Spanking? Or Every Other Method? 

The Gluesticks of Correction

When I said that my wife and I have adopted peaceful parenting techniques I didn’t mean that we completely ruled out physical techniques. This is one area where my wife and I slightly disagree. While she completely rules out spanking, I don’t. 

I reserve spankings for very specific moments, often when natural consequences would be too traumatic or permanent. There are moments when a child needs a quick attention getting and oftentimes (short duration) physical pain is the best way to accomplish it. These circumstances tend to be circumstances where behavior change is more important perhaps than heart change. Physical enforcement is useful in these cases.  

If a child has a habit of running out into traffic, a quick swat on the butt is often helpful in driving home the concept of danger. If the child pesters an animal it is often useful to gently swat their hand before the animal responds with a far more painful gesture. 

My wife makes several good points about spanking and why she doesn’t do them anymore. First, it is difficult for sinful parents to spank without anger. If there is even the slightest bit of anger, you are spanking for the wrong reasons. Second, we don’t hit adults, why do we think it is OK to hit children? There is a certain degree of dehumanizing that we do to children. I have had an avid spanking advocate tell me that children are just like dogs and only respond to physical pain. If they are only intelligent enough to understand physical pain, how do we expect them to understand the explanation required by Tripp’s methods? 

She believes (and is quite persuasive) that if a child is inclined to run into traffic that the child should simply not be allowed to walk.  If a child cannot handle themselves around an animal, remove him from the situation. Rather than be reactionary to “bad” (immature) behavior, be proactive and remove the child from temptation. 

The reason I am inclined to disagree with her logic is that I am not always there to redirect or remove them from temptations or dangerous situations. I prefer to instill an association of pain in them which might persuade them to flee the situation themselves. 

A meltdown in the store is best handled by redirecting the child’s attention away from the object which has caused the meltdown, by quiet words of correction, or by simply ignoring the child and not giving him the attention he wants. We have found that our kids learn quickly what gets them good things and what gets them nothing. 

If we were to haul our child out of the store every time they fussed or whined, not only would we never get our shopping done, we would reinforce in the child’s mind that she is in control. Consistently demonstrating calm strength in the face of chaos is a great way to teach our children that we are in control as parents, not them. 

There are parents who advocate the tactic of taking the child away from the activity as punishment. This is fine, as long as the activity is only fun for the child. If we are participating in a family activity where I am having fun, or the other, more well behaved children are having fun, there is no way I am going to suffer or force the other kids to suffer just because the two year old is grumpy. Our tactic again is usually redirection or ignoring. Harsh consequences are often unnecessary if you consistently train them that tantrums get them nowhere. 

This, I believe, is what the father in the photo was doing. Instead of telling his daughter that her feelings are unimportant or that she should not communicate them, he allowed her to express them in her own immature way. But he didn’t give in. He didn’t coddle her or express to her that her tantrum would get her her way. He simply let her express the feeling and then move on (as adults are allowed to do, just in a more mature manner). 

As for “subjecting everyone in the store to it”, who cares? It doesn’t look like anyone else in the store cares. And if they do, it’s most likely because they either have no children or they are delusional and think they are perfect parents. Having dealt with thousands of little tantrums I can assure you that I do not judge other parents for their children’s behavior (their own behavior however, is another story).

It’s high time we stop telling other parents how horrible they are. Instead, we should focus on our own parenting job and ask ourselves how we are doing. 

When we are perfect, then we can go judge everyone else. Until then, we should probably keep our disgust at other people’s children to ourselves. 

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Peaceful Does Not Mean Permissive

The “offensive” picture 

Spankings. Whoopins. Corporal punishment. All of these terms describe physical forms of discipline. But are these the only forms of acceptable or effective discipline? 

This post wasn’t going to be posted for awhile, but there has been a picture floating around social media which has prompted me to fast track it. 

Since adopting the NAP we have tried to move away from coercive and aggressive forms of discipline for our children. We have adopted a philosophy commonly known as “Peaceful Parenting”. 

Among many Reformed folks and among many in the general public, peaceful parenting gets a pretty bad rap. Some mistake it for permissive parenting. Some insist that the Bible requires physically coercive discipline. 

The recent photo of a toddler throwing a tantrum in Whole Foods while her father and grandfather stood passively over her prompted quite a bit of backlash in the conservative world. One post struck me in particular, that of Matt Walsh. I typically agree with Matt on most subjects, but this is one where I find myself in the minority among his followers. 

Many of the comments on his post were along the lines of “I would never let my child do that without harsh physical consequences!” or “If my toddler acted like that I would have drug him out of that store and taken him right home!” Perhaps worst of all, they accused the father in question of raising a snot-nosed liberal who will forever throw tantrums to get everything she wants. 

As a father of five I can say with conviction that if we followed either of the suggested courses above our shopping would never get done. 

“Spare the rod, spoil the child” is an oft quoted verse when Reformed folks debate discipline methods. One would think Reformed people would be more meticulous, as this is in fact a misquote. 

The actual verse says:

“Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” Proverbs 13:24 ESV. 

No mention there of “spoiling”.  The Proverb actually describes it as something worse. You aren’t “spoiling” your children if you fail to discipline them, you are hating them. 

Some would say that parenting without aggression or physical coercion is parenting without discipline at all. They believe that we are hating our kids by not using a physical rod to discipline them. In the minds of many of these people every infraction (such as a grocery store meltdown) is to be met with a swift swat. Either the hand is to be used or an object like a gluestick or “something that doesn’t leave a lasting mark” (so as not to draw the attention of the Child Protective Services). Their thinking is that physical pain is the only way to reinforce instruction. They insist that discipline cannot happen without this pain. 

A few years ago we went through a Sunday school class on Paul Tripp’s “Shepherding a Child’s Heart”. The process for discipline outlined in this book goes something like this: Child does something wrong, child is sat down and told what they did wrong, child is spanked, child calms down, parent and child reconcile with a hug, child learns. 

The stated intent of the book was to teach parents to to train a child’s heart and not just change their behavior. While I agree with the premise that a child needs heart change more than simple behavior modification, I disagree that spanking is always necessary. In fact this book tries to make the case that spanking is the only Biblical method of discipline. Honestly I don’t believe that this method ends up being much more than behavior modification. 

Physical pain as reinforcement for instruction is less a matter of heart change and more a matter of instinct. When a child (or adult) performs an action and is met with a painful consequence, it is usually natural for them to respond by ceasing that action (I say usually because often we are inclined so strongly towards sins that even physical pain won’t drive us away). It makes sense that we can change a child’s behavior with spankings or other physical punishment. 

But discipline requires far more than just changing behavior. We must not only turn our kids from the wrongs and towards the rights, we must also ensure that they know why actions are right or wrong and encourage them to want to do the right. This depth of discipline cannot be accomplished by spanking alone, if at all.

So how do we ensure our kids aren’t railroading us or everyone else they come in contact with? Permissive parenting differs from peaceful parenting. Where peaceful parenting creates and enforces boundaries (just without coercion or aggression), permissive parenting allows kids to do whatever they want. This is, by definition, parenting without discipline and in fact, hating the child. 

To keep our kids from becoming little hellions we establish firm boundaries and teach them to respect everyone, regardless of that person’s status or position. We teach them to live by the Golden Rule and the Non-Aggression Principle. We teach them to treat others with kindness, even in excess of how they would want to be treated. We also teach them about property rights and to respect what others own or possess. 

Next time I will discuss both my wife’s philosophy on spanking and mine and talk about a few other methods of discipline which we prefer.   

My Wife Is Fat, Therefore I Look at Other Women

Come on, dude, she’s probably not even THAT big….

Recently I came across a discussion on Facebook that boiled down to this: “How does a woman respond submissively to her husband when he expects her to stay thin during pregnancy and is bothered by her weight gain from 3 kids in 4 years?” 
The question then went on to describe his concern that he might fall into lust because he no longer found her attractive. He argued that men are hardwired to find thin and young looking women attractive and cited this article as a source material for his way of thinking.

Now, of course this post rightfully incited a riot. There are several disturbing things going on with this question. 

First off, his main concern is not that his wife is a glutton, eating herself to death, and in sin. Even the blog post he cites is mainly addressing gluttony (though it’s focus is a bit off). His main concern is that she is losing her physical appeal to his appetite. 

Second, is this really a matter of submission? Is a woman required to keep herself attractive for her husband? Is she required to submit herself to whatever physical standard he deems attractive in the moment? 

