“Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.”
This morning I awoke at 12:30AM to the blood-curdling screams of my two-year old daughter. She wanted a new band-aid for her toe. Her screaming fit caused her one-year old brother to wake up as well. We got her back in bed and she continued to cry, and her brother did too. I had only been in bed for and hour and a half and needed to be up in four hours, yet I laid wide awake listening to my youngest two children cry on the other side of the wall. This has happened multiple times in the last few weeks. Parenting is hard.
This morning my youngest daughter came downstairs and into the dining room as I was finishing my breakfast and devotion. “Daddy, can we dye Easter eggs today?” “We dyed Easter eggs Saturday and don’t have any left. We’ll do it again next year.” “Noooooooo! I want to do it today!” “Please don’t start the day like this. Mom and Dad are tired.”
I tell these two stories from the last twelve hours of my life not to arouse your sympathies, but because I know I’m not alone in feeling too tired to be a faithful parent who lovingly teaches and correcting my children for the good of their souls. Persevering in loving, consistent, discipline and teaching is the hardest thing parents have to do. When our children disobey, either pretending like it didn’t happen or losing our temper with our kids feels like the easiest thing to do. We have homes to clean, jobs to work, projects to complete, rest to get, and unfortunately, phones to stare at. This all feel more pressing and important than consistent parenting.
Think about the words from Proverbs 29:17, “Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.” This verse holds out an important principle in parenting, if we persevere in parenting well we will reap greater benefits than if we take the easy way out of neglect or anger. “Discipline your son, and he will give you rest.” Children who are well-disciplined, as a general rule, cause less stress and heartache in the future. If we do the hard thing, we will avoid much harder things in the future.
“He will give delight to your heart.” Your initial thought may be, “don’t children always give delight to their parent’s hearts.” No, no children do not always give delight to the hearts of their parents. Sometimes our children disobey in incredibly embarrassing situations, cry in the middle of the night when we want to sleep, and display defiant attitudes when we just need them to cooperate. We get frustrated with, angry at, and weary from our children sometimes. Solomon holds out some hope here for us though. When we persevere in faithful parenting, we have a greater opportunity to enjoy our children for the blessings they truly are.
Persevere in LovingUnderstanding that your child is your neighbor transforms your parenting. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” We say we love our children, but often speak to them harshly, become impatient with them, and wave off things they want to say with an astonishing callousness. We need to repent of these things and love our children as we love ourselves. We must treat them with respect and kindness, looking out for their greatest good. Our children need to know of our love for them, as it provides an incredible security for them and opens their heart to hearing what we tell them.
Persevere in Recreating
The best way to grow in loving your children is to spend time with them when there is no agenda. This happens when you turn off your phone, shut off the TV, and go for a walk, play a game, or go outside together. These are the times that your children will always remember and your heart will cherish.
I cannot emphasize the getting rid of distractions aspect of this enough. When you are halfway home with your kids and halfway in your phone or laptop, you are not fully doing anything. End your day before you come home and then be home when you are home. It will lead to a lot less frustration for you and your children.
Persevere in Teaching
Parents, you bear the primary responsibility for teaching your children life’s most important truths. You need to have a plan for teaching your children about God, sin, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, grace, ethics, and how to treat other people. This means we should have regular times where we are reading the Bible with our children. We also teach according to the pattern of Deuteronomy 6 and use every opportunity life presents to positively convey important truths to our kids. Never, ever stop teaching. It lies at the heart of our role as parents.
Persevere in Correcting
When our children disobey or mistreat other people, they must be corrected so their hearts and behavior change. We correct, not in outbursts of anger, but with kindness, patience, and firmness. In this, it must be emphasized that we correct our children for disobeying the first time they do it. We count to avoid a confrontation or overlook it because we don’t feel like dealing with it. This cannot be, as we have a divine mandate to correct our children for the good of their own souls. We must give clear instructions to our children and there must be clear and reasonable consequences for their disobedience.
Persevering in our parenting can be difficult, which is why we cannot do it alone. We need the Holy Spirit to empower us so we parent well for God’s glory. Read your Bible, pray for help, and walk in fellowship with other believers who can encourage and challenge you. The Lord has called us to do this, so he will supply the strength we need, and in the end it will be worth it.