“Come to Pharaoh for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his servants so that I can put my signs in his midst, and so that you may tell in the ears of your son and your grandsons how I made a mockery of Egypt and my signs that I placed among them—and so that you will know that I am God.” (Exodus 10: 1-2)
God is telling Moses a clear goal that He intends to accomplish with the plagues and, in fact, that is somewhat of a theme throughout the plagues. God is very clear and explicit—He tells us exactly what He plans to accomplish with each plague.
These plagues were not haphazard punishments pulled out of a wizard’s hat and poured over Egypt. There was an explicit goal for all of them together and for each individually, and each part of each plague contributed to making the point that God intended to prove to the Children of Israel and to the Egyptians. We are clearly told that these plagues were not general or vague but pointed and targeted to clear goals.
This is a relevant message for mothers. How many times are we tempted to react to misbehavior with a sweeping, broad decision that may help us vent our feelings but has no goal or hope of accomplishing a goal towards our children’s development? Random reactions are not education or training! Targeted responses are. We can learn from this section of Scripture the importance of thinking through our decisions so that they meet clear goals.
What exactly do we want our response to teach our children? Will our response further that goal? If so, we can go ahead calmly and with courage. But if not, we stop and think more before acting. I have found that when I think clearly through what I want to achieve with any decision, consequence, or limitation I place on a child and when I consider whether my action will move towards that goal or not, I gain tremendous peace of mind. This allows me to parent from a place of confidence and calmness. Not surprisingly, the effects of such decisions tend to be much more positive than when I react randomly.
The plagues weren’t random and we mustn’t parent randomly. The plagues were effective not just in destroying Egypt, but in creating the Jewish nation, forging it with such strength that it still survives. Goal-oriented, targeted actions have lasting, long-term consequences— and that’s how we want to parent.