When It's Okay to Wait to Discipline

Flight of the Bumble Bee
That radiant flower - that's what I want to be. Angry bee? Not so much.

We have a No Whine Zone in our house.

Theoretically the No Whine Zone should be the whole house. Because we all know that God's kids, big and small, are supposed to "do all things without grumbling or disputing." Everywhere.

But it turns out the people in our house are sinners (every last one!) So while whining elimination is the goal, whining management is still required.

I know that whining is a symptom of a heart issue (sometimes more than one), and I don't ignore that.

But the sound, oh the sound! Whining may be my number one trigger for angry-mama-bee buzzing.


Years ago I declared the public rooms the No Whine Zone. Depending on the frequency of infractions, offenders might get a warning: "This is the No Whine Zone. Next time it's off to your room where you can get all your whining out." Or they might get no warning, but a swift "To your room. This is the No Whine Zone."

They whine all the way.

Eventually they calm down and a modicum of reason is possible. It is only then that I discuss their behavior.

I've tried the "Godly-Mama-Who-Patiently-Addresses-Every-Infraction-Instantly" route and pretty much the only fruit of that was to show me in technicolor my own sin nature, and force me to my knees.

Being on my knees is a good thing, I know. But the feedback loop of my sin with my children's doesn't do much for relationship building.

Part of growing into a joyful mother is being honest with myself about my feelings. 

Not my "should" feelings, but my actual feelings.

And whining makes me feel, well, crazy. A crazy-feeling mama does not often display the fruit of the Spirit.

Of course the fruit of the Spirit comes from the Spirit, not from me, and there have actually been times when God has been glorified in my crazy brain and kept me patient supernaturally. Even in the midst of whining.

But not being perfected yet (and having that super-sensitive whine trigger), I must be honest about how my flesh responds. If I can do that, I have a chance to avoid sinning in my anger.

No natural feelings are high or low, holy or unholy, in themselves. They are all holy when God's hand is on the rein. They all go bad when they set up on their own and make themselves into false gods.  - C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

This is where self-control is essential.

This is where I have to acknowledge my emotions, my "natural feelings" as C. S. Lewis calls them, and choose to allow God the opportunity to put His hand on the rein.

For me that means a little bit of enforced silence before bad behavior is addressed.

If I can stay calm and guide my children to an understanding of right behavior and right-heartedness (yes, I just made up that word), I have done my job. There is no rule book that says it all has to happen the instant poor behavior arises.

Anyway, it wouldn't do for the head-spinning kettle to call the whining pot black, now would it?

What is the "trigger" behavior that makes YOUR mama-head spin? Have you developed strategies to help you manage your feelings while faithfully guiding your children?

photo by Adrian Medina
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