With this blog I want to continue the listing of John Rosemond’s principles for disciplining our children. The first half of the list was in yesterday’s blog if you’d like to view it first.
6. Children are to obey their parents
“Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” (Colossians 3:20)
Who you choose to honor is the most important thing about you. Who you curse and dishonor defines you as well. Disagreeing with a parent does not give you the right either to defy or to disobey. It is always considered rebellion in the Bible when we attempt to correct UP, meaning correct one who has authority over us.
7. Obedient children bless themselves
“Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.” (Proverbs 1:8-9) If you are the parent who says, “I wish my kids would obey me!” Let me tell you a little secret: kids don’t grant adult’s wishes! Second, you are “wishing” that so YOU’LL feel better. We need to help our children see that, when they are obedient they bless THEMSELVES!
8. The most obedient child is the happiest
“He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding.” (Proverbs 15:32) Disobedient people are never happy. Never. They are sullen, angry, discontent, and self-despising. Your child is not happy being disobedient. Help them be happy! It doesn’t come with a trip to Disney World. It comes when you help them be obedient.
9. A lack of discipline leads to death
“Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death.” (Proverbs 19:18) The way of transgressors is hard, the Bible says. To fail to correct and discipline your child leads, not just to a hard road but to a dead end!
10. Discipline is the way to life
“These commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life.” (Proverbs 6:23) A lack of discipline leads to death; discipline and correction lead to life. Which path do you want your child walking? The earliest efforts you make to correct/discipline your child are your FIRST efforts at EVANGELISM… sharing eternal life in Christ.
Over fifty years ago during a spectacular series of meetings held in Los Angeles, his fame was growing rapidly. Thousands of people were coming – including film stars and athletes and all kinds of celebrities. They all came to hear the man, to meet the man. As the series entered its eighth week in LA, it was consuming all of Graham’s time and energy. God was speaking through him in powerful ways.
Toward the end of the crusade, Graham’s sister-in-law and her husband came to Los Angeles, bringing a baby with them. The evangelist squeezed in time to be with his relatives. During that meeting he made a comment that the little baby girl was cute; he asked, “To whom does she belong?”
The sister-in-law’s mouth dropped open in surprise. “Why, she’s yours. She’s yours, Billy.” Graham had been away from home so long he didn’t even recognize his own little Anne when she was brought to the crusade. That night the great evangelist resolved that he would spend more time at home with his children.
One wise person said, “The most important rule of parenting is, ‘Must be present to win.'” You cannot do godly discipline from a distance. It truly can’t be phoned in.
FOR MEMORIZATION: My son, keep your father’s command, and don’t forget your mother’s teaching. Proverbs 6:20
FOR REFLECTION: How can you improve your teaching of the things you want your child to learn? What is your goal as a parent in the instruction of your child? Three things that most parents want from their children are:
1) Respect… of parents and authority
2) Responsibility… taking responsibility for their own faults and issues, not counting on parents to bail them out
3) Resourcefulness… they can entertain themselves, learn to lay out their own clothes and even prepare some simple food without your help.
Those three “R”s will make your child a delightful person to live with and your life a whole lot simpler!
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.
Discipline has at its core a very common biblical term: Disciple. The word “disciple” in the language of the Bible is “learner.” A disciple is one who learns. In the days when Jesus was on earth He was considered by most not as the “Son of God” but as a rabbi. Even on the morning of the resurrection, His most devoted female follower named Mary… the first to see Him alive after the crucifixion… referred to Jesus as “Rabboni.”
As we read the Bible on the subject of discipline, then, we must “read into” this word the concept of discipline as teaching… of making disciples of our children. They first become YOUR disciples but the ultimate goal is that you lead them to the TRUE rabbi… The Lord Jesus Christ. To fail in that is to stop short of the intended goal and outcome of discipline.
We misunderstand the role of discipline when we believe it means to control behavior. Your child is not your pet. Don’t be confused. Animals are less complex than people (yes, even YOURS). They respond pretty much across the board to stimulus and response. Their behavior can be controlled and modified by adding reward or adding punishment.
But children are not animals. They are human souls with their own wills and, no matter how young, their own agenda. If you have two children, one may respond instantly to your cross look or to an increase in volume in your voice. The other child raised by the same parents, eating the same food and sharing the same room with his sibling will not even turn around to acknowledge you. What works on one may or may not work on the other. Human beings are complex. Their needs vary; their sense of what is needed varies; the ability to be influenced by pleasing or displeasing you varies. And there is no way to predict it.