Third, did he really marry his wife for merely her physical appearance? Is his love dependent on externals? 

If he was concerned with her eating habits and not just her baby weight, he may have a case. But he would be wise to approach the subject delicately. The last approach he should consider is the “You’re not attractive” route. Perhaps he should even consider leaving it up to her doctor to discuss it with her. Or offer to cook healthy foods for her (and eat them with her). Or exercise with her. I don’t care how ugly you think your wife is, you don’t have to tell her. 

The word “submission” gets thrown around frequently in these sorts of discussions. I don’t believe Biblical submission gives a husband license to ask whatever he pleases of his wife. There are some things, especially appearance wise, that people just can’t change. If this were a question about hair length or body hair or whether or not she wears makeup or certain outfits he has some leeway. But how she gains or loses weight is not something she has much control over. 

There is give and take in marriage. There is no Biblical requirement to stay attractive to your spouse. It is definitely a kind thing to do what you can. If you know they have a preference do what you can to meet it. My wife enjoys my beard and hair, and I like to keep her happy, even if sometimes my face itches and my hair gets hot. But I don’t think you’re in sin if you just can’t meet their standards. 

Probably the second most disturbing part about all of this is the way these “Christians” are adopting the world’s idea of what is attractive or necessary in a spouse. The Bible warns against putting too much emphasis on physical appearance because youth and “beauty” fade. 

Christians should seek to find the inner beauty of their spouse attractive.

But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 1 Peter 3:4

Inner adornment should be far more important to a husband than his wife’s outward appearance. It’s his job to wash her with the Word and present her without blemish. 

Besides, the world has a stupid standard. The average woman will spend most of her life with a post partum body. Why does the world expect women to forever look pre-baby (or in some senses pre-pubescent) when the reality is that most of womanhood is spent with scars from child bearing and age? 

I sincerely hope that he married her for more than her looks. A man who concerns himself only with how his wife looks is not loving her, he’s merely lusting over a body or a pretty face. Further still, he’s probably basing his standards of beauty on worldly standards. 

The most disturbing part about this question is the fact that he is willing to shift the blame for his sinfulness onto his wife. He is trying to blame his problems with lust on his wife’s appearance. This is nothing new, Adam played the same game when asked about his decision to eat the Forbidden Fruit. 

Christians need to stop writing blog posts and books giving men ammo for their blameshifting. His sin is his own, even if his wife is hideous or withholding sex from him, his lust is his sin. She will answer for her sins, be they gluttony or withholding. He doesn’t get to blame her for his sin anymore than she’ll be able to blame him. 

I’m glad to see the response to that post was overwhelmingly against this guy’s way of thinking. But the fact that these conversations come up at all is still evidence that we have a long way to go. Stop lusting after women, and stop blaming them. 

And please, stop calling your wife fat. 

Hey! Checkout blog post on Steem https://steemit.com/life/@driptorchpress/my-wife-is-fat-therefore-i-look-at-other-women-2017524t72752861z

Why We Stopped Reading Marriage Books

Blogs are not a good place to get marriage advice.
Despite sometimes writing about marriage, I personally don’t read blogs about the subject unless it’s to pick them apart.

The Internet is a great source of horrific marriage advice. Instead of going there and being inundated with nonsense, I recommend that you get your marriage advice directly from your spouse, not some credentialed celebrity pastor, not some well known author or speaker, not some mommy-blogger with too much time on her hands. Those folks don’t know you or your spouse. They don’t know your needs or your spouses needs. They know only themselves and some generalities that have been spread around since the beginning of time. 

The assumption of so many blogs seems to be “my husband/wife enjoys this, so yours must too.” They will offer advice like “look good” for your husbands and get your wives flowers once a week. While the advice isn’t always the worst, it doesn’t always apply to everyone. My advice? Do not heed such general and reckless advice. 

It reminds me of those old magazine articles about what women should do for their husbands. Have drinks ready. Fluff his pillow. Get the children cleaned up. It’s not bad advice necessarily, but if you step out and suggest that it’s perhaps a bit stringent you must be a radical. You might even hate your husband.

