showdown at whowearsthepants pass :: you know you’re the parent, right?

January 7, 2011

High noon.Lunch time.  We’re eyeball to eyeball.  I size him up, and time slows to a stop.  I hear a clock ticking.  Somewhere, high overhead, the distant screech of a bird of prey.  I steel myself for the coming volley.  Only one of us is walking out of here victorious. And it ain’t gonna be him.

‘Cause he’s seven years old.  And that would be embarrassing.  Right?

“Dad, can I have some crackers?  Dad can we play Wii?  Dad can I go sledding?  Dad, can I have a brownie?  Dad can I light the couch on fire?  Dad…?  Dad??”

(…to be continued…)

Moms and Dads out there, I need you to do me a solid.  Take a moment and look down.  Like, just below your waist.  Quick question… are you wearing pants? Let that be a lesson to you.

Too many kids are wearing the pants.  I’m going crazy.  I was in a convenience store yesterday afternoon, and I observed a pants-less mom, looking defeated, haggling with her two pants-wearing kids.

“What?  We only get FOUR?  C’mon mom, pleeeeease?? I really want it!  No fair!  C’MON!  I want the sucker, too!  C’mon Mom.  It’s just five.  WHAT?!  We only get FOUR?! What??

That’s right.  A prolonged battle – in public – about whether mom would finally cave under the weight of her embarrassment and acquiesce to a FIFTH candy bar for each of her kids.

In my mind, I picked up each lad and drop kicked their ungrateful butts out of those pants and back into the minivan of shame where they belonged.  Then, I returned the pants their mom, who should have been wearing them all along, with a tip of my hat.  In my mind. It went down just like that.

In reality (where I would get arrested for kicking a stranger’s kid in the rear end) I could only stand by and watch it happen… the sad, slow, but sure relinquishing of the pants.  They got their fifth piece of candy from the rack alright.  But they got something more.  They got the pants.  And here’s the thing…

No kid – deep down inside – really wants the pants. They don’t want the responsibility of being the one in charge.  No parent in their right mind would let a child under the age of ten get behind the wheel of the family suburban and pull out into traffic, right?  It might look like fun for the kid, at first.  But on a deeper level, it would be terrifying.

Just like the pants.  Most kids think they want ’em. But on a deeper level, if they know they are the ones wearing the pants… it’s terrifying.  Scientific studies have proven that children exhibit much more freedom to run and play in a fenced-in safe area than they do in a wide open space.  Fences = safety.

One of the most important pieces of parenting advice I’ve ever heard came from family and parenting expert Dr. James Dobson.  He said that in any conflict situation with a child who is wrestling for authority – testing your parenting mettle – trying to steal the pants – he said one thing is absolutely necessary.  You must win. Parents worry too much about trying to pacify and avoid conflict.  But in the very act of negotiating you are affirming the child’s “equal footing” with you, the adult, the authority figure.  Kids don’t need to be pacified in this situation.  They need to learn who wears the pants.

Now, I’ll insert a brief disclaimer here.  Does this mean we should never listen to our kids’ point of view, or never explain our reasoning (when appropriate) for a parenting decision?  Not at all.  And this process gets more nuanced as children become young men and women.  (Click here for my last post.)  But it does mean that at no time should we hand our pants over to our children, or try to share out pants with little ones who need to learn that obedience and respect come before their momentary whims or manipulation tactics.

Back to my pre-lunch showdown scenario.  Just about to eat.  My seven-year-old fires a volley of requests for snacks, activities, and shenanigans that would disrupt the lunch plan we are about to execute.  Calmly, I reach down and check.  Yep.  Pants securely in place. Parenthood authority intact.  Without even batting an eye, I return fire…

“No.”

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Psalm 24:7 & Luke 10:42 >> Like David, and Mary, I'm in pursuit of my one thing. I'm the Pastor at St. Olaf Lutheran Church in Montgomery, IL. Pastor, teacher, writer, communicator, designer, and drummer. I definitely got the better deal in my marriage to Amy. And I couldn't be any more proud of my five amazing boys. Deeply grateful.

