The pain of natural consequences

This morning my son grabbed my teapot, full of water at a full boil, off the stove in a willful bear-hug while I was in the bathroom for a few minutes. The scream brought me running, the kind of scream that only comes when there is true pain. I was reminded of the day he wandered down to the road and nearly got run over by the truck, as I held him tight and forced him to put those burned forearms under the cold tap water for a full 10 minutes. He has a large, bubbly burn (about 2 inches long) and a larger scalded area on one arm. The other arm and hands seem fine.

A verse that makes me wince to read - but has become more meaningful now that there is a boy in this house - is Proverbs 19:18. Here it is, in two different version. How important training is, to teach them safety and moderation!

Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death. (NIV)

Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying. (KJV)

And so, this timely repost from the archives:

Around my feet and tugging at my pant legs at any given moment of every day...four little ones who will grow up and perhaps change the course of history. I am one person. I can't do much to change the world. But I can direct the development of four more minds, and that, perhaps, will change the world we live in. With that in mind, I found these six rules in Nightlight for Parents, a book I never really like while I am reading it, but return to again and again. These six guidelines capture the spirit of how I hope to mother, and have aided me many times as I muddle through what to expect of my children and how to teach them so:

  1. Define the boundaries clearly and in advance. If you haven't spelled them out, don't try to enforce them!
  2. Once a child understands what is expected, hold him accountable. This may lead to a contest of wills - be sure to win those confrontations when they occur.
  3. Distinguish between willful defiance and childish irresponsibility. Forgetting, losing, and spilling things are not challenges to adult leadership.
  4. Reassure and teach as soon as a time of confrontation is over. By all means, hold your child close and explain lovingly what has just occurred.
  5. Avoid impossible demands. Be sure that your child is capable of delivering what you require.
  6. Let love be your guide! You will make mistakes with your child, but a relationship characterized by affection and grounded in God's love is certain to be healthy and successful.

Kind of like thinking about earth rather than thinking about heaven, isn't it? If I focus only on myself, I've limited my resources to one life span. But if I direct my energy outward, to others - my children included - I have exponentially increased the impact my life has. Think global. Think eternal. I want to do something that matters each and every day - and that probably doesn't mean "looking out for number 1"!

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)