Thursday, June 19, 2008

Hard Words for Fathers - Part 3 - "Hold Your Pride Under"

Here is the third installment of Doug Wilson's "Hard Words for Fathers." If you haven't read the first two you can find them here.

As a parent myself, his words in this article were convicting and rung true to my own experience. He talks about listening to advice and constructive criticism from godly friends who may see your parenting situation more accurately. Beware of pride that will keep you from listening and may result in feeling offended.

Hold Your Pride Under

by Douglas Wilson

I said earlier that in your troubles with Jon, you needed to seek out someone who could help you, humble yourself and ask for that help. There is one other point that needs to made about this.

If the answer to your problem were obvious to you, then Jon wouldn't be an out of control discipline case. Neither would Mary, and we will need to talk about her later. Now, because the exact nature of the problem is not obvious to you, when you first seek out the input of someone who has biblical wisdom on these things, the chances are that what they say to you will have two characteristics. First, you will probably be surprised by what they say. Often, their input will tell you to do the exact opposite of what you thought you were supposed to be doing -- like trying to explain to a Southerner how to drive in snow. You have been trying to turn the wheel this way, but you actually should be trying to turn it the other way. Many aspects of this problem are because of the counterintuitive nature of the solution.

The second aspect of their input is a little more unpleasant. When you finally get real help, from someone who is really willing to tell you what is going on in your family, and how you got to the place where you are, it is in the highest degree likely that you or your wife, or both, will be offended. Part of the reason why you have gotten this far without hearing what you need to hear is that many of your friends instinctively know this. You will be tempted to think that the person who finally tells you "doesn't understand," or "doesn't care," or "has a simplistic approach," or "doesn't know your wife," and so on.

My point is not that the outside observer is perfect or omniscient. My point is that it is your son that is out of control, and you don't know why, and this other person is likely to have a better grasp of that than you do. And even if he doesn't, what good does it do to get offended? The temptation to take offense in a situation like this should be taken by you as a version of that children's game, where you tell the child he is getting warmer, warmer, warmer, until he finds the button. The more prickley and offended you feel yourself getting, the more godly advice is probably getting warmer, warmer, warmer. So fight the temptation to take offense. Roll with it.

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