My children mean so much to be; they truly are my most valuable earthly possession and charge that I have been so graciously given... I am more thankful for them, than words can express...
My Grandmother Nance' Jane told me once; that one day; I would know exactly how a mother tiger feels like, the primal urge to protect my young, even from those with "good intentions"... I didn't understand her at the time. I was currently pregnant with my first; but now I do. I have for some time; but the older my children get (I currently have been blessed with three) the deeper those primal urges and feelings come over me; the deeper my desire to protect my children becomes. By time they are fifty - I'll probably be a psychopath and jump out from the shadows with grenades and bazookas every time someone on the road tries to cut them off... Look out world. You have been warned.
As a Christian; and as a mother; I am trying my utmost best to raise them in a Biblical, godly, respectful, and well balanced manner while still trying to make them aware enough of the modern world to survive on their own when that day comes. It's a balancing act - let me tell you. Another thing I am trying to instill in them is: a childhood.
I want my children to be children; as long as they are. 1 Corinthians 13:11 (When I was a child, I used to speak like a child,
think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away
with childish things) ... My children are 5, 4, and 1... they need to be taught and instructed to be respectful of their elders and to be obedient to their elders... to walk in God's ways... in His word... (Colossians 3:20, Deuteronomy 11:19, Proverbs 1:8-9, Exodus 20:12, Ephesians 6:1-4, Proverbs 22:6) BUT - they also need to be appreciated by other people as BLESSINGS - THE blessings that they are... They need to be seen through the eyes of our Lord, not as burdens... not to be "seen and not heard"...
Psalm 127:3-5Sons (children) are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like
arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed
is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their enemies in the gate.
From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.
He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: "I
tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children,
you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles
himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. "And
whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But
if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it
would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck
and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell
you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in
People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them,
but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant.
He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder
them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the
truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little
child will never enter it." And he took the children in his arms, put
his hands on them and blessed them.
He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his
arms, he said to them, "Whoever welcomes one of these little children
in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but
the one who sent me."
I bring these verses to mind because I was emailed by someone in our church, in regards to my children... the email eventually lead to a phone call between us; in which they expressed their concern and discontentment with my children's behavior during worship (primarily my 1 year old, but also my 5 year old when in the presence of another child) - and it wasnt just them, apparently it was a concern from several people in our small congregation.
Before I continue let me again repeat; my children are 5, 4, and 1... my church's worship is almost an hour long, sometimes an hour long... and my church building is an old garage converted into a fellowship place, kitchen, and mini kid's room. It's not exactly a large sanctuary where we can sit in the back and leave, or reprimand our children without much notice.
I would also like to point out that I am the ONLY one (only family) with small children present. (With the exception of one family, having nine children and their youngest is 6.. the older ones are ages 11-23) ... so again; if my babes cry or throw a fit; it's definitely noticeable.
These scenarios make it very difficult for my children to not not only sit through worship (or stand) contently, but make it very difficult for me to distract/entertain them. If I bring crayons and paper, they fight... or try and eat them... and the carpet in the fellowship area is light cream (almost white) so they are almost guaranteed to get crayons on the carpet, walls and chairs.. If I bring books, I have to actually read them out-loud which is distracting to others, a Tablet is again... distracting to others... and a potential item they will wrestle over and then potentially break... I can hold up to two of them, but then, at some magical point they will want down or be upset that the other is touching them and cry... whine... If my husband tries to help, again, the baby will be upset (because he is clingy right now)... If I let my baby run around in the back, he will eventually run up the isle... open a lady's purse... steal another kid's snack... You get the picture. All in all - its very difficult keeping my children "in check" by myself (and even with my husband's help) ... they're young. My kids are crazy and hyper and goofy and giggly. Beautiful children who are CHILDREN. Anyone with a small child knows this is common territory / common behavior of small ones, ESPECIALLY with small ones all near the same age... in a confined space. We would have been happy to chill (take turns) in the little kid's room/nursery area; but that door has been locked during worship because they are trying to keep the room nice for the kids to go to, during the Message. So, what am I supposed to do?
