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Woman To Woman: Beginning In The Home

Woman To Woman: Beginning in the Home


BY BARBARA MCCOTTER

Growing up in the 1960s, I was deeply affected by the permissive spirit of “do whatever you feel like.” The morals I’d been taught as a child gradually lost their foothold in my life.

Later on, as a young Christian, it seemed that everything the Lord wanted me to do was relatively easy, so I enjoyed doing it. But a short 10 months after being married, when our twins were born, a whole new arena of trials opened up to me. In gaining two children, I immediately lost an independence I’d had for years. God was showing me a degree of accountability to Him that I had never experienced before. In learning to train and discipline my children, I’ve also been learning self-discipline.

As new parents, Jim and I memorized the verses from Proverbs and Ephesians on training children. How thankful we are for such clear instruction from God’s Word! When I’m confused about how to handle a certain situation with the children, these verses give me specific direction to follow.

Even though these verses give me confidence, sometimes I still sense a battle for justice within me. As I grow in my understanding of God’s justice and holiness, I am more wholehearted to be just with my children. If I am slow to discipline my children or if I succumb to situational ethics, I am not applying God’s justice toward them.

When I take one of my children to the bedroom for a spanking, one of the main excuses they give is, “What about so and so?” — hoping to cancel their wrong. Blame shifting, leniency, and situational ethics are the rule of the day in our society and courts. So, as Christian parents, we have a doubly hard job in maintaining the right standard and imparting that standard to our children. One rule at our house that helps maintain the right standard for our children is what we call our Q’s and C’s: to obey quickly, quietly, cheerfully, and completely.

There are verses for many specific areas of training, but for my needs in the area of disciplining, the verse that has probably helped the most is Proverbs 13:24: “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently.” Four words stand out to me in this verse — spare, hate, love, diligence.

Spare.

The word “sparing” means “to use frugally.” It’s interesting that God not only wants us to spank, but He says that using the rod frugally is hating our son. Only God’s grace can help us obey this verse! If we don’t have the verse in mind, it is easy to think of a reason not to spank.

Hate.

It’s interesting how opposite God’s standard is from the world’s. The world equates spanking with anger; God equates avoiding spanking with anger, or, as He said it, hatred. God does not want us to spank because of an angry reaction. He wants us to respond with our minds set on obeying His word. When I see that being inconsistent with discipline or overlooking my child’s sins is hating him, I am much more aware of God’s attitude toward sin.

Because we realize that we’re forgiven through the cross, it’s easy to forget what a strong hatred God has of sin. Maybe it’s because we see the fougiveness and miss the cross. But the Word says, “To fear the Lord is to hate evil … I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech” (Proverbs 8:13). As parents, we are, in a sense, taking the Holy Spirit’s place in sanctifying our children (1 Corinthians 7:14); so we must learn to hate evil the way God does.

Love.

The second part of the verse describes what a loving parent is like — he disciplines diligently. (Proverbs 27:6 says “The kisses of an enemy may be profuse, but faithful are the wounds of a friend.”) Just like we need to understand God’s holiness in His hatred of evil, we also need to see that this holy standard is very loving. I’ve thought a lot about Hebrews chapter 12 and how God disciplines me out of love. I’ve also applied the same promise to my children: “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” By working hard at being faithful in discipline, I can give my children the best inheritance I could possibly give — a righteous life, full of honor, peace, and wisdom.

Diligence.

This last word is important because it denotes the way we carry out God’s command. A few synonyms are: steady, earnest, energetic, painstaking. Often these words do not apply to the way I feel at the end of the day, around dinner time, at the beginning of the day — sometimes not during any of the day! But, mothers, our children will not be trained the way we want them to be if we are inconsistent in what we expect of them. We must be diligent, steady, and consistent in our training. Be careful not to set your standard on the basis of what someone else does with their children, and then be inconsistent in applying it. Get a good understanding of what your husband and the Lord want, and then be diligent to carry it out. It’s the main job we do — all day, every day.


Be diligent, steady
and consistent
in your training.



One other verse that has motivated me a lot is Proverbs 14:1: “A wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” This verse is such a picture to me. I’m not very energetic at the beginning of the day; I’d just as soon keep everything in neutral for awhile. But this verse shows me that I’m wrong to think there is a neutral time. If I’m not building, I’m not wise and I’ll automatically be tearing down. I’m sure there are different degrees of building or tearing down, but if I realize I’m always doing either one or the other, I’m more careful to be building.

One area of building that Jim has pointed out to me may be called “Training for the Future versus Correcting for the Present.” When a situation with the children requires my intervention, do I just do enough to alleviate the present situation or do I capitalize on the present situation to train for the future and bring about permanent change? A verse that describes this type of training is Proverbs 29:17: “Correct your son and he will give you comfort, he will also delight your soul.” If I’m not doing the right kind of training, the same problems will keep coming up repeatedly, and instead of bringing me comfort, my children will tend to wear me down and make me tired.

Some other verses that are helpful to us in training our children are: Proverbs 22:6 and 15; Proverbs 29:15; Proverbs 23:13 and 14. As mothers and keepers of the home, we are not out of the spiritual battle. Every day we must put on the whole armor in order to fight the devil, the world’s philosophies, and our flesh.

We must do battle against the areas of lack of faith, discouragement, slothfulness, and lack of zeal. The forces against us can seem overwhelming — that’s why the biggest battle is in the area of faith — for ourselves and our children. Looking back over the last 12 years of motherhood, I’m amazed at how much God has made me into a totally different person. It gives me encouragement that He will continue to change me as I continue yielding to Him.


Barbara McCotter, wife of Jim McCotter and mother of their seven children, lives in Silver Spring, Md.

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