My wife, who continually gives of herself, was babysitting two of our 7 grandchildren while their parents are off on a short well earned vacation. One of our other grandchildren was having a “sleepover” with the two grandchildren my wife is helping with, at their home. When I’m not working I spend time with my wife where she is babysitting to help her with meals and cleanup etc. But my wife is 73 years old now and has a sore hip that causes her considerable discomfort in climbing stairs and doing a lot of walking. We were all on the 2nd floor of their home and one of my grandsons (no names mentioned to protect the innocent) asked my wife to go downstairs to get him a glass of water. I took the liberty of reminding him that he was a lot younger than his grandmother and totally capable of getting his own drink. The grandson who I addressed wasn’t impressed. I see a lot of that today, where some young people seem to think that the sole reason that mothers and grandmothers are around is to cater to their needs, especially when they are doing something much more important, like playing a video game. And I understand that most times these “needs” are catered to, but when we’re talking about where a flight of difficult stairs is involved, and my wife, I have a tendency to draw the line. Not a biggie, I’ll admit, but I’m not finished, there’s more.
A few minutes later the same grandson came back and took two more. This would be the same grandson that previously had barely touched the breakfast that had been made for him, because he wasn’t hungry. Papa objected. Grandson replied that Granny shared and didn’t mind. Papa replied that just because someone is willing to share does not infer that you can take them all and just out of curiosity, how was it that he wasn’t hungry before at breakfast but had suddenly found his appetite when fudgesicles were involved. Grandson wasn’t impressed but did walk away WITHOUT the two fudgesicles.
Four or five minutes goes by and another different unnamed grandson comes down from upstairs and sticks the phone in front of my face telling me that Nanny wants to speak with me. Obviously the grandson who had left without the two fudgesicles wanted to nip this opposition in the bud, so to speak. Papa wasn’t impressed. Short story – Nanny says they get to eat what they want. Case closed. Fortunately Nanny is not mad at Papa. God is good.
I think this falls under the “pick your battles” category and Papa obviously still has a problem with picking too many battles. I tried doing a follow-up with the two grandsons involved explaining why what had transpired bothered me but that didn’t seem to go all that well either. Neither of the grandsons seemed to be very receptive to my reasoning.
My wife and I raised five children. To say that we were ill equipped is an understatement. You have to remember that this was almost fifty years ago when Dr. James Dobson’s book “Dare to Discipline”, first edition, was in vogue. And I had been raised in a home and school system that employed “corporal punishment” when needed, no questions asked. Times change and what was the “norm” isn’t acceptable anymore. I understand, I don’t always agree with it, but I do understand. Our first daughter hardly ever needed a swat, maybe twice in her whole childhood. Sons two and three were present right at the peak of “Dare to Discipline”, which was unfortunate for both them and us. But we did learn some important principles like NEVER discipline when you are angry and learn to differentiate between an innocent mistake and deliberate intention, not to mention that their age has to be taken into account and their dignity respected, even if they are not respecting yours. In hindsight, I definitely could have used less corporal punishment on my two eldest boys and I have serious regrets about that to this day. By the time the last two (twins) arrived, we had decided to not use corporal punishment so those two lucked in, so to speak.
Providing discipline, as a father, is not easy. And working in a military environment has it’s down sides. Couple that with trying to learn to walk with God plus a host of other real life experiences like adapting to a performance oriented work environment, balancing financial requirements and meeting the emotional needs of your spouse and children, it can easily go sideways, far too easily. This is one place where “dying to self” takes on a whole new meaning and if I would have been graded, my report card wouldn’t have really been all that great. I’m pretty sure there would have been some “D’s” and “F’s” in there.
My wife and I both agree that if we had it to do over again, there would be a lot of things that we would do differently. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but unfortunately most of us don’t have that option available when starting out. Fathers have a tendency to look at the long term view, preparing the child to deal fairly with others, work ethic, determination and willingness to work for what you want, honoring your word and respecting others, to name but a few character traits that need to be developed. These are all qualities that are necessary to be successful in the world that we live in.
As I look back at my walk with God, I am amazed at His patience with me. His faithfulness, grace, love and mercy are qualities that He has demonstrated to me many many times, even to this very day. Raising children is not an easy task and no one knows that better than God. In short, the way He responds to us is the way in which He asks us to respond to others, even our own children, as disobedient and unloving as they sometimes may be.
Are there times when God has swatted my rear in the past? I can tell you truthfully, oh yes there are. Times (notice the plural) when He allowed me to experience first hand, what I had been doing to others. The hurt and pain I felt will never be forgotten. And candidly, I needed to experience that because what you do to others is never fully realized until you really experience it yourself. They are hard but necessary lessons.
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!