Lately, my 3-year old daughter has been testing me.
It’s the classic won’t-stay-in-bed test.
First, she kept coming out of her room with various “needs” or would try to talk to my wife and me while we were trying to relax.
Like a good conservative parent, I tried the approach I was most familiar with: stern warnings and spankings.
But that approach did not work at all. All it did was work her up into a hysteria. Plus, she has OCD tendencies (like I did as a child) so when she gets fixated on something she feels she “needs” she can scream about it for an almost an hour straight.
So the spankings weren’t helping.
Then I tried the “nice” approach.
I’d lie in bed with her. Pray with her. Try to help her relax.
But that didn’t work either.
She only saw my kindness as an opportunity to increase her requests. And the result was the same as before: not falling asleep until 2 in the morning.
As you might have guessed the effective approach was the third option: neither indulgence nor coercion.
Instead, I just calmly laid down a clear boundary.
Every time she’d leave her room, I’d just pick her up and put her back to bed.
The first night she repeatedly ran out of her room for about an hour and half straight. Then lied in bed and cried for an hour. Then went to sleep.
Next night was half-hour of resistance, then an hour or so of crying.
Third night she didn’t try to get out of her room at all. Instead she just screamed, cried, and whined for a couple hours.
Recently, she’s been testing the boundaries again. She’s not getting out of bed, but she’ll stay awake in her room until 2 or 3 in the morning and then wake up at 8 in the morning. A sleep-deprived little woman makes for a miserable day.
So I decided it was time to set another boundary: lights out after half-an-hour and no getting out of bed.
Similar situation as before: tried to get out of bed for over an hour. Cried for an hour. Went to sleep.
I expect tonight will be a shorter period of resistance.
So what’s the point of all this?
Well, I’ve noticed that principles in human relationships are transferable. What works with adults works with children and vice versa. We’re all human. Some are just more mature than others.
I’ve noticed that we tend to apply one of two ineffective strategies when dealing with people: coercion or indulgence. And it all centers around the dynamic of demands.
When dealing with his wife, a man tends to follow one of two approaches:
- Appease his wife’s requests (The Nice Guy Approach)
- Request that his wife change her behavior, usually backed by a “threat” (The Wife Discipline / Classic Red Pill Approach)
In my experience, Option 1 leads to a dead bedroom. Option 2 leads to resistance (though admittedly more sexual attraction.)
But I think I’ve found a third option that works better:
I enforce my personal boundaries. She can do what she wants so long as she doesn’t infringe on my happiness. I improve myself and stay busy with my mission. I invite her to grow with me. And she follows.
One sure way to make people angry is to talk about parenting.
My intention here is not to tell you how to raise your kids. This is simply a short manifesto I came up with for myself after studying the Scriptures. I’m posting it here because it might be helpful to some. Make of it what you will.
5 “rules” for raising children:
1) Children should believe that, by obeying their parents, their life will go well. The parents should demonstrate that they have a better understanding of the present reality than the child does. (Eph 6:1-3; 1 Cor 13:11)
2) The father should not rouse anger in his children by coercing them to do things they don’t want to do. (Eph 6:4; Prov 15:1)
3) The father is to supply the resources needed for the child to fully develop according to his or her kind. Children should not be forced to learn in ways that are unsuitable to their inclinations. (Eph 6:4; Gen 1:11)
4) The father is to understand the Lord’s will for his children and provide both the “sting of correction” and explain the why behind God’s warnings so that his children do not stray from the path of truth. (Eph 6:4; Prov 15:1)
5) The mother should adapt her parenting approach to align with the father’s values. (Eph 5:24)
My guess is that the root parenting problem in conservative circles has to do with framing parenting as a “discipline” job while neglecting what God revealed to be the central challenge of parenting: not provoking your children.
Entertainment is a controversial topic among Christians.
How much is too much? What shows are appropriate? Is violence better than sex? etc. etc.
But one aspect of entertainment I rarely hear talked about is how fathers can “spin” secular entertainment into spiritual lessons.
For example, here’s the opening scene from the latest Pixar film, Coco:
In the scene, the boy explains how his family is not like other families because his grandmother hates music and tries to shut it out from their life.
This simple scene could be used to illustrate a number of spiritual truths like…
- Just like the bitter grandmother who wanted to shut out music, so do some people become bitter against God and shut out the light.
- Even if those around you are bitter, you can still have joy in your heart just like the little boy in the Coco
- God gives us reason to sing, just like the boy in Coco
- Some people want to snuff out the light, just like the grandmother wanted to snuff out music. But you can’t hold back the truth for long.
- God wants his truth to be like music to our ears. Just like the boy in Coco.
The next time you’re watching a show with your wife or kids, keep your eyes open for good illustrations. Spiritual truths are more readily grasped when there is a tangible reference point.
Now, I think I need to get to “work” and catch up on my movie watching 😉
While he’s certainly not assessing the situation from a biblical worldview, Dr. Lehmiller has a point:
Research has found that the U.S. states with the most abstinence-only programs actually have the highest rates of teen pregnancy ! What does work when it comes to sex education is a comprehensive approach—one that gives teenagers the information they truly need to know, which will enable them to establish safer and healthier sexual relationships. Research also reveals that comprehensive sex education is not only linked to lower rates of teen pregnancy , but also to lower rates of STI-risk behavior .
