Thursday, March 4, 2010

Family: How Should Christians Discipline Their Children?

How Should Christians Discipline Their Children?

     There are many opposing views I found when I researched about this topic. Should we spank or not spank our children? Does the Bible really say we should use the 'rod' to discipline our children? Do our laws prohibit us from using physical discipline? Can't we just use 'time-outs' or 'grounding' or taking away activities or something? 

  This image was made by Tamiko Nicholson. Picture source: http://christian-parenting.suite101.com/

     Proverbs 29:15 says "The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother". Whew! Mothers really carry great responsibility, even the discipline of the child. But what I know and believe is that "there is now no more condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus". But in my research, many Christian websites are invoking this verse and more to preach that "the Bible teaches that physical discipline is appropriate, beneficial, and necessary" (www.christianmessenger.in). Although many have reiterated that by no means they are advocating child abuse, they adhere to these Bible verses as stressing the importance of discipline in raising our kids, because children who are not disciplined often grow rebellious, have no respect for authority, and as a result find it difficult to willingly obey and follow God. 


     As a parent (now of a 22-year old daughter), myself, I know I am not perfect and is not an expert concerning parenting. However, I have raised my child to the best of the ability that God gave me through His word. You see, I believe that the 'rod'  is the Word of God. Remember Psalm 23? "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want...Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me". The Lord guides us and disciplines us through His Word; He doesn't come down from heaven and spank us if we did something wrong. Although, perhaps, I did spank my daughter's butt mildly once when she was 6 years old because she was soooo 'malikot' (playful), but I had a heart-to-heart talk with her and pointed out what she did wrong. 


     Well, there is actually one article I found which I agree with and you might also agree with. "Christian Parents and Positive Discipline" by Tamiko Nicholson (http://christian-parenting.suite101.com) says that many Christians think of discipline as punishment for bad behavior. But the word 'discipline' came from the Latin word 'discipulus' meaning 'learner' (what I also wrote in my other blog 'Awesome Pinoys:Disciples of Philippine Progress'). Tamiko says positive discipline is a way to teach and parent children through love and help build a healthy and happier family. As Jesus commanded we love one another, how much more our children? As Jesus never condemned sinners, we should not also condemn our children. "Parents should be disciplining their children in a way that their kids will feel they are still good and capable people who can make positive change, versus disciplining them in a way that they feel they are bad people who are not capable of doing anything", she added. Indeed, when we physically punish our kids, they tend to retain the hurt they felt in their butts and the words stressed against them rather than the teaching the punishment intended to give. The kids tend to become resentful and may regard the punishment as violence against them; in America, there are laws prohibiting parents to inflict corporeal punishment on their children. "The key to positive discipline is for parents to show love and kindness, but to also be assertive at the same time; being compassionate shows children respect and being firm shows them that the issue at hand should be dealt with and that changes are needed to keep things running smoothly at home", Tamiko says. "The goal is for parents to help kids build their own moral foundation to eventually live on their own and know how to make the right decisions".


     The verse Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it" tells us that we train our children through our life. We are examples or models to them and therefore, if we want to discipline our children, we must be disciplined as well. Here are the steps into disciplining your child according to Tamiko:


     1) Show your child what he/she did wrong.
     2) Let your child take ownership of the problem.
     3) Help your child come up with solutions for the problem.
     4) Respect your child's sense of dignity. (Do not say hurtful things or threaten them.)

      There are no exact rules in parenting; you create them as you see fit for your child's needs and character. The parent, especially the mother, knows his/her child best. But then again, when they become teenagers, sometimes we come to a point that we really don't know them at all. Only God can help us.    

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