I want to say up front that I was lied to as a child. Repeatedly as a mischievous youth my parents would often say right before I was bent over about to receive a good old fashioned whipping, “This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you!” I admit that I never really felt that was true especially after my dad “wore me out REAL good” with spankings.
As a father of a very energetic two year old, I find myself searching to find what method of discipline works best for Connor. Please understand you and I can agree that the punishment must fit the crime. Far too often, Susan and I find ourselves putting Connor in “time out” which doesn’t seem to bother him. We have sent him to his room which seems to be a blessing for him and not a form of punishment. I must admit that even when we have whipped him that too seems to have little effect on him.
One day, we were given the advice to try using a wooden spoon with Connor to see if that would have any affect. So, one day after repeated disobedience I went into the kitchen, opened up our utensil drawer and grabbed a bamboo spoon. I sat Connor down, explained to him that he was getting two swats and the reason why and then began to spank him with that bamboo spoon. Lo and behold, IT WORKED! As I was spanking him, I began to hear my parents voice in my head and I must admit that spanking Connor didn’t hurt me as bad as I was lead to believe. After peace was restored, I called my mother and shared with her my experience. I reminded her of all those times in which she told me those whippings hurt her more than me. She laughed repeatedly but failed to admit that she and my dad had told me a big fib.
***Please note – In NO way do I consider myself and expert on how to properly discipline. In fact, that is one of the main reasons I am writing this article. It is allowing me to study, meditate, and reflect on what I am doing, why I am doing it, how to be a better father for the family I dearly love and cherish.***
Discipline is never fun. It isn’t fun for a parent or for a child, however; is a vital part of a person’s well-being regardless of age. Bette Davis once said, “Discipline is a symbol of caring to a child. They need guidance. If there is love, there is no such thing as being too tough with a child. A parent must also not be afraid to hang himself. If you have never been hated by your child, you have never been a parent.”
I may be wrong but I find that almost all parents struggle in way or another with the need to discipline their children and/or the proper way to carry it out. Far too often we have allowed various therapists try to convince us that correcting our children will harm them in the long run. I have read those articles, and listened to those speeches. I have sat in numerous Bible classes over the years and heard some parents condemn other parents for the way they discipline their children.
When times such as those occur, I constantly and consistently come back to the Word of God. In it we find the writings of men like King Solomon; who was the wisest man to ever walk this earth. He shares with us some crucial reasons for us as parents to keep in kids in line. Please notice that by disciplining our children some great things will occur. For example:
Provides Understanding – Solomon once stated in Proverbs 10:13, “On the lips of him who has understanding, wisdom is found, but a rod is for the back of him who lacks sense.
Drives out Foolishness – “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.” (Proverbs 22:15)
Delivers them from Destruction – Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol. (Proverbs 23:13-14)
Produces Obedience – Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death. (Proverbs 19:18)
The Hebrews writer adds to this issue by discussing how discipline will develop reverence toward God the Father and shares its value within our lives.
Develops Reverence – Hebrews 12:8-10, “If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.”
Before I became a parent, I was fearful of losing my cool with my children due to their lack of obedience. I grew up with a father who would often be very angry and in my opinion, “overdo it” when correcting our lack of disobedience. A few years ago I came across these verses which have aided me in my endeavor to remain in control of my actions. We are told the manner in which to correct our kids:
Without anger – Paul tells the church in Ephesus (6:4) “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” We need to make sure that our emotions are in check. I have made it a practice to never correct my son without allowing Susan to be present (if possible) and most importantly NEVER to discipline if I am angry.
In love – The Hebrew writer shares this counsel with us (12:5-7), “And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
Our Father in Heaven understands the value of discipline in our daily lives. He shares with us the need for parents to regulate their children. As we look into His Word we can see the value of cultivating the paths and attitudes of our children into lives of obedience and holiness. But it is more than that. It is also insight and wisdom into why and how our loving Father directs us back into a healthy relationship with Him.