What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Monday, March 29, 2010

Raising Abel, Part 2

If we must ask our children five times to do something before they consider doing it (or count to 10, or give three chances, etc) we can point that gnarled finger of blame right on ourselves for conditioning our children into disobedience by not expecting immediate (true) obedience. If our teenagers are rolling their eyes at us, we were the ones who trained them to disrespect their elders, likely LONG before they were teenagers. If our children are serial liars, it is not because they “just have a real problem with lying”, it is because WE failed to train them to turn aside from wickedness.

When my oldest recently began contemplating deeper things, she also began to argue her own viewpoints. This is a psychological milestone; as children get older their brains can produce more complicated thought. They observe more, question more and can begin to express more mature thought processes and this is good and natural. Unfortunately, while I encouraged her deeper reflections, I also somehow let her tendencies toward contradicting me slide until one day I asked her to do something and she argued with me about it, loudly. It shocked me…then I realized, there have been little arguments, leading up to this for a while now, but I never jumped on them as I should have. In time, silly little things grew more common and eventually, compounded. I hung my head in shame, knowing that it was MY inconsistencies that had allowed her arguing to get to the point they had, not hers.

I will be the first to (LOUDLY) proclaim that our children have blame. Our little sweetlings have sin natures from their forefather Adam, just as we have. We can and should expect our children to sin and I am not downplaying that. As they get older, they sin in different and more complicated ways. I am suggesting that wise parents can (and ought to) lead and direct children down the right paths (despite their sin nature) and help them steer clear of wickedness. It is not a lost cause, God says that if train a child in the way he should go,
and when he is old he will not turn from it.
(Proverbs 22:6) He also says that if we acknowledge their sin and give them correction and reproof, we are bathing them in LOVE (Proverbs 13:24) AND that when we are faithful as disciplinarians, our children will not turn away from us, but in fact will love and adore us for it. (Proverbs 9:8)
The first step in remedying a problem is finding out the root of the problem, and usually, I am afraid, it is us.

Now that we know that we are main components in this problem, let’s figure out what we can do about it. What we SHOULD have been doing about it all along…

To start: a definition of terms:

Discipline is “training expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behavior, especially training that produces moral or mental improvement.” (thefreedictionary.com)

Punishment is a penalty imposed for wrongdoing.

DISCIPLINE has no bad connotation but rather, is an optimistic, worthwhile pursuit. Its job is to improve. This is important because discipline is not something to shy away from but to embrace. Punishment is a MEANS of discipline, and a very small one at that. (Praise is also a means of discipline, incidentally) I say this because “spankers” sometimes feel like the fact that they spank puts us automatically on the high road to godly parenting/discipline and that is not always the case. Punishment is a very small part of disciplining and if we “get” the small part, that doesn’t necessarily mean we “get” the HUGE part:

6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.
7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. ~Deuteronomy 6:5-8 (see also Deuteronomy 11: 18-21)

Every moment of every day some form of discipline is happening. We can discipline our children to be lazy or to be hard-workers, to be self-controlled or the opposite. Our children can be disciplined to obey or to ignore, to be spendthrifts or show discipline with their money. We can train our children to shout at us or respect us.

So what are the “secrets” to godly, Christian discipline?

  • We need to direct our children to God, in all things.
  • We need to model excellence to our children.
  • We need to expect excellence from our children.
  • We need to set them up for success.

We need to direct our children to God, in all things.
The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him. (Proverbs 23:24)

This means, we can’t only expect our children to be good “because we say so” but to understand their calling to obedience by God. Help them understand the big picture, that obedience isn’t just for appearances’ sake. Our ultimate goal, remember is not to have little children who do no wrong to parade around, but to grow children who love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength (Luke 10:27) Yes-this takes TIME. It also takes commitment AND understanding what scripture actually says on a subject.

Don’t just tell your child that lying is wrong. Tell them why. Tell them what the bible says about lying. Tell them what happens to those that lie.

Our boys need to be hard-workers and they need to understand that this character trait is what God looks for in mature men, so that they might one day lead, protect and provide for their families one day.

Our teenage girl in the low-cut jeans and the painted on shirt needs to understand that our request for her to change doesn’t come from our prudish modesty standards, but comes from scripture. They need to know WHY their dress is inappropriate and what God is protecting them from.

EVERYTHING needs to be anchored in the foundation of God’s truth.

