TIP 12. LOVING DISCIPLINE
One of the most controversial subjects that any parenting course can broach is the subject of discipline. To discipline or not to discipline, is often the question asked. I believe that in this issue as in all others, we need to find our answers in the way that our 'Heavenly Father' deals with His children. Surely if He is the creator of the universe and all that is in it, then He must have some insight into this all important subject. Any effective parenting plan or strategy must deal with the application of positive discipline within the family.
The scriptures in the Bible give us a valuable insight into the heart and mind of God, on this and many other subjects. Jesus showed conclusively that God is love, and loves each one of us individually. Love is the basis that God uses, for all of 'His' dealings with man, and we would do well to learn from His example.
There are any number of 'academics' who seem to equate the word discipline as meaning child abuse or physical violence, but the truth behind the word discipline goes in a very different direction.
Discipline Dis`ci*pline, n. [F. discipline, L. disciplina, from discipulus. 1.
The treatment suited to a disciple or learner; education; development of the faculties by instruction and exercise; training, whether physical, mental, or moral.
Discipline aims at the removal of bad habits and the substitution of good ones, especially those of order, regularity, and obedience. --C. J. Smith.
Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)
Here we can clearly see that the aim of discipline is to teach or educate, not to abuse or hinder a person, but to assist them in finding the right way to live. This is clearly seen in the way that God (The Father)speaks to Adam (Son) in the Garden Of Eden.
(Genesis 2 v 15-17)
Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."
There may have been hundreds of trees and bushes that Adam could have freely eaten from without any problems, a virtual feast for the taking. But God made sure that there was at least one tree in the garden that He could use to teach and educate Adam, through the discipline of obedience.
Discipline is required to develop obedience in the heart of man, and to teach him the right way to live. If man is left to his own devices and willful desires, he will soon be overcome by the evil within the world, and will suffer accordingly.
(Genesis 6 v 5-6)
Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.
As a father and the head of the home it is your responsibility, in consultation with your wife, to develop a framework of Godly discipline for the children. This framework should include checks and balances to ensure that it is fair, and needs to be administered lovingly, should be clearly articulated, and consistently enforced if it is to be of use in educating and teaching the children. You should also be aware that each child is different and may respond better to certain forms of discipline rather than others.
Checks and Balances are required in every level of leadership to ensure that those under your authority are treated fairly, and that you yourself remain teachable and don't become 'a law unto yourself'. One of the easiest ways to do this is to have regular open and frank discussions with your wife, about how each of you are performing in the 'discipline arena'. We as fathers, need to keep in mind that we must give an account of our stewardship when we stand before God one day.
It is also vitally important that the children themselves have a framework of appeal, so that they are assured of a fair hearing, or at the very least being able to give their side of the story. This is best done by establishing a procedure that is acceptable to the parents, where the child can 'state their case'. Something like 'Excuse me dad, but I didn't......', seems to work well, as it releases the child from frustration without allowing them to show disrespect to the parent.
All discipline needs to be administered lovingly, and that means that we as men need to have a cool head when we do it. The old adage of 'counting to ten' before saying anything is not without merit, although sometimes I think that counting to twenty or thirty is better.
Children should be disciplined privately, away from other siblings or strangers, to avoid compounding the problem through the child suffering embarrassment as well. The child needs to be informed and it needs to be clearly articulated as to why they are being disciplined (What was the infringement). After they have been disciplined, they should apologise for the infringement, and should then be hugged and reassured as to how much you love them, and that the goal of discipline is to help them have a happy life.
Discipline needs to be consistently enforced if we are to mould our children's character and strengthen them in preparation for the future. If we discipline them this week and then forget about it for a month, it will bring confusion and a blurring of the guidelines and framework we are trying to establish within the home. Without the element of consistency, disciplining your children will ultimately fail in achieving the results required.
Discipline within the home is always a challenge, but it will bear fruits in your children's lives that will strengthen them and set them up for success.
Dads' Call To Action:
Begin to develop a framework of discipline as early as possible within your children's lives. Administer it fairly and consistently over the years and you will reap the reward of children you can be proud of.
(Proverbs 22 v 6)
Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.
(Hebrews 12 v 7-8)
If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.