“Diligence in Discipline”Categories: Bulletin Articles
Proverbs 13:24 reads, “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” Typically, when we go to this verse, we see it as being about corporal punishment. All the experts in our society tell us that spanking children harms them, but we know better (generally from personal experience), and besides, Proverbs 13:24. Certainly, I believe that there are times when my children’s backsides listen better than their ears do!
However, we ought to spend as much time in this verse considering the importance of diligence as we do defending a particular method of discipline. The contrast in the proverb isn’t really between spanking and not spanking. It’s between being diligent in discipline versus refusing to discipline when appropriate.
There are many reasons why parents, even Christian parents who believe in corporal punishment, can find themselves in the latter category. I’m here to tell you—it’s HARD to discipline children consistently! For one thing, parents who work long hours may simply not spend enough time around their children to consistently hold them to a standard. If you only have a couple hours a day with them, do you really want to spend those few hours making them do stuff and calling them down when they don’t?
Energy is another issue. I have heard legends of children who only need to be told once and then obey their parents’ wishes. It is not so with my children.
Don’t get me wrong; they’re basically good kids. However, they will gladly expend ten times as much effort evading some instruction as they would in obeying it. Never mind that simply listening the first time would be easier and less painful for everyone. They remain as intent on freedom as the plot of a Mel Gibson movie.
As a result, they are exhausting to parent. Getting them to do anything they don’t want to do requires a massive expenditure of energy, and tomorrow, there will be no evidence that the energy was expended. If the same situation arises, the same conflict will take place.
I have been known to observe that trying to train my children is about like banging on a hunk of scrap steel with a hammer. It makes a lot of noise, but it doesn’t appear to produce much change. That being the case, why not hand them the remote and let the TV and the Xbox raise them?
To myself, to my wife, and to all parents with children like that, I say, “Do not grow weary and lose heart!” It may be tempting to walk away from the daily struggle, but that won’t end well. As Shawn likes to say, if you don’t teach your children to act right, the police will. Life isn’t kind to people who haven’t learned to control themselves.
Additionally, I doubt that I am truly as ineffective as I sometimes feel. My children may be learning at a glacial pace, but they are learning. These days, they can sit through an hour-long funeral without having to be bribed with books or tablets, and that wouldn’t have been true two years ago. The signs of progress will be evident to those who look for them.
Diligence matters. It matters in everything, but it particularly matters in raising children. The more we apply ourselves to the task now, the less cause we will have to regret it later.