34 responses to showdown at whowearsthepants pass :: you know you’re the parent, right?

  1. While I agree that parents wear the pants I must say I absolutely disagree with Dobson’s adversarial stance on parenting, exemplified perfectly by the quote you used.

    Objectively my child DOES have equal footing with me – he is just as much his own person as I am, he is not below me in some hierarchy. We are not on opposite teams and when we disagree it is not something I need to “win.” There will be plenty of times that I listen and negotiate when it’s not something bad for them – aka the 5th candy bar – and I won’t say NO to them at times when it’s just something that inconveniences me. They are more important than winning, than my convenience. I want my children to be able to be strong enough to say no, to speak their mind and have their thoughts and opinions heard.

    Subjectively, I still have to make a decision much of the time. That doesn’t negate all the things I just said above, but it means, well, pretty much everything that you said so well in your control vs. influence post. 🙂 I still have to set boundaries, not so I can “win” or be “in control” but so that they know how to set their own boundaries eventually.

    I may be nitpicking, and really the difference is more on the emphasis than anything else, but I do have to admit when I hear Dobson’s parenting advice it’s like a red flag to a bull… 😛

    • Hey Rach! Disagreement is good sometimes… it can bring CLARITY. I’m a big fan of clarity.

      OK, I think what is necessary here is some CONTEXT. My honest guess is, you and I (and even Dobson) don’t disagree as much as you think we do. He (nor I) is not advocating an adversarial one-upsmanship in parenting, nor is he advocating that we rule our children with iron-clad authority, unwilling to discuss or debate. The context here is in the CHALLENGE of authority. As in, once a parent has made a loving, thoughtful decision about said 5th candy bar, has already said NO, and the child is using whining or manipulation to assert THEIR control over mom or dad. That’s what I’m talking about.

      So maybe my 7-yr-old example didn’t really get to it (but you know how blog writing goes. Brevity is your friend and your foe.) Really, the pants wearing is manifest after my 7-yr-old presses back in a disrespectful way. THEN it becomes important not to let yourself be manipulated, as a parent, for the sake of maintaining healthy authority and teaching your children respect.

      I TOTALLY agree with your point about not saying “no” simply because it is inconvenient to say yes. One of my first blog posts was about “becoming a better dad” >> http://www.jskogerboe.com/?p=25

      Where I’m not sure I understand you is your point about your kids having equal footing with you. If you mean that they are of equal value in God’s eyes and you are passionate about helping them become individuals of character… I agree without hesitation. But parents and children are not on the same footing. Depending on what you mean here, I think it IS valid to say that your kids SHOULD be below you on some kind of hierarchy… but which one? That’s the question.

      God, in His wisdom, gave parents authority over our children, and He also asks us all as children to honor our father and our mother. Biblically speaking, parents ARE on a higher plane of authority than their children. My point, actually, is that too many parents seem to be abdicating this responsibility – or maybe I should say misunderstanding this viewpoint as domineering and authoritarian.

      My kids are some of my favorite people. But the authority lines are clear. There is a time to befriend them, a time to listen hard to them, a time for discussion… and yes, I think sometimes a time for a clear, unambiguous NO. That’s what Dobson means, I think, by “winning.”

      What do you think Rach? I think your kids are amazing and wonderful, so you’re clearly doing something right. But then, I think mine are, too, so at least I haven’t wrecked them yet. 🙂 Do you think I’m off base? Either way, I love you guys. Let me know… for real.

      • First – you have amazing children! And second, I wouldn’t begin to say that I have all the parenting answers because mine are 2 and 1. 😛 Haha!

