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Monday, October 22, 2007

Not your usual topic

I was at a party the other day for kids. I watched as several parents told their children over and over to stop doing something they were doing and the children quit but immediately began to do it again apparently unafraid that to do so might cause consequences. When they continued the parents yelled at them “QUIT THAT” and finally they quit….for a few moments again. Then the parents yelled again and again and again but to no avail. Finally the parents just kept talking and ignored the children. For some reason this incident made me angry. These were not my children and I took it as none of my business so where was the anger coming from? I thought about this for days and finally had to analyze the situation so I could come to grips with my anger and why this affected me in such a profound way. There were a lot of things I did wrong as a parent and I am certainly no expert on parenting but as Major reminds me so often – “I can tell you what NOT TO DO” and that rings in my ears a lot because I feel the same way. I did almost everything wrong when raising my children. I never knew there was an instruction manual for raising children so therefore I qualify myself as an “expert” on what not to do.  As an adult I have learned that God’s word, the Bible, was meant to be an instruction manual. Not only a manual for how to raise our children but also a manual that will bring us peace in times of trouble, answers to many of life’s questions and just about anything we need to know to lead a healthy and productive life. You can ask my children and they will tell you that when I told them to stop – they stopped. Maybe not the first time, but for sure the second time and they may have even got a paddling. I wanted my children to be well behaved. I was “spanked” as a child and guess what? It didn’t kill me. But it did cause me to think about my behavior and maybe I didn’t want to do that wrong thing again. I have known several children whom the parents deemed them to be “out of control.” They were sent to a psychologist, put on medication, and anything else they thought would help. Now, don’t get me wrong - I believe in a psychologist ( I have seen one myself to maintain my sanity) and I believe in taking medication, which I have taken myself, if that is deemed to be absolutely necessary. But sometimes I think we rush to do these things without looking at what may really be going on with the child and how the child feels. I wonder sometimes if it would be beneficial to inquire how discipline is done in the home or if it is done at all. I wonder if we as parents are neglecting to discipline our children as God has said to do. We are all for getting them a computer, an Ipod, a cell phone, a television in their room etc. etc. and they stay in their own little world listening and watching who knows what. God word says in Proverbs 10:17 – He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray. What this says to me is that if I fail to discipline my children then I am leading them astray. Whatever happened to a “relationship” with our children? My childhood had its good and bad and we were just as dysfunctional as the next family but as a child we did lots of things together. My family would vacation together every year. We took picnics, went swimming, and played ball with my dad in the yard. We played board games, Monopoly, Battleship, and Risk, (although Risk was a bit complicated for my feeble brain). We ate dinner together and on Sunday nights we popped popcorn, each got one Snickers bar and watched the Disney movie. And of course watching The Wizard of Oz was a special occasion once a year for our family. Now with DVD you can watch it anytime. There are many instructions in the Bible as to how we are to interact with our children and what our duty as parents should be, just to name a few, To love them (Titus 2:4); to bring them to Christ (Matthew 19:13,14); to train them up for God (Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4); to instruct them in God’s word (Deuteronomy 4:9; 11:19; Isaiah 38:19); to command them to obey God (Deuteronomy 32:46; 1 Chronicles 28:9) to correct them (Proverbs 13:24; 19:18; 23:13; 29:17; Hebrews 12:7) and to provide for them (Job 42:15; Corinthians 12:14; Timothy 5:8). In Matthew Henrys Commentary he quotes Proverbs 13:24 like this – “He acts as if he hated his child, who, by false indulgence, permits sinful habits to gather strength, which will bring sorrow here and misery thereafter.” I have always heard that pain is a great motivator. The motivation in pain is that when I get tired of hurting enough maybe I will decide to do something different. The Bible in no way, shape or form tells a parent to abuse their children, but instead, shows that if we as parents fail to discipline our child and teach the child to follow God’s law it will be the downfall of child and parent alike. Discipline of a child is necessary to teach the child. In Proverbs Solomon assures us that if we raise our children to be lawful members of society, they will bring us great job. As much as I disciplined my children, I also have to say that I did not bring my children up in church, which I regret. As my children grew up they went through their struggles as most children do and they almost drove me crazy (no, not really, I have been crazy and it wasn’t anywhere near to that!) But I know that only because of the GRACE OF GOD and maybe because of some good discipline (I have to give myself some credit for the way they turned out ) they grew up to be productive, and caring adults and children that I am very proud of today. We as parents have a responsibility to raise our children in a way that is pleasing to God and in a way that will help them cope with whatever life will certainly bring their way. Consequences are one way we and our children learn. We need consequences; our children need consequences. For without them we tend to keep making the same mistakes over and over. And some of our children won’t get a second chance. Discipline was a consequence of my children’s wrong behavior and I hate to think about where they might be today had I allowed them to do and say and act or even dress however they thought was best for them. Young children do not have the mental capabilities or the life experience to make right choices. That is why we as parents are to teach them right from wrong and when they choose wrong, there should be consequences (discipline). I venture to say that some children who are labeled as “uncontrollable” have more than likely never been told no and have received very little, if any, discipline. Many children today are being raised and taught that the only thing that matters is the material things. And most of the time this is done by actions and not words. Children learn by watching what we do. If you have enough “toys” you will be happy. What happened to togetherness as families? What happened to “quality time” with our children? I have heard people say “boy, I miss the good ole days.” Well maybe we should bring back the good old days – at least where disciplining our children is concerned.

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