Fathers

Ephesians 6:4. “And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”

As Paul continues his instructions concerning marriage and the home,  he writes this verse to fathers.  I have seen families in which the father takes his role as head of the home to the point of creating such anger in his children that there is no hope of his being able to do the “nurture and admonition” part.

As in everything else, balance is the key. Fathers, if your children are constantly angry with  you, hurt, intimidated, fearful, hesitant–you are doing something wrong.  You are focusing so much on the “I’m the boss” part of your job that you are completely missing the nurturing, the teaching and training in the Lord.

The mother is not the only nurturing parent. How I wish that fathers could see the pain they’ve caused in their adult children through their lack of nurturing; through their lack of presence except to discipline; through their selfish determination that the child is ALWAYS to be seen and not heard.  Harsh, critical, constantly correcting fathers  end up with angry, hurt, distant children.

Don’t do that. You have such a special place of leadership in the life of your child. He will always remember your words IF he also remembers that you were not just a father, but a daddy.

Promise

Ephesians 6:3. “That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.”

Why should we honor our parents?  Partly because it is the first commandment in Exodus 20 that comes packaged with a promise–a benefit, if you will. To honor our parents gives us the benefit of a good life, and even a long one.

Verses like this have always created some controversy, because there have been those who have done their best to honor their parents and yet they have had trouble in their lives, or perhaps even have died without living a full life span. I asked my pastor years ago  how we can understand a promise like this one while we know very well that it doesn’t always work out that way.

He told me, “Linda, we have to look a these passages as proverbs, not iron-clad promises. The truth is that when we honor our parents, we are rewarded with God’s blessing on our lives. That blessing often comes in many forms, including having a good and long life. But sometimes things happen that are out of our control. We are not being punished. It is true that the rain falls on the just and the unjust.”

I believe that honoring one’s parents is indicative of a life given over to honoring God as well. We cannot prevent illness or accidents that may shorten our lives, but the over-all sense here is that God honors us for honoring and obeying Him.

Honor

Ephesians 6:2. “Honor thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise:”

The call for obedience is for little children still in the home and under their parents’ authority. Parents should not demand obedience from adult children who have left the home and have started their own families, because the scripture is clear that a man is to leave his father and mother and cleave only to his wife. We should always rear our children to leave. Even if they don’t marry until later in life, they need to leave the parental home and make their own way. To remain in their childhood bedroom and expect all the privileges of the child is to fail to grow up. To stay on the parents’ insurance until they are 26 is to take advantage of their parents, unless their is some dire physical cause for them to still be dependent.

To honor is simply to show respect. To treat with great courtesy, to love and give special recognition to parents who have reared them and followed God’s plan. And the promise is made, in Exodus 20:12 and in the next verse in Ephesians that when we show honor to our parents, our days can be long.  That is, our length of years.

What about parents who were not godly?  Perhaps they were abusive, or alcoholic.  Perhaps they continued to try to control their children well into their adulthood, creating problems in the marriages of their children. There are all sorts of ways to be a poor parent. Some of them are criminal.

Still, it is possible to respect the fact that they gave their children life. There is no point in being cruel to them.  It makes you no better than they are. To ignore them and refuse to have anything to do with them  may seem like the only viable solution, but doing so creates a whole new set of problems. There are some cases, if the parents were indeed criminal, in which I would not want children exposed to their grandparents.  There is great evil in this old world, and we need to be watchful. But as much as it is possible, there should at least be no overt disrespect shown.  We need to remember that our children watch us, and will follow our example.

Often, there is the need to simply forgive.

There is a story about an old Chinese man who lived with his son’s family. The grandfather was given a cracked bowl, a cup with no handle, and an old crooked table and chair to use during meals. He did not sit with the rest of the family.  One day, the grandson asked his father why the grandfather was always given the cracked bowl, the old cup, the rickety chair and table.  The father’s answer was that the grandfather didn’t need anything else.

One day the father observed his young son carefully washing the bowl and cup, and wiping off the table. “Why are you being so careful with those old things?”  he asked.

“Why, Father, I must keep them as well as I can for when YOU will need them!”

Children, Obey!

Ephesians 6:1.  “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”

The Greek word for children here is little born ones. indicating children who are young and still under their parents’ protection and authority.

It is also important to remember that Paul is writing this letter to the churches, so his readers are believers–including the children who are old enough to understand salvation.  He is not writing to children who have no knowledge of God, but to those who are “in the Lord.”

And why should little children obey their parents?  Well, because it pleases God.  Because it is the right thing to do. Because it prevents chaos in the home.

In Romans 1:29-30, disobedience to parents caps a long list of horrible behaviors that we can safely assume will follow disobedience to parents. “Filled with all unrighteousness; fornication, wickedness,  covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents.”

The other day I watched a totally frustrated mom trying to control her young son, who was maybe six or seven. He was wiry and strong, full of energy and had a really hard time holding still. They were sitting side by side in a meeting, and he was all over the place. She would grab his arm, his shirt, his hair. Once she just barely caught his foot as he was making his escape. She had him by both arms at one point,  and went nose to nose with him, giving him a severe “mommy face,” and saying something I couldn’t hear. He gave the severe face right back at her and squirmed away. At that point he curled up on the floor under his chair, and stayed there for several minutes.  It was a reprieve for both of them, and for those of us who could see what was going on.

