If you are a parent, you know how hard it is raising children. It’s the hardest job I have. Being an elder/pastor of a church is easy compared to training and raising children. That’s honestly how I feel. I am overwhelmed at how often I seem to make so many mistakes. Yet, I know the Bible is our guide and must stay immersed in it for help.
Where do we turn in Scripture for help in parenting? Proverbs is a wonderful place. Solomon shared with his sons about many practical, every day things. Do you struggle with arguments in your home? Try out Proverbs 15:1… “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” We’ve posted this verse in our house on the door frames and bathroom mirrors. We’ve also learned Ephesians 4:29, in fact…
Let’s look a little closer…
Sorry, it’s a little blury…but you get the picture. This is a verse we need to see. You can tell Andrew has gotten to it…He’s underlined all the words. He can’t even read yet…but, he can memorize. Clara already has this verse down! She’s better at memorizing Scripture, by far, than me!!
Why do we post Scriptures like this in our home? Because we can be argumentative. This verse helps us to control our tongues. What do you struggle with in your home? Post Scriptures to combat it.
So, do you wonder if your “disciplining” is too hard or too light? Me too! Hebrews 12 gives us insight here as well.
5 And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6 because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”
7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
I like that part about a harvest of righteousness (right living) and peace don’t you? I mean, don’t we all just want “peace” in our homes? Sure we do. How do we get it? There must be discipline. Think about the army. There is peace in the army because the men know to obey the commanding officer. There is respect for authority, right?
Sure there is. Why? Because of discipline. When a soldier is told to do something by the commanding officer, what does he say? “Sir, yes sir!” Do I run my home like a military installation? No. I want my home to be a home of love. Yet, there must be respect and discipline as well. The writer of Hebrews makes this clear:
For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it.
I see many homes that have little discipline. Go to WalMart if you don’t believe and stand in the check-out line.
I’ve literally seen children in the floor on all fours acting like that little fella. I bet you have too. Maybe from even your own? Ouch! 🙂
So, how can you tell if are offering the proper kind and amount of discipline in your home? How can you tell if you have a child that’s running your home? Well let’s see. Parents that have a “child-run” home are often heard saying:
- I can’t make that for dinner at our house, the kids just won’t eat it.
- I prepare meals in two batches—one for my husband and me and one for the kids.
- We can’t have that family over to the house, their children are so much younger than ours that ours wouldn’t enjoy them.
- We can’t go there, the kids would get bored.
- We can’t take our kids into the church service, they’d never last.
- We won’t be able to go, our little Princess just doesn’t do well in those situations.
- We’ll probably be changing teachers or possibly schools because our little Bobby doesn’t enjoy Mrs. So & So.
- Junior refuses to…(you fill in the blank). By the way, how old is Junior? And he REFUSES to do what? (Who’s running the home?)
- Susie just won’t put up with…
- I don’t want her to hate me so…
- I can’t get her to clean her room unless I bribe her with…
Remember, whatever we allow in moderation our children will take to excess! So, what are we allowing? Do we allow back talking? Do we allow bad attitudes? Temper tantrums? Let’s look at some other things quickly. Think about your child(ren) as you read…
- Your child can’t say, “NO” to himself or herself
- They seem “self-absorbed” (it’s all about them)
- When they sin, they habitually deny responsibility…nothing seems to be their fault
- They blame others or you if something doesn’t go right for them
- They resent work, chores or responsibility and seem lazy, tending to run from “work” around the house
- They roll their eyes, huff, puff and sigh when asked to do things
- Taking “initiative” is a foreign concept to them…they have to be asked to do most anything
- They act ungrateful for the food, clothes and shelter they’ve been provided or put before them
- They complain, whine and moan about things constantly and get visibly angry if they don’t get their way
- They’re preoccupied with fun, excitement, entertainment and self-gratification and are frequently bored
Often times we aren’t honest about our own children. We make excuses and say, “That’s just the way they are.” The problem with this statement, is that we, as parents, are responsible for training them. A commander in the army won’t say to the General…”Sorry sir, these boys just aren’t good at crawling under barbed-wire…
…and climbing over walls, so none of them do it.” Isn’t that ridiculous? So, what do we expect? What are our expectations for our children? What do we expect concerning obedience? Let’s see:
- How many times should you have to ask for something to be done?
- Should you have to count?
- When should you expect obedience?
- – Immediately (not later or in a few minutes)
- – Completely (not partially)
- – Dutifully (with a good attitude)
“It is right that children should obey their parents and no further question need be asked, no further reason for obeying need be sought.” J.R. Miller. So, how should we teach obedience to our children?
- Do not do for your children what they should do for themselves
- If they dirty something, they should clean it
- If they’re old enough to “get it out,” they are old enough to “put it up”
- If they leave a door open, they should go back and close it
- If they turn something on, they should turn it off
- Don’t bail them out when they’ve acted irresponsibly
- Don’t state for them time after time the established guidelines for chores and standards of behavior…consequences must follow quickly
- Don’t wake them daily when they are old enough to set an alarm clock or you will create dependence on you and they will blame you for not getting them up
- Don’t do homework assignments for them
- Don’t pay for their mistakes…if they “break it,” they pay for it
So, what do we do if we’ve lost control?
- We must expect our children to obey our word…no questions asked. (Explain after the obedience comes…just like with God! Sometimes He tells us to do things without FULL instructions…remember Abraham?)
- Speak a command one time, calmly and clearly. Don’t threaten. If “bucked,” follow through with discipline. Be consistent!
- Don’t allow the child to argue with you. You are not trying to “persuade” your child to obey, you are “expecting” your child to obey.
- We must take off the “Camp Counselor” badge (trying to be your child’s buddy or pal)…we must be their parent, first and foremost. We are not running a popularity contest.
What do children really want? They want the ABC’s. They want Acceptance, Belonging and Confidence from their parents.
Acceptance—they want to know that they are not valuable just because of what they do or don’t do. They are loved because they are your child. It’s not about performance…it’s about “you are my boy or my girl.”
Belonging—You say, “We’re a family and you are a part of this family and you belong to us.” If someone asks your 11-year-old to smoke, your child simply answers, “We Brown’s (you fill in your family name) don’t smoke.” But, most importantly, once they receive Christ, they are taught and understand that they belong to God’s family, they belong to God as His child. Therefore they are royalty. Teach them this fact.
Confidence—as they are a vital part of the family and feel needed, they will flourish. Give them chores (age appropriate) and jobs to do. They will gain confidence in their abilities as they work and become a productive part of the home and this will cause them to develop the ability to take initiative and they’ll take joy in being a “blessing not a burden in the home.”
Solomon gives us 17 wonderful nuggets of wisdom regarding children and our discipline. Take a look…
- Proverbs 10:17 He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.
- Proverbs 12:1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.
- Proverbs 13:1 A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke.
- Proverbs 13:18 He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored.
- Proverbs 13:24 He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.
- Proverbs 15:10 Stern discipline awaits him who leaves the path; he who hates correction will die.
- Proverbs 15:32 He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding.
- Proverbs 16:20 Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.
- Proverbs 19:18 Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death.
- Proverbs 20:11 Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right.
- Proverbs 22:6 Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.
- Proverbs 22:15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.
- Proverbs 23:13-14 Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death.
- Proverbs 23:26 My son, giver me your heart and let your eyes keep to my ways.
- Proverbs 29:15 The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.
- Proverbs 29:17 Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.
- Proverbs 30:17 The eye that mocks a father, that scorns obedience to a mother, will be pecked out by the ravens of the valley, will be eaten by the vultures.
Hebrews has it right…
“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”