developmentally appropriate. The young brain takes longer to process stimuli. Young children just process everything much, much differently than we do. It takes a lot of brain damage from physical punishment to finally get children to obey immediately. Not good. They are in constant fight or flight mode when people use physical punishment to get first time obedience. Fear and pain hinder brain development and learning.

God created children to be who they are. He created our brains. So, no children should never be expected to obey immediately all the time. Now, if there is an emergency or a good reason for immediate cooperation (I really dislike using obedience within the parent-child relationship because we’re not God and are mere sinners. Cooperation should be our aim within the parent-child relationship.), then we need to tell the child why and be prepared to help the child cooperate.

Let’s do our best not to thrust sin onto our children before they are truly capable of resisting it. Let us get the Word of God into their hearts instead! After all, it’s Jesus who gives all of us victory over our sin, not punishment.

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Are Children Truly Selfish?

Many people, especially Christians, think that young children’s incapability to always share or to not be able to put themselves in other’s shoes or to need what they need is selfishness. They think this is children’s “flesh” and “sinful nature” taking over. It is not sin or selfishness at all.

It’s a developmental stage that young children go through. Only much older children and adults are truly able to be selfish. We have impulse control. We should have empathy. Children don’t. They’re learning.

Infants and toddlers are very aware of their parents’ emotions from birth and are affected by them, but this does not mean that infants and toddlers can empathize with the parents.
Young children from birth until somewhere around the age of four or five years are what Jean Piaget calls egocentric. Again, this is not due to their “sinful nature” and it does not mean that young children are evil. God designed children exactly how they are. There’s a reason He made young children egocentric, probably for survival in this harsh, sinful world.

As we teach children empathy by modeling it to them as well as pointing out how their behaviors–both positive and negative–affect others, children begin to learn how to be empathetic.  We need to teach them how to be gentle and respectful to others by being gentle and respectful to them.

Punishing them will always hinder their learning of selflessness.

Unfortunately, parents who use fear and punishment to make their children obey them are actually teaching their children to be selfish as the child is not thinking about doing something for another person but rather protecting him/herself from punishment. We should not be teaching our children to only do things to avoid punishment, as the Bible says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).

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I’ve dealt with many pro-spankers, and the way some of them dismiss the painful experiences a great deal of people have had with being hit by their parents is selfish.  The way pro-spankers automatically assume that their children will “survive” just because they feel they did is selfish.

In essence, spanking/hitting makes many selfish because it leads to worldly sorrow and a sense of self preservation instead of godly sorrow.

So, what is godly sorrow and worldly sorrow?

In 2 Corinthians 7:8-11, it states:

“Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while—yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.”

What the Apostle Paul is saying here is that godly sorrow makes us think beyond ourselves to how our actions have hurt or affected other people and our relationship with God. We look past whatever consequences our actions caused us and want to do everything in our power to repent and seek forgiveness from God and the person we have hurt. This is why Paul says that godly sorrow brings life as we seek to be forgiven.

On the other hand, worldly sorrow brings death according to what Paul says in this verse. Due to fear of punishment as well as guilt, people of all ages will focus on the consequences that are happening to them because of their actions rather than how they’ve hurt God and the other person. This is worldly sorrow. Being afraid of punishment and rejection causes worldly sorrow. Also, feeling so guilty and bad about oneself that one feels that he/she deserves whatever punishment he/she has coming to him/her leads to worldly sorrow.

We need to do our best to use discipline instead of punishment so that our children don’t become selfish people who believe that it is perfectly acceptable to inflict pain on others.

No, young children are not selfish, but we sure can be!

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Consequences vs. Punishment

Many people mistake punishments with consequences.

Disciplinary consequences are either natural or logical. They relate directly to the child’s behavior and help the child learn. Pain may be a by-product of the disciplinary consequence.

Punishment, on the other hand, is arbitrary, inflicts pain on the child, is not related to the child’s behavior, and do not help the child. In other words, punishment intentionally inflicts pain on children whereas disciplinary consequences never intentionally inflicts pain on children.

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Common sense must come in here. If the natural consequence will injure the child, don’t allow it to happen. When I say that pain may be a by-product of a disciplinary consequence, I mean, for example, a child not being able to find his/her favorite toy because he/she didn’t clean up and now can’t find it is a disciplinary consequence.

Another example of a disciplinary consequence is the child not putting his/her bike away in the garage and the rain causes the bike to rust. Or, the child missing a fun outing because he/she wouldn’t get dressed in time to go. None of these are punitive, but the child will be sad.

A natural consequence happens naturally. Children refusing to wear a coat outside will get cold. Hitting a friend makes the friend cry and not want to play anymore. We don’t need to impose any other consequence or punishment on children. They will learn from the natural consequence especially if we are there to talk to them about what happened. God allows us to deal with the natural consequences of our actions.

