The theme of my website is “Torah family living.” How can we apply Torah to everyday family life? What does the Torah say about parenting? Can we go beyond Deuteronomy chapter six, and the teaching that rebellious children are to be stoned? I think we can. But it might require a little thinking outside the box. 🙂
YHVH is our Heavenly Father, so it is not a stretch to say that He deals with us, the children of Israel, as a parent deals with children. Perhaps as we look at how He deals with His children, we can learn how to better deal with our children.
Our first stop is Genesis chapter 3, where we find the first sin.
(Gen 3:8) And they heard the sound of Elohim walking about in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adand his wife hid themselves from the presence of Elohim among the trees of the garden.
(Gen 3:9) And Elohim called unto Adand said to him, “Where are you?”
(Gen 3:10) And he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid myself.”
(Gen 3:11) And He said, “Who made you know that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?”
(Gen 3:12) And the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree and I ate.”
(Gen 3:13) And Elohim said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
(Gen 3:14) And Elohim said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all livestock and more than every beast of the field. On your belly you are to go, and eat dust all the days of your life.
(Gen 3:15) “And I put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed1. He shall crush your head, and you shall crush His heel.”
(Gen 3:16) To the woman He said, “I greatly increase your sorrow and your conception – bring forth children in pain. And your desire is for your husband, and he does rule over you.”
(Gen 3:17) And to the man He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘Do not eat of it’: “Cursed is the ground because of you, in toil you are to eat of it all the days of your life,
(Gen 3:18) and the ground shall bring forth thorns and thistles for you, and you shall eat the plants of the field.
(Gen 3:19) “By the sweat of your face you are to eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For dust you are, and to dust you return.”
We’ve all been there. You walk into a room and see children with sticks, poised for the attack. One is sneaking up from behind, ready to throw a blanket over someone’s head. The first thing that comes out of most parents’ mouths is, “Who started it?”
But YHVH handles things a little differently. He walks into a situation and immediately senses that things are amiss. He knows they are hiding something, but He doesn’t ask who the instigator was. He calmly begins an interrogation to find out what happened. He gives each person a fair shake at a response. He doesn’t challenge their answers, even though they are unbelievably lame, and obviously excuses. Then He punishes everybody, because everybody did something wrong. I don’t know why many parents don’t see that. We try to punish the person that started the mess. But if criminals were treated the same way, only the first robber through the bank door would be arrested. Rarely are there innocent bystanders in childhood quarrels. Someone may have started it, yes, but someone else will invariably finish it. So YHVH punishes everyone, but He does not dish out the same punishment to everyone. Satan crawls on his belly in the dust. Eve will have pain in childbearing, and Adam will work the ground by the sweat of his brow. Each one was given appropriate punishment for them individually. Children should be dealt with the same way, if possible. One child needs a stern talking-to, while another should lose priveleges, etc.
1. Don’t look for instigators. Recognize the guilt in multiple parties.
2. Calmly collect the facts from each person.
3. Give each person a chance to give their side of the story without interruption, particularly from you.
4. Punish all who took part.
5. Give punishment suitable for the individual child. Punishing in a separate room allows you to give individualized attention without children comparing notes. For example, my husband disciplines in our bedroom. One child needs a gentle verbal reminder to obey, another may need a few swats and a talking-to. Then he can give them a hug, etc. and restore the relationship.
Happy Torah parenting!