“Children, obey your parents…” (Ephesians 5)
The quoted verse above is found in the (10) Ten Commandments, Ephesians (5) five and in examples throughout Scripture, history, and life. In the Old Testaments parents were commanded to have their children stoned in the streets by the elders. This is a very extreme form of punishment and it is one of the things Bible haters love to point to. I must say, it is rough. I can also admit to not knowing if it was ever carried out. While I am sure God meant it, I do not know if it had to ever be carried out or if the threat was enough. We can also read of Absalom’s blatant and deadly disrespect of his father, King David. The point can be made that much of the sin in Scripture and in life can be traced back to the breaking of the commandment of children honoring and obeying their parents.
What I can also admit to, is the almost impossibility some parents make it for their children to obey this commandment. I am familiar with some parents that do make it seemingly impossible and am so impressed with their kids that do at least obey them if not actually feeling any respect or honor. I have written on this subject some time ago in an article that questions the wisdom and parenting skills of some parents, I know. I am pained to see some children even go home to these sorry excuses for parents. I would like nothing more than to have a discussion with these “parents” in name only. I know that it would only cause more trouble for the kids, however.
What is one to do in these circumstances? One can only pray and love the kids that are stuck in the middle. You will be surprised what God might do to resolve this. One could pray and ask God to provide grace and relief to the kids involved. One can, if involved with the parent, speak of other parents in the abstract and hope that this parent, in particular, might keep your words and ponder them; you must be careful and not allow them to know what you know about them. If you know that this parent has crossed the line into abuse you have no choice than to document it and report it to the proper authorities.
However, what if you are a good parent or a good employer and your kids and or employees show you blatant disrespect or disobedience? The first thing to do is to try and view the situation from a place of objectivity and ask yourself some questions. “Am I really a good parent or employer?” “Do I show my children or employees the kindness and respect they deserve or have earned?” “Have I showed them too much friendship instead or parenting or leadership?” “Where have they learned this disrespect?” “Am I being too sensitive?” “Have I given them reason to disrespect me or my position?”
If you have given them reason to disrespect you, resolve it quickly but not too quickly, seek to resolve it and allow it to seem natural. You cannot call a meeting and demand their respect. It will be viewed wrongly and you will make yourself out to be a common enemy and nothing will bring them together as one against you as a common enemy. If you find an individual person or group that is causing all of the trouble, eliminate them. If you find that you have caused the problem by being more of a buddy than a parent or employer, cease this activity. Some people simply do not know how to respect one who is both a parent and a friend.
It is far more important for a parent or employer to be viewed as the parent and employer than to be viewed as a friend. We see in the Garden of Eden this dynamic. God walked with Adam and Eve each evening as a Friend. He became too familiar to His Creation and they turned on Him. The fault is not God’s but the Creation that could not view Him as God and Friend at the same time. God, therefore abandoned the friend part and expelled them. David found this out, too. He would not chasten Absalom and Absalom lost any respect for David and caused an overthrow in the kingdom and eventually lost his life. I know of a woman that calls her mother by her first name, which is a sign of huge disrespect. Neither even notice it anymore. We are familiar with many adult children that speak to their parents as fools and dimwits. Both these acts of disrespect are hard to be viewed and it is harder not to point them out.
I remember years ago when a comedian, Rodney Dangerfield, had a famous tagline, “No respect, I’m tellin’ you, no respect.” This line would cause the place to erupt. I think it did so because so many could identify with it. I’ve notice this to be true with many comedians and their audiences. When the audience can identify with something the comedian is pointing out it causes great laughter and you can view the audience nodding their heads in agreement and familiarity. The truth is, it is not funny. A child’s or an employees disrespect can bring terrible repercussions. A child that does not show love or honour to the parent will not show respect, honour, or obedience to teachers, employers, the civil authorities, doctors or God. The person who shows no honour and or love is taking his or her life in their own hands; For this commandment of God is the first one with promise. God said, one can lengthen one’s life and therefore, shorten one’s life by disobeying the commandment.
It seems obvious to me that the majority if not all death can be traced back to a person’s blatant disrespect and or blatant disobedience, lack of honour and or lack of love to ones parents and certainly to one’s disobedience and lack of love to God. As this is certainly true then the stoning of the rebellious child takes on a new dimension, does it not? If the child’s early hatred for God and parent was a precursor to later hatred for God and parent, and the likelihood that this hatred would take on greater weight, and a greater likelihood to cause more harm to self and others, then an early remedy would make sense. Like I said, before however, I cannot think of a time when this remedy was ever used as more than a deterrent.
I mentioned David and his relationship with Absalom and all the pain it cause both of them. It also cost the lives of very many, as well. David, as fine a man, as fine a servant, and as fine a king as he was, he failed as a parent. His children were the ones as was his kingdom the ones to suffer by his unwillingness to be a father that chastened his children when needed. We are even told in Scripture, he would not displease his children by proper discipline or displeasing them. We learn from Proverbs and Hebrews, as well, as by example that the loving parent will not hold back the chastening of a child. We are told that if one does not chasten a child then that child is not truly loved. This truth is not understood by many a parent and the refusal to obey it’s principle and practice may cause the child their very life someday.
I have heard many a parent say that to spank a child is to teach that child that violence is the answer to life’s trouble. THe opposite is, in fact, true. A proper disciplining of the child teaches the child to obey authority and the refusal to do so will bring on chastening. The refusal to discipline demonstrates to the unruly child that there is no price to be paid in unlawful acts. The proof is to be seen in the behaviour of today’s youth and the behaviour of the youth of the past.
