Why Not Discipline?

I thought I was done with the topic of parenting, but in the last two days two things made me decide there has to be one more.

One was a trailer on a newscast for a later news program on kids behavior in stores. It was pretty hideous. Especially the mother who yelled “I’m going to leave you here!”

The other was a three year old running down the isles of the church and up in front, not during the praise time with everyone standing, but during the sermon. Our pastor is great with such things so it wasn’t a huge embarrassing distraction, but it made me wonder why parents don’t discipline.

If you would like to share some reasons parents don’t discipline please feel free to respond.

Here is what 30 years of therapy with parents offers:
1) Parents abused as children are afraid they will lose control like their parents did, so they don’t go there.
2) Parents who grew up without discipline and boundaries don’t have a blueprint for it. They don’t know how, and don’t realize how important it is to a child’s security, self-esteem and self-control.
3) Parents who need their children to love them so badly don’t cross them or set boundaries (an issue for the parent to resolve in therapy.)
4) Parents who are afraid their children will hate them if they give them consequences. The opposite is true. Children love more when they feel secure.
5) Parents who mean well and start out with discipline but who back down because their children get angry, guilt them, talk them out of it, or just beg until the parents give in. (This also is an issue for the parent to face.)

6) And I do believe there is the parent who just thinks discipline will taint their love and love will conquer all. Some of these people get lucky, and if  the bigger system they are in is somewhat healthy, the kids may be ok. I think a lot of Millennials have had this. (We are seeing with varying results.)

7) And finally there are parents who for whatever reason just can’t be bothered with the effort of discipline. It is work. They are too involved with their own problems, needs or addictions to be present enough to set limits and hold them. Or they pretend their kids know what to do, or are perfect.

Parents hear me, the kids are the ones that suffer–and later on, possibly the parents and for sure, society. I’ve written a lot about discipline and what it is and isn’t, and the difference between discipline and punishment (discipline is discipling and should never be done in anger), so let me finish with a few examples from a Biblical perspective.

It seems there were fathers who didn’t get good ratings because of they were too lenient.  Some of them God personally rebuked, or sent someone to rebuke, as in the case of Aaron, Eli, and David. Samuel was too soft on his kids too, but I guess God didn’t confront him because he had been given away at three or four or five (when he was fully weaned). He himself was an amazing man–a true intimate of God as a judge and a prophet, who God used even as a child. But abandonment by parents must have made him too soft on his own sons because they didn’t identify with his values–didn’t follow his example.

Aaron was too easy on his boys and it cost him two of their lives. Not because God killed them, but because they had no respect for authority and obedience, and expressly did their own thing instead of following God’s instructions, and when they went into His presence unprepared, the energy killed them.

Eli was rebuked by Samuel as a child. Eli had been too easy on his  sons who were also doing their own thing in the office of the priesthood–taking what they wanted from the offerings, instead of what was appointed for them, and raping the women! Eli confronted them but didn’t remove them from their office, and they all died because his sons took the ark into battle (doing their own thing again).

David was also rebuked for being too easy and preoccupied as a father. He allowed behavior to go by that he should have confronted and acted on, and as a result his kids were a mess among themselves and to him. Absalom staged a coup and then died in the fray that followed trying to take the throne.

These are just four of the big guys–men of God–priests, prophets and king. We are free to do what we want, or what we think is right, but we also get the consequences. Someone has said, “We are free to choose, but not free to escape the consequences of our choices.”

As I learned in high school physics long ago “every action has an equal and opposite reaction.”

If you don’t know how to raise kids, admit it and ask people you trust who have been over the road. Their advice won’t be perfect, but look at their kids. Ask several, whose kids you really like, and find the common themes. You probably won’t go wrong with that. And you may get a mentor with it.

And of course, always ask God for wisdom, He loves to help! And why wouldn’t He talk to you when He says over and over in scripture, “Listen, please just listen!”

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