ONE Picture: Removing the negativity epidemic from Christianity (Part 2)

Some (not all, but some) of the most negative people I have met in my life are Christians. I know some negative non-Christians too…I guess I would describe them as aimless and pessimistic. But Christians have this special flavor of negativity just for us (and by flavor, I mean stench). Which makes no sense…those who are redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ are negative? What?

Now before I continue: The negativity of certain Christians DOES NOT AFFECT my view of whether Christianity is true, noble, and/or good. A worldview cannot be judged by its adherents, since they all fall short of the ideal. But rather, a worldview is judged on its tenets, its ideals. In the case of Christianity, we do not follow a “set of tenets” but rather a Person. Therefore, if every Christian in the world were negative, morally bankrupt wretches, the veracity and value of the faith should still be based on Christ’s person…who He is, what He does, what He values. We will talk more about that on part 3.

However, Christians typically are far worse at being negative people. Why? Because the side effect of setting such a remarkably high standard of ethics (God, Jesus) is that we can clearly see how short everybody falls.

Christian parents lead the field when it comes to making people realize how short they fall of the standard. And woe to the Christian wife, who has studied up on what a Godly man should act like! Her real-life husband is not short of ways to fall short! Or the Christian husband, who was taught to choose a wife with Godly conduct! What a stringent requirement!

Our knowledge of a perfect standard, without fault, without blemish, can really mess up our relationships. It can screw up our children for life…if we can’t get this negativity under control.

Yet, this “beating” is not what I endure when I approach Scripture. Scripture does not beat me…it empowers me. The “standard” is not an unattainable thing that God beats my head against…it is a beautiful picture that I can be conformed to daily, and not only that, but Jesus specifically gave me a Helper to get me there!

Scripture doesn’t look at me and say “Why aren’t you there yet?” Rather, Scripture looks at me and says “I am confident that He who began this work in you will complete it…”

If our lives could be likened to the Olympic games, many of us would liken God to the judges, sitting in the seats, ready to give out the scores. Yet, Scripture teaches us of a God who is sitting in the coach’s chair! Enabling us to succeed! Teaching! Training! Encouraging! Empowering!

What if I, as a parent, could master this concept? Would Abrielle and Alsea grow up feeling like they always fell short of a great standard? Would Abrielle and Alsea grow up deceived by a low expectation of morality? Or maybe I can teach about a high ethical standard, and then empower them to say “I can do that! I can be more like that every day!”
Let our friends, family, our brothers and sisters in Christ, know this: We will not water down our standard. Our ethics. Our values. But we will also not water down our belief that the Spirit of God is alive, active, and in us. We will not water down our standards, but we will not water down our belief in God’s power to change hearts and lives.
So the question: Nitpick their shortcomings? Or empower their successes and their potential?
What does Scripture do?

Fear, Taekwondo, and that one kid (A parenting post) – Part 1

The point of this post, in one sentence (in case you don’t have time to read): “A rule without a consequence isn’t a rule.” An awesome rule I learned from this book, “Tired of Arguing with your Kids” by Dolores Curran:

In order to not misinterpret this concept, you must understand our working definition of fear. Fear is to attribute power to someone or something, and respect that power.

THAT DOES NOT MEAN WE GET ABUSIVE IN ANY WAY, SHAPE, OR FORM! In fact, all that we have to do to apply this concept to parenting is to control our own actions. That’s it.

 

Lessons from/to a Taekwondo Instructor

As of four days ago, I have been in Taekwondo for 19 years. As of four months ago, I have been teaching it for 15. I hope everybody can tell that I enjoy it.

I can’t claim to be an expert in “parenting” but I can always claim to be a very interested observer. And as a people watcher, the last 15 years have let me make a lot of observations, of kids and parents. Those observations are the roots that grew these next two posts.

 

Your average student, with average behavior, tends to go unnoticed. Average behavior in the taekwondo school is, well, good behavior. They conform to the etiquettes and disciplines of the martial arts. They move when they’re told to move. It is very unfortunate that we don’t notice these well-behaved-but-not-stand-out kids, so a good instructor has to be thoughtful enough to connect with every student individually.

We easily notice, however, two students:

  1. The 100% student. All or nothing. They always yell loud. They always kick hard.
  2. The one who breaks the rules.

As long as any instructor fails to notice to average student, the students who desperately want to be noticed will try to be one of those two. And the second is far easier to be, and nabs attention quickly. Mission accomplished.