So much of this bad advice comes from complementarian circles. I’m not anti-complentarian, I’m anti-bad advice. Honestly, I don’t want my wife to do all those things for me. That is just not the way I want to be served. Just because we are complentarian doesn’t mean that we should assume men and women are cookie-cutter and all marriages are going to look the same. 

There are many books out there as well that carry lopsided advice. One is called Love and Respect. The basic premise of this book as I understand it is that men need respect from their wives and women need love from their husbands. Now, again, this is not completely untrue. But it does seem a bit overly simplistic. Not all men want just respect and not all women just want love. Love and respect are not mutually exclusive things. Nor is the desire to have one or the other determined by gender.

Unfortunately, when some of these suggestions are taken to their logical conclusion some people can get really damaged. If your husband doesn’t like make up or your wife is not the flower type, you can be left out to dry when truly trying to find help for your relationship.

Worse still is that some of the suggestions almost become rules. It’s not simply advice, it becomes law. And the authors will often find some obscure scripture (out of context) and say “see, the Bible agrees!”

Sometimes, they will take a verse not out of context, but apply it in a horrible way. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” becomes “confess all lustful thoughts you ever have to your wife.” This is a horrible thing to do, especially if you have a very sensitive wife. It becomes worse when  you’re expected to describe them in detail. This not only may horrify your wife, it makes you dwell on thoughts that you should probably just repent of and move on.

If I could narrow down most good marriage advice it’s this: treat each other with kindness. Be respectful, be loving, both of you. You should both be loving and respecting the other. Treat each other with common decency and humanity. Above all else, spouses should be learning as much as possible about each other. Find out what your spouse likes, asked detailed questions, then strive to do those things. Find out his or her love language. Seek to fulfill them in the way they request, not the way some book or blog tells you.

Learn about your spouse’s personality. Are they an introvert or an extrovert? Do they need time alone or do they unwind with people? Does he need to talk things out or does he need to be alone to figure out his problems? Maybe your wife likes gifts, maybe your husband likes for you to serve his plate. Maybe he likes to do things for himself and can’t stand to be waited upon. Maybe he does not want to burden you with superficial things like makeup. Does he really care? Don’t just assume that he does because a book or magazine told you he does, ask. Make him think about it. He is probably just going along with what other men have told him is attractive and has never really thought for himself about the subject.

It is a cliché, but communication is the key to good marriage. It’s important to communicate constantly so that you have an idea of your spouse’s desires and needs. Realize that they will change over time, but if the communication lines are open you will never miss those changes.

Marriage books will not prepare you for those changes. You read it, you accept it as law, and then you think your marriage will be static and perfect. But you grow and your spouse grows. In different seasons of life you two will always be changing and what was at one time indispensable is now completely unnecessary. Likewise, new needs will spring up and you will find yourself serving your spouse in ways you never imagined. You must communicate to know these seasonal changes.

Maybe I’m too hard on the books and blogs and other marriage related paraphernalia. Read them. Discuss them. Take them with a grain of salt. If something doesn’t sit right with you, make it known. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.

Please be… Part 2

So many homemaker blogs tell wives that their job is to make their husbands feel respected, loved, and like he is the master of the home. They urge wives not to make him uncomfortable or expect much out of him since his life at work is so hard and stressful. They push a wife to stroke her husband’s ego. They care more about his feelings than his soul or his performance as a husband or father. This is the stuff that bugs me.

(I am not a fan of the crassness of the original post, and the use in my first post was just to make a point,  so I will refrain from it in this post since the point has been made. For part one click here: 

https://driptorchpress.wordpress.com/2017/01/10/please-be-a-butthole-wife/

Before I get a bunch of husbands mad at me, I do not advocate anyone be a jerk to anyone. I do not advise wives to rudely nag their husbands or husbands to nitpick their wives about burning dinner or not taking care of the dishes. 

The point I was trying to make is this: submission does not equal silence for either the wife of the believer or the wife of the non-believer. 

The believers wife is primarily a tool of sanctification in her husband’s life. She is iron on iron for him. She is a sister in Christ and as such she is a loving voice of correction to her brother. She is to be a gracious lover and a patient partner. If her husband is sinning it is her task to help him see it and kill it. 

I am a finite creature. I am unable to see all the sins that play in my life, I need my wife to show me my blind spots. It would be tremendously unloving for her to let me continue in my sin. 

