Fly with the Phoenix

Discipline is not a dirty word
January 17, 2010, 1:52 am
Filed under: Family Transitions | Tags: , , ,

Many parents when they reach a certain advanced age talk with their adult children about their inheritance they plan to leave. This usually includes money, property–financial items–all of which they worked hard to accumulate to be passed on to the next generation. While there’s nothing wrong with this type of legacy, there’s something that can be left to the kids that costs nothing to build but is worth more than all the gold in the world.Spiritual inheritance–faith–cultivated by a parent is the best legacy to leave children, according to Charles Stanley, author of How to Keep Your Kids on Your Team. Stanley writes that a Godly parent builds a strong home by praying with kids everyday and disciplining them when they turn away. While our faith experience is very personal, we can hand down to our children our sense of morals, values and principles. I have no doubt that my proclivity for church service is due to my seeing my parents’ continuous involvement at our home church. It’s one of many faith lessons that have stuck with me my whole life.

The other side of modeling faith to children is disciplining them. Stanley points to the passage in the book of Judges (chapter 2 v:10–15) when the new generation of Israelites neglected the relationship with God and worshipped the idols of their enemies. God was angry with the Israelites and when they went to battle, they were not victorious. Robbers looted their possessions.

Like our heavenly Father, fathers (and mothers) who discipline their children in love are showing them the right way to live. While sometimes difficult to carry out, and almost always for the kids to accept, consistent discipline keeps kids on the family team.

I remember visiting my aunt and uncle’s home with my parents as a child, and I had said I wanted something (can’t remember what it was) that my mom didn’t think I needed. She told me no and I pitched some kind of small fit. I was sent with my cousin to her room, where I complained in detail how unfair my parents were. My cousin said something that I’ll always remember. She told me how lucky it was that my parents cared enough to tell me no sometimes. Helen said she never got that.

I think disciplining children can be especially hard for non-custodial parents, who typically get less time with their kids and often fall into the trap of making the visits a visit to Disneyland. They may want to compete with the other parent by showering the kids with more stuff, or taking them on more outings. Perhaps they just want peace with the kids and catering to them is a way they think achieves that. I couldn’t caution parents more against falling into this hole, because I’m guilty catering to my kid too much and providing less discipline. I fell into the “guilty divorced working mom” trap. Because I worked, I devoted all my time at home to her and catered to every need or wish. It wasn’t until she moved away from me that I could see the results of my errors in judgment.

Now when I discipline her, it is often met with rebellion, and I can’t help but wonder if I had laid a more consistent foundation with her discipline, would we be experiencing these troubles.

Discipline equals love for our kids, just as our trials we face truly are loving life lessons our heavenly parent is providing us. A Godly parent can embrace both.


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