 

However, most of these problems can be handled with a small negative social sanction. If the students like the instructor, and the instructor communicates in a small way that he/she doesn’t like the behavior, then the student stops the behavior with just that.

 

What usually works for us instructors…

As Taekwondo instructors with the American Taekwondo Association (Have I mentioned that I love our organization, and that our instructor training curriculum is awesome? Both the old one and the new Legacy Program?), we are taught the Ten Class Management skills first and foremost. So, our attempt at correcting undesired behaviors typically goes in this order:

  1. Verbalize the expectations, make them as clear as possible.
  2. Ignore kid entirely who is goofing off (in case it’s for attention).
  3. Compliment another kid who is doing the desired behavior.
  4. Compliment the misbehaving kid the second he/she starts doing the desired behavior. For two reasons:
    1. To teach them that they get attention by being good, not by being bad.
    2. To get them to self-identify as a good kid (so that good decisions will continue because they believe that is who they are) as opposed to a bad kid (“It’s just what I do”).

Usually, that works. But then you have the child who fails to fear authority.

 

How do we change THAT kid?

First, some ground rules that affect every relationship ever.

 

  1. I can never actually control someone else, regardless of their age. Since I control myself and my choices, the idea of me controlling someone else and their choices is ridiculous. I can control my actions and responses to influence them, but they are the ones who choose their actions.
  2. In the end, they must make the decision because of their own wants/desires/values, not mine. Sometimes, we must get our children to do stuff they don’t want to do. Sometimes, we must get our students to do stuff they don’t want to do. But any action they do because “we made them” is short-lived. They will not carry it into their independent lives until they see and feel the benefit.

Chief Master William Clark (8th Degree Black Belt, the Chairman of our Master’s Council, Founder’s Council member, and basically an all-around boss) said this about everybody (students, parents, instructors): “People only change for one of two reasons: Inspiration or desperation.”

To flesh out that concept: People change because of inspiration (they want something) or desperation (they don’t want something). So the only way to change the action is to instill fear in the kid.

“Fear? Like, they’re scared of you? They shake when you walk in the room?”

Not at all. More like this: I can’t make you do what I want…but you can’t make me do what you want, either. I have the power to deny you what you want.

If they respect that power, they fear you (by the above definition).

 

Part 2 is coming next!

Let’s Teach Fear to our Kids! High five!

Parenting posts. I know. I’m kicking the beehive. Especially on a really, really touchy subject. Especially because my oldest is only 3, so anybody could look at me and say “What do you know?” Well, I get to learn as a navigate this, and navigate as I learn.

But although this is a touchy subject, the teachings of people older and wiser than me have convinced me that it is so, so important. So I get to talk through it.

Image result for children discipline

Should we be teaching fear to our kids? Yes, but very, very carefully.

What kind of jerk teaches fear to their own children? What kind of jerk doesn’t?

But let me back up and define my terms.

Fear: To attribute power to someone/something, and respect its power.

Healthy fear empowers us to make decisions that avoid things we don’t like. It lets us predict dangers and steer clear.

Unhealthy fear is disempowering. We don’t know what or who is going to strike, or who is going to trigger it or how.

Healthy fear gives us control of our choices.

Unhealthy fear takes away control.

 

It is good and right to teach healthy fear to our children (“Hey, Johnny, maybe you shouldn’t touch the hot stove, buddy.”), but those who instill an unhealthy fear are often unshakingly convinced that it’s a healthy fear that they are instilling. So what is healthy fear, and what is unhealthy fear?

So for the upcoming posts, we tackle this:

  1. The child doesn’t have any fear of authority. Why?
  2. How do we make sure we aren’t overbearing jerks of parents? How do we make sure the fear we’re teaching is healthy?

Two more things.

One, these posts shall remain the farthest thing from abuse. I will not condone abuse. “What about spankings? Are those abuse? Are they not?” I won’t reveal my position, but I will say this: Wherever you are on the “Spanking” spectrum, whether you are a total non-spanker or a “My parents tanned my butt daily and I turned out fine” person, I don’t think you’ll have any problem with the following posts. In fact, your stance on spankings is irrelevant for the following posts.

Two, I’m going to be approaching this primarily from the eyes of a taekwondo instructor. I have only 3 years of parenting experience, but I’ve been teaching Taekwondo for over 15 years now.

If you’re ready for a touchy subject (I’m preparing everyone for the worst, but really? I think we’ll be just fine), then stay tuned!