The Disciplinarian – The Biblical Husband (X)

(This is only a brief paper, on a subject that properly treated, requires a book. I suggest Michael and Debi Pearl’s book, “To Train Up a Child.”)

1. The discipline of children is commanded in scripture. See Prov.13:1; 22:15; 23:13.

2. Discipline has to begin with parents, with their self-discipline. Otherwise it will     degenerate into hypocrisy and abuse. Don’t expect your child to be self-disciplined if you aren’t.

3. Understand what the Bible says about rebellion and disobedience (I Sam.15:22-23). That is the critical issue. The Christian parent in obedience to God, wants something more, than outwardly nice children.

4. Rebellion has been in every man since Adam. Don’t ignore it, or deal with it half-heartedly. David hadn’t dealt with Adonijah as a child (I Kings 1:5-6), and the end of his life was ugly:

Adonijah wasn’t submissive,

Adonijah was ambitious,

Adonijah couldn’t wait, and

Adonijah died violently. (I Kings 2:19-25)

All of this was tragic, and could have been avoided, if David had disciplined him as a child.

Life is not about what a child wants.

Life is not about what a parent wants.

Life wasn’t about what a disciple wanted (Mat.16:21-28).

Life wasn’t even about what Jesus wanted (Mat.26:39).

Life is about doing what God wants (Ps.40:8).

5. The goal of discipline?

The child learns to listen (Ps.81:11-14).

The child learns to obey.

The child learns self-discipline.

If a child learns to listen, honour and obey your voice, he will do the same to Jesus Christ. That is the goal of the exercise.You will have served him (and the Lord) well.

6. Parents shouldn’t have to repeat themselves, when instructions are given. Also, avoid raising a voice with a child. Otherwise, you are training a child to only respond to you when you shout.

7. If a little child cries or complains after given an instruction, he is making a rebellious statement: “I don’t like this, and I’m telling you, and everybody.” That is rebellion, even if he outwardly does as he is told.

“If a child shows the least displeasure in response to a command or duty, it should be addressed as disobedience. If a child sticks out his lip, you should focus your training on his bad attitude.” [1] The goal is that a child learns to “do all things without grumbling or complaining” (Phil.2:14). A person’s mouth tends to reveal what is in his heart. If he grumbles and complains at your instructions, he will grumble and complain at God’s.

When Administering Corporal Punishment:

a) Make sure it’s private.

b) Make sure you are calm.

c) Make sure the child understands why he is being punished.

Children, when they know they are about to be punished, may put on a tantrum, or suddenly shed lots of tears (ostensibly of remorse), or scream, or say, “It’s not fair!” or “I hate you!” These (and many others) are manipulative tools, which a nieve parent can be tricked or intimidated by. Tears may seem to be ones of penitence; they are probably ones of regret that he has been caught, and to say that he is sorry.

Why is he “sorry?” Because he is getting a smack, and is hoping to come up with a good religious formula that might get him out of trouble.

He knows he’s done wrong.

He knows you are planning to punish him.

He thinks, “I’ll put on a theatrical scene, to try and bluff my way out of this.”

Any rebellious behaviour, initiated to avoid punishment, should receive a quiet warning: “If you don’t obey, I’ll give you an extra smack.” “A spanking is made effective, not by its severity, but by its certainty…your calm dignity will set the stage to make it more effective.” [2]

d) Instruct the child to bend over and hold onto his ankles.

e) Administer the punishment: as they get older, make it more strokes, or harder, or both. “Select your instrument according to the child’s size.” [3]

f) Give him some time (perhaps 30 seconds), to stop crying. Don’t let rebellion or anger come in to any part of this.

g) Instruct him to hug you (this is a command, not an option), and say “Thanks Dad, I needed that,” and then to confess his sin to God, and ask for His forgiveness.

h) Instruct him to ask you to forgive him. He has offended God, but he has also offended you.

i) Hug him and pray for him, and tell him you love him.

Discipline is the forerunner of discipleship. Ultimately, he should be self-disciplined.

[1] Michael and Debi Pearl, “Train up a Child,” 1996, p.83.

[2] ibid., p.46.

[3] ibid., p.47.

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