That being true, the outcome of discipline must still be the same. We are to create a follower… first of our direction… and ultimately of the Lord’s You will be challenged to be creative on the way to that goal. In other words, you may have one child who will make this journey easy and pleasurable while the other will not under any circumstance make your life easier in the discipline they need.
The challenge of discipline I think, is not how to I make my child behave but what am I teaching them to do by how I live? If they are your followers while they are growing up (and they are… for better or worse) then the path I am taking had better be the right one… the one I would want them to be walking. They won’t walk a path you never showed them. They will walk in your footsteps though.
In the early days of Israel, the rabbi always had students who lived with him, ate with him, slept where he slept. Teaching was not something that was compartmentalized for a few hours a day. It WAS the day. Every day. And at the end of the “course” of study, the disciples knew how their master/rabbi lived, talked, thought and walked. And they lived, talked, thought and walked just like him.
And so will your children.
FOR MEMORIZATION: Fathers do not exasperate your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4
FOR REFLECTION: A leader is one who has others following him or her. If you are a parent, like it or not, you always have someone looking at you, learning from you and following you. Make sure you examine your steps to see that where they are going is the path you want to see your children repeat. Because they certainly will.
Does it matter how our children are disciplined? Well, it certainly matters THAT they are… however that gets worked out. At some point, parent(s) must exercise authority through force of some means for discipline to be effective. Proverbs 22:15 says, “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; the rod of discipline will remove it far from him.” Does that mean you must strike (spank or slap) your child for discipline to take place? Not necessarily. But let’s first remove some extremes.
It is not giving license to an abusive parent to say their child must be disciplined. We all know of horror stories of children being terrorized; physically, emotionally and even sexually assaulted by parents who are out of control and who should not be allowed access to children. However horrific those accounts are, we must be aware that they are extremes and not the norm. Most parents love and tenderly care for their children. And a loving, tender parent must sometimes take a hard stand that involves some degree of pressure exerted on the child. More on that in a moment.
It is not an appropriate stance to become a passive parent to avoid the appearance or fear of being accused of being an abuser. Many parents have allowed themselves to be terrorized by an undisciplined, out-of-control child and cower in fear from their child and do nothing to seek to control or direct them.
A number of years ago I was asked by a friend who worked in the Prosecuting Attorney’s office as a lawyer if something she had heard in court was true. She said that it had come up in a case involving a person accused of child abuse who had attended Fruit Cove that we instructed people to spank their children with a stick while making them recite Bible verses! I quickly assured her that we have not nor would we ever advocate that kind of treatment. She was relieved to hear that. I was horrified that we had been accused of that.
So believe me, I understand the risk any parent takes today who would dare advocate for or practice corporeal punishment with their children. But I will go on record and state that used properly and administered lovingly, it is a biblical directive for parents to follow with these caveats:
1. The child must be of an appropriate age to understand and learn from the punishment. It is one thing to swat the backside of a five year old who refuses to listen to you when you tell him not to run into the street. It is another thing to use a belt on a fifteen year old who came in late from a time out with friends. In the first case, the child is impressionable enough that even minimal contact will make an impact. In the latter case, you could not legally strike your adolescent with enough force to make a difference. The first case is proper, biblical discipline. The latter case is usually motivated more by anger and frustration than love and is abusive.
2. Remember in discipline that you are attacking a stubborn and rebellious will, not the child’s body. The only thing that should break during discipline is the child’s self-will and resistance to parental (translate ANY) authority.
3. The ultimate goal of any discipline, whether corporeal or grounding (etc), is to train them TOWARD godliness. We need to stop disciplining children just because of offenses committed and train them TOWARD attitude and behavioral changes in the future. That keeps our process about shaping their life the way God intends them to live instead of being about punishment.
Let me say again: loving discipline while hard, is one of the truest expressions of parental care for their children. To fail to see to this is to fail at an essential point of parenting… one from which your child may never recover.
FOR MEMORIZATION: For whom the Lord loves He reproves, even as a father, the son in whom he delights. Proverbs 3:12
FOR REFLECTION: Think back on times in your life when you have been effectively disciplined. What were the ingredients of that experience that made it work? How is that reflected in how you should be disciplining your child today?
