In my nearly 26 years of parenting there have been many shifts in our philosophy regarding it. Debates regarding methods of parenting run rampant. There are few subjects that bring up as much passion as that of parental methods of discipline. Needless to say, this isn't going to be a blog on the methods of parenting, but the heart of it.
This morning a friend posted some links on Facebook about methods of parenting that question the stance that spanking is the biblical form of child training. I think it's something we should read and consider. In reading those links I noticed something interesting. The methods that don't include spanking seem to more greatly emphasize relationship building and it seems to take a bit more effort.
I believe spanking is one of those "sacred cows" in the church today and maybe it's time to realize it's not a "one size fits all" proposition. In fact any form of discipline may need a second look if the most important connection hasn't been made.
Spankings, push ups, running laps, time outs, restrictions.. all worthless if the child doesn't have a strong sense of your unconditional love and how that motivates your discipline.
When a younger parent I thought we were afflicting "punishment" on the child for crossing established lines. What we should have been doing was "disciplining" or "teaching" them. Being corrective with them to put them back on the right path, to train their hearts for a better understanding of the good news of the gospel, not punishing them for getting off track. Even in our rebellion, God trains our hearts to desire Him. It is His love that draws us. Jesus took our punishment. "It is finished." There is no longer punitive action for those who are children of God.We will be instructed by Him, by His love, by His direction of our hearts. He will allow us to walk through valleys and work our way over obstacles, but He will allow it all because of His great love for us and "for our good." We often approach parenting like we think our children are little heathens who need the devil beat out of them! However no beating will change their hearts. We may terrify them into immediate obedience, but as soon as our heads are turned, or as soon as they're out from under our "authority" they will go and take their hearts with them. Thankfully, our children are often drawn by the Spirit of God in spite of our parenting.
They are our children, forever and always, and our love must be as unconditional as God's love is for us. I guess when that fundamental shift happened in my heart is when I realized the true beauty of the gospel. I walked around for years terrified of God's wrath, certain I was doomed by His exacting hand. He would accept me as long as I walked the straight and narrow, but if I stumbled off the path His anger would burn against me. Outside of His grace we would be full recipients of His wrath, but inside of His grace, and because of His Son, Jesus, all fear of the coming wrath is gone. What is left is a joyful expectation of what's to come.
Our children should experience a tiny foreshadowing of that kind of joy with us. They shouldn't be walking around trembling, fearing the next time we come down on them. They should be eagerly anticipating time spent together and being able to trust that what we do, we do for them.
This blog isn't about challenging one particular parenting method. but all of them. If the motivation is wrong, they're all wrong. I believe we can win the hearts of our children if we truly give them ours.
This blog is written by a very imperfect parent who has made and will make many mistakes. I will be forever grateful for God's grace to me and hope to communicate understanding, forgiveness and grace to my children.. even if it is the imperfect variety.