February 26th, 2008 / 6 Comments
This is the second article in the series on Discipline.
Honestly, no one likes to be disciplined, isn’t that right? Whether you are an adult being disciplined by the law or by your boss, or you are a child disciplined by a teacher or by a parent, it’s definitely no fun.
Does the source of discipline matter? Consider yourself being disciplined by a stranger, who is only interested in eliciting certain behavior from you, someone who doesn’t really care about your well-being. How well would you respond? Now consider being disciplined by someone you trust, someone who has your best interest at heart. Within a loving context, aren’t you probably more likely to be cooperative?
So it is with our children. As I said in my previous article on discipline, the job of the parent is to disciple our children. The foundation of discipleship is a loving relationship. The picture of Jesus discipling his followers is a familiar one. Jesus taught his disciples through a loving relationship with them, teaching them by his example as well as his words. Effective discipline is not a set of methods, but rather it is a part of a relationship.
At this point, you are probably thinking, “Well, of course every parent loves his children. Of course discipline from a parent is always out of love.”
But the question is, does your child perceive it that way? Do you know any adults who say they never felt loved by their parents? Do you know any adults who tell you they’ve never heard their mom or dad say to them “I love you”? I hear that quite often. I know many teenagers resent their parent’s discipline because they say, “My parents don’t care about me. They just don’t want me to embarrass them.”
A parent may very well love his children immensely, but he has to show it in ways that is perceived and understood by the children.
Here are 3 suggestions to show your love to your children alongside our disciplining. If you are a step-parent, this is especially important.
1. Spend time with your children.
This seems too obvious, but you’ll be surprise at how much anger I hear from children who are disciplined by parents who spend little time with them. When my husband comes home from work, he only has about three hours with our kids before they go to bed. The last thing I want him to do is to talk to them about their bad grade at school. The short time could be better spent on positive time together. I do not want my kids to grow up with the image of a strict and cold father. Since I am have plenty of time to spend with our kids during the day, I prefer to be the bad guy.
2. Affirm your love often.
When my son was in his first year of middle school in the 6th grade, he would come home quiet and moody. I responded like a drill sergeant to get him to do his homework, clean his room, etc., etc. One day he said to me, “Mom, you always see the things I do wrong. You never say anything when I do something right.”
I was floored! I was so convicted! My son was absolutely right. In trying to get him to do the right things, I neglected to show him tenderness. I am so thankful he was honest with me and showed me the error of my ways.
When our children are little, we hug them, kiss them, and say all kinds of lovey-dovey words. As they get older, even into the teen years, our children need to hear and see our expressions of love more and more. There is plenty of negativism and peer rejection at school all day. How much more they need our affirmation when they come home. Don’t be shy about hugging your teenagers and saying “I love you.” They need to hear it.
3. Say “Yes” as much as possible.
When my daughter was in 5th grade, she wanted to hang out with her friends at the mall. At that age, I wasn’t about to let her go without my supervision. I wanted to say, “No you can’t go.” I happen to hate the mall; I don’t enjoy shopping. I’d rather be anywhere else but the mall. But what can I do? I took my daughter there to meet her friends, brought a book, and sat at the mall to read for several hours.
When we make special considerations to say “Yes” to their requests as much as possible (within reason), we’ve earned the right to say “No” to them on the things that really count.
No one really likes to be disciplined. But if your children know you are on their side, they are more likely to respect and obey you.
Read the previous article on Discipline:
Photo by merfam