Let me if I may, wade into one of the more controversial aspects of parenting these days by dealing with the subject of disciplining our children. Nothing is a more volatile, controversial or really important topic when it comes to effective parenting. We do not want to be guilty of failing in this area because we don’t know what to do or because we are afraid to do anything to cross our children.
Every child is born with a will (say, “stubborn streak”) that needs to be brought into line with the parent’s will. Breaking that “streak” is what much of discipline is about. If we have not moved toward doing that by the time they are two or three, we will not be able to bring a much older child (13 or 14 years) into line without great pain and determination. In other words, while it’s never too late to start, it is far better to get an early footing on your child’s will at the young stages of life.
So should we spank? Use hands? Paddles? Rulers? Sticks/rods? Or should we follow the advice of the experts who say that “violence begets violence” and that physically punishing a child should be a jailable offense? Should we do time out? Ground them? Take things away from them? The polarities on this issue are huge and while the Bible does not give us a specific, one-two-three step procedure manual for discipline, we can certainly find some principles to follow.
First, a child MUST be disciplined. If you don’t break their will, they will break you. We must set our minds to understand what God says about this subject. He says, “… for whom the Lord loves, He disciplines.” Now that discipline is not just swinging a paddle at the child’s gluteus maximus at the right time. It also involves “reproving” which has to do with your words… your teaching… your instruction. While I am not an advocate that a child must be fully informed of all consequences for willful behavior before she can be disciplined, I am an advocate that she understand afterward why it was done. In other words, a child should NEVER walk away from an experience of discipline without understanding why it happened.
Second, a child MUST be disciplined consistently. This is a particular problem if you are sharing custody. A child must know that rules don’t bend even though locations do. If you want to thoroughly confuse your child, punish them for one offense but not another. You will either create a fearful child who is afraid to do anything or a child who believes they can manipulate the parent away from punishing for an offense.
Third, a child MUST be disciplined toward something. So much of our disciplinary actions are trying to stop the child from doing something rather than aiming them in the right direction. Discipline that is biblical moves us toward a goal of godliness and obedience. Our parental discipline does the same.
Fourth, as a child gets older they MUST be disciplined in a way that is effective at their age level. You can’t pop a fifteen year old hulk of a boy with a kitchen spoon or paddle ball paddle hard enough to make an impact. You’ll just be laughed at. But when he loses his cell phone privileges for a week or you take the bedroom door off the hinges for a few days (!!!) you will have his attention. Find age appropriate ways to discipline. Don’t punish yourself more than you’re punishing the offending child. They need to pay the price for broken curfews and broken rules and disobedience. You don’t have to hurt because they do. You probably had to learn the same lessons. Hopefully you already have!
Fifth, don’t be afraid to do this. Discipline is one of the purest forms of loving your child. As a parent, your role is to shape them not into the image of mom and dad, but toward the image of their Heavenly Father.
Discipline is part of raising a child in the nurture and admonition of our Lord. And know it may be the most loving thing you will do.
FOR MEMORIZATION: He who spares his rod hates his son; but he who loves him disciplines him diligently. Proverbs 13:24
FOR REFLECTION: Part of godly discipline begins with two parents agreeing on how discipline is to be done. Have you had that conversation with your spouse regarding your philosophy of discipline… especially if the child is younger? If not, schedule time for that crucial talk together.
In his book, A Father’s Book of Wisdom, H. Jackson Brown writes, “Fathers are pals nowadays because they don’t have the guts to be fathers.” (p.92) Great point. It takes a great deal of courage to walk the path of fatherhood. The temptation to veer off into the wonderland of “pal-dom” is ever present, especially when hard decisions are to be made.
Dad, your son or daughter is not always going to like you. You will make unpopular, hard decisions regarding where they will go, how they will get there, what they will wear and when they will arrive home. But you cannot always lead a family by consensus or by consulting straw polls about your popularity. Sometimes you make hard, lonely decisions because you know the right thing to do.
Fathers today are not respected as they used to be and yet there is an intense longing in our culture for fathers who have the courage to take strong stands, to protect and provide for their families and to do the right thing even when the pressure on them is to yield. Men sometimes, as family leaders, need to simply be willing to choose… and bear the consequences for the choice they make.
