The Column I shouldn’t write

Dear Andrea,
I know you don’t like to answer parenting questions, but I’m at the end of my rope with my two-year-old. He is a very stubborn little boy, he gets that from his mother and he fights his sleep and throws tantrums. He literally wont take his nap till he finally passes out.  I’m still not comfortable spanking him, but time outs don’t work.

The worst part is in the middle of this stress, I’m still learning how to own up to negative emotions and not let them separate me from the Lord.  So this is dragging me down right when I’m trying to draw close to Him again.


Lonely Mom of Two

Dear Lonely,

Try keeping a prayer journal. I am not very good at being consistent at that myself, but sometimes it’s easier to pray through negative emotions on paper. I know how it is;  the motto of the typical dysfunctional family is,  “if you’re not happy, fake it” and I was raised in one myself. Honesty before God, with others, and ourselves is one of the first things we have to learn to break the cycle and end the generational curse. Some of us find it easier to open up to the Lord and confess our true feelings on paper. And the most sure path I know to emotional healing and well being is confessing our hearts to the Lord and pouring out our pain to Him as a drink offering.

I highly recomend you read Michael Card’s book on lament, A Sacred Sorrow. It’ll help you express negative emotions to God more freely and that will bring you a greater peace and much closer fellowship with the Lord.

You’re right, I don’t like to answer parenting questions; a prerequisite qualification is usually being a parent yourself and I haven’t been so blessed. But I have done quite a bit of study and observation, and what I’ve learned, I’ll share, with the caution that I’ve had limited opportunities to test these.

I can understand why you’re reluctant to spank your child. Growing up, the simple fact of having conflict was often enough to warrant a spanking, which I’ve since learned is very detrimental to a child’s development. That cripples your children’s ability to cope with the real world. Spankings are meant to be applied for rebellious behavior. I needed taught how to resolve conflict and express anger and hurt appropriately, not spanked. Unfortunately, my parents didn’t know how to do that themselves, I’ve come to realize. They aren’t bad people; they’re broken people doing the best they know how. And broken people beget broken children.

So I’ve done quite a bit of study to end the generational curse in my own family. From what I’ve gleaned, this is the correct formula for discipline:

  • Mommy gives specific, age-appropriate instructions that the child both understands and is capable of following
  • Child deliberately disobeys
  • Mommy warns of the consequences of disobedience
  • Child persists
  • Mommy applies consequences prescribed.
  • Child cries
  • Mommy comforts the child and assures child of her love, making sure the child understands why he was punished and what is expected of him. Not Daddy.

Or in the other gender:

  • Daddy gives specific, age-appropriate instructions the child both understands and is capable of following
  • Child deliberately disobeys
  • Daddy warns of the consequences of disobedience
  • Child persists
  • Daddy applies consequences prescribed
  • Child cries
  • Daddy comforts the child and assures child of his love, making sure the child understands why they were punished and what is expected of them. Not Mommy.

Of course I haven’t gotten the opportunity to test this out yet.  But from what I’ve observed, little boys especially need spankings. It’s not loving to not properly discipline them. They need it as much as they need hugs and kisses. But first we need to learn what proper discipline looks like, no?

Our first model for that is God himself. Christians today too often use the cross to ignore the discipline model God sets for us in chastening whom He loves (Hebrews 12:5-7) and allowing us to reap what we sow here on Earth (Galatians 6:7-9).

Strictly speaking, however, the consequences don’t have to be corporal, just painful. Time out will work on some personalities, but not others. You have to find out what your child will consider painful correction that can only be avoided by obeying Mommy. Try asking the Lord for wisdom in that regards; He’s been known to give parenting advice. At age two; it’s probably a spanking, though.

Tantrums are attention seeking behavior. Don’t give them the attention they want and the behavior will eventually stop I’m told. However, I’ve seen this attempted in day care, and it is painful to listen to and very difficult advice to implement. I’d probably spank for that myself, but regardless it’s important that you don’t give in to the child’s demand.

I’ve gleaned from wise parents that the first rule is to never strike a child in anger. It needs to be applied in love. Punishing a child by withdrawing love is one of the most damaging things we can do.

In Christ’s love,

Andrea Graham

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