Thursday, June 2, 2011

Discipline and Obedience

We all know that most children behave the worst for their parents.  They do more talking back, rolling of eyes, arguing, throwing fits, etc.  So when there are poorly behaved children in your care don't you wonder how much worse they must be with their parents?  

What brought this post on?

One of the most frustrating things for me is being around parents who do not discipline and/or children who have no discipline or expectations to obey.  (Along the same line of frustration is parents who are wayyy too hard on their children.)

Why so frustrating?

1) Because if my daughter is around to see this, we come off as the too strict parents and I feel like I have to explain why we have rules, etc.  Do I care that my daughter might think I am too strict?  Honestly, yes.  I know that she knows that we have many more expectations of her than some of the other families we know.  That does not mean that I want her to think that we are being more strict just for our pleasure.  I want her to see that undisciplined and disobedient children are not fun to be around.  They aren't.  At all.  I also want her to see that in our family you get absolutely no privileges or pleasure out of behaving in those ways.

2) Because I know how most of those children will grow up if the same expectations are held of them.  Self-entitled.  Disobedient.  Bossy.  Disrespectful.  Etc.  Etc.  Etc. 

3) Maybe this one should be #1.  This one is a little harder to explain.... I guess I understand why non-Christian families might not discipline.  There is that whole "happiness" thing.  Do you know what I mean?  That whole idea that the goal is to be happy.  For our children to be happy.  For everyone to live in their little happy bubbles no matter the consequences.  If that is your primary goal, then sure do whatever you want!  Now, do I want my children to be happy?  Do I want to be happy?  Do I want everyone around me to be happy?  Of course!!  But even more than that, I want my children to be disciplined and obedient.  Why?  Because, I believe, in the long run that will give them more happiness and a greater ability to have joy, which is so much better than happiness. 

So when I see Christian families who have no form of discipline at all and expect no obedience at all it really confuses me.  It seems like I know more non-disciplining Christians than I know who do expect obedience.  This also makes such a bad witness to non-believers.  Discipline and obedience are such godly characteristics.  I believe that behind teaching and encouraging our children to love God and others, discipline and obedience are the #1 things we are to teach.  Here are some verses:

"Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it."
Proverbs 22:6 

"Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid."
Proverbs 12:1

"Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?"
Hebrews 12:9

"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 

Our daughter is not perfect and I wish I would have focused more on the word "obey" much earlier.  She does throw fits and does not always obey without grumbling as soon as I tell her to do something.  We are working on those things.  Will she ever obey perfectly?  I doubt it, but if we could get to 99% I'd be overjoyed about that!  It is so much easier to give in and "go with the flow" and focus on the child's "happiness", but we can't.  The Bible also tells us parents to "not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" (Eph 6:4).  I might be way off but I think that verse is about us setting boundaries and rules so that our children are not frustrated and angered.  Children like rules.  They feel more safe and secure with boundaries.  We are told to set them.  

I would love to set the world on fire with our (Christian) obedient, joyful, loving, enjoyable and fun (of course) children.  What an example and witness we would be! 

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