Friday, November 1, 2002
Our friend just got two beautiful new horses. The mother is half Morgan, the filly is mostly a Morgan horse - one of our favorites. The filly has a silky brown coat that is so smooth to touch and she's got this white blaze on her face that makes her look pretty striking. Of course, she's still a baby. She's still getting around on a foal's spindly legs. And it's interesting to watch the interaction between mother horse and baby horse. There are times when the mother nuzzles her filly lovingly and protectively. But there are also times when she nips her baby, usually when her little girl is doing something mom considers out of line or dangerous - like when she starts mixing with a strange horse that the mother isn't sure of.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Nuzzles And Nips."
Apparently, little horses need both - nuzzles and nips. So do little people. And sadly, too many parents are giving a lot of one to their child and not much of the other. Some give the nuzzles, but not the nips. Some are giving a lot of nips, but not many nuzzles. Even horses know that young ones need both.
God shows the link between loving a child and disciplining a child in our word for today from the Word of God in Proverbs 3:11-12. He says, "My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline and do not resent His rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, as a father the son he delights in." So, if you love your child, you'll care about how far they get. Proverbs 13:24 makes clear that "he who loves his son is careful to discipline him."
Now discipline isn't you dumping your anger on your child - that's punishment, from which they will learn little but rebellion. Discipline establishes consequences for wrong actions based on whatever consequences the child will learn the most from, and you're not going to think that through clearly when you're angry and out of control. And out of control is what so many children are today - probably because of a parent who has not laid out consistent boundaries for their child and consistent penalties for going out of bounds.
It's like sports. You can't have a game unless everyone first knows exactly where the boundaries are and what you get fouls or penalties for. And those penalties are clear before one play takes place in the game. For many children, the boundaries in their family keep moving around all the time, and they're confused about what's wrong and losing respect for authority that's all over the map. Settle in advance with your children where the boundaries are and why those boundaries are there, and what happens if you go beyond them.
A major university study a few years ago identified four kinds of parents, based on how they showed love for their children and how they controlled their children's behavior. The authoritarian parent was high in control, but low in support - lots of nips, not many nuzzles. Now, the permissive parent was low in control, but high in support - "I love you and hey, do what you please." The neglectful parent was low in both control and support. And then there was the authoritative parent, who was high in control and high in support. That would actually be a Biblical parent.
The researchers found that the parent most likely to raise a rebel against all authority was the authoritarian parent - the one who was very controlling but didn't show much love or encouragement. And the parent who produced a child who was most likely to respect authority and follow their parent's faith was the one who blends often-expressed love and affirmation with fair and consistent discipline.
Or, in simple horse sense, your child needs to be able to count on two things - lots of loving nuzzles - and the loving nip of correction when they're headed in a direction that will hurt them.