Adrian Peterson's indictment for "disciplining his son with a switch" has surfaced the multitude of deep convictions on how to raise children. Often these practices are cultural. Adrian's method of correction is widely practiced in the south. Most southern parents don't have NFL sized arms though. Churches have their own child discipline cultural as well. I was once advised by a church leader, when dealing with my defiant toddler, to spank the child until the child was submissive. This advice sounded more Stalinistic than Christian to me.

Mary, mother of Jesus, was warned in Luke 2:35 that this child would pierce her soul. I think all kids do this to their parents, especially if the parents are trying to be parents and care about the actions of their children. In short, Simeon was letting Mary know that she can't control her son. Despite being a child of questionable origins and uprooted to a pagan culture as a child, Jesus became a model Jew working his way to the top of the educational system and becoming a Rabbi. That's when his defiant side became apparent, breaking the rules by appointing a rag-tag group of disciples. Jesus began making seemingly erroneous claims about himself (we've never heard such things from our children!). When Jesus was an adult, his family was concerned he had lost his mind and Jesus just blew them off (Mark 3). Jesus didn't directly serve a synagogue or community either..what in God's name was he thinking? The defiant adventures of Jesus didn't last long. As many young male adventurers do, he got himself killed. The fate a mother fears most and the very reason we teach our children to follow the rules. Unfortunately the death of Jesus carried the shame of a political and religious rebel. That would pierce my soul too.

Perhaps Mary should have "disciplined her child with a switch" or spanked him into submission? If Jesus had "proper respect" for his family and mother he would have certainly responded to their request to see him, right? Perhaps if she had more control as a parent...but what would the world be like today without the defiant spirit of Jesus?

Child discipline and boundaries are obviously necessary and important for our communities and lives. I still haven't discovered the benefit of bullying a child or inappropriately assaulting them into submission--abuse kills our spirit. Our defiant spirit, when allowed to move within the proper boundaries is the same spirit that delivers new inventions, businesses, and ideas to the world. Again, what would the world be like today without the defiant spirit of Jesus? If you're finding yourself with the intrinsic desire to control and dominate your children, perhaps consider setting boundaries for them instead. Come take a yoga class and see if you need so much control afterward? Letting our children be like Jesus, especially the defiant Jesus, is allowing God to pierce your soul. Mary's soul was forever pierced but the defiant spirit of Jesus did save the world!

Obesity rates are rising. In 1985, the highest obesity rate in any given state was <14%, according the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1). These days there isn't a State in the Union with less than 20% obesity; and throughout the southern "stroke belt", obesity rates are an upward of 30%. The trend isn't much different with our children.

Some hospitals and pediatric clinics are reporting 30% obesity rates with children. Type II Diabetes in children is a recent and "normal" 21st century phenomenon. Deplorable. This all comes down to regulating blood sugar levels, which is preferably done through diet and exercise, not medication.

Is Childhood Obesity Child Abuse?

When a child doesn't receive proper nutrition, our American society gets involved. The nurse will notify a social worker who will follow up with the family and so on. If proper nutrition is not achieved, it is considered neglect and the child will be removed from the home in order to receive proper care. The damage occurs more slowly with obesity and diabetes, however the results are analogous. Diabetes is a slow killer. 

In teaching my Health Professions Intro to Health and Fitness course to college freshman, I have observed these young adults are coming from various backgrounds. As they are learning health and fitness basics, I can tell a few of them are experiencing that awful feeling that the carpet is being pulled out from under them: They are 18 years old and obese and they are mad at their parents for leading them to that state. I hope they choose to take personal responsibility and change instead of staying mad.

Our Christian communities aren't much better and have yet to develop the maturity of accepting that maintaining health and weight comes through proper diet and exercise, not yo-yo dieting and pills with a token walk around the block for exercise every now and then. We have Christian brothers and sisters who are feeding themselves and their children to death. Sad. 

Diabetes and obesity will change the course of one's life forever, if not treated or managed. Treatment alone can be expensive and a multitude of other health problems can also arise, not to speak of the social insecurities associated with being overweight that affect relationships and career. During the slow kill, the quality of life decreases. Realizing the harm that obesity causes children should create a righteous needs to be seen as child abuse.

(1) Obesity Trends Among U.S. Adults Between 1985 and 2011. Atlanta: Center for disease Control and Prevention 2013).

After my dad suddenly died in a fatal accident nearly 5 years ago, I was left numb, praying for hope.  Having 3 young children at home, I did manage to get out of bed each day to change diapers, serve meals and drive the oldest to preschool.  I'm pretty sure my 3-year-old daughter's hair was a wreck for several months, I didn't have the energy to doll her up.  Those spring days were very long and empty filled with an unhealthy diet and apathetic workouts.  The ladies in my yoga classes were worried about me, bringing me food and gently encouraging me to eat it...I was underweight. 

We've all been there (and if you haven't you will), grieving and lost, needing something new to hope for.   The only prayer I could muster in that time was, "God, I'm very sad and I need something new to hope for."  Well aware that God had already blessed me richly with a beautiful family, home and lots friends from the gym and church, I really did feel guilty to ask.  Everyone loses their parents at some point, I had just lost one of mine earlier and in a more tragic manner right?

As a faithful and loving God would have it, new hope came.  What seemed like an eternity was really 2 months after the funeral, I became pregnant.  God answered my prayer allowing the agony in my soul to subside.  Faith was mine once again and even stronger because I experienced hope after has victory!  Moved by this defining experience, I wrote the song, "With You Child" to my new son sharing how God  answers prayers with children...with new little babies.  Children, especially this child, gives me faith.  Faith was found from a child for enslaved Israel with Moses, a transitioning kingdom with Samuel, and a lost world with Jesus.  Today this baby of mine turns 4 and in honor of his birthday I share his song, "With You Child" with you!  Enjoy!

(please allow a few seconds for the player to play)

With You Child by Tara Galles