Saturday, June 29, 2013

What we are learning from Honey #2

Poor old Honey.  She was abandoned and very skinny when she was rescued and put up for adoption.  In the first few weeks we had her, we discovered she had also been beaten.  Whenever we picked up a long stick-like object (a broom, a shovel, a rake etc.) she'd fall to the ground and cower.  She's starting to get over that a little bit but there's still a way to go.

So it was really important that there was a lot of encouragement and praise when it came to her training.  To get her to obey new commands and follow new routines we lavished her with praise as soon as she did the right thing.  And because she's a dog, the praise needed to be instant when she displayed the correct behaviour or ceased doing whatever we wanted her to stop.

It made me reflect a bit on how I train the kids.  I'm totally not suggesting that training kids is like training a dog.  Totally wouldn't be suggesting that at all.  When they were little, I used to give big praise responses for correct behaviour but now that they are a bit older, I have slipped into bad habits.  Quite often, I'll correct a child for some action (maybe with a bit of nagging thrown in for good measure) and then the child will correct their behaviour and I will remain grumpy.

Obviously, this reflects my own immaturity.  I'm cross and want the other person to suffer a bit before I cheer up and give them grace.  That's sin, plain and simple.

It's also really counter-productive.  When they do the right thing, if I'm really interested in getting the behaviour I want, I should cease to give them the stink-eye and the cold-shoulder and move on.  I'm not suggesting I lavish them with praise and lots of "Good girl!  Who's a good girl?  Yes, you're the good girl!  Oh, yes you are!"  But who am I helping if I continue to act miffed because they weren't obeying me before?  If I was a kid (or a dog) I'd think, "Why bother?  She's still mad."

It also doesn't reflect the grace I've received myself.  When I come to God and ask for forgiveness, it's free, it's full and it's final.  My debt is paid.  My burden is gone.  My relationship is restored.  I've been showing my kids a revolting grace-substitute where their errors hang over them until I feel like being nice again.  Ugh.  Horrible.  Doesn't happen all the time but happens more than it should.

So we need to all be on the Honey-training regime this school holidays.


Anonymous said...

Oh boy, you just shot me in the heart with this one! A much needed rebuke for being a really negative, grumpy mummy this week. Thanks be to God that kids are forgiving and tomorrow is a new day!! J

Sarah said...

Thanks for this post. I feel convicted of wanting people to suffer even after they have apologised. I'm glad God doesn't treat us like that.

BTW I just realised that I know your youngest brother-in-law and his wife. I've been friends with them for years! We caught up with them last weekend in Perth and our babies got to meet for the first time. Crazy, small world!

Deb said...

Yeah, I shot myself too. :) I agree - thank you God for brand new days.

Deb said...

No way!! They are coming to visit me Friday so I'll be able to get the low-down on how you know each other. :)

Sarah said...

Uni then church. :)