Our Kids’ First Look At God….Discipline

I’ve mentioned before that our children’s very first look at God and His personality should be in us and how we treat them.  A few days ago we talked about patience, and how God’s example of patience with us should show us how to be patient with our kids.  But how does patience harmonize with discipline?  

I think in order to understand the connection between patience and discipline we need to understand the difference between a performance issue and a discipline issue.

Think about this example…..There are two employees at a widget factory.  One employee is new and has a hard time correctly assembling the widgets, but is trying hard to do a good job.  Another employee is late for work, all the time.  Do you treat the two employees differently?  I would.

Because the employee who is trying to master a complicated skill needs mentoring and guidance and patience.  But what mentoring is there to do for an employee who is late for work?  He doesn’t need guidance or a training course about “we start work at eight o’clock”, what he needs is to be held responsible for his actions.

I think that’s a good way to approach discipline with our kids.

Imagine telling your kids that they need to clean their room….

If they can’t reach their shelves, or open their drawers and their room didn’t get clean–It would be crazy to punish them, because their disobedience is a result of a performance issue.  We can be patient with them and help them perform better.

If they can reach their shelves and open their drawers but don’t–It would make perfect sense to punish them because they’re rebelling against you and refusing to obey you.  That’s a discipline issue.

So where does patience play into this?  Obviously, some kids will know what to do-be able to do it-and they just won’t.  That’s because they’re kids, and kids sometimes (oftentimes?) make bad decisions.

A good parents job is to know whether a child is being rebellious and needs discipline or when they’re doing the best they can and need patience.  Those are terribly difficult decisions to make on the fly, but nobody said parenting would be easy.

If I tell one of our boys to clean their room and thirty minutes later it’s still dirty, my reaction might not always be the same.  As parents we have to determine if our children are trying to obey us or if they’re just rebelling against us.

  • Did they start to clean their room and then get distracted by their easily-distracted little minds?  If so, they need to be mentored and corrected.
  • Did they refuse to clean their room?  If so, they need to be taught that rebellion isn’t acceptable, immediately.

Let me make this perfectly clear….No parent should ever, ever, for any reason, tolerate their children telling them “NO”.

That’s rebellion, and rebellion cannot be tolerated in our little children.  For their own good.

Because isn’t that the same thing they should expect from God?  Over and over the Bible refers to God as “long-suffering”.  He’s willing to suffer long with us while we try strive (and sometimes fail) to serve Him.  Luke 23:33-34  And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

But when we do know what we’re doing, and how it vexes God, and we live in outright rebellion against Him, His patience wears thin.  Hebrews 10:26-27  For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.

So how does this tie into the little boy who wouldn’t listen to his father?  How do we know when a parent should be patient and when they should meet out immediate discipline?  Obviously the little boy that I wrote about wasn’t mentally prepared to obey his father.  And since obeying his father would have been so difficult for him, should the dad have just given up?

Of course not.  At some point a parent needs to say, “You’re six years old.  You have to learn to sit still and be quiet.”  That’s our jobs as parents.  Because if we don’t teach them how to behave and how to accept discipline…..who will?

All too often parents disguise their laziness as patience.  And in doing that they’re only harming the very children they think they’re protecting.