After all my talk about teaching my children to obey me the first time I give a command, I thought I'd share an incident that happened several weeks ago.
Dinner time at our house can sometimes be very frustrating. Sometimes the kids don't like what I've prepared, and other times I think they're probably just being stubborn. Right now my two year old, Anna, gives me the toughest time when it comes to eating. Erik and I haven't figured out what the best way to deal with pickiness is, but for right now we say they need to eat a bite of everything even if they don't like it. I told Anna she needed to eat a bite of her carrot before she could get down and play, but for whatever reason she refused. I didn't think this was an issue worthy or discipline, but still insisted she eat her bite. After a few minutes she put the carrot in her mouth, but refused to swallow!
I took a deep breath, and reminded myself she'd have to swallow the bite eventually. I gave myself a pep talk that I was the mommy and she had to learn to obey me. Little did I realize just how long a single bite of carrot could stay in a mouth without being swallowed! Literally an hour went by before she swallowed the bite, and by this point she was covered in drool. I'll admit I was close to loosing it! I just kept praying that the Lord would give me grace not to get angry with her.
I’m not the first mom to face the challenge of a disobedient child. In the introduction to Elisabeth Elliot’s book The Shaping of a Christian Family she reprints an article by her mom recounting a similar battle with her firstborn son, Phillip. It was milk instead of carrots, but Mom patiently waited and insisted on full obedience. Phil eventually drank his milk.
Years later he wrote a letter to his parents thanking them for teaching him to obey. It worked! By the grace of God, their consistent discipline bore fruit! As a grown man, their son was grateful for all the benefits of their faithful correction. What a perfect illustration of Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”