As my children get older, I find myself repeating the same things to them over and over again. Some things I repeat without thinking but I am trying to choose what I repeat very consciously, deliberately, intentionally.
There are a lot of things I know for sure I do not want to say to them over and over again. One of those things is the Fifth Commandment. Just as I don’t think it’s appropriate for husbands to constantly quote certain verses (“Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands as to the Lord.”), I don’t want to constantly be telling my kids to honour me.
Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t. – Margaret Thatcher
Being a man is the same. A man who goes around and constantly affirms his masculinity to himself and others is a truly pathetic and insecure man indeed. If my husband has to keep telling me to submit to him and respect him, he’s not being a very good husband.
Parenting is similar, too, I think. I figure that if I have to keep telling my children to honour me, I’m doing something wrong. I recite the Ten Commandments with my children all the time. We say the Fifth Commandment together, with each other, but I do not say it to them.
I only have a little over 6 years of parenting under my belt, but I have found over the past year, over and over and over again, that being gentle with my children works far better than being harsh (verbally or physically), and even if I do not get the kind of immediate, cheerful obedience that certain kinds of parents demand, I do not want to hold them to higher standards than Ben and I hold to ourselves, and it is more important to be gentle and loving and playful and patient than dole out constant threats and beatings. It is better to kneel and hug whining children, whisper in their ears, kiss them, and then hold their hand and go do together whatever I told them to do.
I cannot count how many times I’ve been told that not spanking is the easy way out. Maybe it is for some people. It hasn’t been for me. It is so much harder, so much more work, requires so much more patience, time, and effort to relate to each child individually with understanding and creativity than to spank.
These are the verses I have been saying to myself over and over throughout the day as I parent for the past year. I ask myself over and over, am I tempting my children to sin, provoking them to anger? Or am I leading my children towards God and showing them His love?
A soft answer turns away wrath: but harsh words stir up anger. (Proverbs 15:1)
… do not provoke your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. (Colossians 3:21)
And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” (Luke 17:1-4)
… do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)