Monday, November 17, 2008

Being A Godly Parent Includes Discipline

Welcome P31 subscribers and regular visitors! Todays Proverbs 31 online devotion is sometimes a hard lesson to swallow, because it is often hard to be a disciplinarian; frustrating to be a disciplinarian; and even exhausting to be a disciplinarian to our children.

Most moms would probably agree that it would be much easier to let the kids run wild and make their own choices, than constantly work at disciplining them and training them in the ways of the Lord day in and day out. But it is so important to remember, that as much as I know my God loves me, I also know He loves my children, and that a huge part of that, is constantly guiding, teaching, training, loving, disciplining, and molding.

Last year, God reminded me just how much He loves my children, and I want to share it with you.

My sons little friend was turning eight, and he was invited to his summer pool birthday party. I knew this family pretty well and they lived in my neighborhood, so I slathered on his sunscreen, picked out his favorite beach towel, and drove him around the corner for an afternoon of fun. My only hesitation was that he was not a great swimmer, so I explained to the birthday boys parents that he needed to stay in the shallow end of the pool at all times, and asked that they keep a close eye on him for safety. The mom assured me that they would, and I kissed my sweet boy goodbye.

Three hours later I arrived back at the pool party. I walked through the back yard and entered through the big wooden gate, only to see my little boy sitting on one flimsy, yellow, foam noodle – right smack in the middle of the deep end of the pool!

I immediately became concerned, but as the mother approached me, she informed me that he had been swimming in the deep end with noodles during the entire party, and had had a great time, so with a concerned chuckle, trying not to allow my irritation to show, I said to her, “Well, I guess that is okay, as long as he was not drowning.”

No sooner had those words rolled off of my tongue, my son lost his balance and plunged off the noodle into the deep blue water. I frantically watched for five or six seconds as he tried to grasp for the noodle, with his little head bobbing in and out of the water. I yelled for him to grab the noodle, hold his breath, and paddle to the side, until I saw the look of absolute fear and panic wash over his face and he began to choke.

Instantly, and involuntarily, I dove into the cold pool to save him, fully panicked and fully clothed. I grabbed him tightly from under the water and held him close and as I swam to the side of the pool, setting him safely on the side.

I climbed out of the pool, feeling a little weak in the knees at this sudden and unexpected crisis - and then a little embarrassed as all the other adults, fully dry of course, stood staring at me, all of them looking like deers caught in headlights. But other than a few stares, nobody had really been paying attention to what was going on in the deep end. After a few hugs, a little crying and gaining reassurance that my son was okay, we both dried off and left for home.

As I held my son safely in my arms, I was haunted by unsettling thoughts: What if I had arrived just a few minutes later to pick him up from that party? What if he had fallen off of his float, and the other adults had not seen him trying to keep his head above water? What if they had not heard him trying to yell out for help, over the laughter and squeals of the other children swimming around him? What if no one had noticed my son was drowning, until it was too late? The scene would have been much different upon my arrival to the party, had I been even a few seconds later. I shudder to think of it.

I called out to God in earnest prayer that day, thanking him for his divine timing, and the fact that I had arrived within seconds of when my son needed me; thanking him for protecting my son; thanking him for sparing my son’s life; thanking him for the gift of my son and for the gift of being a mom.

It was a reminder to me, that just as we strive to meet the needs of our children and protect them from harm, even more so is God’s desire to meet our needs and desires and shower us with protection, and that He cares for our children as much, even more, than we do. He cares enough to divinely orchestrate my arrival to a pool party with the exact timing of my sons plunge into the deep water - God cares about us and our children.

It is His love for all His children, young and old, that caused Him to send his son to die for us on the cross, and pay the penalty for our sins, so that we could have eternal life.

It is His love for us, that caused Him to not only give us mothers to love us and teach us right from wrong, but to give us the privilege of being mothers or role models who can influence young minds. Being a parent is not just an act or a season, it is a blessing, a privilege and a responsibility - and even though discipline is not fun, it is much needed.

The definition of discipline is: training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character. The word discipline does not mean harsh treatment, anger provoked treatment, abuse or spanking with sticks, brooms, pans, etc.

Discipline does not mean verbal or emotional abuse, resulting in tearing down the self esteem of a child by telling them they can never do anything right or will never amount to anything.

Discipline does not mean physical abuse or neglect, or withholding basic life necessities or love from children because of misbehavior.

In fact, discipline means love. Loving discipline is what God does to us when needed, and He expects us to give children that same gift of love. Any disciplinary tactics that would not please God, could simply be abuse, not displine.

Proverbs 22:6 says "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."

