*Please be aware: I am opening up a respectful discussion here. No poo throwing! If you insist on poo throwing I will honor those around you by deleting your post. *This turned into a topic I couldn't blog about in just one day. So this will have three parts. Part 1: Honor This Child is posted on Tuesday. Part 2: Train Them to Govern Themselves will be posted on Wednesday. Part 3: My Spanking Story will be posted on Thursday.
Some Thoughts on Discipline
I’m approaching this topic with an enormous amount of fear and trepidation. I’m not so great with conflict and there has been a boat load of conflict over this issue. I also do not want to be seen as presenting myself as an authority on child raising. Like you, I do the best I can. Like you, I pray and pore over these topics. Like you, I make my fair share of mistakes and ask forgiveness both from God and from my family. I don’t have a 1, 2, 3 plan for easy discipline. I also don’t have all the answers. Mostly I have questions and I have a sense of the image of God that has been placed in each child. Each of the following sections is more like something for you to pray about and bring before God. If God had made automatons instead of human beings, there could be a one-size-fits-all approach to raising children. But if you are a parent you have already learned this gig isn’t going to be quick or easy. This is going to take some wrestling, some soul searching and as much of the Holy Spirit as you can stand.
Part 1: Honor this Child
How should we treat a person who bears the image of God? Each human being bears the image of God, every single one (Gen. 1:26, 27). That doesn’t mean that they won’t fight against this fact, or covered it up as fast as possible, but it does mean that each person deserves the highest honor. Yes, honor. The child who keeps wiping their boogers on your shirt deserves honor. If we believe that adults are always better or higher up in the hierarchy, honoring children just might sound wrong. Jesus, though, turned that system on its head (Matthew 25:31-46). Jesus intentionally brings a child into the midst of adults and honors her (Mark 10:13-16, Luke 18:16, Matthew 19:14). Please hear me that it does no good to romanticize children or childhood. They aren’t perfect little angels or miniature gods. Instead let’s look honestly at how we honor (not worship, or falsely inflate)our children.
The question I ask myself is “How do I honor my children? How do I ascribe them the dignity they are due?” Here are a few practical ways I strive to do this:
• When they are present do not speak about them as if they are not there.
• Do not call them derogatory names.
• Do not speak about them to someone else unless they have given permission.
• Make every effort to keep my word to them.
• Ask their opinion on things that include them and some that don’t. (It doesn't mean I have to follow their suggestions. It means I ask and then listen.)
• If they are reaping a consequence, let them reap it. I honor the choice they made and the consequence involved. Giving them grace may not be protecting them from consequences of their choices but instead walking the consequence out with them. Walking the consequence out with them teaches kindness and compassion.
• Tell them the truth, refusing to bend it in order to manipulate them to my will.
In essence I endeavor to treat them as I would any other person I respect.
And let me make the obvious point: they are much more likely to honor you if you have set the standard of honor in the home. Let me also say that my oldest daughter is only 13, so I have yet to really put some miles on this approach. But how many times have I heard my children say, “You say I shouldn't do it, but you do it!” How I behave is observed and mimicked by them. If I set the standard at dishonor, I can for certain expect to receive it. God honored children when he made them in his image. He could have waited until they became adults. (The ancient Romans had a few beliefs along these lines.) But he didn't. At their very beginning, at our very beginning, we are given honor. By God, no less.
Lastly, what do we do if we realize we haven’t been honoring our children? We ask forgiveness. There are few things more powerful in the world than a parent asking forgiveness from her/his children. I will never forget hearing my mother ask my forgiveness.
You might say something like, “(Child’s name), I haven’t been very honoring of you lately. When I did (confess the incident in detail) I didn’t honor you. I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?” This is the gate to the road of honor.
Further, I have invited my children to tell me when they don’t feel I’m honoring them. (Seriously. Ouch.) Mostly they have been right on, though sometimes the problem is miscommunication rather than dishonor. But boy, has this brought me to the throne of God as I ask him to change me into someone who honors others!
Questions and actions for consideration
So how about it? What are your thoughts? Does this sound right to you?
Think about your actions over the course of this day. Where and when did you choose to honor your children?