The issue of discipline is a much discussed subject in most concerned Christian households. Rarely a day goes by when the subject does not take center stage. God is a God of order and not of chaos, and our homes should reflect this. Scripture speaks to this subject very clearly and it is up to us parents to take heed. Not only will the souls of our children thrive, but our home will be a far more pleasant place for all who dwell therein.
Rather than focusing on discipline, I feel we should consider 'training'. Parenting without joy is like music without rhythm or flowers without color. A joyless parent will battle to raise children filled with joy.
If parents can establish a relationship of trust and respect, the first step to child training has been achieved. We must enjoy our children and cause them to enjoy us. They should bask in our smiles, our approval, our touch, our laughs and our hugs. Children in this environment know that their parents care only for what is good for them. If these are the ground rules, all training will flow from there.
Establish the rules of your home as early as possible, and stand firm on the important issues. In our home, we count the following as most important:
Cheerful and prompt, first time obedience.
Respect for the private property of their siblings.
To listen every time they are spoken to, never forcing us to raise our voice.
All other 'rules' flow from these. If obedience to a calmly spoken command is not heeded then authority is still at stake. Is the parent in charge, or is the child? We should not have to raise our voices to get our children's attention. Ideally, our reach as disciplinarians cannot exceed the limits of our fellowship with our children. Rebuke should be delivered in an atmosphere of trust and respect. If we lose the heart of our children, then they will have lost the heart to please us. Rebukes and chastisement should not be the constant tone of a home environment; it will only strangle the relationship. Our children must know that we as parents answer to a higher authority - our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We ourselves have boundaries, and we should expect our children to adhere to these as well. Unless we teach our children to obey us as their current authorities, how can we expect them to ultimately obey God themselves?
Children are born sinners into a sinful world. After dealing with the soul of the child, the next battle is the flesh.
The most important principle here is to never allow rebellion to be successful.
As hard and as emotionally draining as it is, we must be 100% consistent. Our rules should be simple and attainable, but we, as lawgivers, should always win. Decide on your ground rules, and win decisively on these. Be just. Be reasonable. Be consistent. Be tough. Be there, all the time loving, smiling, and demanding compliance as foreman of the home.
After all, discipline is a heart issue. If we can manage to train up our children from an early age to obey us as their caretakers and as the shepherds of their hearts, then most of the attitude and discipline issues of the daily teaching will fall away.
It is not too late for parents of older children. There is plenty of good advice out there on parenting, and older children can be apologized to, and can be told that things are going to change from now on.
As parents we should be interested not only in the academic success of our children, the sports they play, the school they are in or the friends they have. All this is in vain if their character, heart and behavior does not reflect godly training.
Michael Pearl sums it up best for me:
"What can be called success if your children turn out to be part of the world's problem rather than its cure? What satisfaction can there be in the comforts of material success if your children grow up needing counsel rather than being sought after to give counsel? If your children lie awake at night suffering from guilt and anxiety, being gnawed upon by the demons of intemperance and self-indulgence, how can you enjoy your food or your pillow? The success of a tree and a man is measured by the fruit that is borne. The fruit of a man or woman is their children; everything else is falling leaves. If the sun rises and sets and I never cast a bigger shadow, what of it, if my children are growing and flourishing in God's family? Let me die poor; let me die early; let me be ravaged by disease; just let my children rise and call me blessed. Let me not measure my giving by the dollars I spend on them or the educational opportunities that my station in life can afford them, but rather, by the hours I spend with them in fellowship. May they graduate from my tutorship to become disciples of the Nazarene. May they learn good and evil from the pinnacle of obedience rather than from the pit of despair. May they have the wisdom to choose the precious, and the courage to reject the trite and the vain things in life. May they always labor for the meat that endures. May they be lovers of God, co-workers with the Holy Spirit, and a friend to the Lord Jesus. And when their trail ends, may it end at the throne of God, laying crowns at the Savior's feet." Michael Pearl
by Lenora Hammond