More important than academics is the training and discipling of our children to love and follow the Lord God and His Word. Children must be trained and disciplined in order for them to be teachable. As I search the Scriptures, I find it inescapable that the primary responsibility for child discipline rests with the father.
“For what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” (Hebrews 12:7b).
Self-control, which is the goal of discipline in the Christian home, is not produced by correction alone. For a dad to be a successful disciplinarian, his relationship with his children must be far more.
Lifestyle. Dad must cultivate a lifestyle in the home that is conducive to learning discipline. A home that operates on a schedule, rather than haphazardly, and that is kept orderly and in good repair demonstrates responsibility and serves as a good example to children.
Attitude. Most importantly, Dad must provide an example of attitude. If Dad throws tantrums when disappointments come, his efforts to teach his children not to do the same will fail.
Even if Dad can force outward obedience, his children’s inward response will be frustration and bitterness. This means he will have to confess when he does wrong and show his children that he expects the same of himself as he does of them.
Training. Dad must also give his children positive training. There is a place for correction, but it comes after a child has been taught clear rules for behavior.
It wounds the spirit of a child to hold him accountable for doing the right thing when he does not know what the right thing is.
Marilyn and I learned this lesson years ago when she came home from a frazzling shopping trip. We made a trip back to the supermarket just to train the children in shopping decorum.
Before going into the store, we set some simple rules: Stay close to Mommy; don’t touch without asking; use quiet voices; don’t stand in front of the cart. Then Marilyn cruised the aisles while I walked behind and gave needed reminders. Next time Marilyn took the children shopping, she had a much easier time.
Correction. When correction is needed, it should never be given in anger; spanking should always be done with a rod and not the hand. And don’t think that spanking is the only form of correction. Denial of privileges and other consequences often work wonders.
Remember, though, if you do spank, don’t do it with your tongue. Appeal to your child’s conscience, reason with him when appropriate, but don’t give tongue lashings. They cut deeper than the stripes of a switch. Some such wounds never heal.
Positive Relationship. A positive relationship with your child is the first step in effective discipline. I pray for help in communicating to my children that I like them as well as love them.
I want my children to know that I am training them for their benefit, not so they won’t embarrass me with their failures. I want to spend more time praising them than criticizing them. I don’t want them to give up on doing right because nothing they do is good enough to please me.I’m so thankful God gave me my children. Do they know that?
Spiritual Battle. Finally, Dad needs to realize that child discipline is a spiritual battle. The specialist in rebellion is still around, seeking who he may devour and making them rebels too. Discipline is not behavior modification. It is daily cultivating a heart for God.