This whole parenting thing is tough. There are situations we find ourselves in that make us question whether we’re doing things right. Because of that I’m grateful for the many books that have been written on the subject of parenting, particularly those that use the Bible as their main source. Authors who have “been there and done that,” lived to tell about it, and used their experiences to encourage those of us still in the trenches… bless their hearts!
I have a few authors I read (over and over again) and so, when I find myself in a situation and an idea comes to mind, I don’t necessarily remember which author I learned it from. And, I happen to sit under a great pastor each week, so some of the things I have learned may have come from him! All that to say, when I ran into a problem with Bailey lying a few times over the past few weeks, I had to finally handle it head-on.
Bailey is an adorable child and he brings so much laughter and joy into our lives. He’s also our most energetic and lively kid, which makes him the more difficult of the three bigs. Most of the time his behavior is just characterized by busy, energetic, boyish activity rather than direct disobedience. But a few times lately I’ve caught him in a lie. This breaks my heart in pieces because I can’t chalk it up to him being preoccupied or distracted. Lying is an active choice to deceive someone else. I hate the thought that my son would actively deceive me. And yet he did so, multiple times.
The first time I was annoyed by it and took his iPod away for a week. The second time, I extended the discipline to a month. The third time it became apparent that we were dealing with something more than could be helped by a separation from his iPod.
I pulled out my handy-dandy discipline manual, “Creative Correction” by Lisa Welchel. I turned to a few pages on lying and found a prayer written out for kids to read when they struggle with making bad choices. I wrote it out for Bailey and discussed it with him so he would know what it meant.
I taped it to the inside of his bedroom door and have asked him to read it twice a day. Of course, prayers said from the heart in his own words are great, but there are times a written, directed prayer can help focus the mind and heart. I love that this prayer starts with the premise that the child wants to behave but is having a hard time doing so. I truly believe that about Bailey… that he’s testing the waters to see what he can get away with and I’m praying that God gives me eyes in the back of my head so I can see the truth even when Bailey lies about something. I pray that none of my children can get away with disobedience of any sort, whether by my finding out about it or some other adult calling them out.
While Bailey and I were chatting about lying something popped into my mind that I had heard years before. (I honestly can’t remember where I heard this illustration but I love it and am so thankful the Lord placed it on my heart in the moment.)
It goes something like this:
When we are in the center of God’s will for our lives, we are safely under the umbrella of His protection. When we step out of God’s will, we choose to step out from under that protection.
As parents, Matt and I act as the umbrella of protection for our children while we stay within God’s will. As long as the boys stay within our will, then they are under our protection. When they choose to step outside of our will, by lying, fighting, or having bad attitudes, they step outside of our protection. I drew a picture for Bailey to see what I meant. First, I drew a stick figure of Bailey with an umbrella over his head. All the problems that may fall on him were stopped by the umbrella that his dad and I provide. Then I drew a second figure of Bailey, without the umbrella. I circled “lonely” because I feel that one of the most painful repercussions of lying and making these poor choices is that he will lose friends and will therefore, be lonely.
Of course this is applicable to any child in any situation. Beyond that, it applies to adults in any situation. When I am within the center of God’s will for my life, He holds an umbrella of protection over me, keeping me from experiencing the worst of the troubles that could come my way. Under that umbrella is peace. Peace that passes understanding. Peace that beats disappointment, fear, and the normal challenges of life.
(I am fully aware that I am no artist.)