When A Simple Shot Reveals So Much More

FullSizeRenderI couldn’t resist snapping this picture of my youngest, Anna Joy, at her desk.

The seven year-old is usually the first to get up each day. And without fail, like clockwork, she washes up, dresses up and starts her homeschool schedule. Yes, all by herself.

Serene and I have been asked many times how homeschooling is like. Is it all about freedom, being able to do what we want, when we want? Well, to a certain extent, we do enjoy that latitude. However, school is still school. And all learning, in whatever form, requires discipline.

Anna Joy has grown up in this environment of homeschooling all her life. Having watched her older siblings go about their routines, she began to establish one of her own too. Each day, in the Lim Tribe household, that’s pretty much the scene. Every child knows what he or she needs to accomplish, and each can be found at their own workstations, diligently completing what has been assigned. That doesn’t mean everything runs perfectly. Once in a while, you will still hear Serene’s voice ring out, “[insert name], you still owe me lesson number …!”

As I observed Anna Joy that morning, I couldn’t help but beam a little as a proud daddy. Yet, more than just a father who is pleased with the development of his children, my heart was filled with gratitude for a very hardworking wife and mother in Serene. To be sure, there has been much pain and sacrifice along this journey of homeschooling. Many tears too. And you can also add frustration and anxiety to the list. No one sees these at all. At times (and there have been many), even I miss the tremendous load that Serene carries, neglecting to be there with and for her, causing the journey to be a lot more difficult than it already is.

This picture of Anna Joy brings a smile to my face. In a while, the other workstations would fill up, one by one. Yes, it’s a lovely sight to behold. No, it didn’t happen by chance, or that we were somehow blessed with perfect, sinless, super-obedient children. It took diligence and discipline, a lot of hard work with consistency over the years. And a whole lot of GOD as we experienced His strength and grace over and over again.

An award-winning shot this is not. But it has caused me to pause, to reflect and to give thanks. I am so proud of Serene. I am so proud of each of our seven children. Thank you, dear Lord, for these awesome blessings You have allowed in my life!

What We Take From Our Children When We Spoil Them

It’s hard to understand why anyone would want to spoil a child. And yet, these days, it has even become somewhat fashionable to indulge the little ones, to give them what they want – NOW – that it’s totally ok to spoil them. Also, experienced parents – otherwise affectionately referred to as grandparents – often see it as their right and privilege to spoil grandchildren.

Perhaps, these have never really understood the meaning of the word “spoil” and what it entails. Hopefully, the following definitions might help.

As a verb, to spoil means to ruin, to mar, to corrupt, to damage, to diminish, to destroy. Or as one dictionary puts it: “to damage severely or harm (something), especially with reference to its excellence, value, usefulness.”

Let’s apply this, word for word, to our son or daughter. When I spoil my child, I am practically ruining, marring, corrupting, damaging, diminishing and destroying him. With reference to his potential of excellence, his value and and his usefulness, I am consciously or unconsciously doing harm to him and what he could be!

As a noun, spoil refers to booty, loot or plunder, as in “the spoils of war”. In the context of spoiling children, we are in essence, plundering and removing what is valuable from them – the opportunity for discipline and character training that pertains to right and godly living.

Given this understanding, why would anyone want to spoil their children? It runs counter to everything a parent seeks and desires for a child.

Be a Super Parent!

I knew this title would catch your attention 🙂

Some months back, I was asked to contribute a few points to Scripture Union’s newsletter on how “to be a super parent”.  My initial reaction was to ignore the request, or give some excuse that I had no time to meet the extremely tight print deadline.  Serene and I have never considered ourselves as super parents and we definitely did not want to give any wrong impression that we were even close to being good or great parents; that perhaps, with more than a few children, we are now more qualified than others.

Well, despite my attempts to ‘run away’ from this task, I could not ignore the persistence of the editor.  And so, I penned a few statements and sent it off for print.

Reading these statements again, after leaving it for a while, I thought it’d be good to share it on my blog.  In no way are these “super parent” tips 🙂  Just great reminders for all parents, including Serene and myself.  And if you feel others can be likewise encouraged, feel free to share.  Be blessed …

As published in Scripture Union News Oct-Dec 2011.

When Parents Don’t Want To Be The Bad Guys: Uncle Scold

I brought my children to the library yesterday.  It’s nice that we are able to go on a weekday – less crowded and quieter.  When we got there, there were two other children with their mothers.  One was a toddler and he was having good fun walking around, exploring the books and furniture.  The other boy (about 2 yrs old) was seated at the little table, presumably being read to by his either very-youthful-looking grandmother or rather-matured-looking mother 🙂  (We’ll consider her as the mother in this commentary.)

Soon, the boy began to make noise, getting louder each time.  Each outburst was matched with a “shhh” from his mother with little or no effect.  Then came a loud yelp from the kid which made me look up, catching the mother’s eye.  Perhaps it was the look on my face, for immediately, she told the boy, “Uncle scold!”  That silenced him for a little while and he started again.  And the mother threatened him again with the mean-monster-uncle-who-will-not-only-scold-you-but-eat-you-up trick … “Uncle scold!”  Not too long after, they left the library.

I guess I should feel good that I have assisted in someone’s child training programme … who cares if I had been portrayed as a grumpy old man 🙂  Yet, this little episode made me realise one thing in many parents.  Often, parents don’t want to be “the bad guy”.  They want to appear nice and loving.  As such, they readily pass the blame to others, sending the message to the child, “It’s ok with me if you mis-behave, but that mean, old man … now, he’s the troublemaker, the killjoy!”  This, by the way, is not a recent development.  I remember as a boy, the same trick (excuse) was used … “Stop this behaviour, or else the police will come and arrest you!”, or in Hokkien, mata lai loh mata diak.

I believe children must be taught to obey the voice of their parents first, that they will then learn to submit to other authorities with proper respect.  This means that parents must be willing to discipline and train even if it means being the bad guy sometimes.  This is tough love but also biblical and godly love.  God, as our Heavenly Father, loves and disciplines us in the same way.  When we go through tough times, He doesn’t say “Oh, it’s not me!  I’ll never do that to you!  It’s … it’s … it’s … the devil!  But me, NAHHHH, I wouldn’t let you suffer at all!”  Sure, tell that to Jesus when He hung upon the Cross.

Parents, let’s encourage one another to do what we need to do, that our children will be raised right for the Lord’s glory and  use.  Don’t make excuses, push blame or pass the buck.  And please, give the uncles (and aunties) a break.

Related Post: Why Would a Good God Allow Bad Things To Happen?