Proverb for Life – Proverbs 19:18 Discipline your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their death. (NIV)
One of the biggest struggles I have had as a mom is consistently disciplining my children. Unfortunately, I tend to be more likely to react when I am annoyed than when my kids are doing something wrong. As I have read through Proverbs, I have really been made aware of just how lacking I am when it comes to disciplining the small fries. I realized that I often fall into the trap of punishing my children not disciplining them.
My kids may think that they are the same thing, punishment and discipline, but really they are so different. Punishment is just a consequence enforced, a time out, a loss of a privilege, and such. Discipline involves so much more. It may include a consequence and most of the time it will, but it is for the purpose of training; it is using the situation to teach.
It is so much easier to just punish. But punishing does nothing to train. Our prisons are full of people being punished but not being disciplined. In fact, punishment without training can do more harm than good. It makes my kids bitter toward me and ultimately God. It shuts them down and makes them dig their heals deeper into the ground. It creates a barrier between us that makes communication difficult if not impossible.
Disciplining is so much harder. It requires more thought and effort. It’s being consistent in addressing wrong behavior, not just responding when I am annoyed. It goes beyond a punishment to the lesson that needed to be learned. When I take the time to discipline my children, their hearts remain soft. They see that I don’t just want them punished, but I want them to learn a valuable lesson. Daniel says this to the kids (and me) all the time, “If you made a bad decision it only means you had something to learn, otherwise, you would have made a good decision.” It helps prepare them for life as an adult. One of my favorite mommy quotes to them is, “I’m not raising kids, I’m raising adults.” Until they can be self-disciplined, they need to be parent disciplined.
How consistent is your discipline? Do you take the time to sit down and instruct you children in how to make better choices or simply punish them for their wrong choices? Do you talk to them about their ability to correct themselves so you don’t have to?
My prayer and desire is to be a faithful teacher, to take advantage of the time I have with the small fries while they are in my care. This has to include discipline. Even when they are cute naughty. Even when I am tired. Even when it’s hard.
I just might have to take a picture first!