As I start this article, I must let you know a little about myself. I am father to three children, 12, 4, and just turned 3. I have been a youth minister for over eight years and before going to seminary obtained my degree in secondary mathematics education. I have worked with countless families and even written lengthy documents on children and society.
These facts allow me to write to you about something that is a touchy subject almost anywhere in America today: Discipline.
Go out in public and interact with those around you. There have been many times recently when I have had to interact with someone in a professional job (usually in the front desk or other interpersonal position) who is less than polite and as much so less than professional. Normally, I would chock that up to their immaturity and age, but as I observe the culture surrounding us, I see a serious problem that is only getting worse.
You may ask what some unprofessional, rude, twenty-something has to do with discipline. More than you know.
As a child is growing up, he or she needs discipline. They need real, defined boundaries and consequences for stepping beyond those boundaries. If they don’t have this secure arrangement, then they begin to act out hoping that someone, somewhere will put the fences back up. Children need discipline and boundaries in order to feel safe and secure in their times of development.
I see parents all the time allowing their elementary age children talk back to them or act rudely to them. I see school systems that don’t enforce the rules they have set. I see the breakdown of discipline in society all around. This breakdown is spearheading the corrosion of values in America today.
If a child is not shown proper, consistent discipline (please note the modifiers there – they are extremely important), then they are not really respected. A child who is not taught discipline – who has no consequences for his or her actions – does not learn respect for adults, their peers, or even themselves. Discipline is vitally important.
Now, the Bible says “spare the rod, and spoil the child,” but discipline doesn’t have to come in the form of spanking. For many children, finding some natural consequence works even better. If you’re concerned about your child breaking a toy, but they refuse to be more gentle, then instead of taking it away or spanking them, tell them what’s about to happen if they don’t stop, then help them process the consequences once they happen.
The Bible also says “beat Him with a rod – he will not die”, but that one makes me chuckle. It’s true, though. Discipline will not kill your child. It will not cause them to resent you. The abuse of discipline and the undue use of force cause children to resent parents. Consistent, appropriate discipline helps children to function at the top of their ability as they grow in all areas of life.
When there is no discipline at home, usually there is a lot of strife. When there is no discipline at school, students are hindered from learning at their capacity. Gone are the days of “it takes a village to raise a child”, but those days are severely missed.
As you think of discipline, remember a couple of things. First, when you lose your cool you are not in the correct place to administer discipline. First cool down; then discipline the offender. Second, God says you should endure hardship in your life as discipline (see Hebrews 12). It is a sign of how much God loves you. It literally says that if God didn’t love you, He wouldn’t discipline you. The same thing applies to you and your children (or students). If you don’t discipline them, you aren’t really loving them the way they need you to.
May you endure hardship as discipline, and may you rise up and declare a change of direction for the generations coming through the schools right now. May you be consistent, appropriate disciplinarians, and may the future generations excel because of your love today.
If you have any comments on this article, feel free to post them at http://www.mrdobbs.org, or if you have any prayer requests or would just like to chat, call me at 245-1611 or email me at email@example.com. God bless you all!