5/13/13 - PTC_Proverbs 13 - "Do you love or hate your kids?"
Priority Time Challenge 2013
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Proverbs 13:24 (NIV)
"Whoever spares the rod hates their children,
but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them."
Who? Parents. You are the focus here. As I write this post, I just completed a marathon of activities and my kids were in rare form. It seems every 10 minutes or so one of them did something that added to my already thin patience. Needless to say, this is probably why my mind settled on this verse.
What? This verse paints a picture of parenting in two very clear-cut categories, love and hate. Most parents I know would never use the word "hate" to describe anything regarding their kids. I guess this is one reason this stands out. What is at the center of this either/or scenario? Discipline. God is instructing parents on the wisdom of discipline. Every parent knows there is a need for discipline. In fact, in EVERY parenting seminar or conference I'm at, the #1 issue parents are facing is discipline. There's a general question of how to do it, the questions of how moms and dads can stay on the same page, the difficult question of how much is enough and how much is too much. From my perspective of studying parenting from both Biblical and secular approaches, there is no debate on the centrality of discipline in the task of parenting.
I think we need to see discipline in two ways, proactive and reactive. First and foremost, discipline must be proactive. If you are a parent, you are already accustomed to the reactive side. Every parent can turn on the blue lights and bust their kids for some crime; the much more challenging issue is being proactive and creating disciplines in advance of issues or problems.
How? How do parents discipline? Here the text gives us a clue - don't "spare the rod." Now before everyone goes up in arms, this is not what many have construed it to mean. I know the questions out there, "Is spanking ok?" "With a rod!?" I know your kids have made you want to reach for a rod, but let's get the wisdom that's in this Proverb. I think we are safe to understand the "rod" as any effective (and appropriate) measure to bring consequences to a child in order to train them to make a better or different choice. I'm actually a proponent of spanking, I think God is too; He's the one who gave us two hands, one to hold the child the other to smack their little bottoms! :) In some cases spanking is effective, in other cases it's not. The goal is not simply causing pain. If that's your M.O. then you need counseling! The best advice I can give any parent who needs help bringing discipline to a child is to identify the 1-3 growth areas your child needs to work on and create a clear set of standards/expectations and the corresponding consequences and start there. If you try to do everything at once, you will fail miserably and feel defeated as a parent. You can't boil the ocean, just pick the issue causing you the most pain and create a consistent plan to change the behavior.
Why? Our goal is to direct our kids toward good behavior. When we fail to bring appropriate consequences to our kids choices then we effectively "hate" them. They need loving and firm direction. In fact, we are told that discipline is one way we do love them. We discipline because we love our children and we are committed to helping them grow into the men and women God wants them to become. Too often parents, myself included, allow our own selfishness to muddy the waters. This may come it the form of being too strict because your ego is bruised every time you child acts out. You've placed an unrealistic expectation on your child to make you look like a good parent. That's an unfair burden on any kid. Others can be too lenient because they want their child's approval far too much. You do not ever need your child's approval. We fear our kids might think we are mean so we back off just when they need us to be firm. The bottom line is discipline is NOT about YOU. It's about your child. You are the one responsible to think about how your child needs to grow and create the disciplines (proactive first, reactive as needed) to guide them there.
I need to continually fight for consistency. Today is a prime example of being inconsistent. I'm tired so I'm not firm when I need to be, then things get further out of control and I end up raising my voice and expecting my kids to suddenly turn and obey. It's my fault for allowing them too much leniency and then trying to reel that in and correct it all at once. I know this stuff better in my head than in reality sometimes. My problem is not knowledge it's practice. I need to learn from other parents. I need to be constantly equipped.
God, help me in this 7000Days journey. Sometimes discipline seems so frustrating. I feel like one day we're making progress and another day we are back at square one. God help me remember that I don't have to solve everything in one day or even one week. At the same time, don't allow me to procrastinate with discipline. My boys need routine, high expectations, immediate consequences for bad choices and obvious grace that my love for them is never in question. God, I pray for Amanda in this. She carries the brunt of the daily load. Help us stay connected and in sync as parents. I pray that we will train our boys to love and thrive within a disciplined life. I pray for the parents at HP, give them a 7000Days vision for parenting. I pray you open the door for more ParentEquip opportunities. I pray for a 7000Days conference to be born and take off. I pray You will raise up people passionate about parenting and allow us to leverage the 7000Day.org site to equip millions of parents across our country. This is where we are losing the battle in our country. The problems in our country are NOT political, they are parental. We need parents who are courageous and equipped to train children in the will and ways of God.
If you are reading this and would be interested in being a part of a team of bloggers to address parenting issues, please contact me or my assistant via email. I'm tired of waiting to move on this vision. Let's do it!
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