As the morning sun pelted down on me, I felt burnt and defeated. A traffic ticket for my kids not wearing their seat-belt in the back row of the car was not how I wanted to start my morning as we headed to school. My 6-year-old cried and asked if I was going to jail, my 9-year-old kept saying “sorry mommy, sorry” and my 11-year-old just watched with calm trepidation like the grownup she is becoming. My kids felt terrible. So did I. Perhaps because of the frequency with which I would admonish them to sit back. Truth is that I don’t enforce the seat-belt in the back-row as much as I should and I don’t have many parent friends who enforce it either. So honestly it seemed like not so much of a big deal, if I am going to be entirely honest. There was a time when I was adamant that they wear their seat-belt in the back row and then that discipline fell off, and all I insisted on was that they sit back. This morning I was paying the price for failing to “restrain them.”
As I sat there waiting to receive the ticket, I felt a part of me wanting to say “woe is me,” I have enough stress and issues right now to be having to get a traffic ticket; a sort of silent reaction or pouting at God. I quickly shut down that entitled spirit! Another part of me accepted that the basic lesson here is that there is a consequence for my actions; all of them, minor, major, good and bad. Later that morning I see my sister who is a medical doctor. She empathizes and shares a tale of a man she had learned about in medical school who failed to restrain his daughter who was not sitting but lying down on the back seat of their car. He had to suddenly brake up and she was catapulted throw the windscreen. She died. He paid a greater price.
I am thankful for the admonition of this morning’s ticket; a warning to both physically and spiritually “restrain” my children, which ultimately means keeping them safe and grooming them towards right behavior and conduct. As I reflected more about it I realize now that this stop was also a little bit of a gift for me as a parent. I have a mantra that I repeat incessantly to my kids – there are consequences for actions. This morning we have strong proof of that. It also makes all the other scenarios in which I discuss bad behavior and consequences with them more real. Mommy isn’t just saying stuff that may never happen. It can happen and did happen this morning.
Interestingly, the day before I was reflecting on another major consequence levied against a parent who failed to restrain his children and I was thinking about how serious his consequence was, to put it mildly. In 1 Samuel we learn that Eli failed to restrain his sons for their negative abominable behavior. He knew the atrocious ungodly things that they were up to and left it unchecked. It’s one thing to tell your kids that what they are doing is wrong; it’s an entirely separate matter to levy a consequence. In response to Eli’s failure to restrain his kids, God condemned him and his entire generation. His two sons died on the same day. Plus none of his generation would ever have long life. The actions (or non-action) of this parent affected his sons and his entire lineage. See what I mean? A very serious consequence, to put it mildly. And it made me profoundly more aware that God expects us as parents to seriously restrain our children, train them, correct them, apply consequences and so forth. It is not a small thing or minor matter. God himself does this as our good Father. “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son,” – Hebrews 4:5-6.
Later that same day I watched a video of Pepita online speaking of the same passage and warning that the church must “restrain” the wayward behavior of their sons and that seals the matter. God is using the universe to send me a message and maybe you too – don’t fail to restrain your children. Model good behavior, tell them the right thing, show them when and where they have erred, but don’t neglect to levy consequences for bad behavior because certainly that is how it works in the real world with unworn seat-belts, policemen and their traffic books; that is also how it works in the Kingdom of God where even though God’s grace abounds, you most certainly reap what you sow.
Married and a mother of 4 girls, Shelly-Ann Harris is a publisher, an award-winning writer, poet, communication specialist and entrepreneur. She is passionate about women’s development and family life. For more about Shelly-Ann, check out her professional profile. Follow this blog to get an alert every time an entry is published.