Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Warning: This is not a 'Phase'

Well, we are finally back from Louisville. We had a fabulous time, and now we have to go back to work. Thank the Lord. While I was gone, there was no coup to eject me from the pastorate, nor was any heresy preached from the pulpit. Everything went well. In the near future, I plan on examining a few things from the statement that came out of the "Together for the Gospel" conference. I believe that there are some statements in there worth developing.

My son stayed with my mom and family for the duration of our trip. This was the longest that the wife and I had been away from him for the entirety of his life. (I think it was three whole days.) Anyway, this gave me time to reflect on him and child-rearing. Reflection is easier than reaction. Anyone who has chased a one and half year old around the house all day knows what I am talking about.

I love my son. I actually believe that he may be the brightest, most handsome child on the planet. God is very gracious to have gifted us with such a prodigy. However, our angel has taken to the habit of telling us "No!" quite forcefully whenever we ask him to do something that he doesn't want to do. Sometimes he gets so angry that he will spank himself. It is quite bizarre.

I was talking about this tantrum-type behavior with other parents to make certain that this is fairly normal. Apparently, and much to my relief, this is not unusual. I was told that it is a "phase" that most children go through.

At first, I was comforted by this. But something in my overly-analytical brain kept analysing this phenomena of tantrum throwing rebellion. In the end, I have concluded that this is no phase at all; I believe that it is the raw, selfish sinner being displayed free from the constraints of peer pressure and fleshly discipline. So really, it isn't a phase. It is as natural as a poopy diaper. At some point, children learn that it is uncouth to poop one's pants, and so they run to the bathroom. Adults still have selfish, barbaric tendencies in their hearts, they simply learn to scheme and plot. Occassionally, you may even witness an adult tantrum when all constraint is cast off. It is an ugly thing to behold. I believe that it was C.S. Lewis who likened children to "little savages." And I might add that they grow into big ones.

I wrote all of this to say that I do not laugh at outbursts of rebellion anymore. It isn't funny. It is my role as a father to see to it that he learns to discern right from wrong, and to so raise him in an environment of God's graciousness that he may come to faith early in life. Being born again is the only cure for the beastial, selfish behavior we begin manifesting as soon as we are able.

3 comments:

Elizabeth said...

Hang in there, dad..my mom used to say that the terrible 2's began at 2 and lasted till 22...a certain amount of truth there. Some personalities are easier to deal with than others. Chances are if you have more than one child you will get one of the difficult kinds. And thereby goes the "I am a perfect parent" thinking...right down the drain. HA! And trust me, even the most genteel and sweet natured of children will find a way to embarrass you beyond what you could dream. And being in the parsonage...well, you can expect that too! Oh isn't life fun!?

Anonymous said...

I don't believe in terrible twos. None of my four children had them. And I don't believe that teenagers suddenly rebel because they hit a certain age either. We manufacture much of our grief with our children by improper projections and poor parenting. I was told I was naive when I said this with no children and now they all tell me to wait and see again. It is interesting that those negative comments about the inevitability of unruly children at various ages come from those who have unruly children at various ages.
Please don't take this as prideful for I certainly am not intending it as such, yet I know that many take it this way and again, they are the ones with problems. Criticize a parent for their parenting and you'll reap fury and scorn. It is a shame that is this way. We don't like self-examination.

Let's face it, parenting is the most demanding and exhausting thing we can ever do. It takes all of our focus and love and understanding and wisdom and it is a 24 hour a day duty. Top that off by the fact that most of us never had good examples to follow and usually come into having offspring while biblicaly ignorant and you've got a soup not fit to eat. I remember pouring over books searching for some guidance re: parenting and particularly how to parent as a Christian father. The ministry of Michael and Debbie Pearl at www.nogreaterjoy.org turned out to be wonderful. While I don't agree with all of what they say (specifically in regards to their take on the KJVonly and other side issues) I have profited greatly from their old-school wisdom.

It's been a joy to actually meet different families who've not hit the 'just a phase' phase but have rather found that ALL of the ages require your all woven and suspended in God's grace and mercy. It has been a joy to see that teenagers can be faithful and two year olds don't have to be terrible. God is bigger than the peer groups we create and poor socialization and segregation that we promote in our modern culture. Some of it is inescapable while some of it can be avoided; however, doing all we can to not find ourselves in the same pit as others is a daunting task. I've found the Pearls a great help in escaping the snare.

While obedience and self-control and good behavior are wonderful they are only part of the puzzle. One can have well-behaved children and the still see the pit of hell for their souls have been neglected. Ministering to the entire person and training are essential and all-encompassing.

I pray that He strengthens and guides you as you grow in His grace.

Mark DeVine said...

Of infants, Saint Augustine said, “their innocence is in their limbs, not their wills!”