THSC Review - August 2013 * Volume 17, Issue 3 - page 18

pat harrell
August 2013
18 •
Texas Home School Coalition Review
Ask God how to be consistent in
disciplining your children.
From the time our sons and daughters were very small, we’ve told
them we expect them to obey the first time—every time—we ask them
to do something. I realize this is an alien concept in the twenty-first cen-
tury, but because the majority of our children were born in the twentieth
century, we’re getting away with it.
Our kids have known we expect them to obey “quickly, cheerfully,
completely, and without complaining” because we repeated that phrase
thousands of times during their childhoods. Just ask them today and
watch them roll their eyes as they recite the mantra.
Now, please don’t think the Harrell household was filled with quick,
cheerful children, who completely batted a thousand in the obedience
bracket. Oh, goodness no! Rather, our youngsters set their hearts on an
objective to prove the theological concept that all humans are born in sin.
Consistency in discipline is a challenge for my wife Belinda and me.
We get tired and frustrated having to repeat the same instructions, for-
getting there is a spiritual battle raging within our children. See, the kids
already know what they are supposed to do (study this, vacuum that,
wash this, flush that). They just don’t want to do what they know they
are supposed to do, easily proving that theological concept of inborn sin
and driving their parents to be consistently inconsistent.
Hey, I do it also. I’ll hit my head on a problem and cry out to the Lord,
“Oh Lord, whatever should I do?”
Predictably, God responds, “My son, you already know what to do.”
“Um, is that why I memorized all those
verses, Father?” I sheepishly reply.
“Yes, My son, that was the
point,” He concludes.
Being thirty years older
than my children doesn’t
mean I’m thirty years smart-
er than my children.
Consistency in discipline is
right for my kids. Consistency in
discipline isn’t easy with my kids.
Actually, consistency in discipline
wears me out with my kids. When
my kids defy my instruction, some-
times I just want to ignore the infrac-
tion, hoping the behavior will magically go away. Sometimes I just want
to go bury my face in a pillow and scream.
I get frustrated. I get frustrated when my sons know what they are
supposed to do but don’t do it. I get frustrated when they see their
mother cleaning the kitchen, yet they stay seated at the table, reading
about Legos. I get frustrated when my sons step over a stack of folded,
clean clothes on their way both into and out of their bedroom.
My sons are part squirrel. Yes, this sounds weird, but it is true. I know
they are part squirrel because of how they stuff their bedroom closet
with odd items they find around the house, just like squirrels do. I’d hol-
ler at the boys to clean out their closet about every week, only to find it
trashed again the following week. I didn’t consistently check their closet
each day, so they restocked it each day with socks, appliances, Legos,
shoes, and toys.
Well, I got frustrated with being frustrated and finally agreed
to ask the Lord what to do. He told me. Not in an audible voice,
but in a revelation that reminded me why He is God and I’m
not: “Remove the door,” He revealed.
“Do what?” I replied.
“Remove the door,” He repeated as He usually has to
when imparting wisdom to this imperfect father.
With hammer and screwdriver, I removed the closet
door from the hinges. The boys had shocked faces. By re-
moving the door, I removed my sons’ ability to hide their
disobedience. Now each time I visit the boys’ room, I instantly
know the state of their squirreliness.
God has the best ideas for handling my sons, and I should
ask for His wisdom more often since He has a Son too—though I
haven’t detected that God had this kind of trouble with His Son. But
you do have to wonder if Joseph ever stepped on Jesus’ Legos back
home in Nazareth.
If you have a moment, please send an email to ImperfectFather@ I’d love to read stories of how you creatively discipline your
Pat and Belinda Harrell have home schooled since
1995. They have five jolly children, and the loudest
house on the block. Please send your thoughts on
this article to Pat at
He promises to write back. Read more about being
an imperfect father at
Being thirty years
older than my children
doesn’t mean I’m thirty
years smarter than my
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