Ephesians 6:4 says "Fathers, (and mothers I might add!), do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Scripture instructs us to lovingly discipline our children - a command from God - but God expects us to do so in a way that is pleasing to Him, and in a way that shows our children who God is, through us and through our actions.

We discipline because we love. "Fruit", in the Galatians verse above, is intended to mean "end product" or "harvest".

The children that God has placed in our lives are a form of that fruit that we bear. Whether you are a mother, aunt, grandmother, foster mom, babysitter, neighbor, adoptive mom, school teacher, Sunday school teacher, friend, or big sister - God has put those children in your life to help raise them up, by being an example, and by loving them enough to lovingly discipline them.

He has put children and teens in our lives so that we can play a part in shaping and molding their hearts, so that one day they can grow up and live a life that pleases Him, and a live a life that helps others find Christ.

If you have a hard time discplining your children or those children God has put in your path, because of some of the reasons mentioned in todays P31 devotion, pray for Gods guidance about this. Ask for His peace about what actions you should take to help mold and guide these children, and ask for His grace to guide you in your decisions.

If you have acted out in anger and disiplined in ways that are not pleasing to God, ask for His forgiveness and mercy, and for Him to guide your every thought and action in the future. Ask for Him to touch the hearts of the children in your life, and to help you be a shining example of His love.

Are you looking for some strong Christian resources about parenting or handling difficult issues that parents face? Check out the Proverbs 31 library - you will find solid, Christian books and audio resources to help you be the parent that God has called you to be.
(Tune in tomorrow for a post about dealing with sibling rivalry!)

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Van said...

Good morning Tracie, Great thoughts - both on P31's Encouragement for Today AND your blog. As a high school teacher I saw the benefits or the results of discipline, or its lack, in the home. What stood out clearly and sadly was the child who had never received solid direction. Once they are teenagers they do not understand discipline and they do what is natural - they reabel. So much easier to deal with our children when they are little and we are in control than when they are grown and they have lost respect. Blessings, Tracie

JottinMama said...

Thanks so much for the devotional and blog post this morning! I have never read the actual definition of discipline - thanks for including it. The definition really makes me think of it differently. And I love how you used the verses from Galations 5 - I cling to those verses as I guide my 2 year old son :)

Thanks again :) Have a lovely week!

Kate :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Tracie,

Thanks for today's Proverbs devotion on Parenting. I must confess that I have acted in anger many times toward my 3+ year old boy. He's a very active one. I find myself raising my voice and being impatient with him. I'm so grateful for gently reminding me that I can lovingly discipline my son through God's Word, grace and guidance, and that He is a gift to me from God, and that being a parent is a calling and not just a responsibility. Blessings, Chris/Orange County, CA

Tammy Nischan said...


As a mom to kids ranging in age from 10 to 21, I can see the effects of parenting/discipline from so many different perspectives right now. Thanks for reminding me that I cannot "let up" on my younger kids....I want them to become the strong Christian influences that their older brothers have become. Sometimes it is easy to "let things slide" because I have been parenting for so long now..does that make sense? I just needed the reminder to be the consistent mom I strived to be when my older boys were young! That's not always easy...but you reminded me that it is still just as important!


Any time I feel the urge to comment on a P31 devo, I have to ask that you keep my son Nicholas in your daily prayers. He is in a very difficult battle with cancer. Lysa, shared his story this summer in her 100th anniversary blog and it meant so much to me! Thanks! Love (again) from a thankful mom.

Joyful said...

I keep thinking of the verse, Galatians 6:9, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."

Parenting can be exhausting, but we need to stay consistant. We need to keep praying and keep relying on God to direct us each step of the way.

3 John 1:4, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." Truly this is the great reward.

Thanks for the great teaching,

Wani said...

Great message for moms in all stages of parenting. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to share that my sister had 4 children & went thru a divorce several years ago..even though they all struggled, she was very emphatic that the kids were polite to adults ,etc...not so easy for children who were missing their dad.& were very angry..but a very proud moment for me was when one of the older boys teachers told me that they were some of the best kids that they had ever had...
they always address adults with yes maam, no sir & you actually do not see that very much!

Anonymous said...

Hi Tracy,
To be honestly I read yesterdays devotion with a light heart and carefree spirit, I guess knowing that although I was a single mom for 8 years I was still a strong disciplinarian with a great amount of affection as well. I was determined for my children to maintain as much of a balanced & normal life as possible. It has paid off, they aren't perfect, but whose children are, however they are wonderful. Then, last night while my 16 yo and I were chatting about "stuff" she said, I know we have always said you are really stricked, but I'm glad, I would rather you be like that then some kids who do whatever they want"! Yes!Life is good they do look back with appreciation even for the discipline! I then pulled up the devotion and shared it with her as it came to mind immediately! It turned out to be more important then I originally anticipated.