Well; let me tell you what has been suggested: Firstly; I am a young mother, so the assumption has been made that I don't know what I am doing. I also (apparently) don't know how to discipline my children, AND I don't know what is expected of me or my kids during church. Hmm... Let us think about this. I have five siblings, went to church my whole life, had to sit still or I would get my butt beat for causing embarrassment to my parents and distraction to those around me. I am fully aware of what is "expected" ... and I am also fully aware of what I am doing.
I understand my children are and have been a distraction to others; I understand the entire "spare the rod, spoil the child" philosophy and scripture - I was raised that way. I get it; I really do. I uh, happen to live it folks! What bothers me the most is: Wait for it. Moma Tiger Coming Out Of The Shadows.... They suggested I spank them severely - like they were spanked in Catholic School. That I do this in the middle of the fellowship, during worship, as a means of disciplining my children, training them to sit correctly and know what is expected of them.
Ya. They suggested that alright.
*growling deeply within*
Here is the problem with that 'suggestion' ... They are MY children and I will raise them and discipline them in the manner that I (my husband and I) choose. And; I will do so in a Biblical manner; using the "rod" if need be, BUT not forgetting they are CHILDREN. Not without giving them grace... It's ironic, isnt it, that children are expected to have all the grace and patience of adults, sitting quietly without a sound or complaint, are expected to not throw fits, or cry... Ironic they have the same expectations placed upon them as we have for adults... and yet; they are not adults. They are children. Not knowing how to emotionally and mentally process the idea of not doing what comes naturally to them.
And please dont get me wrong, I know full well that it is my job as their parent to TRAIN them how to be patient, how to sit still when they need to... it is my job to TEACH them to do these things; it is my responsibility to keep them "in line" - and I take the "blame" for not doing so... After all, that IS my job... And I am doing my job, keeping in mind that they are not perfect "little angels" ... that they are going to disobey me sometimes, that they are incapable to get it right away, or do it every single time I say/ask. I am training them diligently, with grace and mercy when they "fail".
I am personally offended at the jabs towards my mothering technique, or the "lack there of", I am furious *mother tiger syndrome* at the suggestion to beat their buns for being what they are; children; (and as a side note, any parent knows if you spank a child in ANY public setting the crying and screaming escalates and reaches decibels you never knew were possible; so ya, that'd go over REALLY well in the middle of worship without causing any further distraction, right? *sarcasm* OF COURSE RIGHT!) But I think the thing I am most saddened and disappointed by is the lack of grace, the lack of understanding.. and the lack of community within our fellowship.
If I watch my children like a hawk, then I am deprived of worship... if I get lost in worship and forsake my kids (even for a moment) I am causing someone else to be deprived! It's a Catch-22... Quite a few of these people who complained and made suggestions were
once parents to small children... have been in my shoes... so where is
the understanding and grace? Where is the offer of help? Where is the
helping hand they "see I desperately need"?
I've seen mothers slap their child's hand for touching their clothing during dinner, because they are "being messy" ... seen kids sit stone wall during services, with little to no emotion (being "obedient"; living up to expectations) ... and I will be honest; I see those things and they break my heart. I want and desire for my children to be children while they are children... and if that means a messy couch covered in bananas... and apples with one bite out of them forsaken on the stairs... than that is the kind of childhood I am going to give them. That is the mother I am.
I will/am training my children to listen, to obey, be respectful as best as I can, but only with expectations and standards appropriate to their age. And if that offends you so much; I am sorry it offends you; but I am not sorry for giving my children the best childhood that I possibly can - for letting them be children - because in the blink of an eye, they will be grown and this time with them is limited... precious.
I truly wish others could see children through my eyes... through the eyes of Yeshua/Jesus. As joys and delights, not burdens or distractions... not as problems to be solved, but as blessings to relish in.
-Soap Box Special-