Yes, it will be painful for a wife to confront her husband in his sin. It might hurt his feelings. I don’t think it’s painless when the elders of the church come to someone and call them out either, but it is their duty as brothers in Christ to do so.  

A lot of articles talk about being Christ to our spouse. But these articles typically only focus on “Jesus meek and mild”. Jesus is not a one dimensional character. He knew when to be gentle and He knew when to flip a table or two. He used gentle rebukes and He called people vipers. Christ exhibited incredible wisdom and discernment for us. We should learn to be like Him. For the sake of our spouse’s soul we should learn how to properly and lovingly rebuke sin. 

The role of the non-believers wife is one of a quiet sign pointing to the Gospel. Notice I said “quiet”, not “silent”. The Gospel is not sweet unless the Law is bitter, the husband of a silent woman is not going to taste the sweetness of the Gospel unless he knows there are boundaries that he has crossed. 

If she never sets up boundaries or expectations (which is what a lot of Christian marriage sites imply) he will never know he has sinned against her. Picture this: the non-believer husband goes to work and all of his coworkers are talking about their nagging wives (yes. This does happen . Shocking,  I know. ) Will he think to himself “Wow, my wife is great. She graciously takes care of everything, there must be something to  that Jesus she follows” or will he think “wow, my wife is a pushover, I have it made. I am awesome, these guys are losers.”?  Knowing the men I do it’s typically the second. 

Now, assume she doesn’t silently pick up after him and let him get away with being a slob day in and day out. Assume she sets up boundaries and asks him graciously to help her manage the household by doing little things like putting his laundry in the hamper. He knows “the law” so to speak. 

When he violates this “law” , she graciously forgives him and picks up after him. Now, his response to his coworkers is going to be “Wow, my wife is great, she is not a nag. I fail all the time to meet her needs and do the right thing, but she graciously forgives me and never speaks to me in anger about my failures. I wonder if it has something to do with that gospel she is always talking about.”

I hate to say it but the seeker-sensitive church culture has infiltrated marriage. The seeker-sensitive church doesn’t bring up sin. It doesn’t call anyone to repentance. It never challenges a soul with the Law of God before presenting the Grace of the Gospel. The seeker-sensitive church says “God loves you and has a plan for your life” and leaves it at that. Now that may fill up cushioned chairs (seeker-sensitive churches are also buttock sensitive, no pews there) and it may fill up the church coffers, but it is not winning souls or making converts. No one repents when they feel good about themselves. 

So many homemaker blogs tell wives that their job is to make their husbands feel respected, loved, and like he is the master of the home. They urge wives not to make him uncomfortable or expect much out of him since his life at work is so hard and stressful. They push a wife to stroke her husband’s ego. They care more about his feelings than his soul or his performance as a husband or father. This is the stuff that bugs me. 

I’m not saying “be a b hole and nag your husband about every wrong thing he does.” I’m saying establish boundaries and expectations and then graciously love him when he fails. 

Wives of believers: Don’t be a silent wife, speak up when your husband sins. Approach him with respect but boldness, be discerning with your words. 

Wives of non-believers: Win your unbelieving husband with your gracious forgiveness and unconditional love. Speak the Gospel with your actions and manners. 

Don’t be a *jerk. 

Please, Be A Butthole Wife

so-close
So close, yet so far away. And wow does that camera capture all the dirty spots…

I was going to write a second post about gender this week, but my wife sent this to me and it was just too much to not comment on: http://herviewfromhome.com/stop-being-a-butthole-wife/

While I understand her grief, and I even understand the sentiment about not being a nag, I just want to say: “Please, be a butthole wife.”

I say this as a husband who makes mistakes all the time, even ones he is completely unaware of. I say this as one very sinful man, living with an incredibly sanctifying and gracious woman. I say this as a man who often neglects to love his wife as he should: please, don’t let your husbands be big children. Be a butthole wife.

We are given spouses to sanctify us and shape us into the likeness of Christ, and we do that by being the iron to sharpen the iron of our spouse. Iron on iron. Not soft lead against cold steel. Not soft clay against a hard hand. We are to be one hard substance equal in strength and force to another.

Yes, there is grace, there are little battles and big battles. There are things we should just let slide for the sake of everyone’s sanity. But there are also times when we need to stand up and say “Hey, knock it off.”

