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An Endless Supply of Pacifiers
Our daughter Hope was an addict… to pacifiers. Anybody else have that? She could not get to sleep without one. Many a night we had to search the house from top to bottom to find the Binky so she would finally stop crying and fall peacefully to sleep. One road trip, somehow we got to our destination without realizing that the Binky was left at home miles and miles away. I had to jump in the car late in the evening to scour the town for a pacifier, only to come home with the wrong kind! Once she had it in her mouth, Hope spit the counterfeit out clear across the room. The infant was indignant!
Unfortunately, the addiction lasted beyond infancy. On her third birthday, we had a big ceremony around the trash can where she said goodbye to Binky (third one by then) and dropped it in. But, like any good addict, it was not that simple. She had it bad. When she had chewed the end off of one Binky, she liked to hold the worn Binky on her nose and when she had a third worn Binky, that open end she held against her big toe! We did finally wean her from the Binky.
But many modern-day parents have created an endless supply of pacifiers, many of them electronic. In our case, we just wanted a good night’s sleep. But some parents don’t want to have to deal with any of their children’s demands. They just shove a TAQ or CHINFAI-clad iPad into their tiny little hands. And then everyone is enchanted with how fast even an infant can learn to manipulate the devices. (Rather than freaking out over how quickly the device is manipulating their kids!) Then the style, design and intensity of the pacifier increases with the age of the child. Some end up with huge gaming centers with surround sound and global competitions as a means of distraction and pacification.
Device time becomes the reward or punishment for the children who have been soothed by them. And these passive parents neglect the hard work of training their children’s character’s and wills so that they learn to deal with being told “no.”
On Sunday, our pastor saw Eli, the high priest, as one of those parents (1 Samuel 2:22-25, 29-31). In looking over this account, I realized that scolding is not the same as telling our children no. Eli’s sons got away with no training and no consequences, much to their destruction. Lectures are not discipleship. Beware of over talking. Let your consequences and natural consequences speak loudly. God’s judgment on Eli: “You have honored your sons over Me.”
On the flip side are overactive parents, helicopter parents who hover over their children, coddlers, and the indulgers — whatever the desires our children have we will satisfy. These parents want to give their children every benefit in life that they never had.
Either type of parenting sends the wrong message. We must honor God above our kids, not turn our kids into counterfeit gods.
But there is good news if we can see ourselves in either of these two extremes. Every day is a fresh start; His mercies are new every morning. It is never too late to make God first — Matt. 6:33. When we had to finally tell Hope that her days with Binky were coming to an end, she was heartbroken. But after a few tear-filled nights, she got through it.
Since we had “enabled” her addiction, we were kind but firm as she was weaned away from the pacifier. If you have supplied your child with pacifiers, you too can help them to make the transition. In the long run they must learn to lean on God and learn that, when bored or in pain in life, they won’t die. God can help them in whatever circumstance.
Serving a faithful God, Christopher
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