Wednesday, September 22, 2021
One of the hardest relationships to develop and maintain is that of a parent. Within the 30 wise sayings of Solomon in Proverbs 22 – 24, there are 2 statements about the family. They hold a wealth of wisdom about how to have a great relationship with your children.
Prov. 23:13-14 Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death.
Prov. 23:22-25 Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old. Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding. The father of a righteous man has great joy; he who has a wise son delights in him. May your father and mother be glad; may she who gave you birth rejoice!
There are a lot of conflicting views bantered about today about the discipline of children. Some say, “Enforce the rules and make the consequences hurt,” while others say, “Don’t have rules so as not to break their spirit and stifle their creativity.” How are we to know what is the proper approach to parenting so that our children will grow up some day to be righteous and wise so we can delight in them?
Please know that I am not a parenting expert, but I have learned a few basic principles that might help in your quest to be a better parent and raise Godly kids. Here are some fundamentals:
1. ALL discipline should be for the good of the child and not the good of the parent. I can’t begin to tell you how many times in my early years as a father I was guilty of inflicting a consequence upon my children because it either emotionally or physically satisfied me at the time. This was so wrong, and I learned quickly by the responses of my wife and my children that discipline is not to be an expression of my hurt or my frustration, but it is to be carefully designed to produce a positive response of growth in the child. Look at what Proverbs 23:14 says – “Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death.” The emphasis here is on what will most benefit the child. You will have a great relationship with your child, even when there are enforced consequences for sin, when the child knows you are intent on doing what is best for them and not for yourself.
2. There must be discipline for the child to truly know their parents love them. Because we are created in the image of God, we have a basic need to love and be loved. When we feel love, we desire to return love to the one loving us, and the method of returning love that is common to us all is to obey. When there are no rules to obey, there is no way to properly measure love or return love. God created Adam in a perfect love relationship with Himself, and gave him a rule to obey to test his love. In parenting, there must be rules and consequences for the child to feel loved and secure. Proverbs 13:24 says, “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” When we withhold discipline, we withhold love. When discipline is inconsistent, the child thinks love is inconsistent. When we discipline, we give the child hope: hope of a fulfilled life and hope that they are both worthy and capable of that life. Proverbs 19:18 says, “Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death.”
3. The responsibility of a parent is to train the child to become the fullness of whom God created them to be, not to become what we wish they would be. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” It is vital that we understand the phrase “in the way he should go.” It does not mean that we as parents get to determine what they will be when they grow up. The Hebrew expression means to train them “according to their natural bent.” It is the wonderful privilege of a parent to observe the natural strengths and abilities of their child and then train them, within the context of God’s righteousness, to become all that God created them to be. So many parents make the mistake of imposing their desires on their children, and the children go through life rebelling because inside they know the real person God created has not been allowed to bloom. It would be very unwise to expect our children to pursue our goals for them when God made them for a different purpose. It is very wise of our children to pursue the fullness of what God made them to be. When they do, it brings us joy, as Solomon said in our key verse from above – “The father of a righteous man has great joy; he who has a wise son delights in him.” Train them in God’s righteousness, but let God show them His purpose for their lives.
Thanks for taking a little extra time today to study this, and thanks for working hard to apply these wisdom principles so you can be a great parent.