If your husband is a slob, who after continually being asked (with politeness, not nagging) to please put his laundry in the hamper, continues to scrap it on the floor, he is not being Christ to you.

If he continuously ignores or downplays your needs in the bedroom and insists on getting sex whenever he wants, however he wants, he is not being Christ to you.

If your husband sits around after work and does nothing but drink beer and watch tv (or lock himself in his study to read theological tomes), he is not being Christ to you.

Your husband is a man, not a child, not a tender lump of flesh unable to withstand a little heat without charring. While he is not a child in age, he is still a sinner and a child of God. You are here to help him grow and become a better, more mature man. This means that he needs your reminders to love you in the ways you need love. If this means he needs to stop leaving his clothes all over the floor, by all means speak up.

Now, I’m not saying you take out a rolling pin and beat him about the head with it. I just get tired of reading books and blogs that insist that “submission” means rolling over and taking it. I get tired of reading so many blogs written for women (by women) telling them to let their husbands be lazy, narcissistic jerks, because “submission”.

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, His body, and is Himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. (Ephesians 22-24 ESV)

Yes, wives are to submit. Yes, your husband is the head of the home. But he is not the center of the home. He is not the supreme king of the home. He is a delegated authority. He is given his own instructions:

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (Ephesians 25-33 ESV)

In Ephesians, God dedicates three (and a half) verses to telling wives to submit, yet He takes eight and a half to explain to husbands how they must treat their wives. The proportion of blogs written to wives on this subject is grossly disproportionate to the posts written to husbands.

1 Peter 3 has a bit more to the wives, instructing them again to be submissive and respectful:

1 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. (1 Peter 3:1-6 ESV)

The husband only gets this verse, but it is packed with depth:

7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7)

Your husband is called to love you as he loves himself, he’s called to love you as Christ loves the church, he’s called to live in an understanding way with you and honor you. If he does not follow these commands he is sinning.

Laundry is a small thing, dishes left out are a small thing, occasional acts of irresponsibility or forgetfulness are normal and should be given grace. But if a husband is asked multiple times to please be an adult and stop making a mess, I would argue these become big things. If a man cannot respect his wife in these little things, what big things is he missing?

Husbands, it is a small thing, you can do this, please, put your dirty underwear in the hamper. Put your dishes in the sink or wherever your wife asks. Better yet, learn how to do laundry and dishes. Honor and love and cherish your wife by not creating more work for her. Die to yourself and do hard things like putting the toilet seat down. Turn off the TV or put down the book and have a beer with your wife. Talk to her, listen to her, seek to understand every minute detail of her. Know her mind and heart intimately so that you can encourage and sanctify her with the Word and with your words and actions.

Wives, please, be butthole wives. Remind your husband with love and grace that he needs to love you in these small ways. Don’t let him get away with the sin of not loving you as Christ loves the church. Do your duty and be the iron of God in his life. Win him with your conduct, quiet, gentle, respectful, but still reminding him that he is under authority as well. Hide the remote occasionally. Hang a basketball net over the laundry basket (hey it worked for my mom and me). Take his hand during love making and help him explore you intimately. Remind him to do the little things as politely and sweetly as possible and let him be responsible for his ungracious eye-rolling.

Wives: don’t settle for a crap husband, be a butthole wife.

For part 2: https://driptorchpress.wordpress.com/2017/01/10/please-be-part-2/

Lessons From The Other Side

Early in our marriage we decided that we wanted to homeschool our children. Even before our lurch into libertarianism we were convicted that public schools are no place for the minds of our children. We were further convinced that one parent should always be present in the lives of our children. This means we made a conscious choice to live in a single income family.

For ten years our single income came from me. During this time our family expanded from two young lovers into two lovers and five crazy loinfruits.

(The loinfruits hate photos (and shoes), except for the eldest)

Two months ago when my seasonal employment ended we decided to do something outlandish (for conservative folks like us) and let Nicole work while I stay home with the kids.

After ten years of telling her what I think she ought to do in her home I am now the one running the show. And I am drowning in it. I used to think “that’s an easy job”, not as a comparison with my job, just as a mindless judgment. I used to give her all kinds of hints and tips that I thought were soooo helpful. “Why don’t you try doing this?” I would say, empathetically and sincerely. In reality, I had no idea what I was saying.

