Helicopter parents, as I wrote last week, refuse to let their kiddies suffer consequences. These folks are the first ones in the principal’s/coach’s/ dance instructor’s office when their child complains about unfair treatment.
Not my mom.
No matter how many times in grade school I whined about how mean my teacher, Sister Deloris Marie, was to me, my mother never changed her tune: “Well, Patty, you must have done something to irritate poor Sister.”
“Yea, like breathe,” I reminded her and then added dramatically, “But when I come home dead someday, you will know who is responsible.” And then I went outside to play kick-the-can. In my mother’s eyes, I was guilty until proven innocent and had Sister Deloris Marie notified my mother of me misbehaving, there would have been double-trouble at home.
Then the unexpected happened. A classmate’s mother came to our house to share that her daughter was bothered by how Sister treated me. It was a Hallelujah moment. My typically non-interfering mother, now forced to resolve the issue, set up a visit with Sister Deloris Marie, expecting, I’m sure, to hear she had a grave sinner for a daughter. I feared that intervention, knowing that had I done even one teensy thing wrong, my kick-the-can days would be over. Things must have gone well because neither my mother nor Sister tortured me after that conversation.
Unlike Mom, some parents turn a deaf ear to complaints of their kiddos’ bad behavior. One of the most bothersome Biblical stories about ignoring the children’s sin involves the high priest and judge, Eli, and his two scoundrel sons and fellow priests, Hophni and Phinehas. In 1 Samuel we read the dastardly duo stole money from the offering and slept with women who served outside the sanctuary.
Eli confronted his boys. “What’s going on here? Why are you doing these things? I hear story after story of your corrupt and evil carrying on. Oh, my sons, this is not right! These are terrible reports I’m getting, stories spreading right and left among God’s people!”
At this point, I expect to read that Eli responded the way my mom would have, had she been alive in 1100 B.C. You know, like take away his sons’ camels for a week or force them to repay the treasury by sheering a few extra sheep or demote them from temple priests to keepers of the doves. Nope.
He does nothing.
So, God does. His message—“Judgment is coming because you refused to discipline your sons”– cannot be misinterpreted. Who of us wouldn’t be on our knees begging God for a second chance to do the right thing and discipline our children? Not Eli. His comment? “He is God. Let him do whatever he thinks best.”
Get a donkey prod for this guy! These are his heirs, his flesh and blood, and he doesn’t have the gumption to beg God for mercy! What is wrong with this man? This is no slap-on-the-wrist correction. God even directs a prophet to tell Eli that his sons both will die on the same day. Read 1 Samuel 4:10-18. The father dies a few hours after his sons. It is a discipline that never needed to happen, had Eli parented like his kids mattered…
which, of course, makes me appreciate a mother who cared enough never to let me get away with anything. Thankfully, she saved God a lot of time making His point.