And fathers need to be priests to their families. Fathers uniquely represent God to their household; not just by what they tell their family about Him but how they reflect Him in their personal life and walk. They need to pray for their children, their wife and constantly represent their family at the throne of grace.
I never thought much about that “representing God” part until my daughter Allison made a friend across the street from us named Jenny. Jenny’s family did not go to church and she had started coming with us. One day as she and her mother drove past our house Jenny said, “Mommy, that’s where Allison and God live.”
Dad, you may have been King of the Prom and President of the Fraternity and Captain of the Football Team in high school and college but you will never do a more important thing or play a more significant role than father to your children. Don’t trade that role in for the role of friend. Those days will come to you… later. For now, you must be the structure and form into which the “wet cement” of your child’s life is being poured. If you won’t provide that form and structure in a healthy way, chances are great they won’t find it.
A note here: Your children will get mad at you. They may even tell you they hate you. That’s not your cue to begin to grovel to be their buddy. You need to remember that our deepest nature fights against structure and authority and God; and you represent all three. If they are pressing to see if you mean what you say, then the last thing you want to do is bend at that point. Stand strong. They’ll love you more for that than for giving in when they whine. And at the end of the day they’ll have many, many buddies in life…
… but only one Dad.
FOR MEMORIZATION: “My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord, or loathe his reproof, for whom the Lord loves He reproves, even as a father the son in whom he delights.” Proverbs 3:11-12
FOR REFLECTION: If you have fallen into the trap of being your child’s buddy more than father, what is one thing you can do this week to turn that around? Is there a hard decision that must be made? Make it. Is there a stand you need to take? Take it. Change doesn’t come easily but move deliberately toward becoming the father you need to be. Start today.
As our list of “The Seven Worst Things Parents Can Do” continues, we encounter this troubling “mistake” that parents make: pushing their child into too many activities. In other words, creating a “hurried child.” Somewhere on our way into the 21st century, we decided it would be a good idea to work ourselves to death. And then for good measure, to work our children to death as well. We are a busy, pressured, stressed-out and hurried culture of families.
This hurried culture… the idea that we must make sure our child is in every possible activity in school and extra-curricular… so that they by no means miss an opportunity… has taken a toll on us and our children. The plethora of anxiety-based conditions; of people who report just feeling “numb” is an indication that we have come to a state of dissociation… of disconnecting… of separating ourselves from the pressure of life run at this pace.
In reality, our pressured and hectic schedules make certain that we can no longer connect with each other; no longer know each other on more than a superficial level. It takes a toll on marriages as exhausted spouses tumble into bed overwhelmed by the day’s running. It takes a toll on our children’s future; finding themselves in a lifetime search for the emotional connection they wanted with their parents but who never took the time for that to develop. It creates children who are angry, sullen and depressed for what they have missed out on in life and who have no desire to succeed. These children learned that a new house, a new car, a new boat or the best summer camps can’t really substitute for the love and close relationship with Mom and Dad.
Somewhere, we need to pull off the track that we are on and ask an important question: “Why are we doing this?” Why are you rising up early and staying up late to shuttle your kids to pre-school activities and post-school activities and weekend gymnastics or dance or soccer or any number of extra-curricular we find our way into? Why is it important to us that they not miss? So do this:
1) Ask yourself, “Is my child well-balanced?” Do they already have enough activities in their life to make sure they are experiencing life as they need to without pushing them into three more?
2) “Are these activities really consistent with my highest values?” Spending time is like spending money, except it’s even more precious. What we spend our time on gives our value system away. Ask yourself the hard question… Is this event/activity/class/lesson/practice/team really in line with my values and that of my family or is it in conflict with what is most important to me?
3) Who am I doing this for… really? Is this to make me feel better as a parent? Am I feeling pressured to do these things?
4) Sit down with your children and ask them the three questions above. Is there something that they feel lacking in their lives? Do these activities really measure up to what is most important to your family? Are they doing these things… for you?
There are families on the edge today because they don’t know how to declutter their calendar… simplify their lives… live authentically in the presence of the other people in their family. Few things, in fact, are of more threat to families than this issue. It’s time for the hurry to stop… and for God’s rest to enter your home.
May the Sabbath of God begin for you today!
