In the year after my dad died, as part of my grieving, I wrote this book. I’ve waited to make it public for many reasons. But now, more than 11 years later, I want to share it. My dad was a good man. I want you to know about him and his influence. I hope you enjoy.
Kids are annoying. Me being their kid, I was annoying. But there were consistent rules, if mom says “no,” don’t go and ask dad. They would talk to each other so they would find out if you did that. My mom very rarely spanked me. My dad got a significant amount of cardiovascular exercise from spanking me. I never understood that until I had my kids.
I don’t know if this is why they did that or not, but it seems to me they were portraying God. God the Father, as revealed in the Old Covenant, disciplined His people. The Nation of Israel was judged right and left for their indiscretions.
Jesus, as revealed in the New Covenant, laid off the physical discipline. He forgave people, laid down His life. It’s different from the Old Covenant. Jesus said He wanted to gather Jerusalem to Himself as a hen gathers her chicks. God the Father wanted to wipe out Jerusalem on a number of occasions! But Jesus is not all love. When He judges the world in the end, He wipes out the enemies of God and sends them to punishment. God and Jesus are united the whole time.
This is how I see it, God the Father was the revelation of God that showed discipline. Jesus shows mercy, love, and encouragement. Perhaps this shows two parents how to raise a child. The father punishes and trains–when you are good; dad is good to you. Mom is to be supportive, encouraging, interceding on behalf of the kids. But if mom has to, she’ll turn you over to dad!
I had a friend in kindergarten who used swear words. I thought they sounded cool so I picked them up. I used to walk around using swear words, having no idea what they meant. The girl I walked to school with went to our church and she heard me swearing. She told me once that I shouldn’t be saying those words. I started swearing at her.
She came over to play and she went into my mom’s room where she was typing something. I remember it like it was yesterday. This girl says to my mom “Jeff says some stuff at school.” She never said exactly what but my mom got the idea from her and I that it wasn’t good “stuff.”
I confessed eventually. My friend went home. “Go in your room and wait for your father to come home.” Oh did I hate that. I don’t know where he went on those days, I wonder if my mom called him and told him to take his time. Agonizing.
I remember once my dad brought in this wooden scoop looking thing. He said he had just made it. It was cool, my sister and I told him it was nice. Then he explained that it was a paddle he had made to spank us. Oh. This was one time where I wished my dad didn’t work with wood.
Once a friend told me that when you are about to be spanked you put a soft cover book in your pants and you could hardly feel it. Sounded good to me. I tried it out. Somehow my dad figured it out. Clifford the Big Red Dog was no safety valve for Jeff.
Our backyard in Michigan had a huge weeping willow tree in it. Under the tree was our picnic table. My sister and I went out and enjoyed swinging on the vine-like branches of the tree. For a while we stood on the picnic table bench to get higher up and swing higher. That was fun for a time, if we could only get higher.
We stood on the picnic table to get even higher up the branches and swing even higher! Oh this was great. Oh, if we could only get a bit higher though! We could jump up from the table and grab the branch. Oh that was the best yet! We kept missing though as we jumped up and eventually we broke the table. Well, since one board was broken, we might as well do the rest in. By the time we were down we had ruined the picnic table and the two benches. Then we realized what we had done.
We can’t just tell dad that we ruined the picnic table, what to do? My sister was older than I so it must have been her idea, we decided we would drag the pieces and hide them in the ditch in the back of our yard. A six-year old and a four-year old dragged everything back and put it in the ditch. We then went inside and carried on with our usual business.
My dad walked past the kitchen door and glanced out and noticed that his picnic table had vanished. Hmm, wonder what’s up with that. He asked us if we knew anything about the picnic table. Picnic table? Did we have a picnic table? We lied, but we were bad liars.
My sister got it first. I ran to my mom. I remember her holding me and telling me that even though she was hugging me, I still had to get a spanking for lying to them. I did, my mom couldn’t stop him. That’s the way I remember it being. It makes more and more sense to me as I grow older and learn more about kids and parents.
Push-over dads who never discipline have whacked out children. Mothers who discipline all the time have horrible relations with their kids. But when the roles are kept straight, it tends to produce good kids. There are always exceptions. Many fathers go overboard with discipline and never show love. Distant mothers drive their kids to excess as well.
My mom and dad had it worked out pretty well. That’s the pattern I saw in my home and I think it is biblical too. I don’t know if they ever thought it through how I explained it with God the Father and Jesus Christ, but it’s nice that it fits.