I am now the one who is one twitch away from snapping at the kids for running through the house like wild banshee after being told not to 59 times. I am now the one wondering why the laundry never ends or why the kids insist on using 5,000 forks in one day.

I am also the one watching a weary, exhausted spouse come home and turn off. The one hoping to have one decent conversation in the day because all they have dealt with is childish conversation with little people who can’t empathize at their ages. I’m the one knocking the children off of their beleaguered parent, telling them “Mommy is tired, be kind, leave her alone for a while and let her breathe.” All the while wishing that maybe Mommy could just take them away for a few minutes and give me some rest.

Being on this side of the stay-at-home parent dynamic has been one of the most humbling experiences since I broke my collarbone, two ribs, and a shoulder blade last year. I was laid up for almost two months, physically unable to move much due to the pain. I had to learn to swallow my pride and accept the help of others. While that was a physically humbling experience being a SAHP is an emotionally and mentally humbling one.

There is so much one hopes to accomplish in one day, and so many obstacles getting right in the way, that the day never seems complete enough. One drops into bed feeling like nothing was done and tomorrow nothing more will happen. While physically capable of accomplishing the goals, one never feels emotionally like the goals were met (even if they were physically met, which they never are actually.)

Thus there is a desire for empathy from the other parent who quite frankly has no clue what’s going on.  He or she has spent all day outside of the home and away from the children, oblivious to the chaos that has been occurring all day. While one may be physically fine, the enormous amount of emotional and mental support needed at the end of the day is staggering. There is an excellent reason God made parenting a two person job. Even if a single person can physically accomplish all of the tasks of parenting, housekeeping, and bringing in a family income, they often do so at the expense of their emotional and mental health. Super kudos to those that do by the way. Y’all are some special people.

Even working on dynamic firelines where one has to be concerned about getting burned up has not prepared me for the mental taxation of several tiny voices all demanding equal time and treatment. The overwhelming number of details one must keep in one’s head is staggering even when compared to the number of variables on a fire line.

This job is not the most difficult job physically, there are jobs far more physically demanding. This job is not the most difficult mentally, brain surgery is probably much more mental. I’d even be willing to bet that this isn’t even the most emotionally draining job out there. But cumulatively SAHP is the most difficult job I have ever encountered.

Much grace should be given to the stay at home parent. More humility needs to be exhibited by the breadwinners of the house. These people are doing a difficult task, and probably the most important one as well. Cut them a little slack if you run across them out in the world and their kids are orbiting them loudly and perhaps a bit chaotically.

Which brings me to another point. 

If you see a father with his horde of children, don’t assume that he is incompetent or unable to handle them. Don’t assume that he was conned into “babysitting” his kids or that he is miserable (even if he is, it’s not likely to be because he is a dad.) Don’t look at him with pity or call him “brave” or “strong” (unless of course you would also do the same for mothers).

Men are capable of parenting. If you assume that the men you know are not up to the task, perhaps you should hold them to a higher standard. If you do see them struggling (as any parent does at times), don’t draw attention to their failures. Don’t make them feel like maybe they aren’t doing well by suggesting that they must be worn out or using the well meaning but much overused phrase “you look like you have a handful!” Give them some grace and maybe even a helping hand, as you should do for anyone you witness struggling through life.

Above all else, don’t give them a pass when they are genuinely being negligent. Don’t play the “poor incompetent dad, I hope his wife is coming back soon.” routine. If he’s slacking, call him out. If he’s spending most of his time staring at a screen or a magazine or book, while his kids are climbing the walls or destroying displays at the store, call him out on his lack of discipline. He can and should step up to the plate and at least try to engage his children in play or conversation.

Encourage fathers to hold their children to high standards in behavior and respect of others. Encourage fathers to discipline children and raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Encourage fathers to be vulnerable with their kids, play with them, empathize with them, let them know their father loves them and has feelings about them and about the world around him. The encouragement we need to give to fathers is part of the encouragement we need to give to all men, but I’ll touch on that another time. For now I’ll leave it at this:

Becoming a stay at home dad for this season has been an eye opening and humbling experience. All the folks who do this full time for years on end have my utmost respect. All of them need grace and patience as they navigate the hardest job in the world. Please give it.