Am I suggesting corporeal punishment, I.E. spanking? Let me be clear….Yes,…yes, I am. Let me say this, however, and by saying, however is not a retraction. One must know one’s child in order to know if spanking is needed as a first method of chastening. For some children it is. For some it may be needed very rarely if ever after the first few times. My children have been spanked less that…I would say,…(3) three – (5) five times their entire childhood. There are other children that I know should have been spanked each and every day and more times than once.
My children were spanked early on in their childhood. Let me explain my method. If it was needed my child(ren) would sit down after any anger has subsided. By the way, one need not and must not be angry to discipline a child, only the breaking of a rule(s) or one of God’s laws is needed [Side note: One need not have many rules, as many rules will only act as traps and you will be perceived as one lying in wait to punish. Lay down a few simple rules and allow your children to run freely within them. If the child breaks these rules then it is a serious breach and action must be taken.] After we would discuss the reason for chastening, we would discuss the number of taps… and they were taps. Let me explain. I would tap my child’s rear end harder during play time than I would chastening time. The fact that discipline and a few light love taps were enough to make the point. We would discuss the number of taps, the child would lay over my knee, usually the left. I would then use my right leg to hold their legs in place. I would ask if they were ready and I would count the agreed upon taps. The child would sniffle or cry a bit…I would too, only inside. When we were finished I would grab them quickly and tightly embrace them. They would tightly embrace me and we would pray. We would then leave them to think about everything for about (5) five minutes or until they were ready. All was then done and discussed no more. This my liberal friend, does not teach violence. There were times I would have them sit and wait for my arrival and the chastening to begin, This was in fact, the true punishment, though they knew not. I would f,finally arrive and follow my method as described above, the child was ready and then, like God to Abraham, I would stop. I would teach them about God’s grace and His mercy, and no spanking followed.
The truth about the parent that refuses to discipline their child is they do this, not out of love or for the child’s sake, but for their own sake. The same is true for some parents that discipline too harshly and too quickly. They discipline to relieve their own anger and not to teach the child a necessary fact of life, which is, the breaking of rules and laws have consequences. When chastening a beloved child you should never, ever be angry or still angry. Anger must pass and love must take it’s place. As I alluded to above somewhere, spanking may not always be necessary. Once a child knows the chastening hand and persevering love of a parent, a certain look or tone of voice is all that may be needed. Also, if you have a good relationship with a child, the fear of disappointment may be the only fear a child needs. I know of some parent that simply need shake their head and cast down their eyes to the ground and the child is crushed. If this is a dynamic in your home, never ever abuse it. To abuse this could, in my mind, be categorized as spiritual and mental abuse.
To examine a parents skill or method in parenting one need only look closely and listen closely to their children. I am fully aware that many in my circle thought me “too strict” when raising my children, yet the same would often comment about my children’s composure, sweetness, kindness, and intelligence. I’ve heard some go so far as to admit their envy over my children and the relationship we share. These are the same type of people that would say, “Life doesn’t give you an instruction guide on raising children.” They are wrong and kind of right. Life may not give us an instruction guide, but God did as does history. If a family has a good plan for chastening in place, everyone will understand the reason for it. Everyone will understand the love involved, and with that chastening will likely rarely be needed. My wife and I have been blessed with children that understand things that today’s “adults and “parents” do not. I thank my God, probably everyday, for my children and their wisdom.
For the most part, the sitting in the corner, the timeouts, the counting to (3) three do not work. Children have a play thing, called imagination, that they can play with during these moments or “punishment” The parents that beg their child to, “please obey, me” have lost all credibility with that child and should understand that they are guilty of child abuse, child neglect, child endangerment, and self-centered, feelings worship. These parents are not, I repeat, not showing love to their children. When this child grows up and suffers the realities of life and is harmed thereby, the harm must be traced back to the parents, while the child (Now teenager or adult) is enduring the consequences.
A word about the parents and their relationship to each other as related to the raising of children. I wrote not too long ago about the importance of objectivity and subjectivity. A well balanced child , generally speaking, comes from a home where both obj. and subj. are present. A pastor friend of mine pointed out another way to put this is, “nurture and admonition of the Lord”, which are found in Scripture. The Objectivity/Admonition and subjectivity/nurture are essential to a well rounded and well balanced person. A person should be able to both, think objectively on matters and use and order their emotions appropriately. The opposite of ordering one’s emotions appropriately is inordinate affections. Inordinate affections never bring about balance, only imbalance. An example of this is a person who always speaks their mind and shares all their thoughts, no matter how unsound they are. The Proverbs calls this person a fool. This foolish person is unbalanced and is given to subjectivity.
A word about the mother. The value of a good and balanced mother can never be overstated, but is is usually and always understated. No mother is “just a” anything. No mother is “just” a “stay at home” mother or house-keeper (the word, keeper means guardian) or home-maker. She is, humanly speaking, the only hope for the next generation. For without a mother the child will miss out on either objectivity/admonition or subjectivity/nurture. The child will enter the world unbalanced. This child will either lean too much upon inordinate affections or will lean to much on objectivity and be perceived as cold, aloof, hard, and odd. Being perceived this way, he will become even more this way. A good mother is of the greatest value and is used so very mightily of God. If a child is blessed with parents that are equally objective and subjective, truly and greatly blessed is s/he.
I am aware that this article is long. It is probably the length of (8) eight to (10) pages in a book. The subject matter, however, is well worth your time if you are a parent or an employer. It is well worth your time if you have parents or a parent or if you are employed.