The Truth About Discipline

This past weekend my church finished a series on parenting and this weeks lesson was concerning discipline.  It started me to ponder the example of discipline or rather sometimes the lack thereof.  Is sparing the rod actually a better scenario or rule of thumb to follow or should we take up the challenge of discipline for the sake of the children?


I was never blessed to be a parent, but this series really got me thinking about how difficult the job of parenting is.  Viewing this topic through a child’s eyes, it is often seen as a form of punishment.  Viewing this as an adult, I see that this is a tool of strength that develops one’s character.  Discipline can determine the course of action one takes throughout his or her life.  Allow me to expound on this.


Of course I need to take a look back at my journey to understand the full effect discipline has had on my life.  I must also take note that when one fails to apply discipline that there are consequences that will arise from that decision.


As a child my parents always strove to instill in me (and my siblings) good strong values.  They loved me after all and they wanted me to be strong, balanced and productive throughout life.  They knew what was best for me at this stage of my life.  They were the adults and they had some knowledge that I lacked being the child.  They set ground rules for everything and I needed to abide by them.  These rules were not constructed out of hate or anger, but rather out of love and concern for my well-being.  However, being a child I could not understand that train of thought (let alone process it) and I chose to think I was being punished anytime they had to discipline me.  I couldn’t have been further from the truth.  It wasn’t until I was older that I saw what they did for me was not a punishment, but a gift.  I was given a measure of wisdom to apply throughout my life.


We are not in a war zone, yet we sometimes place ourselves there because we feel we have been treated unjustly when the adults in our lives have to discipline us.  Some may say that our parents did not have all of the answers and they chose a different means to raise their children.  While that is certainly true, no one has all of the answers; but they did have past experience to rely on when they were instilling in us the importance of discerning right from wrong.  After all, they were once kids themselves.  I know it is hard to believe, but they were.  However, it wasn’t just past experience that they utilized.


In a solid Christian home they relied on the scripture when disciplining the child.  One popular verse is found in Proverbs 13:24 and it states “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.”  It is out of that love that we learn some hard lessons in life and it may result in actions we perceive as unfair.  Yet because of that discipline we are able to move on and hopefully live prosperous and productive lives.  As a child we cannot see that, but hopefully if taught well, as an adult we learn to appreciate this lesson.


There is another side to this issue.  There are children who never benefit from discipline because the parent is not in control and fears losing the child if they do not give in to the child’s wants.  In other words, they spare the rod and spoil the child.  I thank my parents I was never spoiled.


Nowadays a lot of kids are given everything they want and there is so much to desire.  They have cell phones, the best of technology, an expensive (seemingly endless) wardrobe others envy, and so much more.  Their rooms are mini-apartments and they have a haven to run to whenever they want to avoid their parents.  You cannot blame the child; it is the parents who gave them this life of luxury.  I am not judging the parents reasoning for this because first of all, I do not know them.  Second, I know some parents want their kids to have what they, themselves, never had.  I cannot argue against someone’s emotions.  Whatever the line of reasoning I use to argue would never be heard because the emotions of the listener would block out the argument.  However, despite any argument my point is this:  if we give our children everything they want every time they want it, how can we expect them to appreciate anything?  They have now built up an abundance of expectations and use that as their guide to reference on how to live. They have become spoiled and insolent.  When they falter, for they will (especially teenagers), they do not expect to be held accountable nor expect any punishment because they always get what they want.  The parent never set boundaries or disciplined the child in order to teach them that there are consequences for their actions.


Discipline is not a punishment, it is a tool used to teach.  Sometimes we need to correct our actions and pay the price for our bad choices.  For example a child comes home late and breaks curfew again.  Not a huge offense, but a rule was broken.  When the parent fails to discipline this action, then the child sees this as a reward for their bad behavior.  The question now posed is what will make the child want to obey the rules set?  Without respect to authority on the home front (read: parents), how can the child learn to respect any authoritative figure?  Where will this lead them and down what road will they eventually walk?  They always had an “out” to all of their problems.  When they enter the real world as an adult, they will soon see that they will not be able to get everything they want.  It will not be pretty and it will be a bitter pill to swallow.


My parents weren’t perfect, but they were wise in teaching my siblings and me to respect one another, as well as ourselves, by setting rules for us.  We did not get everything we wanted, we knew where the line was drawn and we did not overstep it.  None of us became criminals and all of us loved and respected our parents for the lessons they taught us.  We grew up respecting others and obeying the law.  We knew if we wanted something, we had to work to earn it.  Nothing was given freely, with the exception being our family’s love.  I am so thankful to have had two parents who loved me and wanted me to be able to stand tall as an adult and make good choices.


As I grew older, it became harder, but I had a strong foundation to stand upon.  I needed discipline to make it in this world.  I was challenged a few times in my personal struggles, but that foundation always led me back to that path I was put on as a child.  I can look back now and see the whole picture and see the strength of my parents.  They stood firm when they made decisions as how to raise their children with respect and love.  Thanks mom and dad.  I pray that I am making you proud each day.


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