So, last night Isaiah and Gloria had a once-in-a-childhood experience. I trust they will both remember it well into their own parenting years. I came home last night to find Isaiah and Gloria in tears and Leslie looking very exasperated. As head of my home I asked what was going on. Leslie had given Isaiah and Gloria the job of doing the dishes while Leslie was nursing the baby, however, the dishes had not been done and both children had just been informed that they were going to be spanked. Between sobs, Gloria was trying to explain that Isaiah had been tickling her, so she could not obey her mom. I sent them off to their bedrooms and went to deal with Isaiah first; always discipline the boys first!
There were two things going through my head as I entered Isaiah’s room, 1) how do I teach my boy the importance of obedience?, and 2) how do I teach my boy how to be a man who helps others obey instead of hindering them? Since I’m convinced that patriarchy is the only possible option for one who embraces the gospel, I decided to tackle obedience through addressing Isaiah’s role as a big brother and ultimately a husband and father.
As I explained to Isaiah that as the older brother, and therefore the one who I hold more responsible for the actions of his sister, I pressed home the fact that not only had he not helped his sister obey, but he had actually hindered. This is contrary to the nature of husbands and fathers. We got into the reasons why husbands are held more responsible of the actions of those in their families. We discussed how Christ is the ultimate husband who enables his bride the church and how Christ ultimately gave his life up for the church.
As all of this was sinking in, Isaiah finally stopped me and asked, “Why is Gloria going to get spanked too then?” At this point I could see that Isaiah had fully understood all that we were working through. He understood that it was his duty to encourage obedience in his sisters. He understood that he had been the one to hinder.
So, without any forethought, and with some trembling, I said, “Isaiah, your sister disobeyed your mom. She should have gone and told mom that you were hindering her. She is not without excuse. But, since I’m trying to teach you what it means to be a man--what it means to be held responsible for the actions of your family, the way Christ was--I’ll give you this choice. I’m going to give you three spanks with your belt. If you want, I’ll give you the two spanks I was going to give Gloria and she will not get any tonight.”
I could see the terror fill his brain as he thought about the decision. But I could also see him wrestling with what it means to be a man who loves his sisters, his wife, and his family. After some time of thinking, he simply said, with all seriousness, “Two more.” I almost wept as I watched him take these steps into becoming a loving man. We hugged, I told him that I respected him tremendously and held him in honor. He will be an honorable man if he continues down this path.
After giving him his own well-deserved spanks and Gloria’s, I gave him one more job to do. His little sister was still in her room crying, anticipating the discipline still to come. I asked Isaiah to go into her room and tell Gloria three things: 1) I love you, 2) I’m sorry I caused you to disobey mom, 3) I took your spanking for you so you don’t have to be spanked tonight.
After Isaiah came out, I still had a lot to cover with Gloria. But this post is way too long already, and you probably have an idea of what might have been said if you’ve read this far.
Above: Isaiah at the farm last fall.