        Yes, I meant equal in God’s eyes. They aren’t just my children, but brothers and sisters in Christ. THAT is the relationship that I will not compromise. I am willing to “compromise” the “authority” relationship since it is temporal. The authority I see it as having is just that of one who has lived in the world longer and is entrusted with the care of another. So any authority I use must be used for their benefit, as an older sister in Christ.

        The only part I think we actually disagree is probably on Dobson and in the semantics, the wording. I ABSOLUTELY think Dobson is authoritarian and adversarial. Maybe I’ll do a paper on him sometime. 😉

        Even if some things (like talking about “winning) aren’t meant to be authoritarian or adversarial I think wording like “coming alongside” and “helping” and “creating boundaries” are a much clearer picture of what I hope my parenting will become. 🙂

        We don’t spank, we don’t believe in punitive disciplines, but we’re not permissive either.

        For example, if Jericho is lashing out at his siblings we know that he is most likely overtired and frustrated because things are not going his way. Just a mini-picture of his parents! 🙂 So, since we understand, we treat him gently, with grace, but since it’s not permissible to treat others that way we need to do something.

        We address it at the moment by saying “In this family, we don’t hit” (which is true, since we don’t spank) and give him a chance to change his behavior. If he won’t, we say something like “Mom is going to help you not hit your brother. You are going to play by yourself for a little bit.” Then we take him somewhere safe with some toys and let him calm down.

        We try to have as few nos as possible, make them all clear no’s and then get down with our child and enforce it not with an air of winning or adversarial authority, but with a “here, I’ve been there, done that. Let me help you.”

        It’s just the emphasis that is different, really. Honestly, I loved this post, the emphasis just sat wrong with me because of how I’ve seen it used in many families. It’s not necessarily wrong in itself, it just can be easily twisted.

      • ps: Sorry if I come off strong. Those who have been parented strongly seem to have strong opinions about parenting. 😉

        • No problem! Glad to have an energetic exchange of ideas here! So glad you read and chime in.

          Our parenting styles differ, but I know we share a common love for the Lord and a desire to raise our kids to know and love Him. We also share a deep love for our kids, and we both are doing what we genuinely feel is the best we can to raise them in a way that honors God and helps them develop into mature, healthy, spiritually alive young people. For that and for who you are, both you and Sam have my respect, admiration, and friendship.

          You mentioned an example with little Jericho, saying, “For example, if Jericho is lashing out at his siblings we know that he is most likely overtired and frustrated because things are not going his way.”

          At his age, your approach may work great. As he gets older, and comes to have a better developed moral compass (which is also God given, but matures with age), the same behavior might require a firmer response from you. Because empathy is admirable, but you also have a responsibility to teach him right and wrong, and that there are consequences to wrong actions. He will come to an age where sin is sin. Will you be able to maintain a “let me help you” approach at that point? I’m not sure… And I’m meaning no disrespect here. I’m just saying that the process changes as your children grow. A two year old hitting a younger sibling is altogether different than a five year old hitting a younger sibling. At some point, some good firm “NOs” will serve you (and your kids) well, I believe.

          But, time will tell, and the Lord will lead you as you and Sam lead your kids. Parenting decisions are personal decisions, so feel free to to chuck my advice out the window at any point. 🙂 All I can do is share a little of what we’ve learned from this point on the journey.

          Bless you guys. So glad we have you in our lives. 🙂

  2. BTW, regarding “winning” with a child who is in “rebellion” or wrestling for authority, I think we differ only a little. I still think in that situation there is no need for “winning.” The only way you can “win” is to force a situation, because if you don’t need to force it then it doesn’t need to be a battle or a tug of war. You can’t control your child’s response, you can’t “make” him acknowledge your authority. All you can do is make a decision and stick with it. There is no winning involved. Just consistency. And I think kids will respond better if they know you aren’t trying to win and you don’t view it as a tug of war or a battle.

    I like to think, too, that parental authority is not based on whether we give up “control” or give up the pants every now and again, but is instead based upon the fact that God gave us our families and gave us our responsibility.

