The work of parenting and consequences.
Parenting is hard work. If it’s not hard, then you either aren’t really parenting or your kids are perfect; unless, of course you’re perfect. That is why I say parenting is not for the faint of heart.
There are times, of course, when parenting is fun and days flow bye without a lot of stress. Making memories and enjoying simple moments come and go. At the end of a pleasant day, you whisper “Sweet dreams!” and tiptoe out of the room, feeling all is well.
Yet, the fact remains that our offspring are just as full of sin-nature as are their parents, which leads to discord and frustration. There are those other days when we flounder, wondering what we’re doing trying to raise these hoodlums for Jesus. We want to have fair consequences – and perhaps that’s some of our problem.
Parenting by consequences
Deciding when an action deserves a consequence, a simple reprimand, or a discipline can be difficult. Choosing to deal out consequences takes a lot more effort and energy than turning the other way and ignoring an infraction!
When a consequence is in order, choosing that consequence is sometimes a no-brainer. Other times we struggle with what to do or how to help our child be aware of the seriousness of their behavior.
We want to be fair – and merciful. We want to firm – and kind. If we’re honest, we rather want to know that our kids like us and think we’re good parents. That’s because we do want to be good parents. At the end of the day, we want to know that we’ve done our best.
A pattern for consequences
When God led the children of Israel through forty years of desert-wandering to get to the Promised Land, He had a way of getting their attention. One thing I know – that when we follow the patterns God used, we can’t go wrong. ‘Trouble is, sometimes we don’t want to be “that harsh” or “that demanding.”
There’s a method God used that I call the Quail Method. God used quail to get their attention and get the message across. I have to smile when I read that story, because I remember times I did the same thing, even though I didn’t use quail.
For their travels, God provided a ready-made menu with ready-made food for their diet: manna. But the troublemakers in the group wanted better food, and the story line says that soon all the Israelites started complaining. They said, “We want meat! We remember the fish we ate free in Egypt. We had cucumbers, melons, leeks, onion, and garlic. Now we have nothing but manna and we’ve lost our appetite!”
They were tired of God’s provision for them and wanted something different. Moses was tired of their griping and complaining. He asked God for help and for wisdom. That’s what we need to do.
It seems that God was also tired of their griping and complaining, so He dealt out consequences. He said, “You want meat? Have some quail!”
That night, God sent a strong wind from the sea and blew quail into the area around the camp. He sent so much quail that they were three feet deep on the ground. Plus, any direction they walked for an entire day was filled with quail.
Basically God said, “You want meat? I’ll send you meat.”
They had quail – for one entire month. God said they’d have quail until it came out of their nostrils, and until they were tired of quail.
The people gathered quail for days – 60 bushel per person. That’s a lot of bushels to fill per person, not to mention the time spent picking up all that quail!
It was their downfall. God caused many to get sick and die. Now, instead of just gathering quail, they buried relatives and friends.
Had they not complained, many would not have lost their lives. Because they complained about not having meat, God sent quail.
Copy God’s method
When you have a child who complains or continues to disobey, give him a consequence that makes him wish he had not complained or been disobedient. That’s what God did.
When a child continually slams doors, stomps up the stairs, annoys a child by a constant snapping or noise making, “let him” do it for an extensive amount of time, so much so, that he won’t think snapping fingers in a child’s face, slamming a door or stomping up the stairs is fun anymore. When he has to do it over and over, his temper dissipates and he won’t think it’s funny anymore.
I remember the story of the teacher whose student threw a paper airplane out a classroom window. She had the child retrieve the airplane, fold it together again, and throw it out the window again, and again, and again. Each time, he had to go outside, retrieve the airplane, bring it in, and throw it out again. After that day, he had no desire to throw an airplane anywhere in the classroom or out a window again.
When a child has to do something so often that he gets tired of it, he won’t try that tactic again. That’s what happened with the quail. Do you think the people ever begged for meat again?!
Here are some examples. For more ideas, you can click on this link about alternatives to spanking.
- “You want to spit? Here’s a cup. Spit all you want until the cup is full.”
- “You like slamming the door? Go ahead, you get to slam it 100 times.”
- You want to throw your laundry on the floor? Go ahead, throw your laundry; only you get to do it twenty times, after which you still have to pick it up.”
- “You think it’s fun to snap your fingers in your sister’s face? Go ahead. Snap away – 100 times in my face.”
God said, “You want meat? Have some quail. Have quail three feet deep all around. Gather the quail; gather some more; have some quail!”
Follow God’s pattern, and you’ll see good results!