The Discipline of Children

October 26, 2018

I’m now a grandfather. The raising of small children is in my past. I’m proud of our children who are both Christians and hardworking, productive people. So, I will venture to say a few things on what I’ve learned about disciplining children.

I have learned that sometimes a child acts up in order to gain attention. The way to fix that problem is give them the positive attention he or she is seeking. Of course, this means recognizing the problem in yourself that maybe you’ve been too busy.

I have learned that sometimes acting out has to do with stresses in the child’s life. We need to know what’s going on in our child’s life. We may have to sit and talk, ask questions and explore. Otherwise we are only treating one side of the problem and maybe making things worse. We are adding a stress rather than discovering and dealing with the stress. A problem at school can manifest itself with acting out at home, and vice versa.

I have learned to distinguish childish behavior from rebellious behavior. The latter received the greater punishments. By the way, I include lying with rebellious behavior. Part of our teaching, training, and disciplining children should results in a person who respects authority.

I have learned that children will try to divide and conquer, so it is important for Mom and Dad to be on the same page which means consulting one another.

I have learned to start small. The danger is that we will give a snap decision of a punishment that we will later decide is too severe, and then we will change our mind. Best to start small, and if the same infraction occurs, build slowly with greater punishment.

I have learned that children will test boundaries, but if you are inconsistent in your boundaries, the testing of those boundaries will be worse. I’ve seen children out in public that seem to push their parents buttons all the time. If you are always using anger to discipline your child, you are doing it wrong. The problem probably lies with your inconsistency.

I have learned that corrective discipline needs to be unpleasant, so we avoid repeating the offense. “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, ESV). What works for one child may not for another.

Discipline is more than correction. We also teach our values and beliefs about God, and those values and beliefs need to be seen in our daily lives.

The goal is consistent, fair discipline, which involves knowing what is going on in your child’s life. This goal includes the positive sharing of values and beliefs. The reward is wonderful times and conversations with your adult children who are moral, spiritual, and responsible adults.


“Pass It On”

June 27, 2014

The British and Foreign Bible Society has launched an initiative called “Pass It On” for 2014. The idea is to encourage adults to read the Bible to children or to tell them the stories of the Bible. This major push arose from a survey that was done of children between the ages of 8 to 15 and parents of children age 3 to 16 in the United Kingdom. Here is what they found.

In the Survey of 8 to 15 year olds in the U.K.

  • 23% had never read, seen or heard Noah’s Ark.
  • 25% had never read, seen or heard the Nativity.
  • 54% had never read, seen or heard Joseph and his coat of many colors.
  • 60% had never read, seen or heard the Feeding of the 5,000
  • 61% had never read, seen or heard the Good Samaritan
  • 63% had never read, seen or heard the Creation account.
  • 72% had never read, seen or heard Daniel and the lion’s den.
  • 85 % had never read, seen or heard the story of Solomon.

In the Survey of Parents of Children 3 to 16 in the U.K.

  • 30% did not recognize the story of Adam and Eve
  • 31% did not recognize the story of David and Goliath
  • 27% did not recognize the story of the Good Samaritan

Besides being tested on the plot lines of Bible stories, they were also given the plot lines of various stories outside the Bible to see if they thought they were in the Bible. Would the recognize that these stories are not found in the Bible? Here’s how it went with the parents.

  • 34% thought the plot line of Harry Potter was or might be in the Bible
  • 54% for the plot of the Hunger Games
  • 27% for the plot line of Superman
  • 46% for the plot line of The Da Vinci Code

Yes, this is a survey for Great Britain and not the United States. There is an obvious difference between the two countries. Currently, the U.K. has a church attendance rate at about 12% while the rate in the U.S. is at 43%. But it is a cautionary tale. What happens when one generation fails to pass on the Bible?

“We will not hide them from their children,
but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might,
and the wonders that he has done. Psalms 78:4,ESV

Sources: “Church Attendance Statistics by Country
http://www.biblesociety.org.uk/about-bible-society/our-work/pass-it-on/


The Transgenerational Father

June 15, 2012

It is easy to recognize that a father influences his child. That’s one generation influencing the next, but a grandfather or great-grandfather also influences his grandchildren or great-grandchildren either directly or indirectly. The power of fatherhood is transgenerational.

A grandfather or great-grandfather may have an opportunity to directly influence his grandchild or great-grandchild, but regardless, he has had a powerful influence indirectly, because he has helped raise the grandchild’s father or mother or the great-grandchild’s grandfather or grandmother.

As a father’s influence becomes more indirect, it also becomes more widely felt. There is a reason we call genealogies a family tree. From two people come many branches — that is the widening of influence. Families grow by multiplication not simple addition.

The Bible recognizes this influence of one generation upon another.

He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God. (Psalm 78:5–8, ESV)

Psalm 78 recognizes the transgenerational power of fatherhood. This influence may be for better or worse. The psalm advocates the influence for the better, but it illustrates the influence for the worse.

Stu Weber in his book, Tender Warrior, quantifies a father’s spiritual influence.

When the father is an active believer, there is about a seventy-five percent likelihood that the children will also become active believers. But if only the mother is a believer, this likelihood is dramatically reduced to fifteen percent.*

What kind of influence do you want to have on the generations to come?

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4, ESV)

*Stu Weber, Tender Warrior, p. 143.


Not Mass Produced

May 11, 2012

Netflix currently has the series, How It’s Made. I’m fascinated with the automation that goes into everyday products. One episode showed a factory producing copy paper. I tend to feel like I’m all thumbs unwrapping a ream of paper and placing it in the photocopier, but a mechanized factory produces 55,000 sheets of paper a minute, and it can wrap a ream of paper in the blink of an eye. Another episode showed a machine that fabricates adhesive bandages. It produced 300 to 1500 bandages a minute depending on size.

Since the industrial revolution, a few have pondered whether children could be raised that way. Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World imagined a hatchery for children. Children were designed and conditioned to fulfill their various social stations. No need for the messiness of parents. The upper class alphas could then be free to consume (that’s what consumer societies need after all) and to experience pleasure.

The real world has produced more modest attempts of raising children in mass. The Soviet Union experimented on the family with child care centers. It attempted to put more of the child raising under the control of the state. From a non-Marxist point a view, feminism also desired the emancipation of women from the burden of child rearing. They believed that collective child care was inevitable, but their most illusive goal was freedom from the pre-school years.

Yet, maternal and parenting instincts are strong, and some of the attempts to change family life have fortunately been resisted. The Soviet Union had to reverse its course in its attempt to radically change the family. Plus, all this experimenting has taught us something. Child raising does not seem to be an activity that can be successfully industrialized. Children succeed at certain developmental tasks with parents that are not met with even the best child care.

Your mother gave birth to you. She changed your diapers. She talked to you and read stories to you. She taught you right from wrong. In fact, your moral sense was developed by the age of nine. She taught you how to pray your first child-like prayers. She guided you in learning how to share your toys, resolve your conflicts, and pick up after yourself. You learned to brush your teeth, take a bath, and say thank you and please.

She was there when you were frightened, and she protected you from dangers even the ones for which you were totally unaware. She put Band-Aids on your skinned knee and wiped away your tears. It was a labor intensive task, yet a labor of love. You were not massed produced.