    That is the constant. Giving up the pants is an idea that will vary from family to family – it exists in permissive families and authoritarian families – but the knowledge that this responsibility is God-given and only He can take it away is something that I think we can totally agree on. 🙂

    • Thanks for the thoughtful comments Rach! As to your last sentence, I agree with you that our responsibility/authority is God-given. But I don’t agree that only He can take it away. And I’m not trying to be argumentative, but to be consistent and clear. Again, that’s kind of the point of my post. While parental authority is, I believe, a God-ordained reality, many parents choose to give shirk their responsiblity and give away their authority, to their children’s detriment, unfortunately. Authority must not be confused here with “authoritarian.” Neither should loving our kids be confused with permissiveness. Instead, how about “loving authority?”

  3. Thanks for the post brother. Agree wholeheartedly. Really enjoyed reading Rachel’s perspectives in the comments, as well. Great dialogue. Any chance that parents can have to read from others and learn (and ultimately make decisions as parents of their kids), we’re all better off.

    And to a certain degree, I think that’s the point… “make decisions as parents”. It seems to me that Rachel (though I’ve never met you :)) has made great, solid decisions as a parent how things will go down in her house. Excellent. As have the Skogerboes. Excellent. As have us. Excellent (I hope). That demonstrates full pants-wearing at its best.

    It’s that scene at the convenience store where mom says, “no” and kiddo finally pesters enough to get his way that shows that little decision-making as parents has probably occurred. Some have decided that they’ll gladly go with the kid’s request in a certain situation; others know we’ll stand our ground at “no”; and others will waffle back and forth…ultimately showing they’re dancing around town in their skivvies and probably don’t even know where to find their pants if they were looking for them.

    Same type-a show-down happened in our home this afternoon. Mom won. 🙂

    • Yes, I imagine she did. Robyn is rock solid, dude. No waffles for you. Pants all around.

      Thanks for reading, and commenting, and reposting on Facebook, and being generally awesome like you are. God bless you and the wee lass, as well. 🙂

  4. Thanks Josh, and Rachel.
    “Spare the rod, spoil the child.” – Samuel Butler,1664.

    We’ve all heard of and prejudge “only children” as brats. They get what they want, when they want it. This judgment isn’t unfounded (though not in every case) – just look around.

    Many of these children are brats, not only when it comes to dealings with their parents, but also when dealing with their “friends”.
    They tend to be treated well and looked up upon by their friends because they get everything they want, whenever they want it.
    At the same time, I see some of these parents that want to be “best friends” with their child literally going broke financially and seriously in debt because they don’t know the word “NO”.

    – Mark

    • Yes, brother. Parents need to learn to use the word “NO” without feeling guilty about it. Not as a knee jerk reaction, as Rachel has said, out of convenience. But in order that their children might be protected from feeling entitled to blessings rather than grateful for them.

      God bless you and your family. Thanks for checking in and contributing to the discussion here. 🙂

    • Not sure I follow the “only child” connection here. As one, who married one, who has one – I can say we all have our selfish moments. Birth order does have some effect on that, but I’m not sure it’s the sole issue…something about original sin. (Perhaps that’s a whole different thread.) I know an awful lot of selfish brats who are first of many, middle kids, or youngests. I’d be hesitant to throw that problem so heavily on the “only’s”.

      Indeed I agree with the “best friend” hypothesis, but I don’t follow the connection on that to “only children”.

  5. You had me at “no pants”.

  6. Uhm, first of all… I am rolling on the floor laughing at Seth! HAHA! 🙂 Too funny. 🙂

    I highly respect parents who raise their children with love, respect, honesty and with an eye toward who their children are without being authoritarian or belligerant to them. I see all those good things in you and Amy and it is inspiring, no matter what differences there may be! 🙂 Each family is different, each child is different and as long as our underlying goals are to teach our children to love God and love others I think the details will become clear from that basis. 🙂

    (for example, when I said we don’t spank it’s not an indictment of those who do but an acknowledgment of my failings – an acknowledgment that I cannot hit or slap hands without opening myself up to abusing my children.)

