Wednesday, February 25, 2009


I watch from inside. Jane scoops a trowel full of snow and casually dumps it down Jack's back. He screams. She noodles around the yard as if totally deaf.

He stumbles over to our slider blubbering. I call Janie in.

"Jane, go potty and get ready for nap." All manner of tears and whine and foot dragging punctuate her distaste for this. She acquiesces only out of great experience with making consequences worse (and worse).

She sits on the edge of her bed, shoulders angled to display maximum dissatisfaction. "Think about how you feel right now." Stone girl is watching, but not talking. "Honey, how you feel right now, that's how you are supposed to feel if you do something bad." She looks my direction but is still snubbing her covers. "When you do something bad you are SUPPOSED to feel BAD." She skillfully avoids eye contact. "Janie, just so you know, this is so important that if you can't make yourself feel bad about doing something bad, I will help you out." Isn't this the beginning of realizing our own imperfection, the first domino in the story of redemption?

After more than a generation of self-esteem training for our children, studies show that people who consistently score the highest on self-esteem tests are psychopaths in prison. Sometimes I think that if you do something bad you should just go ahead and feel bad about it. We call it self-respect. And, suddenly my children can grab onto the invisible ideas of grace, mercy, love, the infinite value of each human being.

For more facts and research on parenting check out Parenting By the Book by John Rosemond.


Melissa said...


You're such a good momma, Bethany. You listen to the Holy Spirit and are teaching your children to hear Him, too.

It's so apparent that you were parented well yourself. Good job Goat and Mr. Goat. ;)

Goat said...

When I was naughty as a child, my mama would always say, "You ought to be ashamed of yourself." We have lost the idea of shame in our culture. No one is supposed to feel bad about themselves. Without feeling bad and ashamed about sin, there is no redemption. Period.

Lori said...

Awesome post, and I love your mom's comment about how shame has become a dirty word in our culture. This is exactly why I'm esctatic that we're friends and that our girls get to spend time with you.

the o's said...

bethany you are a great story teller... i love reading about your sweet (and SMART!) kids... you are giving me great pointers for when wesley gets a little older! love it!

deac-in-training said...

What an appropriate post for Ash Wednesday. I'll wear this smudge on my forehead until morning, outward sign of inward decision to turn (yet) again toward God. And the prerequisite for the turning: honest self-recognition, sin and all.

Lynn said...

Look at it this way - this may be Jack's last chance to get 'up close and personal' with snow this winter. I would even bet you might have tried this a time or two, Bethany. Gram

Craig and Bethany said...

Oh, YAY! Gramma thanks for joining the conversation. :} And, yes, I have a wide resume in the snow department. Haha.

Pig Woman said...

But now Goat, all those times that our momma told us that we should be ashanmed of ourselves, did you ever once feel ashamed? Not me. I just remember being bewildered why she was so bent out of shape. The thing that kept me in line was "the look." Oh my, the dreaded "look." I still see it in my head everytime I think about doing something "bad." So,in little Emma's defense, while I was kept in line by "the look", I don't think I ever felt real shame until I was... oh,past 25. . . at least. (And I still don't feel any shame about your toenails, Goat.)And I think one of the very things that caused me to be compassionate towards other people was being the recipient of three older siblings that put snow down my back, shoved my face in it, pushed my head under water, gave me Indian rope burns, and told me that the candle was the tasty part, and to throw the cupcake away. Maybe without those lessons from our siblings, it is harder to learn compassion.

Daiquiri said...

Great, great, GREAT post! Truly - we work so hard to make our kids "feel good" no matter the cost...we all pay the cost eventually.

"God knows you, he knows where you live, he knows your name, he knows what you just did"...creating a paranoid child or developing a child with a healthy respect for their true place in the world as God's child?

"And by the way...he loves you and forgives you anyway"

I'll go with teaching them truth. Go ahead and call the crazy CPS people on me, I'll still go with truth.

Can I say it again? GREAT post :) Thanks!

Craig and Bethany said...

Hey, THANKS for all the friendly banter! You have me giggling out loud one moment and tweaking the depth and breath of my journey the next. Can't put a price on that!


Olson Family said...

Beautiful story! How many, many times does God "send me to bed for a nap" and then stand at the doorway, His eyes filled with love, me upset over getting "caught" and having a consequence that I feel bad about. Your post causes my heart to bend low, to realize, again, my desperate need for His redemption. Thank you, Bethany. (What a fabulous mother you are!!)