Fishers of Men - Part 6
Stand In The Gap 6
Discipline Is Training
When we talk about "discipline", unfortunately many people think only of "punishment". Paul wrote, "And fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4). The word rendered "discipline" (ASV "chastening"), denotes the entire training of a child, including instruction and correction. Remember, when you have to correct your child, or give them a spanking, time out, grounding, or deprive them of something, you are educating them. From the book of Proverbs it appears that God knew that parents might have an aversion to spanking (Proverbs 13:24). God is basically saying, "Don’t worry, spanking is OK" (Proverbs 23:13-14). I believe that this aversion to spanking is based on the misconception that spanking is "punishment". But someone noted that when someone is training a puppy and has to reinforce a lesson with a light swat from a newspaper, no one would complain, "You are punishing that animal". Spanking is a very effective tool in the overall training of a child.
Children Want Boundaries
One study reported, "The young people told us time and time again how much they needed family structure, how much they wanted to be protected, and how much they yearned for clear guidelines for moral behavior….We delight in the sophistication that tells us there are no absolutes, and one result is that we confuse and frustrate our children, who keep telling us (though not usually in words) that they want rules: consistent, reliable, guidelines for running their lives" (Faulkner p. 249). Added to this, expect your children to obey and stop apologizing for the decisions you make in their lives. Get back in touch with your convictions about God and His word and that you are setting them on the best possible course (Proverbs 22:6). David said, "Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me" (Psalm 23:4). But what does that mean? Well, a rod is used for nudging, prodding, and pushing. The shepherd uses it to get the sheep to obey and go where they ought to go. David is comforted by the fact that God will discipline him if he gets out of line. "Our biggest failures as parents were when we were afraid to make our kids unhappy by saying no. When we saw that there was no way to ever make them completely happy with our decisions, we began to stick to our principles better" (Faulkner p. 251).
Discipline Is A Form Of Love
Whoever says, "If I just love my kids enough, I won’t have to discipline them" is simply asking for trouble. We all know that approach won’t even work with a dog. "Without discipline, love is incomplete; without love, discipline is irrelevant" (Faulkner p. 251). "For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives" (Hebrews 12:6; 7-11). I believe that many children who aren’t disciplined eventually get the message, "Mom and Dad let me get away with so much, but that only means that they are equally careless about standing up to and monitoring people that would harm me".
- Spanking doesn’t mean that you have failed. I believe that some parents feel that if they have to resort to giving the child a spanking that they have failed to properly train the child, or, that they have some sort of demon child on their hands. All children need to be corrected (Hebrews 12:7 "for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?"). And foolishness is bound up in the heart of every child (Proverbs 22:15), and the only "perfect child" exists in the minds of some who have never had children.
- Never spank out of anger. This may sound really strange to some, because typically people equate spanking with a frustrated parent who is at the end of their emotional rope. People who spank out of anger often have the wrong motivation. "These parents are concerned about what their children do, but they are often more concerned about the public image of the family name, perhaps wanting to appear to be the perfect family. They are sometimes more concerned about being embarrassed by their child’s behavior than about what is best for the child’s training" (Faulkner p. 253). Parents start spanking out of anger, because they have lost sight of what it means to be a parent. "The goal of punishment should be the child’s training, not your peace and quiet" (Faulkner p. 273). Spanking must not be parent centered, for example, "If you disturb me one more time, I’m going to come in there and give you a good spanking".
- Children will misbehave and often at the most inconvenient times and places. Do not be embarrassed or frustrated, for all children do this (1 Corinthians 10:13). Angry parents justify their anger by reasoning if the child didn’t misbehave they wouldn’t be so upset. But the child is going to misbehave—that is reality!
- Remember the overall picture. This child of mine is going to grow up and many people in life (or life in general) is going to tell them "no"—often! Simple things such as learning to wait, being patient, taking your turn, sharing, sitting still, being quiet, entertaining themselves, thinking of others instead of themselves, respecting the things that belong to other people, etc…will make the difference between whether they are happy or unhappy adults, have a good or miserable marriage, enjoy or resent what they do for a living, and so on. A child who gets his or her own way becomes an embarrassment to his parents (Proverbs 29:15) , but they will also become a very miserable adult (Titus 3:3), and will bring misery upon their future spouse and children. "One of the overall goals of discipline is to help children shift from extrinsic discipline, or control, to intrinsic discipline. Extrinsic motivation and discipline come from outside the children—from parents, teachers, and other authority figures. But the best discipline—intrinsic, self-discipline—comes from inside and moves outward. The whole point of discipline is to help children learn to discipline themselves" (Faulkner p. 265).