I can guarantee you that nor many years down the road the boy will strike out physically at his mom. She will be visiting him through prison bars, and he will be making demands of her for help getting him out. He will be angry and hateful, and she will be brokenhearted because she won’t have any idea what went wrong.

The main thing that will have gone wrong is that God will not have been preeminent in that home. I don’t know if there’s a father involved; I do know that there is no understanding of scriptural instruction in child rearing. While I found the boy’s behavior annoying, I also felt great pity for both the mother and the son. Unless a wise, godly mentor appears, there will not be a happy ending.

Even Jesus made Himself subject to Mary and Joseph.

Parents need to learn to command obedience from their children.  Children need to be taught the positive rewards to be gained through obedience.

Friday Counseling Issues: Learning Disabilities

Dysgraphia, according to Wikipedia, involves a lack of coordination between what is heard of seen and the ability to write it down.  Dysgraphia usually occurs only in handwriting (which, lamentably, a lot of schools are no longer teaching. Keyboard skills are considered  more relevant). It can also occur in printing, but won’t show up as readily as when a child is learning cursive (connected) writing.  It has been my experience that kids who have trouble with dysgraphia often prefer to print. They make fewer mistakes that way.

Here’s a more thorough article about dysgraphia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dysgraphia

This is the kind of paper a dysgraphic student may come up with:

I actually became fairly adept at figuring out how to read these papers. You find a rhythm after a while, and begin to recognize patterns.

And here’s an interesting graphic that may help you understand the subject better:

dysgraphia_loop

 

One more:

handwritingsample-e1412198767274

And a really good website offering insight and help:

https://www.superduperinc.com/handouts/pdf/147_Dysgraphia.pdf

The bottom line here is that not every student is capable of producing a paper that has beautiful handwriting or precise printing. For some, writing/printing can be an agony of erasures, cross outs, and start overs. These kids need encouragement, not criticism. They’re probably doing the best they can, and they’re frustrated beyond bearing  when, no matter how hard they try, their papers are handed back to them with the word MESSY printed across the top.

They know it’s messy. They just don’t know how to make it better.

 

 

I Have a Great Job!

Rather than starting the final chapter of Ephesians and then not posting again until Monday, I’ve decided to take a little break this morning.  Not sure where I’ll end up, but I do want to share a highlight of my week with  you.

One of the best things about working in a Christian counseling office is that I get to open my Bible with my clients and give them the best counsel there is. On Tuesday, I saw a young woman for the second time. She is probably heading for divorce, and she’s hurting. She was referred to me by a pastor I’ve known for years, and when he called me about seeing her, he expressed his hope that I’d be able to reach her with the gospel.

I never force-feed my faith.  Most people who come to our office know that it’s a Christian office.  In fact, that is often the reason they chose us. I always ask, during a first session, if the person was aware that we’re a Christian office, and if it’s okay with them for me to use the Bible in our work together.  In over 15 years, I’ve had only one person choose to leave because he did not know our practice was faith-based.

Most of my clients are happy for me to pray briefly before we start, and this new  young woman was no exception.  When I finished, she looked up and asked me, “How do you know to pray like that? Like, you just talk to God as if He really knows you.”

Well. She opened the door, and you can believe I walked right through it!  What a privilege to lead a soul to Christ, and this girl was more than ready. She asked intelligent questions as we talked, and it didn’t take long at all before she was ready and willing to accept Jesus Christ as her Savior.

What a great way to start my work week!  How cool is it that I get to do this work, and have had the privilege of seeing several of my clients come to the Lord.

I had a client recently tell me that she thinks I’ve led a charmed life.  While I assured her that my life has been far from perfect, I have to agree that, while I wouldn’t use the word charmed, I would certainly use the word blessed. 

And I am thankful.

 

Love and Respect

Ephesians 5:33. “Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself: and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”

This verse is Paul’s summary of all that he has said about marriage starting in 5:18.  Everything he taught must be set in the filling of the Holy Spirit. Being filled with the Holy Spirit is an ongoing process, and is affected by our obedience to Christ. We are controlled by whatever fills us. When we are Holy-Spirit controlled, then that comes bubbling out of us like the carbonation in a glass filled too quickly with soda pop.

Being filled with the Spirit makes us desire to behave in a godly manner toward our spouses. It makes us willing  to love sacrificially and to show respect from a pure heart. It is not a burden for a wife to arrange herself under her husband’s authority when she is right with God; it is a delight to do so when her husband is also right with God and shows her the same love that Christ showed His church.

I do a good bit of marital counseling.  It’s hard work. Typically, a couple in trouble comes in expecting me to fix the other person.  They do not see themselves as one flesh, but as two independent individuals battling for the one-up position of being RIGHT at all costs. The most difficult part of the work is to help them understand that when on or the other of them must be right, then they both lose.

If we practice the one-flesh principle, there is no competition for the crown of authority in a biblically sound marriage.  The goal is for each other’s best interest, and the marriage can thrive and prosper.