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Women Who Win

Are you Stirring up the Nest?

A new generation is coming up which is trained to do umpteen number of things which do  not include taking care of oneself. They are grown-up babies who cannot even prepare a cup of coffee for themselves! Beware parents of releasing adult babies into this world, who will live miserably and make others miserable.

I watched with wonder as a coolie woman deposited her 18 month old son on the floor, spread a banana leaf, served his food, and went about her work. How could she expect this tinytot to eat all by himself? Sure enough he consumed the food without spilling a single rice and proceeded to lick his fingers. That set me to think. How often we feed our children till they are four or five years old, running after them, plate in hand, begging. That poor woman knew how to stir up her nest. The sheer need to work to provide for her family made her train the child so-for good! The child knew if he spilled some rice his stomach would go half empty and the dire need forced his muscles to coordinate properly not to let a grain of rice fall to the ground.

I think, now that we have fewer and fewer children we want to fuss around them and keep them as babies as long as possible. But do we realise the damage we cause to their future? We should have in mind, while training our children, that not only their mind but also their commonsense, body, spirit and soul should develop parallel, making them totally developed wholesome persons. How do we do that?

There is a picture of the eagle teaching the eaglets to fly. That’s what we want to do. We want our children to fly, soar high. That’s how the Lord trained His son Israel. “He shielded him and cared for him; He guarded him as the apple of His eye.” Then He let Israel fight his own battles. He dropped manna from heaven in the wilderness. One fine morning He stopped that too and let him make his own bread. No more miraculous provisions!

“Like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them on its pinions...” (Dt 32:10,11).

The eagles build a nice strong nest in a safe place and lay eggs and hatch them. Then the father and mother spoon feed the chicks. As the young ones become stronger and grow wings, the parents start pulling out the sticks one by one. The chicks resettle to a more comfortable position. With systematic dismantling of the nest the eaglets grow more and more uncomfortable till at a point they fall out. In an attempt to save themselves they flutter and fly a short distance. That’s when the parent catches them. But the process is repeated to the fear, anger and grumbling of the chicks till they fly off free, strong and independent into the wide wide world. If the eagle does not stir up its nest...there’s no need to say.

This was how it was in olden days too . The scene is changing gradually. Instead of making the home more and more uncomfortable, driving the children to find their own food, we make the home more and more comfortable so that they can “study” properly. We keep a servant so that they can do their homework without being overloaded with housework. We spoonfeed them till they become adults and one fine morning expect them to be magically transformed into husbands and wives at the chime of the church bell. We expect them to be fathers and mothers at the birth of the first baby.

This will never work, dear parents! Remember, your children are primarily going to be husbands and wives, fathers and mothers. “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Prov 22:6). In other words, a baby should gradually be detached from the parents on his way to adulthood till he becomes a self confident individual able to manage not only himself but also an household. If we cannot train our children to take care of themselves, how can they take care of their families?

When does this training start? May be between 6 months and one year. Surprised? Yes. The mother starts weaning the baby. It is difficult for both. We know if the mother pities the child and continues to exclusively breastfeed him, she is causing him and herself more harm than good. She has to harden her heart so that she will be more free. The baby also becomes more free and gets other necessary food.

We should allow the child to eat from his plate, though he may spill all around. When the child refuses to eat let him go hungry so that he’ll be too eager to eat his entire next meal. Children refuse to take what they don’t like because they know they’ll get something after an hour. Or, they know mama will come after them begging. Outsmart them. Don’t carry a child who can walk. Though carrying may be less troublesome, let him walk as much as he can. Only then carry him. Grandparents should not secretly feed them. They should not carry them all day through, in spite of parents’ protests. Husband and wife, neighbours and friends should put up an united front. Those who do things for a child which his parents have refused to do are doing a great disservice to the child. Well meaning friends and neighbours could be the greatest hindrance for disciplining a child.

As children grow up, develop a symbiotic relationship. Let them help you to sweep, clean, wash vessels and clothes, shop, change a fuse,  clean the bike or car. Mind you parents, if we don’t do these things, if the servant, peon, electrician or driver does everything our children are never going to learn them.

Teenagers can fix a simple breakfast. Harrowed mothers need not dash around trying to get them ready for school. When you get a fever or headache, lie down. If they can’t make a sandwich let them go hungry. If they are particular about snacks, buy them the raw material and give the recipe too. However hover over them when they handle the gas stove or electrical appliances. Give a helping hand. They may and will bungle. It’s O.K. That’s how they learn. Teach them patiently. Don’t pity them if they go without breakfast or snacks. The sky won’t come down. Discipline is painful and if it is not painful it is not going to discipline. If children do housework along with homework they won’t become couch potatoes. Each child should have a share in the daily chores of the home. If they refuse, deprive them of some privilege like TV or even a meal. The Bible clearly teaches, “If a man will not work, he shall not eat” (2 Thess 3:10). This, Paul calls as a rule. Let us not feel guilty to implement the Bible.