    Really like what Kevin had to say as well. 🙂

    Didn’t mean to take over the blog but I love the discussion as well! 🙂

    • Rachel – I am so glad you jumped in on this one. You are welcome to share in the discussion as deeply as you’d like any time. I love it. God bless you and Sam and your wonderful kiddos.

  7. An “old” parent hopping on board here. So much wisdom shared from both you, Josh, and from Rachel as well. Not that I’ve arrived at any superparent status, but there are things I’ve learned, and am learning on the way. I was in the camp of trying to gently guide as much as possible as to not discourage my children or wound their spirit. I didn’t to turn my childrens’ hearts toward rebellion by being too restrictive. One of my children – you both know who – responded well to that approach and has graduated into a young man without hardness in his heart and a true zeal for the Lord. However, that “let’s sit down and talk about it” approach did not bode well for all of my children. In my desire to explain, explain, explain, one of my children lost the concept of “even though you don’t understand why it’s no, it’s no for your protection.” I wish I could go back and say more “no’s” so that today they could more freely say “yes” when asked to do something that doesn’t make them scream yippee! That same child also has issues of trust with me, not quite sure that I indeed have their best interest at heart. I take responsibility for that as the times I should have been firmer in my discipline, I wasn’t. Each child, in each family, needs fine-tuned, not one-size-fits all care. And yet, I can’t help but thinking twenty years and six children later, than does involve some no’s. God tells us “no” many times, for our own protection and without explanation. Why? Because He sees the big picture. We have to do the same for our children, even when they can’t see what we see. As we trust that our God knows what He is doing when he says no, our children need to learn the same of the parents who love them more than they can imagine.

  8. Sarah, this is brilliant. You wrote: “God tells us ‘no’ many times, for our own protection and without explanation. Why? Because He sees the big picture. We have to do the same for our children, even when they can’t see what we see.”

    AMEN! And the truth is, before our children are anywhere near to understanding it, WE as parents are shaping their view of our Heavenly Father. That is a breath-taking responsibility – and the reason we must be saturated in prayer. You are absolutely right: when we say “no” out of deep love for them in order to shape and protect them, they will not always understand the big picture. That’s OK. They still need to learn to trust our judgment, respect our authority, and be obedient, even when they don’t understand. Because, ultimately, we are teaching them to have that same kind of relationship with God’s authority for the rest of their life.

    Brilliant connection, Sarah. Thanks so much. God bless you guys and all your kids, too. 🙂

  9. Great post Josh. I totally agree, shocker!

    I just came home from a week and a half of seeing varied parenting styles with family and their children. By no means do I think I am Mom of the year or have it all figured out, but I saw some rather interesting parenting techniques. Let’s just say there was a lot of whining, arguing, and fits. It is really hard to enjoy other children with all that going on. Anyway, I see so many parents scrambling to pacify their children, as if it is their sole purpose on this earth to be the cruise director of life for their children. As parents, it is our responsibility to teach them, guide them, and direct them so that when we aren’t there holding their hands they can make those right choices. Allowing them to steer the ship by giving them the pants before they are ready really is not preparing them for the reality of life and their future. I am pretty sure that if they beg, plead, argue and whine to their boss for that extra 5th week of vacation they are not going to get it.

    Josh-“Yes, mom.” + eye contact + a smile/happy heart. You can add that one to your equation too, if you haven’t already. You would be cracking up watching Sarah work on this combo. So funny!

    • Heidi, thanks so much for jumping into the discussion here. I love it. I REALLY like your addition of “a smile/happy heart” to the equasion because it gets at what matters most: the heart. Actually, Amy and I would include that to our equasion, too, but we might call it “a good attitude.” We wouldn’t expect our kids to look happy if they’re really disappointed after hearing a “no” from mom or dad. But neither is disappointment license for disrespect. So, we ask for a verbal affirmation (“OK Mom”) + eye contact + a good attitude. Our child’s heart response is more important than any outside action. Excellent point! Thanks a ton. God bless, Heidi.