A logical consequence is imposed by us, but it still directly relates to the child’s behavior. For example, if the child refuses to turn off the TV to do his or her homework, he or she won’t finish his or her homework on time and will get a lower grade. And since TV is interfering with homework, he or she may not be able to watch as much TV for a while. If a child lies about where he or she went with his or her friends, then he or she won’t be able to go out with friends alone until he or she wins back our trust.

One thing I must caution with using logical consequences with children is that it is very easy to use them to punish children. Again, the idea behind logical consequences is not to punish our children. They are to continue helping our children take responsibility for their actions, to help produce godly sorrow in them instead of worldly sorrow. Godly sorrow makes the child truly want to repent and make things right.

A punishment is the parent taking the favorite toy away for not cleaning up. Or a parent purposely damaging the bike. Or saying, “No playground because you didn’t obey.” Making the child hurt is punishment. Allowing reasonable consequences is discipline. Of course, it’s also important to respond empatheticallly to by-product pain. “Oh, I’m sorry you lost your favorite toy. We can clean up and see if we can find it!”

Natural and logical consequences may hurt, but not because someone is inflicting pain on us. They hurt because we realize our actions caused the consequences. This is why natural and logical consequences work best for children rather than inflicting pain on them.

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We need to remember that discipline means “to teach.” Discipline helps children learn to express their negative feelings appropriately, learn how to behave, learn empathy, learn limits, learn that there are consequences–both positive and negative– to their actions, and learn life skills. It takes much more work to discipline a child than to punish him/her.

Discipline is long term whereas punishment is short term and has long term negative effects.

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Born to Love and Radiate!

In Shawn Mullins’ (1999) song, Shimmer, he sings:

“Sharing with us what he knows
His shining eyes are big and blue
And all around him water flows
This world to him is new
This world to him is new
To touch a face
To kiss a smile
And new eyes see no race
The essence of a child
The essence…

He’s born to shimmer
He’s born to shine
He’s born to radiate
He’s born to live
He’s born to love but we’ll
Teach him how to hate.”

I often hear Christians say of toddlers and young children that we don’t have to teach them how to hit, kick, or bite. They are born knowing how to act “naughty.”  When Christians say this of young children, they’re referring to children’s “sinful nature.”  But, do young children really come into the world knowing how to be mean and malicious?  Based on what the Bible says and on my knowledge of child development, the answer is no!

In fact, Jesus tells us to become like little children in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven and also gives us a very stern warning regarding causing them to sin!

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’  And calling to Him a child, He put him in the midst of them and said, ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven'” (Matthew 18:1-3, ESV).

“Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:4-6, NASB).

 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10, NASB).

And look how Jesus reacts when His disciples try to keep children from being brought to Him:

“But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, ‘Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these'” (Mark 10:14, NASB).

You see, as the song says, we are born to shimmer and shine.  Young children are so open to God and Truth. They only act out physically when they don’t know how to verbalize to us. This has nothing to do with children being “sinful.”  Children are just learning and developing. It’s not their fault their brains are young and immature. It’s not their fault they lack verbal skills.

We are the ones, as the song says, that teach our children how to hate and stifle their lights. How?

Every time we impose our wills unnecessarily over children and treat them harshly, we’re teaching them hate and are slowly putting their lights out. Yes, most Christian parents claim they’re showing their children “love” by ignoring their cries, spanking/hitting them, and sending them to isolation. This is a form of hate.

The Bible says gentleness and compassion is true love. Harshness is not. If we want our children to truly shine, shimmer, and radiate, we need to treat them as Christ treats us.

We also need to make sure we shimmer, shine, and radiate God’s Light to all!

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16, NASB).

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Lead From the Front and Side

During our worship time this morning, my husband and I heard a gospel song talking about a dad who wanted to follow Jesus because his young daughter was now following him. The song made me cry as I pictured a line of Jesus, the dad, and a small girl closely following each other. Perhaps holding hands and smiling at each other as they walked along.

It hit me that so many times Christian parents try to lead their children towards Jesus and the path of righteousness from behind. They forcefully push their children down the path. They actually cause their children to veer off the path by spanking/hitting them, ignoring their cries, and sending them to isolation every time the child starts to get off the path.

Leaders can’t truly lead from behind. Their followers don’t know which way to go if they are in front of their leaders. Think how scary it would be to not know where you’re going AND every time you made a wrong turn, you got a painful punishment from your leader. Wouldn’t that scare, frustrate, and discourage you?  Wouldn’t you get angry and say, “Forget it?”  Could you even trust your leader?

I imagine that is how many children feel who are raised where their parents lead from behind.

Thankfully, our example is Jesus. He leads from the front and side. He knows when to take our hand or gently but firmly put His arm around us when we veer off course in order to get us back on track. When He is behind us, it’s simply to catch us when we fall.

Our children need us to lead from the front and side so we can gently set them back on the right path. Let us follow Jesus so that our children can follow us, thus, ultimately helping them to follow Jesus on their own one day.

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