Foreword by Dr. William Sears

Foreword to Biblical Parenting:

Christian parents have been accustomed to thinking about discipline as punishment – something you do to a child rather than something you do with a child. However, discipline is more about developing the right relationship with your child rather than the right techniques. Throughout this book you will learn how the “rod verses” are grossly misinterpreted, and that you don’t have to spank your child to be a godly parent. Besides there being no biblical basis for spanking, in my thirty years in pediatric practice I have rarely seen spanking work. Instead, it creates a distance between parent and child, plants a seed of anger (and sometimes violence) in the child, and often tends to worsen a child’s behavior. It is also interesting that the “rod verses” are only mentioned in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, Christ taught a gentler approach, as stated by Paul in 1 Corinthians 4:21:  “Shall I come to you with the rod, or in love and with a gentle spirit?”

Throughout this book you will learn that discipline is creating an attitude within the child and an atmosphere in the home that makes spanking unnecessary. Scripture is clear that parents are to be authority figures for their children. Yet, authority begins with developing a mutual trust between parent and child:  “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart.”  (Proverbs 22:6)  This implies that parents know the individual bent of their child. To teach your child to trust you, and to become an expert in your child, begins with practicing a style of parenting we call attachment parenting.  Throughout this book you will learn how this style of parenting helps you get behind the eyes of your child and direct behavior from within rather than applying force on the outside.  Attachment parenting will help you teach your child how to develop inner controls.  You will also learn that attachment parenting does not mean permissive parenting. On the contrary, one of the “B’s” (in addition to the other B’s of birth bonding, breastfeeding, babywearing, belief in baby’s cries, and bedding close to baby) is balance – knowing when to say “yes” and when to say “no.”  Attachment parenting implies a balance between meeting the child’s needs and also saving enough energy to meet the needs of your marriage.  Finally, it is my hope that in reading this book parents will discover the true joy of living with a well-disciplined child.

–Dr. William Sears, author of The Complete Book of Christian Parenting and Childcare

Words as Magic

One of the questions I am asked most often about parenting young children is what to do when they lie.
Occasionally the question comes from a parent of a 9 or 10 year old but most often the children are 6 or younger. I realize that lying is a very real thing and it’s a sin. I have to be careful when discussing this issue because every so often someone will hear what I say on this and think that I’m minimizing what God makes very clear in Scripture. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Godly parents are concerned about the presence of anything appearing to be sin in the life of their child. Whether we blame a flaw in our child or a lacking in our parenting once we identify this sin we set about to figure out where the root is and pull it out.

What many don’t realize is that a two year old saying they didn’t eat the cookie when you find them with chocolate in the corner of their mouth is not a child lying.

If you believe that it is then you may spend several years fearing that your child has lying lips that are hated by God and that you are failing in your job as a parent. While living with that fear you will miss out on a lot of fun you could have with your child.

So if your 2 year old isn’t lying about the cookie what are they doing? They are entering the words as magic stage and the more you learn about it the better you will be able to teach and enjoy your child while they are in this stage. Two year olds are becoming able to do things on their own and they are proud to do them. They are also eager to please their parents and very concerned when they fail to please them. When a toddler perceives that they have displeased you they will seek to make things right and they truly believe that their words have power. Words are magic to them. When they ask for things, they get them. When you tell a story they experience it. And when your 2 year old says they didn’t eat the cookie they believe they have undone the act. With their words they have fixed the problem and mommy can now be pleased.

There is a reason that fairy tales are so popular with very young children. Disney realizes this and has capitalized on it. Fairy tales create a story of fantasy with archetypal characters representing things like good and evil, good character and bad. In the context of these fantasy stories can be introduced lessons about morality, relationship, right and wrong, natural consequences . . . the sky is the limit. To young children these stories are real, not fantasy. As they replay the stories they become the characters. And even outside of these fairy tale stories to watch a young child play is to watch them create a reality for themselves and anyone caught up in it. Some parents don’t allow their children exposure to Disney films; some don’t allow fairy tales; some try to forbid all fantasy play. No matter what you restrict you can’t skip this stage and you can’t require a child not believe their words are magic. And if a child really believes their words are making things so then they are not lying. They aren’t trying to deceive you into thinking they didn’t do something if they really believe that their words made it so it never happened. [Read more…]

An answer to Proverbs 23 and 'beatest'…

Q: I totally understand the idea of the rod on verses like “he who spares the rod, hates his son” but what about Proverbs 23:13-14 where it actually says “for if thou beat him with the rod…” ?