  10. Awesome post, Josh!

    You guys are all parents, which I’m not able to relate to for another couple of months yet, but I can relate to being parented. I was a head-butter, a boundary-pusher; I had to know why and why not. I wasn’t about to go behind their backs like some of my other sibling used to do; I didn’t see how they could always be right, and when I didn’t agree with them, and did my own thing, it was right there in the open because I KNEW they were wrong. Many a wooden spoon was broken on my stubborn butt. But it seemed to work. Everyone always asked my parents why they had such good kids, not knowing about the battles at home. But it was all love. I wouldn’t have admitted it then, because I knew everything.

    But my parents never hit me. Before my dad spanked me, he’d wait till he was calm, sit me on his knee and tell me why I was getting it and that he loved me, but I disobeyed and this is the consequence. I learned when I was young that actions have consequences. I had the structure set up when I was young which enabled him to be friends with me now, instead of us being buds when I was little and having severe consequences to pay now. I can tell you that reasoning with a 5 year old Luke would have been a fruitless effort after about 2 minutes. We all had flawed reasoning as kids.

    Even as I got older, and thought I was old enough to make my own decisions, my parents still didn’t let me live exactly how I wanted to live. You know what they told me? This is their house, they raised me, they fed me, clothed me, and I will never be able to make that up. I will always be endebted to them. Their house – their rules. I thought about that, and I had to admit, there was no way around it. They were right. First step in growing up. I found my identity in my parents. They loved me and they were hard on me because they loved me. Pause for parallel to our relationship to God… Because of that ungrateful task they took on in raising us the right way, my brain was hard-wired to not get myself into serious trouble. If only I can be half as good as my parents were.

    • Luke… wow. There’s a lot of wisdom in your words, brother. I love your mom and dad – they did a great job with all of you kids. 🙂 And you are going to be a GREAT dad. I can hardly wait to meet the wee one you’ve got cooking. When you first get to hold that little 7.5 lbs. of Johnson offspring… mind blowing and awesome. And I mean creation of mankind + the mystery of the human soul “awesome.” Not like, “that pizza was awesome, man.” I’m going to love talking to you after you’ve gotten to hold your baby. Your whole life is changing brother. God bless you and your bride and your growing family, and your mom and dad, too. We’re keeping all of you in our prayers.

  11. Just witnessed a “no pants” moment yesterday at Target. As I was paying I walked past the $15 Wii game endcap. You know the one — the knock off games — that retailers put at the end hoping someone would be enticed by the dollar and overlook the value. (And if you have any of those and love them, I’ll send my apologies. The ones I’ve seen should have been marked $10)

    Anyways, there was a mom and her daughters behind me. They had a cart loaded with stuff. This one little girl, about the age of my Brennan, starts begging for one of those Wii games. Begging. “Please mom, please mom, please???” insert begging face and posture “I walked all around Target with you.”

    What? Walked around Target? My kids LOVE to walk around Target.

    The mom caved. A cheesy Wii game entered the already bursting cart. I was expecting a thank you. What I heard?

    “Moo-ooo-ooom….can I just have ONE more game???? Please, please, please, please, please, please?”

    Insert game number 2.

    I could NOT believe it. Well, actually I could, and it made me truly sad. What happened to No? Like Sarah stated — I believe that if we as parents are constantly stating yes to our kids that they lose no. Sad, really. Ask my kids about the response to the Wii games. Because, you know, I’ve been asked. Several times. And we own not one.

    Great post. I am so blessed by your blog and your take.

    Parenting is challenging. In our home we need to constantly seek the Lord first in prayer and his Word. So often it’s all too easy to pick up the latest parenting book and overlook the Word. Proverbs is loaded full of excellent parenting advice. I love my kids. I laugh with my kids. My kids also know that there is a line. A line of authority, and honor and respect.

