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Archive for April 19th, 2012

The other day I became a mother, all over again, and , although a physical labor was not involved (thank goodness) it was energy draining.

The child who I ‘mothered’ is not my own, by DNA or adoption, she is our ‘daughter from another mother’ who has entrusted her to us while she (and her brother) lives here in Canada, and I love her dearly.

One of my ‘own’ daughters told me recently that I do show love to this girl and her brother. She even said that I love them like a mother. She also said I do not discipline them like a loving mother … ouch! Thankfully, she said it all kindly, and so, for a few weeks, I have been mulling our conversation over in my mind.

It is tough to discipline someone who is not your own child. It is more difficult to set boundaries. We do not have a long foundation of relationship. We do not have a foundation of expectations. We do not have a past of being loved before and after discipline. As I have considered the wise words of my daughter, I have been keenly aware that IF I do love this girl, boundaries and correction are necessary expressions of that love.

Correction, or discipline, is a means of making a child aware of not just positive consequences in life, but negative ones as well. I believe that by disciplining small things (ie. requiring a child to apologize to a sibling when they have been mean or rude, or having them pick up every last piece of building blocks that they dumped on the floor when having a temper tantrum), when a child is young, creates a distaste for negative consequences and therefore instills a desire to do what is right, and good as they mature and grow. To not correct or discipline is to force a child to face negative consequences of greater magnitude when they get older (being expelled from school, being arrested).

The Bible speaks significantly of the wisdom of discipline:

“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.” Proverbs 21:1

“He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding.” Proverbs 15:32

“Discipline your son (daughter), for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death.” Proverbs 19:18

“A fool spurns his father’s discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.” Proverbs 15:5

Recently, a teacher at the school I work, shared a true story, told to him by his daughter:
While waiting in a long lineup at a large store, a woman was hit by the large cart behind her. She smiled politely, to allow the cart handler, a child, know that she felt it. She turned back, and was hit again … and again … and again. The hit upon lady turned to the child and said, “please do not push your cart.” She again turned back, and was, again, hit by the cart. This time she turned to the mother, as others were watching, as said, ” could you please have your child stop pushing the cart, it is hitting me.” To which the mother replied, “I do not believe in giving my child boundaries.”
At this point, you can imagine the heads of spectators, looking towards the woman, looking towards the mother, and back and forth, waiting with bated breath to see what might happen next. Probably many with thoughts of “if I was that woman …”
As all of this was happening one spectator, a man, was nearby, taking in the whole situation, while drinking a yogurt drink. He slowly, leisurely walked over to the child, and poured some of his drink on top of the child’s head. He then poured some on the top of the speechless mother’s head. The mother was aghast! The man looked at her and said, “my mother never believed in teaching me boundaries either.”
The crowd erupted into applause! The mother and child quickly exited the store.

I wish I had been there.

To love is to set boundaries, to correct and to discipline. It is not the easy thing to do, but it is a  most positive and long lasting way to enrich the lives of our children (by birth or circumstance), and to show them that we love them. My daughter by another mother may never thank me for setting boundaries, and correcting her behavior, but I feel certain that it was an act of love on my part.

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