On Friday, I read through Crystal’s article on Kindness vs. Obedience. I thought it was a good article and filed it away in my “Things to remember” memory part of life.
Cue this last Sabbath afternoon.
The girls and I went to the park while Daddy was otherwise occupied. Sweetness rode her bike and I pushed Light in her stroller. The park was a blast as always. Lots and lots of lots of time on the swings and the slide. Light is really loving the park nowadays and quite the daredevil for being one year old. 😉
Before meltdown city could start to occur, we said good-bye to the park and started off. At least, I tried to do that. Sweetness had gotten on her tricycle and was taking off while I was still trying to round up Light and convince her that it was time to jet.
She looked back at me.
Mild panic because she’s getting to the end of the block and Lightness and I are right by the road so I can’t abandon her to chase down the 2 year-old.
Super-stern voice. “Sweetness, stop now!”
She got to the shade and stopped. My heart skipped a few beats and I ran and caught up with her.
“Honey, when Mommy says stop, you need to stop now.”
We got to the corner and checked to see if there were any cars coming. No cars, so we crossed the road. I got slightly ahead of Sweetness as she stopped to take in the sight of a running squirrel.
“Mommy, stop! Stop and wait for me!”
“Okay honey, I will. I’ll stop.” And I kept on going until I hit the shade, which was just a few feet away. I looked back to see Sweetness frantically pedaling to catch up with me and yelling, “Mommy, stop and wait!”
Then it hit me. My daughter wasn’t being bad earlier. She was just doing to me what I had done to her. On our walks, I had constantly told her I’d stop and then keep going if she hadn’t caught up to me fairly quickly.
How could I expect her to be obedient and respectful when I didn’t comply with her urgent requests? She didn’t realize the danger she could be in and why I wanted her to stop. I didn’t realize how desperate she was that I wait and be a companion to her on her rides.
Man, I really need to work on this. I need to respect her so that she will respect me. How can I do any less, when she really will do what I do, not what I say?
As I read it, I decided to go through a chapter a week and really, really study through it, to see where in Scripture she drew her ideas from.
In Chapter One, she shares her story of how she came to talk with God about parenting and what her ideal of parenting is. However, I did not see a whole lot of Scriptural support for her ideals.
Hohnberger laid obedience of a child as the foundational principle for parenting. To say I was shocked is to put it mildly. After all, in my New King James version of the Bible, I had just read that Love was the foundation of God’s character. In Mark 12: 28-34, scribe asks Jesus what the first, or foremost, commandment is. He responds by quoting the Old Testament (Deut 6:4,5 and Lev 19:18) that the greatest commandment is to love God with all you have and to love your neighbor as much as you do yourself.
Ellen White tells us the same thing in The Mount of Blessing, pages 116-117. “With untold love our God has loved us, and our love awakens toward Him as we comprehend something of the length and breadth and depth and height of this love that passeth knowledge. By the revelation of the attractive loveliness of Christ, by the knowledge of His love expressed to us while we were yet sinners, the stubborn heart is melted and subdued, and the sinner is transformed and becomes a child of heaven. God does not employ compulsory measures; love is the agent which He uses to expel sin from the heart. By it He changes pride into humility, and enmity and unbelief into love and faith.”
Nothing in there about obedience being the key principle of life. As we read through the Bible, we discover that out of love, there comes obedience to God’s commandments, but even then, He helps us become like Him, not compels us to become like Him. This is a premise that I will explore later, in another post.
Back to the book.
I will go through this chapter and share my observations on it.
At the beginning, Hohnberger shares a story about her two-year-old son not obeying when she told him to pick up the spilled dog food, even after she spanked him five times. She gets upset as she tries to make him obey, she relates on page 12. I was taken aback by this, as I imagined the scenario taking place in our home. Well, actually, it is a scene that has taken place at our house–not the spanking, but the spilled dog food. 😉 That’s why one of our standing rules is, “If you spill it, clean it up.”
When Sweetness was that age, she spilled the dog food. I went over to her and said, “Okay, let’s pick it up” and picked up a handful and tossed it back into the bowl.
When she didn’t want to do pick some up, I took her hand, made it pick up some food and toss it into the bowl. I then said, “If we spill it, we clean it up. Do you need Mommy to help you more?” For the average two-year-old, having help is a horrid, horrid thing, so she continued to pick up by herself. I picked up the outliers and in a minute or two, all the food was back in bowl. No yelling, no punishment, no repeating myself. Just coming alongside her, at her level, and showing her what I meant. Now, since she is a toddler, I have to repeat and repeat and repeat the lesson when she spills something, but I have to say that nowadays, if she spills something, 8 times out of 10 she picks it up or grabs a towel so that she can clean it up. The other 2 times, I remind her and help her. It’s a principle I learned from here (just as a side note, for babies/early toddlers, skip from step one to step four and add in step two and three as you note your child is developing).
After all, God gave us the 10 Commandments and comes alongside us to help us keep them. Why wouldn’t I help my child obey me?
One of the things I love to do is read. And I particularly am interested in parenting books at the moment, for some odd reason. 😉
A book that I’ve heard about time and again in Adventist circles is Parenting by the Spirit, by Sally Hohnberger. I poked around on their website quite a lot, thumbed through one of her books at the ABC and finally, a friend sent me her copy.
So far, I’ve been rather appalled at what I’ve found. A lot of fear, a lot of works-based/behaviorism things, a lot of misunderstanding of basic child development and the God-given design for breastfeeding. Very few verses given, most not cited in context..
Yes, a lot of red flags for me. Not a whole lot of Ellen White stuff either.
I was really taken aback about the insistence of teaching obedience as one of the main calls of parenting. All under the guise of reaching the heart of a child so that they will follow God. Oddly enough, I don’t see that in my version of the Bible (New King James Version, if you’re interested). Rather, I’ve been reading about a God who seeks to draw me into relationship. A God who says, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” Nothing in there about, “If you keep My commandments, I will love you.”
So I’m going to be going through the book in detail, to outline some of my thoughts and the research (Biblical, EGW and scientific) behind the reasoning.
I’m trying to figure out the best style to do this, so please bear with me.