Why do children choose the most inopportune moments to disobey? Are there any other mothers out there who are diligent in training and disciplining their children and yet have been utterly humiliated by them in public? I think I have pretty obedient children (though they are definitely a work in progress!), but from time to time, even though they know what the consequences will be, they decide to make a public display of disobedience that must certainly make bystanders believe there is no such thing as training and discipline in my house.
Yesterday I took Abel and Amariah to the pediatrician for their (delinquent) well-child exams, and it was there that Abel attempted–and may have succeeded–to convince the nurse and doctor that my home is in complete disarray. (It’s not, but you would have thought so yesterday!) It all started when the nurse asked Abel to take his shoes off and step on the scale. For whatever reason, he had made up his mind that he wasn’t going to do it; and he changed his mind only after Amariah went first. If that wasn’t embarrassing enough, he then literally refused to comply with the nurse’s next request to lay on the table and get his length measured. (As a side note, don’t you think they could treat a three-year old like a three-year old instead of like a baby and measure their “height” standing up instead of their “length” laying down?…) After my failed attempt to lay my writhing son on the table, I took him to the bathroom (where I would have disciplined him had we been in any other setting) and talked to him about how I wanted him to behave. When we returned to the exam room, he proved the truth of Proverbs 29:15: “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother” (emphasis added). Indeed, reproof alone did not do the trick; and I was most certainly ashamed as the nurse and doctor and I resorted to using force for every bit of the remainder of his exam.
Let me say here that it is so against my principles to use coercion and force in place of the rod and reproof. Though I did appropriately address the issue when we got home, I hated that I felt trapped by Abel’s disobedience because of the setting we were in. I hate that I couldn’t deal with Abel biblically at the time due to the fear of what the doctor might think. I hate that our society has equated spanking with abuse and that parents have become paralyzed by the fear of being reported or having their children taken away.
Obviously, I write this post in some frustration; but I also write in humility. I much prefer to look like I “have it all together” (even though we all know I don’t!), so I was admittedly a little hesitant to share this story. I decided to, though, partly because I’m curious how other Christian mothers out there would have handled this situation. Is it wrong or unnecessary to be fearful of what society may say? Is it detrimental to be inconsistent in an inopportune setting? Truly, I am in no way looking for justification for my child’s behavior or for the way I chose the handle it, but I would like to hear your thoughts.