Summary: Sermon Series by Dr. Tim Pollock on Parenting
Decades of parenting has brought me to the conclusion that, despite my occasional successes, God’s Word ALWAYS rings true! Strictness with a child or youth may seem hard-core, even archaic, but wise correction actually grows the spiritual life of a son or daughter. At first, it might not seem that the two are connected but, in fact, as we will see, they are.
1. Wise Correction Only Helps
“…if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die” (Proverbs 23:13).
Correction is not going to kill them. Junior is not going to die by going an hour without food. He is not going to pass out because you made him get up early. They may squirm and cry like they are dying but it only helps. Wise discomforts, as the situation warrants, are a great help.
There are some misconceptions about discipline that we should talk about here. Some imagine that strictness is going to hurt a child’s self-esteem. We need to understand that the most important thing in life is not how I treat myself, but how I treat God. The highest level of self-esteem occurs in the life of the person who has a good relationship with the Lord. When I am able to bring my child into a right relationship with God, I have actually done the best thing for their self-esteem. A parent never hurts self-esteem by bringing their child or young person into alignment with Scripture.
Another misconception is when people say that if you “hit” (spank) your child you’re going to create a violent child. I suppose if a parent actually hit the child like a boxer or something then, yes, they are at risk of becoming maladjusted. Corporal punishment that is not administered according to well thought out boundaries, certainly isn’t helpful. A parent never has a right to slap a child up side the head, or to inflict their anger just because they’re in a bad mood. Thoughtful chastisement, on the other hand, actually gives a way for children to get the burden of their sin lifted and resolved. Everybody needs to be cleansed from sin. I know for me, the more I neglect getting right with God and the more I just let sins pile up, the meaner I get. I get to the point where I’m as fussy as a junkyard dog! I can recall one time Lynette telling me, “Honey, you probably don’t even realize this, but I think you need to go read your Bible and talk to Jesus…you are grouchy.” And she was right. I just was getting meaner and meaner because I was letting things pile up.
When that little two-year-old butterball starts clenching their fist, setting their jaw and determining not to obey, they need cleansing! And that’s exactly what a six-year-old needs or a sixteen-year-old needs too. There is good purpose in appropriate pain. God uses discomfort to teach them that certain behavior is not good. Like when my grandson put his hand on the oven and got a terrible burn. I tell you what, he goes nowhere near the oven door now!
What are the benefits of a lovingly strict home? There are at least four:
Stability – A child that comes from a strict home is more stable. I’ve noticed that my children always thrive on routine and predictability. When they understand the rules and when they become convinced that there’s going to be appropriate consequences every time (not just sometimes), but every time a rule is violated, they seem more at ease. If a son or daughter knows what your reaction as a parent will be, and if you talk about it, then it creates great stability and a sense of justice. If they can trust in their heart that you’re not going to fly off the handle in anger, it gives them peace. Even though as a parent your heart is grieved when you observe misbehavior, try and stay as calm as possible and enforce the consequences like an impartial judge, and you will create stability.
Achievement – Children, who have strict parents that urge practice, dedication and excellence in everything from grades to musical instruments, accomplish more. Strict parents expect sons and daughters to try their best. They teach them the value of hard work. When a child tries hard and then sees good results, they are motivated to try even harder. They then realize that when you do a good job, there are rewards. Sometimes they get rewards from their peers and sometimes from adults. Achievement then builds self-confidence.
Mental Health – The media is quick to put out negative things about children that come from so called traditional, middle class, protestant, Mid-America, conservative homes. However, the Department of Education at Texas A & M University did a study on “traditional” parenting. They followed 100 traditional Chinese-American families (Chinese-American families are known for a stricter parenting practice). Their research determined that these children had significantly more positive mental health than their counterparts of less strict homes. Of course, the media will always find someone to interview who will whine, “My oppressive, conservative upbringing ruined me.” Studies and experience has shown nothing could be further from the truth.