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Rod of Correction or Parental Proverb?

It is quite fun watching my children become parents. A bit scary, too. Especially when I hear myself fall out of their mouths.

Parenting-tips-child-disciplineNot long ago, I got into a discussion with one of my kids’ spouses about spanking. They were opposed to it. Eventually, their opinion changed… due largely to the terrible twos. Funny how parenting theories often collapse in the face of children. Nothing like a real child to make you rethink your notions of discipline.

That said, my go-to disciplinary technique as a parent was the dreaded lecture.

My older daughter Melody admitted that sometimes my lectures were more painful than a spanking. That was music to my ears.  I would send her to her room and tell her to wait for me. Then I would walk in with my Bible, sit down, and… talk. Usually, this would involve repeating something she already knew, a lesson, a proverb, a truism.  To quote my daughter:

“I remember crying and yelling ‘would you just spank me, why do I have to get a stupid lecture?'”

Now Melody has three children of her own.

And she’s a master at wielding a lecture.

Many of us would like to forget our childhood. But try as we might, some things stick. In this category, are parental proverbs. You know, those sayings, quips, limericks, and responses from our parents that niggle into our mind and eventually take root. So just when you think your mother’s lectures were in vain — poof! — you find yourself quoting her to your kids.

When our kids were young, I used certain sayings repeatedly. I believed these sayings captured essential biblical truths, would stick with my kids, provide guidance, and produce happiness. My top three parental proverbs were:

YOUR HEART IS LIKE A DONUT — A blatant rip-off from the Donut Man, a Children’s CD. Translation: Your heart has a big hole in the middle that only God can fill. Cars and friends and money and possessions — nothing! — can fill the vacancy in your soul apart from a relationship with your Maker.

WHEREVER YOU GO, THERE YOU ARE — A cheesy, cultural cliche with ancient roots. Translation: We can never transcend ourselves. Moving from house to house, job to job, church to church, or state to state, will not solve your problems, bucko. You can only change your world, by changing yourself.

LIFE IS NOT FAIR — A simple maxim that modern man sorely needs. If you expect fairness in this life, you’ll be miserable. True justice will not be had till the end of the age, when the Judge of all the earth does His thing. Until then, bad people win, good people suffer, and the undeserving get what they don’t deserve. Deal with it!

These days, it is quite rewarding hearing my children repeat these lessons to their own children. Of course, they’re repackaging them, translating their own values into pithy proverbs. It’s a reminder that sometimes the best teaching tool for parents is not the “rod of correction,” but the parental proverb.

Besides, the mark it leaves is indefinite.

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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Jill December 30, 2013, 10:25 AM

    “Especially when I hear myself fall out of their mouths.” I hope they didn’t chew you up too much before they spit you out.

    I’m not into proverbs or truisms. I just tell them to shut up and do what they’re told.

  • billgncs December 31, 2013, 8:09 AM

    Some years down the road if I hear my daughters tell their kids “Nothing good happens after midnight” I may bust a rib laughing….

    They had a few gentle spankings when they were young, but I didn’t want to spank as they got older. Now they joke that “the look” was always the worst punishment.

    Happy new year.

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