Posted by: ramonamom | May 11, 2008

Actions Beyond Their Control? Part 2

The second point Ed Welch makes in his book, _Blame it on the Brain_, regarding practical applications of the mind-body discussion from a biblical perspective (see the first part of this series here) is that each person’s abilities – his brain strengths and weaknesses- are unique.  Isn’t our God awesome, who has made so many very unique persons?!  In our family, my husband often says, “We have eleven children – one of each” because of their many differences (he has said that ever since we had five children, just adding numbers as necessary).  It is our job, as parents, to know what each of our childrens’ strengths and weaknesses are in order to encourage them and provide assistance when needed. 

As Mr. Welch states, “This may not seem very important when a person is similar to you, but when you are helping people whose abilities are different from your own, it means that you must be alert to these differences and prepared to study them.”  See another post regarding this issue here

Could it be possible that some of our children’s “actions” which frustrate us to no end are actually cognitive weaknesses?  One of our adopted daughters has a very difficult time with math, for example.  When she lived with her first adoptive family, she simply cheated to get by.  In our home, there is too much accountability for her to do that, so she gets angry and tears the pages in her book instead.  Recently, I have been helping her examine her anger in relation to math and I believe that she truly has a cognitive weakness in regard to this subject – possibly a learning disability.  Did her brain make her sin when she tore those pages in her book?  Certainly not.  She chose to express herself in that way and it was indeed sinful.  As she works on learning to deal with her anger, I hope to come alongside her and find ways to help her overcome her learning disability, though. 

Quoting Mr. Welch, in regards to an example of a boy whose learning abilities are different from the rest of his siblings:

Educational testing is one way to get some of this information, but a good observer can learn quite a bit just by looking over the boy’s shoulder as he does his homework.  Possible weaknesses could include some of the following:

* He can’t see the blackboard.

* He can write down a homework assignment when he sees it written on the blackboard but not when he hears it.

* He gets distracted easily.

* He has trouble with subtraction but not addition. 

* He forgets to bring his books home.

* He is simply less intellectually able than his siblings.

* He has a hard time keeping directions in the right order.

Any of these facts could be gleaned by an attentive observer, and each one could be addressed in a specific way.  The point is this: each person has a unique assortment of cognitive gifts and weaknesses.  The more that package of abilities is different from your own, the more you will have to study the other person.”

So, let’s get back to our original question regarding whether a child’s sinful actions are beyond their control due to a brain problem.  These brain (or cognitive) weaknesses can certainly influence a person, just like our daughter who so easily gets frustrated with her math schoolwork.  It is not her learning disability that causes her to tear the page in her math book out of anger, though.  Rather, it is a heart issue.  It should be our goal as parents to consider the larger situation and see if there is an underlying problem which can be dealt with as we also confront the sin issue in her heart. 

Stay tuned for Part 3…



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