on Ginger Plowman's book, "Don't Make Me Count to Three!"
Matt and I started reading the book together last night. We really like going through books together. When we read a book, it results in some really great discussions. I feel like it brings us together...in another partnering way. We're a few chapters in, and I thought I'd share some of the things that stood out to me for my benefit of jotting it down and to give others a glimpse into it to decide whether they might like to read it (or not). We're borrowing it from the library so I can't make notes in the pages, which is a bummer, but if we like it when we're done, we'll get a copy of our own.
When I rock Stevie before nap and bedtime, I am usually consciously hit with the responsibility most...the responsibility of raising a child entrusted in my care from our heavenly Father. Whoa. Ginger Plowman says on page 21, "Being a mom is more than being cook, chauffeur, maid, counselor, doctor, referee, disciplinarian, etc. (just to name a few). It's about molding character, building confidence, nurturing, training, and guiding. There is nothing like the influence a mother has on her child. A mother's influence has enormous potential to shape the person a child becomes, for good or ill."
What I have really liked or appreciated is her perspective: "we are not merely after outward actions, but inward cleansing. We are after the very hearts of our children" (pg. 26). She explains that discipline and instruction of the Lord go hand in hand, as stated in Ephesians (6:4). In my way of thinking, from what I believe and from what I have read so far, it really is about training the child in the ways of the Lord through Biblical instruction and exemplifying our own relationships with each other and our Savior. We're trying to get into the "why" we need to to the right thing...not just to do the right thing because it's right. I want Stevie to see that sharing his toys is right because God's Word says we should love our neighbor and be kind and giving to others....and because he wants to serve God in relationship with Him. God has given us all we have, has given us His very Son. We do what we do in thanks, honor, and praise to Him.
Which leads to another point. Plowman writes: "Sin is not a laughing matter. Let's face it: Sometimes it is hard not to laugh at our children when they are blatantly sinning. However, Christians should not laugh at or make light of the things that God sent His Son to die for" (pg. 30). Ok, so some of these things might seem obvious, but this point really hit home to me, not so much the laughing part, but the gravity of sin. I need this reminder. I've been to church all my life, and unfortunately and painfully honestly so, I don't always think of sin (as in the every day disobediences of children) with such gravity. Awful, I know. What I mean is, do I always think of sins as when our Savior hung on the cross for those very things? Of course I think of sins being bad and wrong and in need of forgiveness for...and when describing to young children at church, I describe sins as things that do not please God. Sin leads to death! Whoa, reality check. Sins are things that do not please God...but things so bad Jesus had to die for, so we could be free and have eternal life with Him. (Oh, grab hold of that little Stephen.) I'm having a hard time trying to put into words how this opens my eyes to disciplining our child/ren.
Huge sidenote but somewhat related: I went to school to be a teacher. I had to read books on classroom management (we were discouraged from using the "d" word...discipline, because "discipline is for dogs"). We were highly encouraged to use positive reinforcement. Don't get me wrong, positive reinforcement has it's value, but we need to be redirected when doing wrong as well. And, I like the ideas of intrinsic motivation vs extrinsic motivation (but goodies are fun sometimes). I think intrinsic motivation leads to one being disciplined (yup I'm using that word)...and where does that intrinsic, self-worth and motivation ultimately lie in my personal experience and opinion: in love, in our Lord and Savior. He has touched my heart in a profound way. Therefore, I live for Him. (I so wanted to write a thesis on this subject, but it's a difficult thing when teaching in public schools.)
It's all about God. It's all about what He's done for us and how we live our life in return. That's what I need to teach my boy. So, Scripture is to be the tool to show how we should act (and learn from others' actions in the Bible) ...direction in right and wrong, but we follow the Scriptures and His commands because we love our God. "We love because He first loved us." (1 John 4:19). I know...this sounds so simple of a concept in some ways, so... duh, almost. But, I love it! There is such purpose in discipline and in life, rather than just doing the right thing because it's right, so I don't get a punishment or so I get a cookie (or whatever...those extrinisic motivators). I do think it's sort of "easier said than done," and I know disciplining our children is going to be a challenge. (Check out Ginger Plowman's story about pride coming before the fall...hysterical! You'll have to read the book for that one!) It's just a wonderful reminder to me because I know there will be times when I'm tired (mm hmm) and I'd rather just say, "Stevie we do not hit our brother/sister," give punishment, and be done. This is going to require patience, prayer, study in the Word, and discipline with intention. I know, another "duh"...to discipline with intention for a change in the heart, not just the action....for understanding and tender hearts....not for tender bottoms or fear. So maybe this is all...uh huh for you, but sometimes I need a good dose of "duh."
So, as I said, we've just started the book. What we're excited to do for starters, is gather some verses (we already have a few in mind). Those will sort of be our family rules, posted on our walls (yup, like in a classroom, but when we move, I can use paint!) to refer to as we go about our days (as well as having our Bibles). I want my children (as well as us as parents) to have the Word of God in our hearts and on our walls. This is our life-style. We live for Him because He lived and died ...and lives again...for us!
I'll share some more nuggets that stick out to me as we continue reading.