Teach Your Babies Well

The following was originally posted in thread on Gentle Christian Mothers called, “…And I’m the Strict One!“and is a follow up to my previous post, Teach Your Children Well.

At 4 months, what you want to be doing is starting the phase of ‘discipline’ that I call “show and tell” — it’s not a phase where you expect the baby to *do* anything at all. I mean that! And I know it doesn’t make sense to say “start discipline” and “the baby doesn’t do anything” when you are coming from a punitive mindset.

What “show and tell” means is that you are building the vocabulary for whatever you want him/her to be able to do without thinking twice once s/he is a toddler. You build vocabulary by saying a word and simultaneously doing that thing to the baby.

For example, when you say “Up” as you pick a baby up, that’s ‘show and tell’ — but of course, “Up” is not an instruction you want your toddler to follow later, so it’s not a good example of how ‘show and tell’ is a good start to good discipline. It’s just an example of the way that people naturally know that ‘show and tell’ is how you teach stuff to babies. It’s how they learn. That’s why it’s the method you choose when you teach everything, including when you teach the vocabulary you want them to grasp for following instructions. It’s a game. It’s no big deal.

At this stage you have TONS of time. Start by thinking and trying out what words you plan to use as your primary ‘words of instruction’. Once you’ve got them figured out, you need to *stop* using them as ordinary parts of chit-chat and *only* use them when you are going to be ‘show and tell’-ing. Your instruction words should be short and sweet. When possible, they should say what ‘is happening / what to do’ instead of ‘what not to do’. Try not to start with more than 6 to 10 instruction words. Select them carefully and always use them identically. (Many of these instruction words are going to sound like [Read more…]

Teach Your Children Well

The following was originally posted in thread on Gentle Christian Mothers called, “…And I’m the Strict One!“.

Well, ladies, do you know what’s a show-stopper in a nicely chatting group of Christian Mommies?

It’s when the strictest parent there casually mentions that she doesn’t spank. Here’s the circle of my friends and acquaintances when I mentioned it:  😮  😯   😕

Friend 1:  😮  “You don’t???”
Me: “Yeah, I used to, but I haven’t in a long time.”
Friend 2:   😯 “Really?”
Me: “I try not to do anything harsh at all, really.”
Friend 1: “Well… but… your kids are angels.”
Friend 2: “Some kids just don’t need it.”
Friend 1: “Yeah, I had one that spanking didn’t work for.”
Friend 2 to 1: “It’s not the right tool for every child.”
Friend 1 to me: “You can leave if you want to, if you think it’s cruel.”
Me: “No, I just think it’s unnecessary.”
Friend 2: “Well… you’ve got angels.”

Conversation continues on which kids “need” it, with lots of “funny” stories. Apparently, their various children’s persistent poor habits means the Mom should do more of what they are already doing (spanking), but the consistent excellence of my children has nothing to do with my methods: they were born that way.

Do these people really believe random selection gave me two angels, that I never had to really parent ‘the hard way’ — while they received an assortment of challenges my methods could never meet? I should extra-respect them for raising more difficult children, beyond my scope of experience? Even if they “have to” hit these challenging children, and even if hitting them isn’t showing any benefits!

(someone asks me to clarify what I mean by “strict.”)

Ok, here’s another tidbit of reality then: my husband is often unwell, and, with rare exceptions, that makes me the only “responsible adult” in my family. That means that, since I can’t handle (much) chaos, I can’t allow it.

I have lines of painters tape on my floor outlining “kitchen” in my open-plan home. Children don’t cross those lines when I am cooking. They haven’t for years. If my daughter woke up this morning to find painters tape barring them from exiting their own bedrooms, they would, I am dead sure, stand there and call me, “Mama? Why us this here? Mama, can I cross the tape? Mama, I need to go potty!” [Read more…]

Wife Only Submission vs Mutual Submission

I have noticed a confusion about the difference between WOS (Wife Only Submission) and MS (Mutual Submission) so I would like to clarify the difference and add some thoughts.

WOS is the belief that, in marriage, husbands are not obligated/called to submit to their wives out of reverence for Christ.

MS is the believe that husbands and wives are both obligated/called to submit to their spouse (and others) out of reverence for Christ.

WOS is often tied with patriarchy — which is the philosophy that, in marriage, the male has authority over his wife due to his gender.

In my opinion, patriarchy can be mostly-healthy, when the man is choosing sacrificial love towards his wife and/or when he uses his perceived authority in wise and godly ways — which would generally include trust, respect some ‘delegation’ of that perceived authority, etc.

In that ‘mostly-healthy patriarchy’ case, WOS is not what is truly going on — because ‘sacrificial love’ fits the Biblical definition of ‘submission’, even if neither spouse would use that word for it, and even though it depends on the (in my opinion, inaccurate) perception of inherent male authority. If the husband is submitting to his wife (by loving her sacrificially) that is a MS scenario, and anything else is just semantics.

The reason WOS (the idea that males are not obligated/called to submit to their wives out of reverence for Christ) is a bigger problem than ‘mostly-healthy patriarchy’ is because if men do not submit to their wives (no matter what vocabulary they prefer to use about it) they are not obeying God’s commands to them, and that’s a problem — often a problem that has effects on many others (the wife, children, children’s spouses, grandchildren). It’s hard for me to see people ‘normalizing’ the disobedience of one gender, while twisting the obedience of the other gender to compensate for it.

Now I believe that the NT describes a situation in which a husband had legal and civic responsibility over his wife, who was, by law his property. He had the full authority granted to him by the Roman government, and he could not ignore it. No one could.

Therefore I find it quite understandable that, in reading the New Testament some readers would draw the conclusion that because that hierarchy is described in the Bible, it is to be understood as ‘the right thing’ for Christians. I hold nothing against people who have honestly come to this conclusion — it’s easy to come by!

Patriarchy was the building block of Roman society. Equality between men and women would have been illegal. Therefore the New Testament gives commands as-to how a man with legal/civic authority is still capable of submitting to his wife, and is not exempt from the command to do so.

Therefore I consider marriages that involve ‘presumed authority’ of the male, ONLY WHEN combined with proper Christian submission (to each other) — to be within the Bible’s definition of a godly way to live.

Patriarchy-with-mutual-submission worked for the 1st Century Roman Christians, and it can work for our brothers and sisters if they want it to. We have no place to stand against them as if their conclusions and choices were sin.

What can’t work (as far as I can possibly see) is patriarchy-without-mutual-submission… because the belief that some Christians are free not to submit to other Christians (for reasons of gender and marital status) is completely out of step with the Bible — encouraging disobedience to direct commandments as well as disregarding the very core of the character of the Christlife.

Patriarchy can hurt people — and does — but it does not always hurt people, and it can be done ‘well’ according to the New Testament.

WOS (the belief that husbands are free to behave unsubmissively towards their wives) is the real poison. Living with someone who claims Christ but lives with a me-before-you attitude, and believes and preaches that it is right and proper to do so… that’s just not right… and people are definitely going to get hurt.