No Pain, No Gain

Moral of the story?

Christian educator and author Howard Hendricks cautions parents not to bribe or threaten our children to get them to obey. What they need is firm, loving, and at times painful discipline.

“Your primary concern is not what your children think of you now,
but what they will think 20 years from now.”
– Howard Hendricks

These days, it seems the subject of discipline is so controversial that parents hesitate in the discipline of their children.

The numerous examples of teenagers seeking medical help for mental breakdown, the frequent stories we hear of children running away from home have caused many adults to be so self-conscious that we shrink back from doing what we know is in the ultimate interest of our teenagers. We are just too afraid that our children will turn against us, or interpret our correction as a sign of our disapproval, or worse, we are simply at a loss in what to do when they misbehave.

Let us return to God’s Word to see what is laid out for parents.

Disciplining our own

The discipline of children is commanded by scripture.

Proverbs 13:24, 19:18, 22:15, 23:13

The biblical view of nurturing includes ‘discipline’. A parent who avoids disciplining his child is not showing love because love and discipline goes together. The parent who truly loves his child will discipline the child. Authentic discipline is to be carried out promptly and decisively, and as far as possible, without delay.

Firm, loving discipline is not an “act of cruelty”

Proverbs 23:13, Hebrews 12:5-8

Parents who bother to discipline their own are doing something for them. That is precisely what our Heavenly Father does for us. It’s an act of deliverance for “If you beat him with a rod, he will not die.” Loving discipline requires parents to go the extra mile – hearing them out first and letting the children know that they will always have our love! Now, there are many forms of discipline that do not build up the child. For instance, the errant child may remember the pain inflicted by the rod and yet not understand how he has gone wrong! Discipline must therefore be corrective, not punitive. As parents we must be careful to communicate the motive for discipline as far as possible to our children.

Discipline drives away “foolishness”

Psalm 51:5, Proverbs 22:15

Foolishness means “folly”. It has a basic meaning of “perversity”. Every child is born with an inherent sinful nature. Our children may be cute, but “cute sinners” they are! We don’t have to teach our children to do wrong. They come by naturally. Foolishness is so bound up in the heart of a child that parents have to exercise the loving affliction of pain to drive away foolishness.

Many parents may have no qualms with this biblical stand, but let us hear what some teenagers have to say about being disciplined…

Food For Thought

These comments from teenagers tell us that the sensible teenager realizes the need for discipline and craves for the protection that the process of discipline offers. Therefore, parents must not be afraid to discipline their children but at the same time, prayerfully and carefully communicate their love in all situations.

From experience, parents who connect well with their teens seem to have less disciplinary problems at home. Whereas parents who can hardly communicate with their teens will inevitably face setbacks in the discipline of their own.

At a recent “meet the parents” session at a childcare centre, I was very heartened to hear parents unanimously affirming concern for their children’s discipline and character building. It was a very heart-warming signal to the childcare givers that parents will stand with them as far as the disciplining of their children was concerned. The meeting actually ended on a high note where both parents and childcare givers pledged to work closely in the shaping of their children’s character. If only more of such dialogues and consensus on the subject of discipline could take place among many of our institutions and homes!

No Pain, No Gain

It was many years ago, but it is still vivid in my mind. I was in secondary two and belonged to an all-boys school. It was the last period of the day and the mathematics teacher was trying to cope with a restless and noisy class. Together with my friends, we were trying to entertain ourselves with jokes and funny comments about the boring lesson. Before I knew it, I was called up and asked to stand outside the class. The punishment did not deter me and I carried on with my mischief even while standing along the school corridor.

My mathematics teacher, an elderly, yet stern Indian gentleman had to stop his lesson and asked, “Are you a rascal?” Sensing that I was being challenged, I immediately responded, “Yes!”

It was the last straw and my teacher promptly marched me to the principal’s office. Only then did I realize the magnitude of my problem. I was about to be caned in the school’s office. Reason? Defiance and insubordination! Having explained the need for my caning, the school’s Headmaster proceeded to discipline me with not one, but two strokes on my butt!

A deep sense of shame and humiliation overcame me!

I remember bearing a deep grudge against the teacher who was the cause of my “humiliation”! But the caning episode kept me on my toes and attentive through the rest of the year. And imagine I passed my mathematics which had always been an intimidating subject! Moreover, I carried with me the sense of shame each time I met and greeted the man who caned me in school – my principal.

When it was time to part with my Alma Mater, I was surprised with my own regards for both my teacher and principal. I was actually grateful for what they had done for me. Having met up with them years later, I could relate to both gentlemen with a new respect and fondness.

posted on May 10 2016 Gn Chiang Tat, 65, Senior Staff, SYFC