I was chatting with a friend today about the challenges of bringing up young children and I remembered the toddler son of one young Mum. Appearances can be deceptive – when this young lad said, ‘I want some custard!’, he was actually pointing to a jar of mustard. His Mum told him it was mustard, not custard and explained that he probably wouldn’t like the taste. He would not take her word for it and when she realised that he might well talk about ‘custard’ interminably unless she gave him a taste of it, she decided, very reluctantly, to give him a small amount of mustard on the tip of a spoon.What a face he pulled! His Mum felt sorry for him… and yet he wanted to learn ‘the hard way’, so…
This young lad wanted to check it out for himself and in doing so, he did not come to any harm. I think it is often good for children to find things out for themselves. I think of the disciples, Peter and John, who did not take Mary’s word for it when she told them Jesus was alive, but went to the tomb to check it out for themselves. I believe it’s also good for us, as adults, to investigate and research rather than fill our heads unquestioningly with lots of second-hand opinions.
Thinking again of the little lad who insisted on finding out for himself that mustard and custard are two very different things, I am also mindful of the fact that with some things we need to insist that ‘Mum/Dad knows best.’ For instance, we tug on the reins of a toddler who veers too close to a busy road.The toddler objects, often vociferously, but we keep tugging on the reins. We love our children and want to keep them safe. I have heard this described as ‘tough love.’ Discipline and love are not mutually exclusive.
Our heavenly Father also disciplines those whom he loves (Hebrews 12:6) and when he does so, he is concerned about far more than our physical safety and well-being:
‘God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.’ (Hebrews 12:10,11)