We need to model excellence to our children.
The righteous of the perfect shall direct his way (Proverbs 11:8) Righteousness keepeth him that is upright in the way (Proverbs 13:6) “Abraham is our father,” they answered.
“If you were Abraham's children,” said Jesus, “then you would† do the things Abraham did. (John 8:39)

Ever hear the saying “Do as I say, not as I do?” There is a reason that is funny….because everyone knows that, unfortunately, that is not how it works. (If only it were that simple!) It’s a humbling experience to parent, because as our children grow, we can see our own sins and weaknesses’ in our children. Why? Because we have modeled it so well! *sigh*

When I struggle with impatience, it is easy to understand why my children will lack patience. If we loudly complain about EVERYONE else and what they are doing wrong, it’s no wonder our children end up with pride issues. Here is a big one that I see *ALL THE TIME*: if you lie to your child, you can expect no different from him! I know many parents don’t outright lie to their children. But so many times they lie without even realizing it…If we say we are going to do something, whether it is a promise (good) or a threat (bad), we had better follow through, otherwise we are LYING and our children will begin to understand that lying is sometimes acceptable “because Mama and Papa tell me all the time they are going to do something and then don’t.” (more on this one later)

This point really means that, despite our age, we are not through with discipline. We must have self-discipline and be growing in our faith and obedience toward God every day of our lives, even as adults. We ought to have a zero-tolerance policy on our OWN sins, because how can we expect our children to be holy when we are not? In doing so, we model to our children the determination and earnest desire to become MORE holy which is one of the best life lessons we could ever give them.


Guess that is enough to chew on for today! More to come another day!

(If you missed Part 1: Here it is)


Miranda said...

I just wanted to give you a thumbs up! :)

Bonnie said...

I love your varying points on discipline!
Seriously, once your done with this, you should look into having it published.

alyssa spring said...

Thanks so much. this is super encouraging for me...I love your honesty!

...they call me mommy... said...

Good stuff, good stuff! :) Enjoying reading this! :) Great book I recently read was Don't Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman...very convicting!

Thank you!

Leah said...

I was just reading at a new blog I recently found, http://www.onjustacoupleacres.blogspot.com/ , and she had shared this quote a few days ago. I thought it fit perfectly with your series and so I wanted to share it with you.

"And truly, God does not make known his will to us, that the knowledge of it may perish with us, but that we may be his witnesses to posterity and that they may deliver the knowledge received through us, from hand to hand (as we say), to their descendants. Wherefore, it is the duty of parents to apply themselves diligently to the work of communicating what they have learned from the Lord to their children. In this manner the truth of God is to be propagated by us, so that no one may retain his knowledge for his private use; but that each may edify others according to his own calling, and to the measure of his faith. There is however no doubt, that the gross ignorance which reigns in the world, is the just punishment of men's idleness. For whereas the greater part close their eyes to the offered light of heavenly doctrine; yet there are those who stifle it, by not taking care to transmit it to their children. The Lord therefore righteously takes away the precious treasure of his word, to punish the world for its sloth. The expression after this is also to be noticed; by which we are taught that we must not only take care of our families, to govern them duly, while we live; but that we must give diligence, in order that the truth of God, which is eternal, may live and flourish after our death; and that thus, when we are dead, a holy course of living may survive and remain." ~John Calvin, Commentary on Genesis

I must admit that the thing I struggle with most is consistency. I guess the truth of the matter is I get lazy. :( Thank you for your encouragement to look at discipline as the optimistic tool that it is! I guess I've never really looked at it from this perspective. It sure does make the thought of discipline a lot less daunting.

Mommy said...

Thank you for the reminder to be consistant. That is my biggest downfall as a Mommy. Your post is such an encouragment to keep doing what is right, Thank you

Allison said...

THank you. I just found your blog through Femina...you did such a lovely job describing your Easter apparel I wanted to see pictures! Instead, I got a slap-out reminder that discipline starts with ME. And if my 3 year old is walking away from me at church and running around it is MY fault, so I'd better get to work. I just want some encouragement in this -- I have a 3 yr old and a 1 yr old and I feel like, because of our circumstance (I was home, but working from home, and felt like I didn't give our son the attention he deserves) have I failed him already? I know there is hope -- always=-- in Christ and that he can give me the strength to make tomorrow different. It's just going to make the next few weeks/months a struggle to get back on track with Godly discipline and parenting like we should be doing. All this to say I can't wait to read the rest of this series....I need all the help I can get.

The Toplovs said...

What a blessing to read your series on discipline. This is exactly the stand that we take in training our children. "Shepherding A Child's Heart" is a great tool that has showed me it is not about having well-behaved children, but rather children that are sensitive to sin and understand they are sinners and in desperate need of a Savior.

Looking forward to more in this series! Thanks for taking the time since you're a busy mom. :)