“I am not their friend. I am their mother.” A few weeks ago an older Christian mom said this to me of her college age daughters. Hmmm… not their friend.
That statement led me to another observation as I watch other Christian parents- they don’t get that. I have observed many Christian families slip comfortably into the “friend trap.” They deal with their children as if they are somehow their equal. They relinquish their God-ordained role as the boss and their kids know it. This is the world we live in.
I hear parents say things like, “Oh, my child WON’T… (fill in the blank).” We make all sorts of excuses for things our kids won’t do- sit down for dinner, go to bed, take a bath, clean their room, be respectful, obey curfew… You pick your “won’t.” We are then left with stress and worry.
We agonize about how to get our child to comply. We want what is best for them. We want peace in the home. We just want it to work. But it’s not.
If you are a stressed out parent I want to point out a hard truth- you aren’t doing it God’s way. When we walk in obedience to God’s path as a parent, embarrassment, stress, and worry don’t characterize our family or even our day. Joy and peace do.
To discipline a child produces wisdom, but a mother is disgraced by an undisciplined child… Discipline your children, and they will give you peace of mind and will make your heart glad. Prov. 29:15,17
Being an authority figure to our children leads to happiness and peace of mind because it is an act of love. The problem for us is that our society trains us to think the opposite of God’s thinking. It seems counter-intuitive to us that love = discipline. If we love our children we will claim our rightful place as provider, caregiver, teacher AND the authority.
Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children. Those who love their children care enough to discipline them. Prov. 13:24
So when did this flip happen? When did parents stop being parental? My guess is it all goes back to the break down of the home. Dads gave up leadership. Moms gave up their place in the home. Divorce became common. Adultery and other sins have disfigured our homes. And kids became the least of our priorities.
Our guilt or need to be accepted by our kids has led parents down a dangerous path of parenting from fear. We are afraid we’ll hurt their feelings. They won’t like us. They will cry. We will push them further away from us and maybe even God.
But God’s truth tells us different. Discipline actually draws our children away from powers of darkness that want to engulf our children. Did you catch that? Satan wants your child. And God says discipline will rescue them from hell itself. Here’s a couple of versions of Proverbs 23:14:
You shall strike him with the rod and rescue his soul from Sheol. (NASB)
Physical discipline may well save them from death. (NLT)
Don’t be afraid to correct your young ones; a spanking won’t kill them. A good spanking, in fact, might save them from something worse than death. (MSG)
I’m not sure where it will lead, but this week I want to dedicate my writing to encouraging those of us who are in the trenches of parenting. From toddlers to teens this gig is HARD! But with that, I also trust that our Heavenly Father hasn’t sent us on this journey without a road map. This week we are going to start to unfold the map.
Today’s destination: claim your place as parent and authority. Your kids need it.