Being a dad is hours upon days upon weeks upon years of having little people running around doing things you don’t want done, making mistakes, spilling milk, “wasting your time” (not that any of it is really a waste of time), misbehaving, driving you to the point of momentary insanity. Since our use of discipline normally occurs during periods of out-of-control and inappropriate behavior, it is easy to understand why anger and frustration are frequently attached to it.
This is why children need structure from dads, not best friends. Which leads to the next worst mistake parents make:
5. Fail to Give Your Child Structure.
“When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is joyful.” Proverbs 29:18 (NLT)
“The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.” Proverbs 29:15 (NIV)
Notice the word “correction” again as we saw in the first part of this series on babying your child. Along with “instruction” it imparts wisdom in the lives of our children. Left on their own without any guidance, without structure, children often naturally get into mischief. “A child left to himself disgraces his mother.”
Where do children learn self-discipline? Children learn internal structure by first experiencing external structure. Parents discipline their children as the foundation for them one day being able to discipline themselves.
Two Russian psycholinguists, Luria and Vygotsky, spent years studying how children’s inner speech develops and how children eventually use it to control their own behavior. According to their findings, parents give directions to their children such as, “Put the toy in the box,” or, “Watch for cars before you cross the street.” Children hear these attempts to provide structure and direction and eventually say these directions to themselves. Children can control their own behavior by talking to themselves using the script provided by loving parents and grandparents!
When we fail to give the structure of correction and instruction children go to the default mode when talking to themselves. What’s the default mode for all of us humans? We’re sinners. We want to do what feels good to us to do. We don’t naturally talk self-discipline to ourselves. Our natural inclination without any structure is to take the easy road, do what gives us immediate gratification. “I don’t want to put that toy back in the box so I’ll just leave my room a mess.” Then mom or dad have to come along and clean up behind them. Some adults expect us to clean up behind them because they weren’t given structure as children. (I see this daily with many young men and women that work for me).
Discipline! From the Mouth of a Child.
A mother overheard her son’s little six-year-old friend ask why babies are spanked when they are born, the youngster replied, “To get them used to it.” Really the Bible indicates that when parents make their children mind they are really trying to save their lives.
Ounces vs. Tons
The Pain of Discipline weighs ounces. The Pain of Regret weighs tons.
Pediatricians and psychologists are finding today’s parents are too permissive. They are reluctant to set limits for
their children. And this benign parental neglect is harming kids from the ages of nine months to adolescence.
Karen Stabiner writes in the New York Times: “It seems that the parents of today’s parents, those strict disciplinarians of the 1950s and early ’60s, may have been right all along: father and mother did know best. . . .”
Revetta Bowers heads the Centre for Early Education in Los Angeles. She says schools are replacing parents. “Schools now make rules, which in many instances are the only rules that are not open to arbitration or negotiation. What children really need is guidance and love and support. We expect them to act more and more like adults, while we act more and more like children. Then, when we’re ready to act like parents, they bristle at the retaking of authority.”
In other words, you can’t leave it to Beaver.
Parents, please be parents!Don’t waste your time trying to become your child’s friend. God, in His great wisdom, did not make you to be your child’s friend. You are the parent! And you will make your children mad every now and then! It’s in the daddy manual, right after taking out the trash, dads make everybody mad every once in awhile! It is the job of parents to discipline or train children.
Parents discipline children so they learn to discipline themselves.
A kindergarten in one town sat right on a corner by a busy highway. Although the school had a nice yard in which the children could play, at recess they would huddle right up against the building. The cars speeding by frightened them. One day, workmen erected a steel fence around the school yard. From that point on, the children used the entire playground. The fence did not limit their freedom; it actually expanded it. Children need fences, for they feel more secure having the discipline of clear boundaries.
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