A Mother’s Lesson
“Mark! How many times do I have to tell you to make your bed as soon as you wake up? An exasperated homeschool mother glares angrily at her 11 year old son on a late Monday morning and begins to rage, “I’m always having to remind you to put things away and not dawdle over schoolwork. I spank and spank and you still turn the TV on without permission, and you embarrass me terribly because you always, always, always, interrupt when I’m talking on the phone! Look! We have a chart with just a few simple rules on it. What is it going to take for you to learn how to behave? Every day we do the same things! You know what you are supposed to do….. Why aren’t you doing it!!!!!!! You’re driving me crazy! Now go sit in your room and think about it while I try to calm down!”
Our homeschooling mother example (maybe its you!) is confronting the major theme problem in rearing and teaching children.
“How long will it take my child to learn what I want him to know? How many times should I expect to spank someone for the same disobedience or tell a child to do the same task, or remind him that seven times eight equals 56 (or is it 58? I can’t remember). Anyways, where do I draw the line?” How many times should we expect to remind a child to make his bed? The answer is obvious! It is 70 X 7! (Ponder Matthew 18). Seventy times seven is a certain number for an indefinite one, but a great one. What!? Seventy times seven sounds like forever! Should I expect to be on the road of training, disciplining and reproving a child until he is both an adult and out of my direct oversight? Yes!! Not every child learns at the same rate of speed, some children learn the hard lessons verrry slowwwwlllly. Maybe you were like that. Maybe you still are.
Let’s imagine for a moment that the whole reason this is happening every single day is that God is teaching one of life’s really big lessons. Your son’s lesson is an easy one. “Obey your mother and father in the Lord for this is right.” But the lesson you are learning is more complicated and takes a lot longer to learn:
You learn that it is not the act of spanking that brings about changes in a child’s life. It is the Holy Spirit. We spank only in obedience to God’s commands. You often cannot see spanking working. This motivates you to not walk by what you see, but to shut your eyes and walk blindly by faith with God leading. Your mind and your sight tells you that spanking is not working, but you cannot see the invisible things which are really at work.
You learn that while the work of the Holy Spirit is actually what causes a person to change, you have also been given an important and very real role in this. You are the instrument through which the Holy Spirit will accomplish these changes. How kind and generous is our God! He has chosen and elevated you to perform such important life changing services like Reproving, Disciplining and Training!
You learn that children are utterly incompetent, incapable of even the slightest good thing, always, always doing the wrong thing and without hope of ever doing or changing anything of themselves.
You learn to say: I am really a forgetful sinner just like my son. God has been so patient, tenderhearted and merciful to me and in thankfulness I can be patient and tenderhearted too.
You learn to cling desperately to God on your knees in prayer and beseech him to change your child. You won’t rely on your activities of spanking and reproof to do the work but hope in His promises to reward your good efforts of obedience to Him.
You learn perseverance. And try to do better in your part by being more disciplined to spank, train, reprove, and pray with and for your child.
Constantly remember that what you want a son to learn you must also learn to do better yourself. Keep this paper, you may need to review it. Learn the lesson well and God will reward you. Your son will rise up and make his bed!
Randi St. Denis is an educator, popular homeschool speaker, and a seasoned homeschooling mom. Randi works as a consultant to public, private, and homeschool families; providing teaching expertise and assistance for all types of children. You can visit her website at ChicagoHomeschoolExpo.com.