Friday, June 13, 2008

Hard Words for Fathers - Part 2 - "Flipping Through the Yellow Pages"

Here is the second installment of "Hard Words for Fathers" by Douglas Wilson:

Flipping Through the Yellow Pages

By Douglas Wilson

So your son is out of control, and you feel helpless. You don't know what to do. If you tell him to do something, and he doesn't want to, he throws down and there you are. He is defiant, says that he hates everybody, and you know the rest of the drill.

And yet Scripture says the one who refuses to discipline his son hates his son. "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes"(Prov. 13:24). Yes, you might say, but you don't know how to spank, and whenever you have tried it, the whole thing turns into an even bigger disaster than what you have now. It seems to you that the only thing God lets you do is make excuses.

Two things. First, those who know you and the situation and who see it with biblical wisdom see that your son is pleading for someone to love him enough to draw limits and enforce them. You think to yourself that he sure doesn't act like he pleading for anything. He acts like he is demanding the world and everything in it. Sure, but the logic still makes sense. How outrageous and out of control does he have to get before someone will love him enough to intervene? The more outrageous it is, the more you think that you can't do anything. The more outrageous it is, he might think, the more it proves that absolutely nothing will get you to love him.

And second, the plea of ignorance won't wash. If you don't know how to handle this, then find out. If your son had a rare form of cancer, would flipping through the yellow pages for five minutes ("we looked for treatment providers, but came up short") be sufficient to discharge your fatherly duties? No. If you don't know how to deal with this, then find somebody who does. Move if you need to. And don't stop looking until you find someone. And when you find them, humble yourself and ask for real help.

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