FOR MEDITATION: Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy-burdened and I will give you rest. (Jesus) Matthew 11:18
FOR REFLECTION: Carefully take your weekly schedule and evaluate each activity prayerfully. Then, as a family, make some hard decisions:
- Are there things we need to stop doing that will make our lives less hurried and less stressed?
- How soon can we stop?
- How can we invite the “rest” that Jesus promises into our hurried lives?
Let me say it clearly again: There are no perfect parents. Your parents weren’t. Their parents weren’t. You aren’t. Your children won’t be. We are all fundamentally broken because of our sinfulness. And we will raise, well… little sinners.
One of the biggest mistakes (in my opinion) that parents make today is to so prioritize child-rearing; to allow the child’s schedule, needs, cries for attention to drive our homes… even at the cost of our marriages. So often when I talk to young couples having struggles during the child-rearing years, I ask them a simple question: When was the last time you had a night out… without the kids? Usually the answer is silence or, “Well, we haven’t.”
Our children will always cry to be the center of our world. They are not born by nature into a selfless posture. They want all of your time, all of your attention and all of your resources. When they are younger (infants) they are helpless and certainly demand and deserve your attention. But as they grow into toddlers, they will continue to cry to be the center of your world unless you teach them by your example that they are not.
This is extremely hard for parents who have so attached themselves to the success and well-being and happiness of their child and who have tied their value to their child’s success. In that instance, the parent needs the child more than the child needs the parent. That is not a healthy relationship even though others may “ooh” and “aah” around you, applauding your devotion. It is in reality, devotion to yourself at the core and truthfully, the child is not emotionally wired to be the focus of your life.
It’s also hard for parents who believe the child ought to be afforded the privileges of adulthood while they are still toddlers. For example: Who decides your child’s bedtime? Who determines what they get to eat? Does your child get to barge in to conversations you are having with another adult? Do they get to correct you? In other words, we have allowed our children to enjoy the privileges of adult living (when to sleep, when to get up, what to eat, etc.) and communicated to them that they are on equal footing in terms of family structure with any adult.
If your relationship with your child, in your mind, is THE most important relationship in your home you have made one of the most tragic mistakes that couples can make. The child needs to understand that 8:30 is bedtime even if they are not tired because mommy and daddy need some time alone… without them. They need to understand and SEE MODELED IN THE HOME a healthy marriage between mom and dad because nothing will bring them security like seeing that. There’s a reason the Bible tells us “a man shall leave father and mother and cleave to his wife.” It means no one… parents, children, grandchildren… is to come before the one with whom you are “one flesh.” The marriage is to be the primary relationship in the home, after the husband’s or wife’s relationship with God.
Here’s what is amazing to some parents and it hurts to hear it. Your kids don’t need you around them all the time. Your children want you to take a break… from them! I know that is a blow to the ego of some hovering moms and dads. But kids know that when you go out or go away for a quick weekend, you come back happier. Not as stressed out. And they instinctively know they will be happier because you’re gone for a bit and always happy to see you return.
Hear my heart as a pastor. So many families are blowing up their marriages over this one issue. Come to grips with this. Place your children in their proper position in the family. God created the family system for all to be healthy. Getting it wrong means everyone pays a price.
So, take a break. Have a night out. Go sit at McDonalds, drink a milkshake together without the kids and remember why you got married in the first place.
Your kids will thank you. I promise.
FOR MEMORIZATION: For this cause a man will leave father and mother and cling to his wife. And they become one flesh. Genesis 2:24
FOR REFLECTION: For every rule there seems to be a lot of exceptions. There aren’t many for the one we have dealt with above. However here is an exception: there are families in our church with special needs children who never move much beyond the infant-dependent stage in their lifetime. We need to find ways to minister to these special, heroic parents that walk among us. An offer to sit with their child for an evening may be the greatest gift you could give to these courageous folks who are pressed to the limit. Pray for them. And let’s do something to minister to them.
When we lived in Kentucky, Pam and I led a number of marriage enrichment and family retreats for the state convention and Lifeway.
The title of the parenting series was Parenting by Grace. I don’t remember much of the content. I do remember the title. It takes a lot of grace to be a parent. We constantly misstep and make mistakes that bring difficulty to our children as well as to us.
