What she has to say there is life changing. I knew all these concepts in…well, concept. One tends to be exposed to this stuff in the homeschooling world: appreciating your kids for who they are, asking God for a vision for their own unique upbringing, being more concerned about what is in their hearts than what their behavior indicates. But never have I been overcome with tears of joy for finally seeing it in words that spoke to my heart, until I read her blog.
I first saw her blog a year or so ago when she wrote a post about first time obedience. It was the first time in my entire life I had ever heard someone say "really?" about that oft touted "rule" of parenting. I somehow knew it in my heart, but it never came to the front of my head until seeing her post: first time obedience isn't in the Bible. It's not that we should not want our kids to obey us--of course we should!--and it isn't that we should not strive for our kids to do what needs to be done immediately. It's just that in conservative, Bible believing circles, first time obedience is the be all end all of well-behaved, compliant, God loving and following and non-rebellious children. Friends, it's not about the behavior, it's about the heart. Growing up, I knew many (many!) kids who paid lip service to their parents rules in front of them, but because good behavior was the ultimate goal, their hearts were not bound to obeying their parents while they were not looking, or they kept obeying only out of fear. They did not obey out of love for their parents, or God's ways, they obeyed because it kept them out of trouble. I was sometimes like that. Later on I learned to stand up for what I believe no matter who was looking, but I can't say that modifying my behavior was the reason I eventually learned that (I won't go into why I believe I ended up that way here, but it certainly did not work that way for everyone I knew).
A few excerpts from Sally's blog:
Now, the secret is out–I do believe in obedience for me, for children, for all who want to love and serve God. But, I see now that the goal for my obedience is not behavioralism–performance–doing a task that I want done this instant because of fear of punishment. I do not measure my success as a parent by whether or not my children instantly obey. I think that the goal is to teach our children to obey quickly, but search as I may, I cannot find that as a standard in scripture. And so I may find relief in the grace I have found in scripture.
This was what i found that allowed me to say "YES! See?!" talking to people in an imaginary situation. But my haughtiness at finding corroboration from a respected, mature homeschooling mom quickly melted away as I found myself being humbled by the knowledge that I was seeing myself in some of her other paragraphs. Descriptions of exactly what I never wanted to be.
This feeling of being afraid of those in authority is familiar to all of us. Now if we speed or drive wildly out of control or run a red light, we should feel guilty and are worthy of being caught. We are happy and so grateful there are policeman to keep us protected and safe.
But when laws are many and there are police eyes everywhere looking for a person to make a mistake, we all feel relieved to get out of the eye view of such potential judgment. And so young children will feel–afraid of their authorities–their parents– if they are atwitter in their hearts just wondering what they will do wrong or how they will disappoint or how they will be punished.
Tears. Judgement. Judgement feels pretty terrible. I don't want to be my kids' judge. I don't want them to always be trying to escape me because I am overbearing and hard to be around. I want to have a loving, refreshing relationship with my children, not one that is a heavy burden for both them and me to bear. She went on to ask if I think of my children as a blessing, the fruit of the womb as a reward (yes! most definitely!). How do we treat blessings? We treat them as treasures, not burdens. I never thought of my kids as burdens, but their problems? Those I treated as burdens with my tone. Their misbehaviors are not a reflection on me (sort of an arrogant thing for me to think anyway), they were a reflection on the fact that they are still in training, still need to be guided and parented. Training does not happen in a day. Taking the long view means I am preparing them for when they are independent adulthood when they stand up for God and their families on their own because it is a deep conviction. My ultimate goal in my children's' training is not to make me look good, or be on time to places, or to say "how high?" when I say "jump!". My ultimate goal is to raise children who obey God out of a love in their hearts for Him, and follow Him passionately. As Sally Clarkson says so wisely:
I want my children to learn to love God, to desire to serve Him out of their hearts of respect, awe, reverence, love. I look for growth, not perfection. Maturity, not instant holiness.
Please read her blog! Here is a wonderful post:
Happy New Year! :)