Of course I don’t know what it’s like being a dad, but I’m quite sure that it’s a lot like being a mother. We have the same hopes and dreams for our kids, we want them to have a better life than we did, we want them to succeed, we want the best for them. Still, I think the common goal in parenting is knowing when and how to discipline.
“Just wait until your father gets home.” How many times we’ve said that to our children, when I was just plain tired of dealing with the issue of discipline. It was my way of copping out and also a way for the kids to believe their dad was some kind of monster who would administer justice even if he didn’t know what happened. I think they refer to it as passing the buck.
When I was a child, spankings were not considered a form of child abuse, but I do agree that they shouldn’t be necessary after the first one. Discipline should be administered as a means to teach the child and have him learn something in the process.
My husband recalls placing a book in the seat of his pants when he knew he was in for a spanking. It worked for a while. My dad never used his hand to discipline, but there were always the looks of disappointment, anger, frustration, followed by a painful tongue lashing. Often that reprimand was more hurtful than the back of his hand. Words can often strike harder than any physical pain. On the other hand, my son recalls comparing the handprint on his backside to that of his sister.
One of Webster’s definitions for discipline is – training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character. There’s nothing in there about the means whereby you obtain that result. However, the Bible is very clear about it.
- Proverbs 13:24 Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him. (remember the rod was used by shepherds, to guide as well as admonish their flock.
- Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Many of the Bible verses I was told to memorize often come in handy today.
- Ephesians 6:1-4 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Here we’re reminded that we are subject to the commandments of God. Honoring our parents isn’t always easy, but it is a requirement that comes with promise for a good life.
- Hebrews 12:9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? We are constantly faced with choices that will bring good or bad results. What we learn as children, will give us the tools to decipher the difference.
Whatever method you use, should be laced with love and forgiveness. Once a child is reprimanded, he should know that you still love him in spite of his mistake and told that he’s forgiven. Hugs are great reminders of your tender care.
Giving children rules – setting boundaries – teaching them right from wrong and how to treat others – teaching them to be responsible for their actions and apologize if necessary – all of those are necessary components to discipline. We are in fact guiding, teaching, preparing our children for the world outside. They need every ounce of preparation and learning we can give them, because the world is an ugly place. They will discover, all too soon, just how ugly it is.
Some parents use spankings. Some resort to time-outs (which is a short internment which doesn’t often mean much to the kids.) Some take things away from their kids like cell phones, video games, electronics. Some require some kind of action from the child to show their penance. I’m no expert on the subject, but as a former parent, I know that no form of punishment works unless there is an interweaving of patience, love and forgiveness.
Always using Jesus as our guide, we show mercy to everyone – especially those we love. We should exude patience, but always have guidelines and rules. When the storm is over, we should take them in our arms and remind them that they are loved.