We make these mistakes partly because we really struggle with the tension between wanting our children to grow up and be ready to live life apart from us and not wanting to let them go. I suspect this may be an evident battle right about now as some reading this blog are preparing to see your first (or second or third) child leave the nest for college… their first big “away” adventure.
And we struggle to see them grow and to see them go. Yet we want them to be independent of us. But we get anxious (and sometimes overprotective) when that moment of separation comes to us. And in that anxiety we make mistakes because we tend to overprotect and baby our children, even when they are 18!
Drs. John and Linda Friel suggest in their list of “the seven worst mistakes parents make” (only 7 you ask??) that the first is to baby your child. On the surface that doesn’t seem such a terrible mistake unless we see the potential problems:
(1) creating an unhealthy attachment to the child on the part of the parents or
(2) failing to have reasonable expectations of the performance of responsibilities around the home or
(3) to allow children to avoid or escape the consequences of their behavior.
We are not being bad or mean parents when we tell our children to grow up. That’s our job as parents as we facilitate the childhood years; helping them to grow. And that means helping them understand that they are no longer babies that can contribute nothing. Our children need to have the expectation of chores given to them. Most household chores can be easily taught to children and their performance of the chore need not be tied to a reward they will get when completed. Part of “growing up” is learning how to find satisfaction in the accomplishment of work. That will be a lesson they will value for a lifetime.
And that’s a lesson a baby can never learn. Help your child accept responsibility for his or her actions. We spend far too much time as parents removing consequences from our child’s actions and not letting them feel the full brunt of the things they have done wrong. If homework is late, let them explain to the teacher why the assignment wasn’t done. If clothes or toys aren’t properly placed where Mom or Dad tells them, make the clothes or toys disappear for a week. Make the consequences something that you don’t have to enforce all the time. It really doesn’t have to hurt you more than it hurts them!
In other words, our job as parents is to help guide our children toward the path of release and maturity. The home is the laboratory where this is learned or NOT learned. The world will be a better place if we learn how to help our children grow up and stop hindering them by “babying” them.
Your world will be too.
FOR MEMORIZATION: The rod (what you do) and reproof (what you say) give wisdom, but a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother. Proverbs 29:15
FOR REFLECTION: How many times does allowing a child to get his own way indicate your giving in when you shouldn’t? Taking down the strong will of a child is one of the hardest battles a parent will fight, but it is a battle that must be won by you… or both parent and child lose.
I keep some books in my library that have struck me as important over the years. One book I keep just for the sake of the title: God Has Never Failed Me, but He Sure Has Scared Me to Death a Few Times. I loved the honesty of that one!
Some books I keep to warn me. They have titles like, The Ten Worst Mistakes Leaders Make. I have made all ten. Times three. Or one that I read mid-journey in my parenting experience: The 7 Worst Things Parents Do. I also did a few of those and added some that the authors didn’t think of.
Here is the list provided and expanded by Drs. John and Linda Friel in their book.
- Baby your child
- Put your marriage last
- Push your child into too many activities
- Ignore your own spiritual or emotional life
- Try to be your child’s best friend
- Fail to give your child structure
- Expect your child to fulfill your dreams
All of us who have been on the parenting journey can confess to making more than one of those mistakes, and like me, you may add others of your own. Over the next few blogs, I want to expand some of these for us in hopes that it may help us avoid missteps in our parenting experience. I may even add a few of my own mistakes to the list.
But a word of caution: none of us are going to be perfect parents. I can speak with a little less pressure since I know how my children turned out. My kids are great, awesome adults who make us proud over and over again. And today they are wonderful friends as well. But they did not come from perfect parents. We made our mistakes. And so did our parents. And so will our kids when they are parents.
At the end of the day, parenting is a grace-dependent experience and your kids make choices some times in spite of your best efforts and sometimes in spite of your failures. We do the best we can as parents. Prayerfully. Depending on God.
And the outcome we must leave to God.
FOR MEMORIZATION: Parents do not exasperate your children but instead bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord…. Ephesians 6:4
FOR REFLECTION: Maybe this list of parenting failures is something that makes you view your own parenting as flawed or broken beyond repair. There are no hopeless cases where God is concerned. Take your feelings of failure or even of guilt to the Lord. Begin where you are, whether your children are home or away from you. God is always willing to give us a new beginning… in spite of our failures.