Here are 5 things that I’ve learnt from the book so far.
1) We have authority from God to discipline our children
“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” ~Ephesians 6:4
We have been given this important task of training our children up in God’s ways, and the authority is actually from above.
However, more often than we like to admit, our own agenda creeps in, and along with that, unholy anger. This is how Ted describes it: “Unholy anger – anger over the fact that you are not getting what you want from your child – will muddy the waters of discipline. Anger that your child is not doing what you want frames discipline as a problem between parent and child, not as a problem between the child and God.”
He goes on to say that correction is not about showing anger at your child’s offenses, but about pointing out to them that their bad behaviour offends God.
Reading this really helped me to see things from a different perspective. I found that so much of the battles we’ve fought with Vera before was on this basis of us versus her. Although I remember we did sometimes try to help her see that she was actually disobeying God when she acted rebelliously towards us, on hindsight I think we did not emphasise this enough.
2) Focus correction upon attitudes of heart rather than merely on behaviour
It’s often easier to work at changing outward behaviour, but since everything a person does is really a function of his heart, it makes more sense to focus our energies at addressing and engaging the hearts of our children.
There is an example in the book about two siblings fighting over a toy. (Sounds familiar?) In our family, I find that we often ask the elder one to give in to the younger child. But Ted points out that when we look at it in terms of the heart, actually both are in the wrong. Both children are being selfish, and both need to be corrected.
3) Discipline is an expression of love!
It’s not the opposite as we sometimes tend to think. And the guilt that we feel (after we discipline) is probably a by-product of that thinking. I found this quote very meaningful.
“Discipline has a corrective objective. It is therapeutic, not penal. It is designed to produce growth, not pain.”
Although it may be necessary to involve some pain during the process, seen in this light, we can take heart that the focus of discipline is really to help our children grow in maturity and understanding. It is focused on restoring the child back to rightness with God and with you.
4) Choose your parenting goals carefully
My goal as a Christian parent is not to produce children who are well-mannered or excel academically. At the end of the day, when all’s said and done, it is really about teaching our children to love God and to live for His glory.
5) Communicate to understand the heart
Ted advocates the use of the rod as well as healthy communication between parent and child, but I like that he emphasises the need for us to understand our children’s hearts and needs.
“Your objective in communication must be to understand your child, not simply to have your child understand you.”
Wise words…I will definitely be putting some of these insights into good use. Will keep you guys updated on how that goes. 🙂