Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 13:24
"He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently"
One of the greatest wounds that children can receive from their parents is complete freedom to be selfish. To never know any boundaries and to never be disciplined in any form because we don't want to squelch the creativity of children deprives them of internal discipline.
In order to harness the gifts and talents that we have been given requires self-discipline. We have to tell ourselves no to some things in order to say yes to other things. Children suffer a huge disadvantage when during the formative years they do not hear no. Many failings that you struggle with now are the result that you cannot tell yourself no. The easiest place to learn this form of self-discipline is at the feet of parents who will instruct you in the way of life. You must say no to some things to say yes to other things. You must say no to some impulses or others will say no to your presence.
I am deeply concerned because our upside-down childrearing practices are so focused on love that there is never any discipline.
This is the Hebrew word sane, which means hate, hold in aversion. Notice that Solomon uses a very strong word in describing what you are doing to a child you don't discipline. Many times we try and tell each other and ourselves that we are really loving our children, and that is why we are overlooking behavior that should bring our rebuke or correction. But really we just would be inconvenienced to say or do anything. We are too selfish to bother, and we hope that someone else will teach our wonderful little children this lesson. It is the parents’ job. They cannot maximize their own interests and time and have well-behaved and orderly children.
One of our friend’s daughters was going through a period where she was acting all cute in order to get out of unpleasant chores and schoolwork. They allowed it to be successful for a period of time, and then through a number of different situations they discovered their error. Their daughter was throwing the cute defense out there all the time. They had to step in and correct the situation. With a focused attention on her using cute sayings and looks as a defense against real work, they were able to turn this around in about three months. She discovered that there are times to focus and work, and there are times to be silly. It was crucial that they loved her enough to correct and discipline her in this area.
Now there are a number of kinds of discipline. Solomon uses the word rod and there are appropriate times to use corporal punishment, but the idea is that correction must be the normal part of children’s upbringing as they come to understand what impulses they have should be allowed and which ones should be rejected. Children will have good, creative, and loving impulses and also have selfish, impulsive, and rebellious impulses. It is the parents who show them the differences.
There are verbal reminders, there are restraints, withholding privileges, isolation, exercises, practice, as well as the aforementioned corporal punishment. There are also rewards and work projects. Whatever methods are used, they must bring about correction of a behavior and not just punishment for wrong behavior. They must also be a demonstration of love and the desire for the success of the child.
For ten to twenty years, it is the privilege of parents to guide their children to become successful contributing members of society. This is often a thankless task, but it brings great joy and encouragement as your progeny become productive members of a community. It is your responsibility to release into the world children who can resist their internal impulses – children who are not selfish and greedy.
Solomon points out that the parents who do not take the time to really correct and guide their children don't love them; they love themselves. Don't follow the course of our present generation that lets kids have whatever they want. Show them how to live life from a righteous perspective.