We recently were visiting our precious, dearest friends whom we hadn’t seen in awhile. Due to the lapse of time, our youngest boy did not remember them. As I stood nearby, I overheard my son ask my friend, “What is your name?”
She replied, “Monica.”
And then the next words out of his mouth were astonishing. Embarrassing, to say the least.
He inquisitively asked, “What is wrong with your face?”
The roars of laughter trailed my moment of complete humiliation. Deep within, I know kids can say the darnest things. But oh man, if they are taken the wrong way, they can leave some serious scars.
As parents, we have a responsibility to discipline our children. However, discipline comes like a loaded gun. If you misuse your authority, someone will get hurt. We have a choice to make when it comes to discipline: a response fueled by emotion or a response geared towards personal growth.
Discipline is not my forte, but I know it is a responsibility given to me by God. Of course, I wish my kids would behave perfectly! But we live in a messed up world with messed up people—and I’m messy, too.
We all sin. Use this as your starting ground to get your emotions in check. We live in a fallen world as a result of sin, and we are no better off than anyone else. Be a good role model by remaining cool and collective. In doing so, your child will recognize that you love them unconditionally and that your love is not predicated on how they perform.
Ask God for wisdom in your situation. He promises to give it to you! Sometimes, you will need to respond with a disciplinary action, and sometimes you will need to respond with grace.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James 1:5
Learn and grow. If God has allowed this sticky situation into your life, then you can trust that God has good has His goal. Romans 8:28 promises us that God is working all things together for good to those who believe. As a result, the current meltdown, tantrum, whining, or dilemma will be used for the good of your child…and for you. As a believer, God is constantly stretching and growing our dependency on Him. Parenting is not predictable. You never know what will happen around the next bend. But we can continue to seek God in all of our circumstances, and lean into the provision He promises to provide.
Pray for your child. Pray to “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). As a parent, our goal should be to fertilize the heart of our children. Not just giving them rules to follow. Not demanding their obedience. But rather, encouraging them to seek God with all of their heart.
Change your perspective about discipline. We tend to think of it in a derogatory fashion, but God intended discipline to be a demonstration of love. Focus on the Family says, this, “When you consistently discipline your child and do it with the right attitude — compassionately, under control, with consistent boundaries and consequences, and focused on the child’s best outcome — you are expressing love exactly as God sometimes expresses His love. It may seem uncomfortable both to you and your child at the time, but in the long run, it’s the most selfless, compassionate thing you can do to set your child up for happiness in life and fruitfulness in God’s Kingdom.”
Okay, so thankfully my friend displayed good sportsmanship and made jokes about her ugly face (which in and of itself is humorous because she is one of the most beautiful persons I know). The humor didn’t stop there. An hour later, my son asked her husband, “Where is your mom?” when, once again, referring to my dear friend. She could not catch a break from my four-year-old!
In this particular situation, using discernment and taking cues from my friend, I simply responded with a small word of correction to my child. “Honey, we need to be careful with our words. Making fun of the way someone looks could really hurt his or her feelings. God has made each of us different and unique.”
We are raising the next generation…and that’s pretty cool and daunting all at the same time! If we view our role as parents as a gift from God…as a blessing, not a burden…our perspective about discipline changes as well. We serve a good, good Father. Let’s follow His lead in raising our kiddos!
“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11
How has discipline been challenging to you? What are you thinking, feeling, and doing when you discipline?