‘Don’t make me count to three!’ by Ginger Plowman

I went on a book binge last December cos my favourite Christian bookshop, Shalom Christian Media, was having a sale. 
There were books of all sorts, but for this season of life I felt most drawn to the parenting and women ones. So this book was one of five that I bought. 
And it has turned out to be a very instructive read. 
As usual, here are some choice pickings from within:

Train with this thought continually before your eyes: the soul of your child is the first thing to be considered. In every step you take… Do not leave out that mighty question – how will this affect their souls?

Our ultimate goal in everything should be to point them to Christ.

Wrong behaviour cannot be put down to tiredness or hunger.

Conditions like fatigue can play a part on behaviour of small children, but sin is still wrong… They sin not because they are tired or having a bad hair day, but because they are sinners.

All kids will manifest sinful behaviour. The question is not ‘will they sin?’ The question is ‘when they sin, what will you do about it?’ Will you train them up in the way they should go?’
Simple, practical advice if not totally new. Like getting a child to put her hand on your arm if they’d like to speak to you whilst you’re having a conversation. Then putting your hand on theirs to acknowledge their need, before turning to them once an appropriate break in the conversation arises. 
Some examples in the chapter on biblical reproof did come across as a tad contrived. I suppose a special gift is needed in speaking God’s word in love to a child without sounding like some fundamentalist ogre or patriarch of the bible-bashing south. 
So instead of saying ‘Stirring up trouble is foolish but when you promote peace you are wise’ to the child who is aggravating his sibling, I’d rather approach it this way, and say ‘It is wrong to annoy your sibling, God wants us to love one another’. 

Instead of saying “Could it be that you are more interested in having your way than pleasing the Lord? God says “Children obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord” when they disobey, I might say “Mama has told you that this is not the right way to behave when you don’t want something. You should say “No, thanks” in a polite tone instead.”

Ultimately, a few less desirable illustrations do not a lousy book make. There is still a lot of applicable wisdom therein.

Some useful practical examples from the chapter on ‘guidelines for verbal correction’ are as follows (my paraphrasing):

Examine your motives. Am I scolding to vent, or in the right spirit of wanting to correct them for their good?

Examine your life. When my life is not right with God, and my own behaviour leaves much wanting, I have to take the plank out of my own eye first. 

Admonish in the right tone and place. When I am beyond boiling mad, I should choose deliberate self-control and consciously make my voice even softer than normal (heh, this could really freak then out!)

Always instruct what they should have done, instead of just reproving. We can tell them what to put off (sinfulness) but isn’t it more important to teach them what to put on (righteousness)? When possible, go back and role play the appropriate heart response and behaviour.

Draw the lesson back to obedience. Instead of lashing out with threats and hurtful words, I must remember to calmly ask ‘did you obey or disobey? Yes, you disobeyed and I love you too much to allow you to do the wrong thing’. As appropriate, I’d then explain why this is the wrong thing to do, or the wrong behaviour to exhibit.

Although the book focuses significantly on obedience, it made me think of how it might be more helpful to think in terms or what was done right or wrong rather than a parent-centered ‘obey me regardless’ paradigm. 

Whilst it says that we should not fall into the trap of reasoning endlessly with our children, I do see a time and place for reasoning, instead of demanding unthinking obedience.

The wisdom highlighted in the book has spoken to me personally too. That I should heed Proverbs 17:10 myself.

A rebuke impresses a man of discernment more than a hundred lashes a fool.

Overall, I appreciate that this book emphasises that training a child is hard work. It is a daily affair, and we should teach them the right thing not just in “wartime” when they act up, but also in “peace time” when their hearts are more attuned to instruction.

It is so much easier to just be a lax and ‘cool’ parent, giving in to their wishes. But I believe that this would reap disaster and grief in time, and is not in anyone’s interest at all, not least the child’s.

p.s. I would love to loan you this book (and any others that I review here) if we meet on a regular or ad hoc basis. Just let me know!

Linking up with Susan’s


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