    Blessings, friend. I have one more story that I observed about ten years ago that I’ll relay to you later. Right now? This family needs to get ready for church.

    • Rachel, thanks for getting in on this! My standard disclaimer before entering Target with my kids is: “Don’t ask me for anything.” Then when they stare longingly at the $15 Wii games and start to open their mouth, I usually just smile and point a finger, raise my eyebrows, and go “Ahhh…”

      End of discussion.

  12. Just wanted to add that it’s humbling to look back and reflect as baby birds develop wings and begin the process of flying the nest. To see them soar in faith despite all the “wish-I-could-do-over” moments of parenting makes me realize that it equals grace – His grace. My greatest joy is seeing each of them saying “yes” to Jesus and “no” to the world. God knew I needed much to learn about this parenting business, and I often wonder if that’s one of the reasons He’s given me so many children. :0) Still learning . . .

    • Yes!!! 🙂 We never stop learning and God never stops intervening and working His will despite us. 😉

    • Amen Sarah. If it were up to me, my nature, my great ideas, I’m sure my kids would be a mess. But God is working in, through, and in spite of me sometimes. I trust Him with my kids more than I trust me.

  13. Wow! Discussion really has taken off and I’ve loved reading everyone’s comments. 🙂

    I have to say that all of this does make me absolutely terrified to take my kids anywhere in public. I grew up listening to my mom disect other people’s tactics with their children in stores and I thought it was just her! 😛 Now I’m nervous… 🙂

    I thought, just in case anyone was interested, I would throw a couple links out there:

    Dare to Discipline: blog about Dobson-esque parenting techniques and why this particular parent decided to do grace-based discipline instead. They’ve also been doing exposition of the “rod” verses in proverbs lately. http://greenegem.wordpress.com/2010/07/15/dobson-refutation-one/

    Random blog that illustrates in a frightening way where our “sit ’em down, spank in calmness, not in anger, be friends right after” so-called “biblical” spanking technique came from: http://untotheleast.blogspot.com/2006/12/spencer-spanking-plan.html

    And I have to say, after reading all of this – isn’t it true (and I’m so grateful) that our children turn out in spite of us and not because of us? Grace isn’t just for children, but parents too. 🙂

    • Hey Rachel. Don’t sweat taking your kids out into the public eye. The (sad) truth is, EVERYBODY has an opinion on how your kid should be parented. Since everybody thinks they have your kids figured out, you might as well concede the fact that you can’t escape opinions, and just do it your way with a smile.

      My personal favorite is the people who talk to me as if they are talking to my baby or toddler… “Ahhh, does widdle baby have code toes? Tell your daddy you should have booties on over those socks.” Yeah. Perfect.

      I have to respond briefly to the second link you posted. while this blog isn’t specifically about spanking, I think the writer of this blog was reckless (to put it mildly) in their assertion that Dobson and others have drawn their spanking principles from adult sexual practices. The last line of the blog post is completely unacceptable: “I wonder how many perversion-free children we could raise if we just stopped performing sexual assaults on them?”

      While (1) I understand the many good arguments on both sides of the corporal punishment debate, and (2) this post has not (and will not) focus on that debate, there is a scriptural principle at stake here with regard to that kind of hyperbolic language. In areas where scripture has not been explicitly clear (i.e. the spanking of children), Romans 14:16 exhorts us, “Do not let that which you regard as good to be spoken of as evil.”

      I welcome disagreement in discussion, but for the sake of the many parents reading this who see spanking as a valid form of correction for their children, I cannot allow that kind of comparison to stand unaddressed.

      That being said, I understand the wide variety of parenting styles out there – and how personal these decisions are. I think we can learn from each other. I still feel that parents ought to excercise healthy authority (without being authoritarian, and yes – I think the distinction is pretty clear) with their children for their own good.

