Well, our kids have reached that age - the age when they're old enough to tell us how we did parenting them. In fact, a while back we got into one of those uproarious "remember when" conversations. The subject was various times we had disciplined them. We explained to them how we had tried to discipline them by the principle of natural consequences - experiencing the most natural negative outcomes in the area where they had disobeyed. So if you did something bad with your mouth, you didn't get to use your mouth for a while - or you got it washed out with soap. If you did something bad with your hands, you didn't get to use your hands for awhile. At which point our eldest son said, "But I never did anything wrong with my bottom!" Which launched a discussion of great spankings we have known - including the ones we are now told didn't hurt. Well, this went on for over an hour. It was a laughing and loving and learning time for all of us - and a reminder of what is probably a parent's biggest challenge.
Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You about "The Reaping Or The Weeping."
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Proverbs 19:18. "Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death." Strong statement. The hope for your child's future is in your discipline of her or of him. Why? Because of a Law of the Universe that a lot of modern kids don't really believe - "A man reaps what he sows" (Galatians 6:7).
Many kids think they can sow and escape the consequences. After all, you can cover up what you did, take precautions. And there is often a delay between the action and the harvest - and they mistake consequences delayed for consequences canceled. But this Law of the Universe never changes - and it's always true. You sure can't avoid the most serious consequences of all - the judgment of Almighty God. And only later do you realize the price you pay in lost reputation, lost trust, lost love, lost self-respect, lost opportunities, lost innocence.
Our job as a parent is to get one simple message across - when you do wrong, something bad happens. And it takes consistent discipline to build children who believe in sowing and reaping - because they have experienced it growing up. If they don't believe they'll reap, they will make heartbreaking choices later on. It's the reaping experienced because you lovingly disciplined them or the weeping experienced because you didn't.
Just ask old Eli, the priest of God in Samuel's day. He was a spiritual leader with two grown sons. They were perverting the ministry with their greedy and immoral lives. God tells Samuel what he said to Eli - "I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons made themselves contemptible and he failed to restrain them." The judgment cost Eli his sons and his ministry heritage. All because when they went out of bounds, and nothing happened.
Effective discipline teaches the law of sowing and reaping. Not punishment - discipline. Punishment is you dumping your anger on your child. That creates rebels. Discipline backs off from anger and gives the consequences that will teach the most. So try to discipline with the most natural consequences of the act, make sure the punishment fits the crime, respond immediately to the action, be sure the boundaries and penalties are decided and discussed in advance - and consistently enforced.
Loving, consistent discipline is hard work - but not nearly as hard as what happens when it is neglected, delayed, or inconsistent. Take the time, ask God for the wisdom to carefully let your child experience the reaping of what they sow. It's either the reaping - or the weeping.