It’s also worth noting that abstinence-until-marriage programs are unrealistic in an era when the average age of first intercourse is 15-16, whereas the average age of first marriage is almost 30. Telling teens they should wait 15 years before they start having sex just isn’t a practical goal.
Our ancestors may not have been so backwards in marrying off girls in their teens. The reason we find the idea so repulsive today is because we have idolized “education” at the expense of sensible sexual strategy.
The “wait until marriage” mantra will never work when marriage seems so impossibly far away to a young girl in heat.
Given my apparent theme lately of Satanic deception and sexual suppression, it seemed fitting to wrap the week up with a lesson from Disney.
The other week, there was some discussion in the manosphere over the Satanic nature of the song “Let It Go” from Frozen.
I would agree that the lyrics are Satanic (at least when they stand alone). But the lyrics also provide a perfect perspective on the inner thoughts of a woman as she is being deceived.
So let’s consider the following lyrics and try to become “wise as serpents” in our dealing with our wives and daughters:
The snow glows white on the mountain tonight
Not a footprint to be seen.
A kingdom of isolation,
and it looks like I’m the Queen
She feels like her responsibility is forcing her to be isolated from relationships with others. Like any girl, she is curious about the world and wants adventure. But she feels trapped.
The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside
Couldn’t keep it in;
Heaven knows I’ve tried
Her inner (sexual?) passions are too much to contain. She feels that she can’t “keep it in.”
Don’t let them in,
don’t let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Being “good” and her inner passions are placed at odds with each other. She now feels like she is “bad” and cannot let loved ones get too close to her. Being “good” becomes a heavy burden.
Conceal, don’t feel,
don’t let them know
It is her passions that make her “bad.” The message she perceives is that she must conceal these passions. Don’t let anyone know how bad she is.
Well now they know
Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
After having her epiphany that her passion is too much of a burden to hold in, she finds a new sense of liberation in letting it go.
Turn away and slam the door
I don’t care
what they’re going to say
Now that’s she’s made her decision to “let it go”, she reaffirms her decision by burning her bridges. They don’t understand. She doesn’t need them.
Let the storm rage on.
Her conclusive cry of “liberation.”
The cold never bothered me anyway
Sure, there’s a down side, but it’s not that bad…
It’s funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can’t get to me at all
She is uncertain about her decision so she needs further justification. Compared living in fear as a “good girl”, this new liberated lifestyle is clearly better for her.
It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me,
With the shackles removed, she can finally explore the limits of her passion. No more rules! That means she’s free, right?
Let it go, let it go
I am one with the wind and sky
Let it go, let it go
You’ll never see me cry
Here I stand
And here I’ll stay
Let the storm rage on
She’s a grown up now. She’s has understanding now of things she was never allowed to previously explored. She boldly declares “here I’ll stay.”
Suppression is the necessary condition for deception. Women always want to feel like they’re being liberated from an oppressor.
Don’t allow God’s Word to become that oppressor she secretly craves to be liberated from.
Frame is everything.
Recently, my younger sister was caught doing some “bad things.”
I don’t need to go into details, but if you’re familiar the red pill, you know the kind of trouble a 17-year old girl can get into with the wrong kind of guys.
As useful as the red pill is for a man in terms of sexual strategy, there is a dark and frightening side to it: raising daughters.
My wife was angry because my sister was using her visits to our home as a safe haven to coordinate her schemes.
As for me, I didn’t feel angry because I wasn’t surprised. This was not her first time and she had no regrets. I felt sad because I was witnessing the full effect of Satan’s deception in my own family.
There was much more going on than just a girl acting out.
I explained to my wife that there were two disturbing truths we had to consider as parents if we didn’t want our daughter to go down the same path.
First, a girl becomes sexually awakened at around 13 years old. Yet our culture expects women to wait until they’re at least in their mid-twenties before marrying. If we follow that script, it means that a young woman experiences over ten years of sexual suppression between the time she craves to be penetrated by a man and when conservative culture deems it appropriate for her to be with a man.
But, as we know, most young women do not wait that long. (Or, if they do, they have many bad associations about sex that leads to a joyless marriage.)
This is an uncomfortable truth that a father should not take lightly.
Secondly, the message preached in most Christian homes is simply “wait until marriage.”
My sister had no shortage of warnings growing up. She knew anything outside of marriage was sinful.
Yet, I’m afraid all she heard was “God doesn’t want you to have sex.”
And this is precisely what Satan wants young girls to believe. It makes the path of sin all the more appealing.
Remember that Satan hates the woman. He will do whatever he can to destroy her… whether it’s robbing her of joy or leading her astray into “liberation.”
So what is a father to do?
Frankly, I don’t know the exact answers right now. As a church culture, we’ve become so uncomfortable talking about sex that I don’t know if any father knows what to do.
But I do know that what we have been doing isn’t working out well. And putting the issue off for another day is a poor strategy.
Now, I’m not denying that young women bear responsibility for their choices. But we are also called to not put a stumbling block in front of our daughters.
Because of the severity of the topic and my own ignorance on what to do, I’m adding a “fatherhood” category to my blog to chronicle any future insights I find on this matter.