one tiny soapbox: January 2008
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Friday, January 4

on the draconian evils of corporeal discipline

Daddy, can I tell you something that happened yesterday?

Sure son.

Elijah and I were playing in his room, and he suddenly got angry and started crying and pushing me.

I'm sorry he chose to do that to you, son. Did you happen to do anything to cause him to want to become angry with you?


Are you telling the truth?

Yes. I went into his room to get something I wanted to play with [we were playing in there earlier] and then he got angry and started crying and pushing me, forcing me out of the room. I found out he was trying to hide some toys that he didn't want me to see him playing with.

I see.

But you know what else?

What's that?

When he did that to me I really wanted to knock his block off! But then, I thought about the pain I feel on my butt when you discipline me, and so I stopped myself and just let it go.
Gentle Reader, whatever your regard for the use of the simply cannot deny this small victory in the war against the foolishnesses bound up in the heart of a child.

This is especially poignant in light of the fact that some see my son as having a classic case of ADHD. In fact, just last summer a social worker expressed those very words, claiming that, based on his own observation (of less than ten minutes), my son simply didn't have the ability to focus on anything (let alone remember and follow instruction) for more than '6 seconds'. He quite confidently asserted the only effective remedy for this is pharmaceutical intervention. I believe 'drugs' was the term he used.

Consequently, he expressed grave concern over my use of corporeal discipline as a means of correction in the home, citing that his personal observation made it clear any form of physical correction was futile, given the fact that such children simply cannot substantially exercise self-control.

Drugs considered by the psychiatric community as effective at mitigating the "symptoms" of ADHD/ADD have proven detrimental to long-term health. There are even parents vigorously campaigning against their widespread use, due to having lost children to fatal side-effects after several years of sustained use.

Frankly - and far more importantly - there's little evidence better typifying the desire of finite man to trump the infinite wisdom of the Lord's commands than the response of this particular social worker (and, sadly, that of a growing number of his collegues).

Ultimately, this brief but instructive conversation with my son is raw, unsurprising proof of the astonishing superiority of Biblical wisdom over man's. Later, as my son's reasoning continues to develop, he'll better understand what I touched upon later in our talk that day...namely, that my goal for him is not simply wooden obedience to a set of rules, but rather the development of a conscience that is more tuned to the needs of others than to his own sinful cravings; and that is rightly responsive to the righteous demands of an infinitely Holy God.


ibcarlos, Reformed thinker

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Thursday, January 3

another smart chat with the boy...

So, my son whips out another thought-provoking question the other day as we're riding along in the ol' bug. He asks (and I paraphrase slightly, partly for your sake and partly due to the rather swift corruption of my internal "memory files"):
Daddy, why do people celebrate others when they die?
Loaded question? Could be. I answered by explaining how that sometimes when a person dies, people like to show their appreciation for the life that person lived and the things he accomplished. But of course that wasn't enough.
But what if the person never did anything [worth celebrating]?
(Aahh...feel the brain matter begin to stretch.) "Well, son," I say, "that's a good question, and you're right by recognizing that a lot of people don't really accomplish things that might be considered "great" by others. However, sometimes the people who knew them still want to express their thankfulness for the blessing of having known them by celebrating their lives."

At this point, of course, I'm internally exulting in the thoroughness of my answer. And, of course, my exultation typically came too soon...
But daddy, that seems like worship, and only God should be worshiped.
Huh. Needless to say I had to bring my 'A' game on that one, as I certainly want to foster a strong sense of the unique right God has to be worshiped above all things, without needlessly downplaying the appropriateness of certain human celebratory traditions. Accordingly, I did my best to explain the difference between worship and the simple honor and appreciation we express for the earthly things with which He's blessed the enjoyment and wonder incited by the life of another human being.

Finally, after a bit more explanation, this seemed to satisfy him...for now. We'll see if this line of questioning ever re-surfaces. I'm sure nearly every subject unfolded for my son will need thorough "re-unfolding," once he's reached the "next level." days in single-daddy mode are certainly never boring. And what a very great privilege (and weighty responsibility) I have to guide my young son into a sound and ever-widening understanding of all the Lord's handiwork!

ibcarlos, Reformed thinker

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