A: I’ve addressed this verse in the context of other articles but as it is one I’m asked most often, I thought I’d answer it separately. I’ve also learned a lot more about the Hebraic mind and life since I wrote the earlier articles so I’m sure there will be ideas that didn’t find their way into previous articles. I actually get excited when I study these things because the way most people are told to think about them goes so against the character of God as revealed in Scripture that the God people are being taught is not even the God of Scripture. As people come to understand Grace they find that their entire understanding of salvation and justification, sanctification and holiness deepens because they finally love God—they don’t just do what he says out of fear. If Scripture says we love him because he first loved us, this is a dramatic and important paradigm shift.

1 John 4:10; 19
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins.
We love him, because he first loved us.

Let’s start with a quick recap of what the shebet is. A lot of people mistakenly dismiss me because they believe I consider the shebet a purely symbolic reference in Scripture. This would be naieve of me, if I did believe it, and reflect a lack of study on my part. The fact is, the shebet is a very real stick. It’s more like the trunk of a young tree and it was most often the shepherd’s staff, the staff held by the head of a family (this is most easily pictured by many as the stick Moses held up at the parting of the Red Sea), or as the king’s sceptre (which let’s remember, with regards to Queen Esther’s story, when it was extended to her it brought life, but had it been withheld/spared/set aside it would have brought death). At the same time, there are parts of Scripture that use “shebet” symbolically, as when the “rod of Jesse” that springs up speaks in prophecy of the coming Messiah. This does not mean that it would be appropriate exegesis to assume everywhere that we find “shebet” we can insert “Messiah”, but the Hebraic minds understanding of the shebet and its purpose reveals why it can be used to speak of Messiah. If it were an instrument intended for striking and destruction then we would need to see Messiah as coming to destroy, not redeem. In other words, while “Messiah” is not the idea we can infuse into every use of “rod”, we need to understand “rod” with the awareness that it is used to speak of “Messiah”.

The meaning of words in Hebrew is not only defined by the dictionary definition. There is an idea infused into the meaning of every word that expresses the understanding of the mind that heard the word. Hebrew is a very Eastern thinking language and cannot be understood with a Greek/Western thinking mind. To illustrate this, there are 4 words in Hebrew that translate into Rod in English, but only one word in Greek. To the Greek mind a “rod” was a stick with a powerful and destructive purpose. The gods on Mount Olympus who weilded their staff did so with ill intent and out of their anger. Just read Greek Mythology and you see the Greek understanding of God. It is appropriate for Paul to correct the Greek thinking mind’s expectation of an Apostle with the question in 1 Corinthians 4:21, “What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and [in] the spirit of meekness?” The context for this question reveals that Paul’s teaching is being dismissed for the teaching of those who come with harsh demands on the Corinthians. The Corinthians understand harshness, they understand demands. It makes greater sense to them than Paul’s message of love and he must remind them that God’s message is one of love which is why his approach is the one they should heed.

The shebet, to the Hebrew mind, would not contain this Olympic/Zeus connotation. It was foreign to them. Rather, “they rod and they staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4 The good shepherd would guide the sheep and use his rod to protect them by beating off the wolves and enemies that would come to steal them. The idea that a shepherd would use a rod to break his sheep’s legs is actually myth. If a shepherd did that they would certainly not be a good shepherd as a lamb with a broken leg is as useless as a horse with the same. As for what a good shepherd would do with a lamb that wandered off, let us look to Jesus’ parable which reveals he would leave the 99 to go in search of the 1.

So what was the shebet? It was the staff held by a man that symbolized his authority.

[Read more…]

The Five Steps

The Five Steps are a technique developed by Lisa Kuzara-Seibold, Minister of Early Childhood Education at Word of Grace Church in Mesa, Arizona. I had the amazing opportunity to mentor under her while employed by the Department of Early Childhood Education as a Sunday School Teacher. This example of The Five Steps is an adaptation of what is taught in her training manual.

Step 1: State your request and offer a reason.

Example: “You need to stop yourself from playing and clean up. It is time to leave.”

Step 2: Restate your request.

Example: “You need to stop yourself from playing and clean up.”

It is helpful to get down on the child’s level and touch your child while looking in his eyes to make sure you have his attention.

Step 3: Offer help.

Example: “You are having a hard time stopping your play. Can you stop playing and clean up or do you need my help?”

Whether your child requests help or not respect their wishes. Help is not a punishment, it is help.

Step 4: Help.

Example: “You are not stopping your play. Here, let me help you.”

Again, help is not a punishment. It is an acknowledgment that your child is unable to stop on their own. This may be due to a lack of maturity, being tired or hungry, or simply not wanting to stop.

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