November 22, 2012

A Father’s Discipline

In a very brief Internet search, anyone can find what lack of discipline does to children, especially lack of discipline from an absent or passive father. Statistics say one out of three children in the United States are without their biological fathers. Many dads who are in the home are not involved in their children’s lives.

Consequently, there is a "father factor" in almost all social issues. “No dad” raises the stats on poverty, maternal and child health, incarceration, crime, teen pregnancy, child abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, education, and childhood obesity.

When dad does not discipline, children lose their sense of right and wrong and miss the benefits of learning from consequences. They also lose respect for authority figures and may act out to gain attention and a sense of importance.

Authoritative parenting is important. This includes spending time with children, providing emotional support, giving daily help, monitoring behavior, and providing consistent, fair and proportionate discipline. In contrast, permissive parenting avoids setting standards and limits, and authoritarian parenting is harsh and rigid in discipline without respect for the child’s views and needs. 

However, authoritative parenting has a positive an influence on child development. Mothers with this parenting style tend to provide emotional warmth for their children, while fathers provide a sense of security. Moms soothe more often; fathers often provide more stimulation. Mom is the source of unconditional love; dad offers approval. Both parents are needed. 

With this in mind, this New Testament passage is rich with wise advice…

For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. (Hebrews 12:6–10)

A child without correction or with harsh discipline has a tough time listening to and accepting the Lord’s discipline. A child who cannot respect and trust their earthly father has a difficult time worshiping and believing in their heavenly Father. If discipline is motivated by, “Kid, you bug me” instead of “I want you to be a better person” then the discipline of the Lord is held suspect and resisted instead of trusted and accepted.

Lack of childhood discipline can produce adults who are deeply unsure of themselves. As these verses say, lack of honest and loving discipline can produce a sense of illegitimacy or worthlessness. However, the discipline of God says to me, “I love you just as you are, but I love you too much to leave you that way.”

No comments: