When Dustin and I first had Gabbi, we didn't know what to expect... naturally.
We knew certain things. We knew first and foremost, we were to train her in the knowledge of the Lord, praying one day she would come to TRUE knowledge of and love for Him. We knew we didn't want her to watch too much TV, or eat too much junk food. We knew we were going to have to one day spank her precious little bottom. We knew we weren't going to send her to public school. We knew she would one day have siblings, and we would have to teach her to share and be mediating disagreements...
But what in the world does all that look like?
Fortunately for us, the Lord doesn't leave us high and dry. He provided us with His word most importantly, but secondarily another book: Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp. My recommendation to every mom. The link is a review of the book by Tim Challies and you can find the book on amazon. Anyway, through much prayer and reading, the Lord showed us His heart for discipline.
Our expectation is for our children to obey us, immediately, the first time we give a command. We don't count. We don't do time out. If we give a command, and she fails to obey, she is discipline... with love. We aren't on an power trip. We don't give flippant commands just because we can. And we don't say "because I said so".
Quick obedience is the Lord's desire. Our prayer is that by teaching her to submit to our authority, restraining her will, then submitting to the Lord's authority will come more naturally (I hesitate to say "easy" because obedience to the Lord isn't easy) when she is older.
When Gabbi was not quite one we went to Corryton on a hay ride to get a pumpkin. We were closer to the tractor on the wagon, and I saw a family that was near the back of the wagon. The daughter was maybe 5 or 6. She was sitting on her dad's lap, but when the tractor started moving she wanted to move across to her mom (or aunt, or someone, i'm not sure). She stood up and started to walk across, and I could see that dad was telling her not to although I couldn't hear him. The girl shook her head and was fighting against him as he reached for her arm. Then, she fell. She was a second from falling off the wagon. If the dad hadn't been quick to jump up, grab her arm and pick her up she would have fell off the back of the wagon.
My heart sunk for them. But, through that, God showed me obedience is for their protection. I tell Gabbi every time I discipline her: "Honey, you must obey for your protection. I can't let you go astray!" The image of that family on the hay ride has never left my mind.
I was reminded of it again yesterday. We met Dustin for lunch, and I had the van parked up at the closest spots right along the curb. When we were leaving, Gabbi was walking by herself and I pointed to the van saying "this way". Well, she didnt' see the van, and understood that I was just saying to go in this direction. She jumped off the curb and was running full speed ahead into the parking lot. I didn't see her, but heard Dustin yell "GABBI, STOP!!" just in time to see her running, then stopping instantly, so fast that her feet slipped out from under her and she fell bottom first onto the pavement. Seconds later a car drove by, right where she would have been had she not obeyed. My heart lept and I was in tears, praising her for her obedience and showing her what would have happened. Dustin thinks the person would have seen her in time, I'm not so sure. I choose not think about it though, and only think of the Lord's GREAT mercy. His mercy to teach us biblical discipline, His mercy to enable her to obey at that moment (because trust me, she does not always obey instantly), His mercy to remain faithful even when we are not.
He is a good God.