By Grace Alone

The real life struggles of a Christian mom

“Don’t Make Me Count to Three!” July 25, 2007

Filed under: parenting — Marissa Henley @ 2:03 am
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I can’t believe it has been a month since my last post. Two weeks of our entire family being sick, immediately followed by a 600-mile move . . . in the midst of the chaos, I’ve barely had a coherent thought in my brain to speak to new people I’m meeting, let alone several to form into a blog post! 🙂

As I was moving in, a friend of mine here in Arkansas invited me to a book discussion group. I thought, “I certainly don’t have time to read a book, but I could use some friends, so why not?” Little did I know that God didn’t only bring this opportunity along for the new friends (although that is a nice by-product) but for the wisdom that is found in the book we’re discussing–“Don’t Make Me Count to Three” by Ginger Plowman. If you’ve read “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” by Tedd Tripp, it is a similar parenting philosophy (she actually quotes him quite a bit), but she also provides lots of practical suggestions on how to discuss disobedience with your child and Scripture passages to use in instructing them in obedience. This will probably be the first of multiple posts I’ll write about this book as I finish reading and work on applying what God is teaching me.

This quote from the book summarizes it well: “Biblical disciple gets to the heart of the problem. After all, if you can reach the heart, the behavior will take care of itself. In order for us to reach the hearts of our children we must realize that there is far more to parenting than getting our children to act right. We have to get them to think right . . . We do this by training them in righteousness. Righteous training can only come from the Word of God” (p. 26).

It seems that so many times, I can only muster the energy and time to punish Christopher for what he’s done wrong. This book has shown me the importance of delving into the heart issues behind Christopher’s disobedience and then training him to do what is right and, as Plowman puts it, “think like a Christian” about his behavior. And as she says in the quote above, this can only be accomplished with God’s Word playing an integral role. I’m hoping my new routine will look like this: 1. punishment for disobedience, 2. discussion about the heart issue behind it, 3. instruction from God’s Word about what he should have done instead, and even role-playing how to do it differently.

I Corinthians 10:13 says: “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” In reference to this verse, Plowman writes: “When we correct our children for wrong behavior but fail to train them in righteous behavior, we will exasperate them because we are not providing them with a way of escape” (p. 48). I’ve never thought of it this way before, but now I see the importance in providing Christopher a way out, and it makes so much sense. How could he possibly be expected to figure it out for himself?

A few days ago, this actually worked. I woke up Christopher that morning, and when I told him it was time to go potty, he stated in a very whiny voice that he wanted to wake up Will before going potty. I told him that I could not say “yes” because he was whining, and then I walked him through how he could ask me correctly the next time. I had completely forgotten about it the next morning, when I woke Christopher up and said it was time to go potty, and just like we had practiced the day before, he said, “Mommy, can we wake up Will first, please?” I was shocked!

I’ve been very convicted by this book that I need to know Scripture better to truly train my children in righteousness. As 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” The other moms in the discussion group and I are all planning to make notecards with Scripture references pertaining to different situations we encounter with our kids . . . if anyone has some great verses to share, please leave a comment. So far, I’ve just been reading I Corinthians 13 with Christopher and talking about what it means to love his brother. This gets applied many, many times, every single day. “Love is not rude! Love does not seek its own interest! LOVE IS KIND!!!! STOP HITTING YOUR BROTHER!!!!” (Is it training in righteousness if you are yelling Scripture at them? Probably not.)

More to come . . .