The Wolves

lion witch wardrobeSetting: My son Joel’s bedroom. About 9:30 pm on a Wednesday night. I’m there to tuck him in. He’s been in bed for at least 15 minutes before I get there.

Joel: I can’t stop thinking about the wolves.

Mom: What wolves?

Joel: The wolves in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. I keep thinking about them chasing me and attacking me.

Mom, pensively: Hmmmm.

I’m wondering how to help him over this. I remember being that age, when things like this are very real. I spend several minutes thinking about it, to no avail. I decide to “go fishing,” to ask him questions and see if his answers can help me help him.

Mom: How do we make the wolves go away? What can we do?

Joel: I don’t know. I just want them to disappear.

A swing and a miss. Spending more time thinking about it, an idea springs to mind:

Mom: Is my love stronger than the wolves?

This is an honest question: I do not know what is true for him. I want him to answer honestly.

Joel: Yes.

This is spoken without hesitation. Slightly puzzled, I proceed:

Mom: Is Daddy’s love stronger than the wolves?

Joel: Yes.

Again, spoken without hesitation. I need to know if this is his truth, or if he’s just telling me what he thinks I want to hear.

Mom: Are you sure?

This time he looks puzzled.

Joel: Yes.

Inside, I hope he’s told me the truth, because if he has, I’ve found the key.

Mom, with determination: Ok, I want you to remember something: love is stronger than the wolves. Love always wins against hate, because love is stronger. It always wins. Always. Can you remember that?

He nods his head and sets it on the pillow. I wait by his side, my hand on his arm. Without saying another word, he’s asleep within five minutes, and stays in bed all night. Next morning….

Mom: So, how did you sleep?

Joel, smiling: Fine.

Mom: What happened to the wolves?

Joel, puzzled: What?

Mom: The wolves. Remember, last night?

Joel, still smiling: Oh yea! They went away.

Mom: Wow! That’s pretty cool, isn’t it Joel?

Joel nods his head, still smiling. I say a silent prayer of gratitude. The wolves have never returned.

[Note: I don’t remember exactly when this happened. It probably happened a year or two before 2006, which was when I wrote this.]

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The cult leader was not competent to give us parenting advice

One of the gals I follow here on WordPress posted an excellent essay called:

Book Review: Discipline That Connects With Your Child’s Heart

I hope you read it.

I’ve been out of the cult for over eight years, and in that time I’ve seen so much about what was wrong there. One of those things has to do with his influence regarding our parenting practices, especially when the children were infants. He told us that they had to be afraid of us, that they needed to fear for their lives! Yes, this is what he told us, not an exaggeration. Bible verses were used to justify this advice. And we followed it. I had to override my gut almost constantly, which, unfortunately, I was completely used to doing due to my chaotic childhood, where I had to override my gut on a daily basis in order to get along.

I remember my husband joking about spanking our newborn daughter, right after she was born (we were still in the hospital!). Oh my God I felt so angry and even said, No. He said he meant it as a joke, but now I believe that he was “virtue signaling,” meaning, he was letting me and our friends know that he was on board with the corporal discipline regime. We all “virtue signaled” at different times about different things so my intention is not to single him out. It’s just one example of what went on there.

I remember seeing one of the boys, as an infant, get spanked with a wooden paddle that was probably 18 inches long and at least one inch wide. This happened at a meeting; everybody saw it. The infant was maybe a year old or less. The cult leader openly commended the dad for doing this, saying that he was a good example of how to discipline a child. There are many other examples I can give, and people didn’t just do it to their own kids, they did it to others’ kids too. Unfortunately, I also participated in this inappropriate use of the Bible to justify taking out my anger onto my children, and other people’s children as well. It was wrong and when I think back on it, I feel sad and ashamed. So much pain, so much missed opportunity to express love, patience, forbearance, gentleness. Missed teaching opportunities, missed opportunities to forge meaningful connections.

**sigh**

Infants need to know they are safe and loved. That comes first and it takes time. I completely agree with this pyramid, which appears at the post linked above:

4 messages framework_NEWwithTag

Years later, while the cult leader was in the midst of an affair with one of the married women in the cult, he retracted those remarks in an attempt to please her. This all came to light when he disclosed his affair. That is when the spankings stopped. The eldest of the children were probably around 10-11 years old. It was the summer of the year 2000.