Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Instruction As A Form of Love

As a mom to a growing toddler (Gabbie just turned two last Sunday!), I find new meaning to the age-old reputation of moms being “naggers”. Day in and day out, I remind Gabbie to say “please” about ten times a day when he asks for anything, to wear his slippers about twenty times, and to talk instead of whining for the most part of the day.

A few days ago, I found myself telling him in exasperation, “Reminding you to wear your slippers is all I do, and you still don’t do it.”

Giving instructions to Gabbie is not always tiresome. It’s a nice feeling to be able to impart something useful to my child, and he’s a smart boy. He responds well and grasps concepts quite easily. I find joy in instructing him to count one to 10 with me, in drawing lines on his blackboard, in getting him to march with me. I love it when his Daddy gives him instructions while playing drums and he obeys. We’re very amused when he goes to bring his dirty clothes to his hamper or the pack of toilet paper to our room when unpacking groceries, upon our instruction.

But whatever the instruction, I discovered that getting into the painstaking, nitty-gritty instruction process with my child is A LOT of work.

It’s getting into his mental level, breaking down every single instruction (and making it appealing for a toddler!), and mustering up all the patience in the event that he doesn’t get it, doesn’t obey, or wants to do something else.

Sometimes, I find myself wanting to let some instructions go, especially if I hear somebody telling me that I’m being too paranoid or careful. But if I see Gabbie going towards a potential disaster, I realize that I still have more patience tucked away hidden for emergency “fun” instructionals to veer him away from such encounters. And I’ll ask, what mom doesn’t?

We began talking to Gabbie early, and giving instructions to him in a loving, non-bossy (but authoritative) manner has gotten him used to accepting and being able to obey two- or three-part instructions such as, “Gabbie, please pack away your book and put back in the bookshelf. Then, let’s brush your teeth.”

When it comes to those repetitive instructions that he needs to be reminded of again and again, I just do them…again and again, as needed.

Why? Because I love him and I want the best for him.

When God brought out the Israelites from the punishing clutches of Egypt, He gave very, very particular instructions to them through Moses. Beyond the 10 Commandments, there were instructions for how to build their altar, how and what they should offer as burnt sacrifices, from protection of property, social responsibility to laws of justice and mercy (Exodus 19-23).

God knew his people and he was exacting, thorough and firm. He did not want them straying toward a wayward path. To his children, he provided faithful, unwavering guidance through his instructions.

I believe the same is needed for our children, and by God’s example, the same is required of us.

As we “take pains” in giving instructions we’ve given a hundred times over, let God’s joy find us with the revelation that it is out God-given duty to instruct our children.

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. (Proverbs 22:6)

It is the same love that hugs our children goodnight that gives them the instruction they need to hear in order to obey. Let’s be faithful in both.

Taking this a step further, we’re contemplating on homeschooling Gabbie. Wow, talk about formalizing my role as his instructor. Haha! Nevertheless, I believe it can be done. It’s not because of my personality or my experience (I taught once before to preschool children but quit), but because of my heart to obey God. If he says we homeschool, then we shall! This deserves a different post altogether but thought I’d share this little piece of info just to you know…get it out of my chest. Haha.

Anyway, to end, I’d like to encourage moms NOT to be naggers, but to be faithful instructors. Herein lies the difference between the two: The latter comes from a place of love and will always be done in love. I believe our children will almost always know the difference. I hope we will be as keen too, Mommas!

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