Parenting was a ride. Everyone of our five kids could tell you about the battle from their perspective. Most times, instruction was heeded without conflict. As they got older, there was a unanimous revolt. It's just the nature of life. It started with grumbling but in some cases turned into a full declaration of war.
I am proud that our kids were confident enough to confront me ... but it didn't always win me over. In fact, it rarely did. Especially if it wasn't extremely polite, respectful and full of curtsying. So, I think you get it ... winning me over was really really rare.
I was and remain a bit of a block-head. Oh, I am told I have made progress but it still falls short. Luckily I am 99% percent done with parenting in this area. As I have aged, I really have evaluated what is worth the fight. Some fights of the past are very embarrassing now. Some fights, I am VERY proud to have fought. It's true, there were far too many battles. Some wouldn't even be worthy of my notice now. Yet, there were others ... Oh, how I wish I was more aware of what was happening.
I now know discipline from a childs perspective, from a parents perspective and even from an observing grandparents perspective. None of these vantage points are very fun to experience ... for very different reasons. Now, if you are still young, you may not understand the struggle of the last two perspectives I mentioned ... but I trust time will reveal to you why they are all difficult.
Forgive me here. I need to say this in the clearest way I can in two words.
Can we agree on that at least in principle?
But, I want to also say there is such value in discipline. I want to quickly look at the upside of discipline because I think the downside is very clear to us all ... AND let me also say that the lack of discipline is far worse. I believe that it might take a bit of growing up for some of you to see the truth of this ... but stick with me here.
So, I want to make some general statements.
You didn't discipline my kids. Why? Well, first of all, you didn't want to go to court over it. But, bigger than that ... you were not deeply invested in my kids lives.
When you hear that my kid screws up ... you may think, Oh well, that's too bad, but in no way do you feel like getting involved in the situation. You are not their Mom or Dad. That's also why I don't get too worked up when I hear that your kid screws up. I can feel bad for you but they are not my responsibility.
Godly discipline DEEPLY communicates the responsibility of love. The lack of discipline tells your child that their failure is of no consequence to them or to you. It communicates a definite lack of love.
I can't love your kid like you can! You can't love my kid like me. You directly react to things if its your kid in the headlines ... because of the love you have invested in them. You want their best at all times in all situations. In fact, you may even demand compliance to some things with little or no grace for error. What compells you to do this when it's your kid and not mine? It's the responsibility of love being acted out. I will admit that sometimes it is hard for your kid to immediately see that Mom or Dad is freeking out because of love. But it's there! As a parent I am confident that I can stand before God on the basis of my motives for correction ... even though my methods were often off track. I was motivated by the responsibility of love to communicate discipline (no matter how science-fiction that ever got). We can regret our methods but still have the correct heart attitude for our kids.
We can weep together for each other when we are in trial and pray for each other but it's always more difficult for the actual parent going through the fire.
Here is a biggie I had to learn!
I can't love your kid like you can.
You can't love my kid like me.
We can't even possibly love our kids like God does! He is perfect. God doesn't make mistakes. He doesn't get worked up over the wrong things. He has known our children much longer than us. God knew them when it all began, before you, before me.
When a person places their faith in Christ they become a child of God and they begin a relationship of deeper love. You choose to no longer be a child of the world, but to be HIS! (1 John 3).
It is with that perspective that I read this passage this morning. Godly minded discipline snuck up on me here. Look at the context in which it was mentioned.
1 My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart,
2 for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity.
3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.
8 This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.
9 Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops;
10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.
11 My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline and do not resent his rebuke,
12 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.
How great is our patient and loving Father in heaven?
Have a great weekend!