Monday, November 2, 2009

Finding Love in the Midst of a Flood

This is the continuation of my frustrations at the water cooler...

"Spare the rod and spoil the child."
(Proverbs 13:24 "He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently")

"Thy rod and staff, they comfort me" (Psalm 23:4)

These are the two verses that came to the forefront of my mind in regard to discipline. I certainly don't hate my son and I want him to learn certain boundaries. Especially when there are negative consequences to not following those boundaries. But instead of the common thought that the first verse gives to people about harsh punishment with the rod, I try to remember it in the context of a shepherd. The Great Shepherd in this case. I read a book by Francine Rivers, The Prophet. It was about a shepherd and it really opened my eyes to the use of the shepherd's rod in regard to protecting and guiding his sheep. I can't help but think of the visuals that Rivers put in my mind through this book. How Jesus, as our Shepherd wants to protect us from dangers and uses the crook of his staff to pull us from danger. It was a comfort to Amos' sheep (in the book) to feel the rod pull them back to safety, sometimes more harshly that others. They knew that he would protect him.

That's the way that I want Caleb to feel about me. I want him to know that I set the limits so that he can be safe. I don't want him to respect me out of fear but out of love and a want to obey. As bad as it sounds, however, it's defiantly easier if he's afraid to touch the water cooler.

I know that the Bible also says not to put stumbling blocks in front of people that can cause them to sin. I finally figured out a way to keep Caleb from touching the water cooler! I accept the fact that he's just too young to understand the consequences of playing with the water cooler. Even with all the repetition he just doesn't get it. It's not a character flaw in him, he's not doing it to be bad. He's doing it because he loves to play with water (whether that be in the bathtub, a puddle, the sink while doing dishes, cat water dishes etc).

Solution: We turned the water cooler around into the corner. Yes, it's a complete pain to turn it back around every time that I want a glass of water. But I would rather take a bit more time to get a glass of water that put something in Caleb's way that tempts him to disobey a boundary I've set out. He was a little upset at first. He didn't understand why he couldn't find the taps. We'll see how it goes over the next few weeks and then try turning it around again. Maybe he will understand that he's not allowed to touch it or maybe he'll grow bored of it. Or maybe not. But it's much easier on all of us to just take the temptation away right now.

I probably could just watch him closely and keep repeating that he's not allowed to touch it. It's just not a big enough concern for me to do so (unlike when he was learning to stay on the lawn and not run onto the gravel). The biggest thing that I've learned about discipline from this is that when I run out of patience with Caleb, I need to take a step back and put myself in his position. I can't look at him as an adult that understands the logical explanation of all the reasons why he shouldn't do certain things. I shouldn't punish him for something that he just doesn't understand. It's not like he was hurting anyone or himself with this. He just wants to have some fun. I've found that going face to face with him and looking him directly in the eye, I see that he's not out to be malicious. Not that I really thought that, I just lost sight of the big picture because I was more focused on my frustration with the situation that I was on him and his needs.

Discipline is a time to reconnect with my son and learn how to understand him more. I've learned that he REALLY enjoys playing with water. This is a great tidbit of information because it means I have a way to occupy him throughout the winter. I can plop him in the tub, even if he doesn't need a bath, and give him some cups and containers. He could probably entertain himself for quite a while (with me sitting in the bathroom supervising of course, beauties of a laptop or a good book). I also know that he will be helping me often with washing dishes (the floor is lino and clothes can get chucked in the dryer). Mama just needed to relax and take advantage of this learning opportunity.

I feel way better about things now! And I'm sure that Caleb does too because now his mama is going to give him exactly what he wanted, except within the allowed boundaries of course.

1 comment:

  1. I agree, I don't like it when people think that you have to beat the child to make him obey. Respect out of love is better then obedience out of fear.