DISCIPILINING OUR CHILDREN
ILLUSTRATION How would like your children to study with students filled with criminals? There is a High School in Yuma, AZ whose football team’s mascot is the CRIMINALS. Its logo is a caricature of an ex-convict, a crew-cut, square jawed felon with the look of an angry gang leader.
Every time the team won a game, the local paper will announce “The Criminals won again.” Their fans are called die hard criminals. The principal is called the warden. When you visit this school, you will be welcome by a big sign “Welcome to Yuma High School. Home of the Criminals,” yes, criminals.
Actually the school acquired that title because from 1910 to 1913, Yuma High school was housed in an abandoned prison but now a tourist attraction. Classes were held in the cellblock area, assemblies in the prison hospital. Even though the school had moved, they carried with them a little bit of their history.
Today students will often say, “even though we’re criminals, we’re not bad. We’re still good students.” I wish it is also true in real life. We don’t want our children to end up with that kind of life. But keeping our children from that status requires a lot of effort on the part of the parents. One of the commitments that we must have is to discipline our children – not just provide food and shelter.
This task is tough and I would like for us to learn from the master of disciplining – God. Both parents and children should understand God’s perspective of discipline and follow God’s instruction and example. How does God discipline his spiritual children? Let us read Hebrews 12:5-11 and identify principles that will aid us in disciplining our children as well.
Why should we discipline our children?
A. Discipline is a means to develop maturity, diligence, and carefulness.
Discipline – bringing up a child and guiding it toward maturity through instruction, correction, and training. Others define it as “shaping the will.”
1. Instruction (preventive measures)
Establish reasonable expectations and boundaries in advance. The child should know what is and not acceptable behavior before he is held accountable for those rules. – divine rules, family rules, community rules. Spiritual instruction like Sunday school and DVBS can be an effective tools in achieving this task.
2. Correction (corrective measures)
Sometimes children will resist the rules and rulers by disobedience. Parents must respond with confident decisiveness. Rebuke them. Enforce the rules and if needed, let them suffer the consequences of their deviant behavior.
Afterwards we need to reassure and teach them after the confrontation is over. We need to explain why we did what did. Encourage repentance and extend forgiveness.
3. Training (skill and character development)
Recognize childish irresponsibility (forgetfulness, disorganization, wastefulness, etc.) and be gentle to teach them to do better. Show them how to do it. Reinforce, follow up, and be patient. Avoid impossible demands – be realistic and recognize your child limitations.
Proverbs 22:15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.
Foolishness, indiscretion and wickedness are natural characteristics of man beginning from childhood According to research, as early as eight (8) months old many children will begin to test the authority of their parents through minor defiance and neglect.
Sometimes parents must keep their sense of humor when their child is two or three year old in order to preserve their own sanity. But parents must also proceed with the task of instilling obedience and respects for authority.
B. Discipline is an affirmation of relationship between parents and children. (vv. 7-8)
Children are the responsibility of the parents. Parents are accountable to God for His gifts to them. Because of the positive characteristics of discipline, it is unthinkable that parents will not discipline his children. Lack of disciplinary measures for children is an evidence of irresponsibility.
C. Discipline is always initially unpleasant and painful.
Later it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (v. 11)
ILLUSTRATION Personal training and discipline in domestic responsibilities.
How should we respond to discipline?
1. Do not make light – do not belittle the significance of discipline. (v. 5, 9-10) Children express this attitude by asking “WHY?” We need to appreciate what our parents are doing. We should also be grateful to them afterwards.
2. Do not lose heart – do not be discouraged when you are disciplined. (v. 5, 11)
Proverbs 12:1 Who ever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.
Proverbs 13:18 He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored.
Proverbs 15:32 He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding.
How should we implement discipline?
1. Discipline your children in love. (v. 6a)
Love should cause us to bring up and guide our children toward maturity through instruction, correction, training, and education. (v. 6) Lack of discipline at home is expression of lack of love.
Proverbs 19:18 Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death.
Proverbs 23:13 Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die.
2. Discipline your children fairly – no favoritism.(v. 6b)
Parents should attend to its child need of discipline. Fairness in discipline happens when you treat them with equal discipline. No special favor.
3. Disciplining your children includes hardship and pain. (v. 7)
God uses hardship/sufferings as a means to teach important lessons in life. It is one of His methods of raising and guiding His children toward maturity. (v. 7)
Proverbs 13:24 He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.
ILLUSTRATION There is distinction between abuse and discipline. (Swindoll)
Abuse is unfair and unexpected. Discipline is fair and expected.
Abuse is degrading and demoralizing. Discipline upholds dignity.
Abuse is extreme—to harsh, brutal. Discipline is balanced—within limits.
Abuse is tortuous—leaves scars. Discipline is painful—but leaves no scars.
Abuse results from hatred and resentment. Discipline prompted by love and concern.
Abuse creates terror, emotional damage, and resentment of authority. Discipline leads to healthy respect for authority.
Abuse destroys self-esteem; leads to horrifying, permanent damage and the inability, later in life to maintain responsibilities. Discipline strengthens self-esteem; leads to the individual’s ability to later discipline himself.
Disciplining our children has divine foundation – God. It is wider in scope compare to what we normally perceived about it. It is a way of life, a life God always wanted for us. For parents, God has given us a means or tools that we can utilize to achieve God’s vision for our children. For children, discipline is an unavoidable training on which the quality of our lives depends.