As a part of my own parenting journey I began reading newspaper columns and then books written by child psychologist John Rosemond. We had John here at Fruit Cove a few years ago and some are still talking about it. We also shared him with the St Johns County Board of Education where he filled an auditorium with teachers anxious to hear from him.
Why has he been so popular? So controversial? Because he advocates discipline as an essential part of parenting. Now that doesn’t seem like something a person could build a practice or a career on, but his insights remind us of how confused our culture really is regarding this subject.
So do I advocate everything he says? Well, frankly no. But many of the principles he advocates I do believe are on target. In this column and the next, I want to share ten of those principles that are biblically-based and tried and true for real life.
1. Discipline and love are not mutually exclusive
“For the Lord disciplines those He loves, as a father the son he delights in.” (Proverbs 3:12) We join God in His work when we participate in shaping our children.
2. Correction is never pleasant but produces positive benefits
“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11) You can’t discipline/correct your child AND make them feel good at the same time!
3. Punishment is necessary for effective discipline
“Because the Lord disciplines those He loves, and punishes everyone He accepts as a son.” (Hebrews 12:6) Proper discipline, including correction is the loving thing to do. To fail to correct is hatred according to Scripture.
4. Proper discipline validates the child
“If you are not disciplined… then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.” (Hebrews 12:8) It is a form of neglect to fail to discipline your child. Courts will take your child from you if you neglect to feed or care for them. But the Bible says you have neglected them if they are without discipline!
5. Obedient children delight their parents
“Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.” (Proverbs 29:17) Stressed out, exhausted parents produce ill-behaving children. The converse is also true… ill-behaving children produce stressed-out, exhausted parents.
FOR MEMORIZATION: The rod and reproof bring wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. Proverbs 29:15
FOR REFLECTION: We must learn to distinguish between the biblical context of discipline and of punishment. Discipline in the Bible, is always connected with instruction. It is a teaching experience not just venting frustration. It is a line we must constantly watch.