More Effective Than Grounding

“And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.”

Matthew 6:13 NIV

When our oldest daughter Gwen started taking driver’s education classes, my mother gave us an extra car she didn’t need anymore. It was a little Chevy Citation hatchback – nothing fancy, but the price was right and it was in great shape. Unfortunately, Gwen hated the car. She was embarrassed to even be SEEN in it, and horrified to think of driving it. Grant took pity on her, and as soon as she got her driver’s license, she got his sporty red Nissan and he drove the Citation. Life was good – for Gwen and for me. As the mother of four, I was thrilled to have a new driver in the house who could run errands and drive herself to and from school. The time savings was huge – except when she did something wrong and Grant took her car keys away. It easily added an extra hour of driving to my schedule every day. After a few “groundings”, I had a heart-to-heart with Grant explaining that when he grounded Gwen by taking her driving privileges away, he was in effect grounding me too. Because then I had to drive her everywhere. We were in agreement she needed to be punished. We just needed a different plan – something that would motivate her to make good choices without making my life more difficult. The answer was simple. We wouldn’t keep her from driving. We would make her drive…the Citation.

This was the worst (or best, depending on your point of view) punishment EVER. And it worked! Just a hint Gwen might have to drive the Citation was enough to keep her moving in the right direction.

Staying on the right path is never easy. Temptation is constantly pulling at our kids …trying to seduce them into making harmful choices that can affect their lives forever. As parents, it’s our job to steer them in the way they should go without breaking their tender spirits. What works for one child won’t necessarily work for another. As “painful” as it was for Gwen to drive that Citation, she was better off in the long run, and likely saved from situations that could have caused her real pain. We must stay on our knees and seek God’s direction for the right kind of discipline needed in each circumstance, so our kids stay healthy and safe as they grow into the young adults God wants them to be.

PRAYERHeavenly Father, I pray You will continually guide each of my children towards the path You have set out for them. When they stray, help me know how to discipline them in a way that brings repentance and not rebellion, in a way that molds but doesn’t tear down and in a way that plants in them a desire to follow You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Dreams and Plans

DJ Basketball

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

I don’t think parents ever find out ALL the things their kids did when they were left home alone, but it is a bit easier when they leave clues behind (or above, as is the case in this story)…

We’d recently moved into our house in Abilene after gutting and remodeling everything from floor to ceiling. It was a fun project the entire family worked on for months. One evening I was sitting in the den reading and noticed something out of the corner of my eye…a huge “blob” on the tallest part of our freshly painted white cathedral ceiling. Suspecting foul play, Grant and I summonsed our four kids for interrogation. At first, nobody was willing to confess or tattle, but after a little coercion (don’t worry, no Geneva Convention rules were broken), we learned the truth. And the truth was better than almost anything any of them could have made up!

5-year-old Drew was the culprit. It started with the Mexican food we’d left with the kids for supper – before Grant and I went out for the evening. Drew looked at the bean burrito in this hands and then up at our high ceiling, and for some random reason, wondered who would be tall enough to scrape beans off the ceiling. Why, it would be his favorite basketball player, Michael Jordan, of course! It’s still not clear exactly how he managed to get the beans to stick to the ceiling…but at least we know why. He wanted to meet “Air Jordan” and this was his plan of action!

A study of the Bible shows how God used extraordinary means to accomplish His plans when He needed to…a talking donkey, a world-wide flood, a human-swallowing fish…the list goes on and on. God has a plan for each of our lives – and it’s a good plan. If you think you can come up with a better one on your own, just remember that’s how Satan deceived Eve. Also, when we follow God’s direction and live by His rules, He doesn’t have to go to great extremes to get our attention…

Many Bible stories make good talking points for teaching about choices and consequences. Help your children understand why they should choose to do the right thing…instead of insisting, “do it because I say so”. Guide them early to seek God’s plan and walk in His will, not because they have to, but because they get to.

Prayer: God, I can think of countless times I’ve forged ahead with my own plans and fallen flat on my face. Your ways are so much better than mine. Help my children desire and seek Your plan for their lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.