My friend Finn recently saw the following sign in her pediatrician’s office.
Please refrain from allowing your children to destroy the furniture in the waiting room. We?d like to maintain a pleasant environment for everyone.
When I first read that, my thought was “FINALLY, someone with gumption” but apparently Finn has problem with it. After reading her post, I can see why.
Read her post and then come back here. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
So as new parents, Julia and I (mostly Julia) try to read up on various parenting techniques, advice and experiences as we can, so that we can learn from those you have gone before us. Unfortunately, there is good advice and there is bad advice. And depending on your personal viewpoints, What one person loves, another admonishes.
Case in point. Two books on our nightstand are Shepherding a Child’s Heart and To Train up a Child. Both have their strengths, and their controversies. Criticism ranges from child abuse to Stockholm Syndrome. But the praises are for how well each teaches you to address the heart of the problem, not the symptom.
I’ve read Shepherding a Child’s Heart and Julia is currently reading To Train up a Child. Critics of Shepherding a Child’s Heart usually site spanking as their biggest complaint but they usually overlook the fact that it is never administered in anger but rather as the consequence of the child’s behavior and to not respond would be irresponsible.
You see, while not everyone believes in spanking (with some good reasons) it can be an appropriate tool in disciplining a child. But the word discipline doesn’t refer to punishment but rather correction as when training an apprentice. The goal of both books (I think) is to establish well defined boundaries and expectations.
No child is served by a wishy-washy set of rules that sometimes apply and sometimes don’t. Disciplining your child at the first act of disobedience lets them know that they can count on you to keep your word. They then also learn to trust your judgment and realize that you will protect them as well as discipline them. Unfortunately, many parents would rather not “stifle” their children only to lose control of them and end up screaming in frustration or explode in a fit of abusive punishment.
Neither of these books will make you a good parent or a good Christian. You have to be both, first. Then you can read these (or any other parenting book) with the proper perspective of dealing with the heart of the Child. Most importantly, remember that the goal is not to have well-behaved children, but children you obey the Lord. From there, they will seek to please God and thus be well behaved. Not the other way around.