There is probably no job that requires more tact, wisdom, understanding, and love than the responsibility of raising children properly. There are many ingredients that combine to make for a successful effort in child-rearing. One ingredient is the administration of proper discipline. The goal of parental discipline should be the eventual capability of self-discipline by the time a child reaches adulthood. Perhaps it is in the area of discipline that many parents feel they have failed their children the most.
I will have to admit that I possessed “wiser” insights into disciplining children before I became a parent. To exercise proper discipline is not easy for parents. My children are now grown and have families of their own, but I will probably never graduate from the “School of Fatherhood.”
The subject of discipline provokes more discussion and the greatest differences of opinion among parents than just about anything else regarding parenting. It is a subject that can create guilt problems for parents who have already raised their children. It can also create frustration for parents who are in the process of raising theirs. One thing for certain, you will not find all the answers to raising children by reading a book --- unless it is THE BOOK! Permit me to share some principles of discipline that are found in the Bible.
Discipline is a proof of parental love. “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him” (Proverbs 13:24, ESV). Dr. James Dobson wisely wrote, parents should “…identify the rules well in advance; let there be no doubt about what is and is not acceptable behavior; when the child cold-bloodedly chooses to challenge those known boundaries in a haughty manner, give him good reason to regret it; at all times, demonstrate love and affection and kindness and understanding. Discipline and love are not antithetical; one is a function of the other” (Dare To Discipline, pg. 29).
Don’t wait until it is too late before you decide to exercise discipline. “Discipline your son while there is hope” (Proverbs 19:18). Some parents wait until the child has already established a rebellious spirit before deciding that discipline needs to be implemented. By then “the twig is bent” and it is extremely difficult, though not impossible, to change the child.
Proper discipline will not hurt a child. “If you strike him with a rod, he will not die” (Proverbs 23:13). This passage is not recommending physical abuse; neither is it suggesting that physical punishment is the only method of child training. However, parents need to understand that crying is not a barometer of pain and neither are tears an indication of successful discipline.
Discipline is not a mechanism for releasing parental anger (Ephesians 6:4). What exasperates children most is not discipline, but unjust accusations, unfair punishment, nagging, sarcasm, or short-fused anger.
Parents, read God’s book and practice what it teaches. It will make you a better parent.