      And, I’d like to ask that we not go down the “to spank or not to spank” path in the rest of this thread. When I’m good and ready for a passionate war of ideas between people who feel very strongly about their positions and have no intention of changing their mind, then I might ask what everybody thinks about spanking. But not today. And probably not ever. 🙂

      Thanks Rachel. I hope you understand why I felt I needed to respond here. And I appreciate your point of view and voice in the discussion deeply. God bless!

      • This has been such an interesting discussion! Thanks for all of the thoughtful comments.

        When Rick and I first became parents 11 years ago, we had long discussions about what our responsibilities were going to be. We agreed on one thing: our job was to be a parent, not a friend. That said, we began telling our children that we had a job to do. Being a parent is a job. “Our job is to keep you healthy and safe. We love you very much and want to do our job the best way we know how to do it.” For little kids, it’s pretty cut and dried. When the parents are tired, it’s pretty cut and dried. It’s not something that is up for arguement or bargaining.

        “Can I have this junk food 15 minutes before we eat?”
        “No. The kitchen is closed.”
        “Whhhhyyyyyyyyy?!”
        “Because if I let you eat junk food now, I wouldn’t be doing my job.”
        “What do you mean, mom?”
        “If you eat that junk food now, you’re not going to be hungry at dinner time. If you’re not hungry, you won’t be able to eat the stuff that’s good for you. If you don’t eat the stuff that’s good for you, you could get sick. If you get sick, that means you are not healthy and I didn’t do my job.”
        “Oh. OK.”

        “Mom, can I go walk around on my own at Valley Fair? I know I’m only 9, but my friends are doing it?!”
        “What do YOU think I’m going to say?”
        “You’re going to say no because that wouldn’t be keeping me safe.”

        You get the idea. Do I think that I have to explain everything to my girls? No. Most of the time no is all it takes. But when they ask, they have a clear cut answer they understand. I have a job as a parent. To keep them healthy and safe. They know that we love them very much. That’s why we get to feed them healthy food. That’s why we get to insist that they wear snow pants and mittens. That’s why we bring them to church every Sunday – healthy and safe!

        • WAAHHOOOOO! Ahna, I totally love this. Can we “steal” it? 🙂 And being the Jesus-centric family that we are, I suppose our “parental job description list” would look like this: Keep our kids healthy and safe, and help them to love God and love people more and more throughout their lives.

          Genius. Thanks for the input, friend. Bless you always.

      • I understand, it’s a good clarification to make. I added the blog not because I agree with it 100% but because I think it had a valid thought that we should all consider as we parent. 🙂

  14. I need to add the perspective of a “Strong Willed Child” who is now an adult (and is of course no longer strong willed!) I was a horrible child: I hid in clothing racks at stores, threw temper tantrums because I was bored, and basically made my parents’ lives “interesting”. God bless them, they survived not because they chose a parenting style, but because they chose to set boundaries according to what they believed. They did not parent my sister and me the same way but the boundaries were the same. Their authority came from God and they loved us like crazy were the two themes of everything they did. I don’t know how they came up with what they did, but the expectations were always consistant. We were spanked, sent to our room to sit on our bed, sat on a chair in the living room, grounded, privileges taken away and it wasn’t always followed up with a conversation about what had transpired and why. So, yes Josh I agree with you and you can usually tell the parents who are permissive, but don’t be too tough on them…they might just be having a bad day! 🙂

    • Oh man. You’re not kidding. I’m so glad noone is following me around with a camera on one of my “bad days.” Which are too frequent, I’m sure.

      Kudos to your parents. 🙂

      And wow… you hid in clothing racks? That’s right up there on our giant no-no list of all time. One of our kids did that… ONE time. Had to call security. NOT funny. Let me repeat… ONE time. We had some boundaries right there, I tell you. I’ll give you boundaries.

      Thanks for reading and adding your voice, Shonda. God bless you and your man. 🙂