That Dirty Little "D" Word...Discipline
Generations Ministry: Parents & Family
by Nathan A. Cherry, 04/17/2012
Have you ever been out in public and saw some kids behaving in a way that made you want to grab their ears, twist, and “teach them a lesson?” To emphasize her point, my mom used to grab my ear, twist, and proceed to show me exactly what it was I was supposed to be doing, or not doing. To say I was “all ears” would be an understatement.
Or maybe you’ve had an experience like this one where you end up hiding from your own kids because you’ve concluded that they are aliens sent to destroy you and take over the planet. And more often than not you sit back at the end of a long day, sigh (or perhaps cry) and wonder aloud “how did it get this bad?”
Well, the truth is that kids don’t “end up bad.” They are not pre-programmed to be out of control, rude, misbehaving delinquents. The truth is, if they are that child that they were allowed to become that child…by you! Yes, we as parents are the culprits behind our children’s behavior issues.
Discipline is a hot button topic for many parents these days. I’ve had a lot of conversations about parenting and discipline recently, so when I came across a couple of articles I couldn’t help but think God was nudging me to write about the topic (believe me, it’s just as much for my benefit as anyone else).
A lot of really helpful resources exist on the topic of parenting with an emphasis on discipline. I think of an excellent book by Tedd Tripp called “Shepherding a Child’s Heart.” This very practical book takes on some tough issues every parent faces and provides easy to understand, biblically based answers. I can’t recommend it strongly enough.
Another great resource I have been reading lately is by a pastor named Reb Bradley entitled “Child Training Tips.” This has been such a great help to me by showing me the “why” of parenting. Why should I avoid certain ways of handling my kids? Why should I make sure to do certain things? The practical value of this book cannot be overstated for anyone that wants to parent their children on a solid biblical foundation.
And you can click here for a short article on how to make discipline helpful.
But let me share a few things I have learned from my own experience to be true in regards to parenting according to the Bible. Because, after all, unless we build our lives, and the lives of our children – including discipline – on Scripture we are building on a faulty foundation. Remember, the Bible promises that if we “train up a child in the way he should go, when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Prov. 22:6)
Be a Model. I’ve been saying this a lot, but it is critical in all we do as parents, we must model the behavior we expect from our kids. So, if I want my kids to be respectful, I must be respectful to others. Cursing the check-out girl or the drive-thru guy won’t instill respect in my kids. And returning the disrespect of others won’t show my kids how to “do good to them that hate you.” (Matt. 5:44) You must be the model of the things you want to instill in your kids, including: respect, honesty, hard work, responsibility, character, integrity, accountability, dependability, intelligence, wisdom, faith, and forgiveness.
Be the Parent. Many parents today are more interested in being a friend or buddy to their kids rather than a parent. But our job as parents is to teach and train our kids, not be their buddy. Being a parent means making hard choices, setting limits, enforcing consequences, and administering discipline. It also means at times that our kids won’t necessarily like us, but, in the end they will love and respect us; this is far better than being “liked” for a season. If we worry less about what our kids think and more about what God thinks of how we are doing as parents things will turn out better.3.
What is the Word? Many opinions exist about how to parent our kids, but the best parenting book has been around for a couple thousand years and is just as applicable and relevant today as it was then: the Bible. Don’t be fooled into thinking the Bible is not relevant for parents today, or that it doesn’t address the issues modern parents face. It still holds the wisdom of God on how to teach and train our kids the way God intended. Consider:
“Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.” (Prov. 22:15).
“The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.” (Prov. 29:15).
“He who spares the rod hates his [child], but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” (Prov. 13:24).
“Chasten your [child] while there is hope, and do not let your soul spare for his crying.” (Prov. 19:18).
In just four verses from Proverbs God taught us as parents how to remove foolishness from our kids, how to impart wisdom, how to love our kids and how to endure parenting. Just imagine what we can learn from the rest of the Bible if we take time to study what God says about parenting.
The first thing I had to understand as a parent was that my children will turn out exactly the way I teach and train them to be. My kids are no one else’s fault, I am their parent and God will hold me accountable. So my responsibility is to know what the Bible teaches and to apply it as I teach and train my kids (Deut. 6:6-9).
I can’t help but feel sorrow for parents that seem to be merely “surviving” their kids. The Bible calls children a “heritage,” and “reward.” That certainly doesn’t sound like something to be survived, but something to be celebrated and cherished. Maybe we’re too distracted by things that don’t really matter. I doubt God is going to ask me about my Facebook status or my fantasy football team when I stand before Him. But I know He is going to ask me about how I raised my kids.
As lovingly and urgently as I can, I want to implore every parent to make investing in their kids, teaching, training, discipline, talking, loving, a priority in your life. Before social networks or hobbies, your kids need to come first; and they need to know they come first in your life.
The impact of how we teach and train our kids will be felt for their entire lives. It very well may determine whether they walk away from the faith of their parents, or embrace it and make it their own. Don’t let the worthless things of this world distract from the things we have been tasked with by God. No social network or hobby will ever mean as much as our children thanking us for loving them enough to invest in their life.
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