Sunday, July 23, 2006
Why Loving Parents Must Discipline
Being that my last post was about parenting, how much I love parenting and being a dad, I thought this post would be a follow up along the theme. Parenting.
One of the primary responsibilities - hand in hand with LOVE - is discipline. As parents who want to create a loving environment that a child feels safe in, discipline is key. In fact, scripture says that a parent that doesn't discipline his (or her) child doesn't love them! Along with that is also CONSISTENCY, which is crtical! But that's a topic all by itself. For now, I'll stick with my primary thought on discipline and why it's so important for a loving parent to discipline their children.
First of all, we all must have discipline for the purposes of self-governance even at it's most basic level. Discipline to take care of our own hygiene and feeding to say the least, not to mention disciple to clean our environment and take care of all the other things that life requires of us. Without discipline of some type, we would be unable to perform as a functioning member of society around us. This, even if we throw out almost everything else would be enough reason to discipline a child and teach them self-discipline. And yes, they go hand in hand once the child becomes old enough to start to train.
But, especially being a Christian, I believe that I have an even more important function and role in the responsibility of disciplining a child, and that is, we need to train our children so that they know how to properly hear and respond to the voice of God speaking to them. This is our most important job. So how do we do that? And how does discipline come into play?
(By the way, this is the extremely SHORT version of this topic. So, let me say this. Assume that everything that is being done is done in LOVE and in balance. Thanks).
Discipline is tool that is used to teach our children to hear and respond to our voices first. And, again, that alone is critical. My goal is to train my child so that when they hear my voice they immediately stop and listen. Not me screaming or yelling. Just when they hear me say their name. And, as a parent I can only tell you how many times just that alone has been worth the effort. Say, for instance, when I call my child's name just before they're about to chase a ball, or step in the way of someone walking quickly with a shopping cart that might just plow them over. I can only feel that of my three older girls, at least one time serious injury has been avoided because they know they voice of their father (or mother as the case may be) and have learned to respond to it. Discipline is used to teach our children to listen to the voice of authority and respond.
As parents, we have been given the gift of our children. They are not ours. They are on loan from God. Created for his purpose. We are their caretakers, their stewards and they are given into our custody for the purpose of training them as eternal beings. And thus comes the longer term and more significant purpose of discipline that we aim for - training them to hear the voice of God and properly responding to him.
By training our children, in a LOVING environment, by using discipline we teach them that there is a voice of authority that loves them and cares for them. We teach them that the voice they are hearing can be trusted, that is for them and is looking out for their best interest. We let them know that there is someone "bigger" than them (in the physical, at least older and wiser) that they can learn to hear and trust to help them. And, in this way, we are modeling for our children how to listen and to trust the voice of God.
And, this then is how we see that what scripture tells us is true. As I mentioned at that top, scripture says that a parent that doesn't discipline his child doesn't love them. And if I didn't discipline my kids, and teach them how to listen to my voice and hopefully the voice of their REAL father in heaven, then I wouldn't really be loving them. Because in the end, whatever my kids choose to do, they aren't going to have to give an account before me, they have to stand before the Lord. And what kind of parent would I be that wouldn't prepare them for that day? Certainly not one that loves them.
And so, that's why loving parents must discipline their children. Because by discipline, then teaching them self-discipline and proper response to authority, we are teaching them how to respond to the Lord. How to help them listen and get into the best things that an almighty and loving creator and savior has for their lives. And, of course, at the end of it all, we're even teaching them the very thing that may save their life not just here on earth - but for all eternity.
Next time, maybe I'll talk about what discipline really "means" - or in other words - HOW do we discipline our children. And folks that is a topic that I'm big on!