Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Loving Enough to Discipline



How and when to discipline children can be a fuzzy area for some parents, but one that we all must navigate on a daily basis. We don't want to be so hard on the kids that they don't see firsthand what grace and compassion look like, but we also don't want to be so lenient that they feel as though their behavior is acceptable and turn into disrespectful human beings. This is why making sure that our thinking is clear and having a firm understanding on how and why we should raise our children a certain way is so crucial. If we aren't fully convicted or consistent in the way we carry out correction, it will only make matters worse. It will essentially turn into a relationship of the blind leading the blind.

Personally, I'm not willing to take that risk. I love my kiddos far too much to be foolish and just "wing it." It is for reasons such as this that I turn to the One who created them... who wrote the ultimate book on discipline and parenting... who knows my own children far better than I ever will... and who demonstrates unconditional love, correction and grace as a parent should. Let's see what He has to say about the matter...

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First, we must understand that children are a blessing, not a burden.

"Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth.
Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate"
-Psalms 127:3-5

 If we focus on how tired children make us or all the things they did wrong or how they "inconvenience" us, we will have missed one of the greatest blessings we have ever received.

Raising and disciplining our children is our responsibility.

"Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it"
-Proverbs 22:6

We cannot rely on teachers, coaches, and/or grandparents to do what God has called us to do as parents, nor should we want to. We are so blessed to have people in our lives to help teach our children right from wrong, but we can't let that replace us, as the parents, from instilling truth in our kids.

"Love the LORD your God will all your heart and will all your soul
and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today
are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children.
Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road,
when you lie down and when you get up."
-Deuteronomy 6:5-7

Correction may not be easy, but it is necessary.

"The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother...
Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart"
-Proverbs 29:15, 17

Yes, being consistent in disciplining is exhausting and overwhelming at times, but it is a crucial part of parenting. We all can tell the difference between a disciplined child and an unruly one. Do you want others to talk about your child for the right or wrong reasons?

If God can forgive you and I and extend grace, we must be willing and able to do the same for our children.

"Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a 
grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you."
-Colossians 3:13

"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins...
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others,
as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms."
1 Peter 4:8,9

I will be the first to say that at times it is truly hard to forgive my child who disrespects me by doing the same thing over and over again. But I quickly ask myself, "Who am I to not forgive my child when I am not the One who paid the ultimate cost so that we can all be forgiven?" The same thought process goes with extending grace.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith.
And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God"
-Ephesians 2:8

"Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged"
-Colossians 3:21

There are times for strong discipline so they understand the extent and seriousness of the offense, but then there are times when grace is extended and just a conversation about the situation will suffice. Grace and correction can and should co-exist, but must be based on consistency.

"For God is not a God of disorder but of peace..."
-1 Corinthians 14:33

What we teach and pour into them, they will teach and pour into others. 

"We will not hide them from their descendants;
we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
his power, and the wonders he has done...
so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds
but would keep his commands."
-Psalm 78:4-7

Y'all, these are the ones who will continue our legacy, good or bad. Their actions and words will ultimately be a reflection of us. How do you want to be remembered? 

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Do they push our buttons all the time? Yes. Do they deliberately disobey at times regardless of how many times you tell them not to do something? Yes. Are you exhausted beyond belief? Probably. But friend, I just want to encourage you to keep going. Your long days, patience and hard work will not go without reward. And people will notice, whether you realize it or not. Be strong and steady, but don't forget to enjoy the journey and love along the way.

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"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. 
It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."
-1 Corinthians 13:4-7

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For a couple great books to help guide you through the parenting process, 
check out the "Recommend Books" page.