Wile E. Coyote is one of my favorite characters from Looney Tunes. Why? Because I can identify with him. When I parent, I am Wile E. Coyote.
Wile E. is constantly on the hunt for the ever-elusive Road Runner, who thwarts all of his clever schemes. Just when Wile E. thinks he has that slippery bird within his grasp, he falls off a cliff, or nature defies, well, nature, or the bird makes a cunning maneuver.
Parenting often feels like chasing Road Runner. I know the direction I want to go, I collect the tools needed to get there, I draw out careful plans and specifications, and then . . .
Notice that boulder was supposed to drop straight downward? Instead, it defied nature and . . . poor Wile E.!
And just like Wile E. Coyote, I often crawl out from under that boulder and return to that deceptively promising A.C.M.E. catalog in search for my next great scheme.
The problem is that there is no winning solution in the A.C.M.E. catalog, which is a lesson Wile E. never learns.
Following A.C.M.E., no matter how hard I try, no matter how many parenting books are read, no matter how many “I’m not going to do that again” moments I suffer, I still fall off that cliff as I zoom past that Road Runner.
So, why can’t Wile E. catch the Road Runner?
He’s looking in the wrong book.
And when I fall off the cliff, so am I.
The only time I am successful at parenting is when I follow the Word of God.
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
When I am truly following Christ, when I respond to my children in a Christ-like manner, and when I discipline with scripture, I don’t zoom past the bird and off the cliff.
The Bible serves as a plumb line against which children are able to gauge their conduct. They will ignore daddy all day long, but when they are shown how their conduct conflicts with God’s Word, they tend to perk up and pay attention.
I’m not promising immediate results. I’ve had long disciplining moments where I laid out scripture and still saw that veil over their eyes, but it is amazing how they come around to the message days, or weeks, or even months down the road. The next time we have that same conversation, the veil is partly or completely lifted. Or I hear them repeating some of what I told them to their friends or brothers. Or they repeat it to me as if I never said it.
Parents are planters and waterers. When we plant and water, God makes our children grow spiritually.
So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.
1 Corinthians 3:7-9.
In order to plant and water, parents must live in obedience to Christ as well. They must study God’s Word so that they are prepared to respond to their children in a Biblical manner. Without routine studying of God’s Word, parents are left with an A.C.M.E. catalog.
Following an A.C.M.E. catalog is like a foolish builder who builds his house upon the sand.
Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.
While children respond better to scripture, that is not the end of it. Far and away the biggest hurdle I find to successful parenting is when MY conduct follows an A.C.M.E. design instead of the Bible. When I get overly angry and yell, when I tear my children down instead of building them up, when I say “Because I said so,” when my patience is non-existent, when I strap a rocket to my chest, that is when I experience most of my Wile E. moments.
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
But when I am patient, and loving, and Christ-like, and when I share with them the Word of God in a non-confrontational manner, that is when my children respond positively.
I am by no means perfect at this, and I fall off the cliff more often than I would like to admit, but God has, time and again, shown me that His way is the only way.
So, next time you find yourself with an A.C.M.E. rocket strapped to your chest, take a deep breath because you know what’s coming. Toss aside that catalog and reach for the Word of God instead. Learn your lesson from Wile E. Coyote and avoid the boulders and cliff plunges.