If your teenager will not wash and press her clothes, let her go to school with dirty crinkled clothes. You try cajoling, scolding, shouting and finally do the washing with all your backache or hire a servant. Instead you can firmly refuse without getting angry. Her dirty clothes will pile up. Keep your cool. When she exhausts all her clothes she may select the best of the dirty ones and even go to school in it. If you have not given in till now, you may abort your attempt at this point and accept defeat. If you hold on, your daughter may grumble, complain, get angry or sulk and say things that make you feel guilty. Don’t waste your words. Just be gentle and kind, but don’t give up the battle. When she knows for sure you are not going to be bullied, then, only then, she starts moving. The process may literally be a tug-of-war. This is just one example. Parents need not be too good to their children. They should use their time more profitably as their children take over responsibilities. Women who tried to imitate the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 and fainted, are you now able to guess the secret of her success?

Will it then become a routine? No. Not always. The struggle may go longer than you expect. Parents should not expect a change in children after telling them once, twice, thrice or even ten times. Sometimes it is easier to do a job than get our children to do it. This is where parents need patience. Training is making them do a thing day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, as Dr. Clyde Narramore puts it. Hold on patiently, lovingly, without irritation. Sometimes till they leave, it goes on, leaving you disappointed. But the reward comes “later on” (Heb 12:11). Children, when they become disciplined adults, will praise you forever.

During the struggle you may get confused or even feel guilty. But if you are tough and firm without being cruel it usually turns out alright. When there is a real good reason for their inability to fulfil their chores on a particular  day, be negotiable. Along with discipline have an abundance of good time like family picnic, some pocket money, some freedom and a lot of appreciation for what they do, so that discipline will not be heavy on them.

We should not boast that we learnt cooking only after marriage. There is definitely a quality and quickness about those who develop such skills early. It is a terrible thing to be disciplined by the spouse or mother-in-law.

Girls should grow up knowing they must primarily be wives, mothers and homemakers. They must be taught the value of being a woman, the beauty of bearing children, the joy of bringing them up and caring for a family, the art of entertaining guests, cooking, homemaking, etc. These they learn only by involving themselves in every aspect of the home. They should be able to set the table. Or else when they get married they will sit and start eating instead of looking to the husband’s needs first.

Nowadays there are many M.A’s and M.Phils, doctors and engineers who feel guilty to become pregnant. They hate their babies for spoiling their career. While washing nappies and cutting vegetables they wonder what they are doing at home. They feel fish out of water as a fish feels out of water in water. They feel frustrated if their education is not used. They would rather throw away their babies than throw away their education.

With less and less children and more and more gadgets women aspire high. Good. But they should not act like men or expect their husbands to become women. A woman should do a woman’s job and leave the man to do his job. A man is good only as a man. He is not good as a woman. Certain things like cooking, washing and housekeeping should be done by the woman of the house except during times of crises. Are you training your daughter in the way she should go? (1 Tim 5:10,14).

Recently we had been to Nilgris when unexpectedly our host fell ill. We were dumbfounded when their graduate daughter took complete charge of the home. She cooked tastily for us, took care of the sick mother and attended the evening meetings too ! It is a rare sight these days.

How many boys are trained as husbands and fathers? Take your son along with you to the market and teach him to select the best of fish and mutton and vegetables. Teach him how to find out whether the fish is fresh or not. Show him how to pick out tender brinjals and ladies fingers.

Let them learn to select quality goods - from toothpaste to tape recorder. They must know how not to be cheated. Let them go to the bank with you or help you fit the fan. Let them go under the car and repair it. Discipline them in even small things like taking out the trash, trimming the fence, repairing the stove or even throwing dirty clothes in place. Or else they will be a headache to their wives. Let them learn the value of money and share in the family prayer so that they’ll be good bread-winners and the high priests of their families. Let them go out as guardians for their sisters. Teach them to treat women with respect. Let them learn to cut fish and dress chicken. I thank God for my husband who can do all these.

Rebekah as a young girl could draw water for the household plus ten camels. No wonder she could also cook for her husband, “tasty food just the way he liked” (Gen 27:9,14). David and Joseph walked long distances carrying vituals for their brothers.

Most of us know that to get our children moving we have to light a fire under them. But we must always bear in mind that, “No discipline seems  pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Heb 12:11). Discipline is a cloud with a golden lining.

I like Maharashtra for one thing. Labour is dignity for Maharashtrians. Where we stayed, school and college students graze their buffaloes morning and evening. Colleges are empty when they reopen in June because it is the month of sowing. Only professors come and sign in the register.I like this system that gives space for the total development of a person.

I started learning to drive the car when I was 5 years old. In a deserted road in the night when our family went for a drive, I sat on my father's lap and held the steering wheel. His big arms would be over mine. At ten I sat by his side and held the wheel without him holding it except when there was an occasional vehicle coming. At twelve I took the driver's seat and my father only changed gears sitting close to me. At fifteen my father moved over to the next seat. At sixteen, on that most unforgettable day, we were a little late. When we came to the spot where i usually stopped the care and we changed seats, my father said, “Drive home.” A thrill went all over me from head to toe and as the town was n deep slumber, tensely I drove home. At eighteen I got my driving license. I have not had a major accident since then.

Are we trainng our children for a smooth drive in life without a major accident? Are we stirring up the nest?

 


   Address for Correspondence & Contributions:

Lilian Stanley
13 Church Colony
Vellore 632006, India
Tel: +91 9843511943
Email: lilianstanley@gmail.com

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