- There are a good number of valuable lessons which are reinforced when a child receives a spanking: 1. You will reap what you have sown—sooner or later (Galatians 6:7). 2. Some rules are inflexible and absolute and anyone who violates them will be punished. There are some rules that do not change with time, culture and circumstances (John 12:48). Here is where consistencyis so important. But as one writer noted, "Consistency is not stubbornly clinging to some overkill consequence blurted out in a discipline frenzy" (Faulkner p. 282). 3. Unfortunately, some people view corrective discipline, such as a spanking now and then, as out-dated and part of a culture that no longer exists in our country. But spanking actually reflects reality. If you violate the natural laws that govern this world—you will suffer and the consequences will hurt. If you violate civil law, the consequences will be unpleasant. If you violate the will of God and remain defiant, you will suffer eternally (Romans 2:9). 3. Spanking should be reserved for such things as defiance and outright rebellion, because such is a serious matter (Proverbs 30:17; Romans 1:30).
- Start early. "Even two-year olds can learn to put away their toys or to give your their cups when they are finished drinking…When begun early, discipline is at its most effective, its most durable, and, believe it or not, its easiest. Terrible two’s is a relative term. Compared to a defiant ten-year-old, or a rebellious fifteen-year-old, a ‘terrible’ two is a parenting dream" (Faulkner p. 271). Saying "no" to a young child who is reaching for something or lightly flicking one of their fingers or giving them a little swat might seem tedious and a lot of work at the time. But one of the most valuable lessons we can impress upon our children is the postponement of pleasure. "We live in a microwave world. Gratification is just a split-second away. But when it comes to the real issues of life, that’s not how it works, is it? Our kids need to learn to discipline themselves to wait for things they want, and this discipline teaches our kids that lots of good things are worth waiting for…One basic ingredient of intrinsic discipline is the ability to sacrifice immediate pleasure for long-term gain" (Hebrews 11:24-26; 10:36-39) (Faulkner p. 266). I was thinking about the Christians I have known who have become unfaithful, and their basic problem was often the inability to sacrifice some short-term sinful pleasure for long-term gain. God wants our children to hold off on sexual relations until they are married, He wants them to be good stewards with their financial resources, and to serve others instead of concentrating on their own desires. "It’s not easy to set aside income now in order to meet the needs of a college education later; it’s not easy to back away from food now so we can have better health later; it’s not easy to say ‘no’ to drugs and alcohol now in order to lengthen our life span and increase our long-term happiness. It’s not easy to get out of bed early, say on Sunday mornings, but we do it (because we love God) and because it brings long-term benefits—for ourselves and our children" (Faulkner p. 266). If our children never learn self-control, they will be like a city without walls (the last resort of protection for a city), and will be a slave to one temptation after another (Proverbs 25:28; 2 Peter 2:19; 2 Timothy 3:3-4, 6-7).
- Always rewarm the atmosphere after any sort of punitive discipline. Deal out the punishment and then be done with it. Don’t hold a grudge or put it in the memory bank to be called back up when the child acts out again (1 Corinthians 13:5). Reaffirm your love for the child, hug them, and talk to them.
- Remember the value of natural consequences. If you have a child who is becoming a picky eater, there could be a valuable lesson in going to bed hungry if they refuse to eat what mom has generously prepared. Remember, our children are going to enter a world that is filled with natural consequences.
- Remember, there are eternal principles behind the rules which God wants us to enforce upon our children! There are great principles behind every one of God’s rules.
* Teach your children how to make amends (Matthew 3:8; 2 Corinthians 7:10-11).
"Mom and Dad have to stick together and work out disagreements---in advance and probably in private, because children are professionals at splitting parents. They’ll try the divide and conquer technique if Mom and Dad don’t present a unified front and back each other up when one or the other is ‘backed up against a wall’ by a child" (Faulkner p. 264). Any attempt to play one parent against the other, needs to be dwelt with swiftly, for such is deceitfulness, devilish cunning and manipulation---characteristics which we definitely don’t want our children to acquire as habits. For such habits will destroy marriages, congregations, friendships and their hope of going to heaven.
Mark Dunagan/Beaverton Church Of Christ/644-9017