Sharon's Mom and Dad came for counseling. I knew the family pretty well as the Dad bragged in a Men's Meeting about how he was raising his kids.
"I'm teaching my kids (Sharon's brother was 16) how to conduct themselves in all situations."
An older man seemed to know a lot more about Dad than the rest of us. He asked, "Well Clark...what do you mean?"
"I teach them to be obedient to us and all authorities. They are not to refer to any adult by their first name. Instead they must say, Sir or Mam. With their allowances and any other money they receive they must tithe to the church. They cannot do any activities Saturday nights as they must get up early Sunday and do their chores before we go to church. They better not get into any trouble at school or they'll pay the piper."
The older man wasn't liking Clark's attitude. "Clark there are other things you expect of them ~ aren't there?"
"Of course. They can never use pepper - it is a symbol of dark sin. Oh, and whenever my son gets a card or letter from anyone he must open it in front of us and read the entire message to the whole family... as will Sharon when she's older." (This was before the cell-phone era).
Several of the men, including me, squirmed in our chairs.
Enjoying the men's reactions, Clark boasted, "And they can never go on a date unless we accompany them. I call that a double date."
So I was shocked when Clark asked me to counsel him and his wife. I didn't have much experience yet and wasn't certain of just how to proceed. But Clark didn't pause, and before I could say anything he set the boundary for me not to cross.
"Whatever you do ~ don't tell us how to parent our kids."
Then he opened Pandora's box.
"Larry we don't know what to do with Sharon. She's won't hardly talk or look us in the eyes. She's way too young to be depressed, isn't she?" We're trying not to discipline her...but we're running out of patience."
"How old is she?"
I tried probing a little deeper. "Maybe she's coming down with the flu or something."
"Oh, No, she's not sick. It seems like she's being defiant. But whatever is wrong with her wasn't caused by us."
"Let me pray about this and meet in a few days."
They strode out of my office.
"Please Holy Father give me wisdom and help me see the whole picture."
And the Lord spoke the key to the whole story through a person. Sharon's Aunt asked if she could share her concerns about Sharon. I hadn't contacted her and realized this was a God thing.
Elsie began, "Sweet little Sharon saw a beautiful doll in a drug store. She saw the price tag and knew she didn't have enough money. After all she's only 7."
I nodded for Elsie to continue.
"Her parents watched her gaze at the doll. They said, 'Sharon there's no sense in wishing your life away. We won't buy it and you don't have any money.'"
"Well if I save my allowance I could buy her."
Clark snickered, "It would take you all Summer even if you saved every penny." Just forget it!"
The next day at home Sharon quietly asked her Mom if she could try to save up the money and get her doll. Mom coaxed Clark to let her try. That evening she told Sharon, "It's OK to try, but we doubt you can get it done. You're just too young."
Elsie said, Sharon told me the story and was resolved to buy the doll. I encouraged her...every young girl should have a doll.
Elsie continued, In late September Clark couldn't believe his ears, "Daddy, I saved up the money. Can we please go and get my doll today?"
"No, I've got too much to do the next few day. I guess we can go Saturday."
Sharon hardly could sleep nights as the days crawled bye. Saturday she arose early and waited for her Dad to awaken. "Dad can we please go now?
As she rode in the car all she could think of was, I hope my doll is still there.
Dad pulled into the parking space. Sharon looked and saw her prize. Excitedly she headed toward the door. Then she heard her Dad say something I'm sure she'll remember when she's 99. It happened as she was almost in the store.
"Sharon, Don't go into the store. Come back to the car."
"You can not have that doll... you need to learn that in life you don't always get what you want."
They drove home without the doll.
Now I knew the whole story.
"Forbid The Doll and Break Her Heart"
"Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart." (Colossians 3:21, NASB)“You men who are fathers—if your boy asks for bread, do you give him a stone? If he asks for fish, do you give him a snake?" (Luke 11:11, TLB)
“Do for others what you want them to do for you. This is the teaching of the laws of Moses and the prophets in a nutshell." (Matthew 7:12, TLB)
Fathers ~ ~ Here is a better way to raise your child: