The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit. - Proverbs 15:4
I was just posting to another of my blogs (Under The Shadow Of His Wing) and this verse really struck me. I can't tell you how many time I've barked at our son, wanting nothing more that immediate obedience. I don't do it too much any more as I've learned that this is completely unfruitful and counterproductive. I had to wade through mountains of "expert" child rearing data and advice including that from "expert" Christian sources. One of those sources even went so far as to say that parents need to break their children's spirits, punish them by spanking with wooden spoons, and citing Scriptural references to back up his point. (First of all, I am not citing who this was as I don't want to start a kerfuffel. Second, any verse of Scripture can be pulled out of context to support any point of view which can be very dangerous.)
Over the years I have come to a place that is challenging at best. It is a place where a parent is a hands-on, interactive parent who treats their child as a person, not a subordinate. While a child does need to learn to be obedient and respectful to their parents, I don't believe that beating them into submission is the way to go. Is is better for a child to obey out of fear or out of love and respect? This place where I've come to has lots of long talks, with the parent listening and the child sharing his hopes, dreams, concerns, and fears. It is a place where the parent sets aside him- or herself in order to nurture and encourage their child. It's a lot of work and can be quite tiring at times, but it's well worth it.
Going back to Scripture for a moment, the image of a shepherd is used quite often. The shepherd has a rod and staff. The majority of Christians now-a-days take the rod and staff Scriptures as a license and mandate to use corporal punishment in their homes. But a shepherd doesn't beat his sheep. He guides and protects them, showing them where to go and making sure their needs are met. He does use these instruments to protect his sheep from wild animals and will beat those animals, but he never beats his sheep. Then if we look at the Messiah, our Shepherd, and His treatment of the disciples we have another beautiful picture of how we should treat our children. He never beat or abused His disciples. He lovingly and patiently taught and corrected them. Yes, sometimes He got frustrated, but he never became abusive. What better example could we have?
Yes, some days I still get snippy, but when I keep in mind that I'd rather be soothing and bring life to my child rather than crush his spirit it helps me get back on track. I take a deep breath and keep on going. Remember, homeschooling goes far beyond schooling. We are nurturing and shaping our children and the way we speak has a big impact on them. Let's be trees of life!