“The rod and rebuke give wisdom,
But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.”
“Correct your son, and he will give you rest;
Yes, he will give delight to your soul.”
Before becoming the Pastor of Calvary Chapel Vero Beach, I spent eight years teaching in the classroom. The first five years I taught in middle school and the final three in high school. Those years proved to be both a wonderful experience and an excellent training ground for raising my own children. My first year was interesting to say the least. I was 23 years old and newly married. I had little experience dealing with preteens, except for the fact that I had been one. My approach in the classroom could have been called the “whose your buddy” method. I attempted to be the cool teacher, who never gave out detentions, office referrals, or parent contacts. The result was chaos. After a few months, I spoke with an aunt who had been in education for years. When I asked for her secret to order in the classroom, she explained that she did not have disciplinary problems, because she had a standard the students understood and she stuck to. Soon after, I observed another teacher who clearly stated the classroom standards and kept to them. When a student misbehaved, she did not become emotional, losing her cool and raising her voice, she simply pointed out that he was breaking the rules, and disciplined accordingly. Those experiences transformed my ability to instruct the children. Instead of spending all my time, energy, and prayer life, dealing with discipline, I was able to teach.
Solomon points out, this same principle should be applied to the home. We have all seen children misbehaving and parents doing nothing more than warning them to stop. As the child continues, the parent raises the level of his voice, until the parent has completely lost his cool. Soon, he begins to scream at the child, perhaps even grabbing the child forcefully by the arm, to snatch him up and leave without further embarrassment. If we are honest, we have not only seen that parent, but we have been that parent. The secret to successful discipline is having a clear biblical standard for our children. The result will be spending less time agitated and upset, and more time instructing and loving our kids.
Allow me to give a few guidelines. First, our standard is based upon how our Heavenly Father treats us. He is ever merciful and forgiving, and understands we are prone to failure. Never does God condone sin, but He is always ready to lovingly restore us, when we fail. One common failure among parents is, putting standards on children that they themselves could not keep. Second, when we must exercise discipline, this should become a teaching time. Instead of allowing our emotions to take over and reacting in anger or frustration, we want to clearly point out how our child has misbehaved. We must explain what the Bible says about proper behavior, consequences, and forgiveness. This is a critical time to hug and pray with our children. Finally, we must be sure the punishment fits the crime. Are we upset at our child because his behavior was wrong or because it embarrassed us in front of our peers? I have seen parents horrified at their child because they bit another child in Sunday school. While it is wrong to bite other kids, in some cases, the parents were more embarrassed by how that made them look, than at the infraction of their toddler. I have even known parents to stop coming to church because of the embarrassment. Keep in mind, your child’s behavior is not always a representation of your parenting. After all, God’s kids ate the forbidden fruit. Don’t discipline out of embarrassment, but discipline with kindness and affection, for the infraction that has been committed.