Tuesday, October 5, 2010

day 261: taking back control

Many parents are bewildered as to how to take back their rightful place as, well, the parents. They feel overwhelmed with the consequences they will have to face if the child loses his or her control. Isn't it easier just to keep peace now and give the child what he wants? Maybe he will grow out of this selfish stage. Proverbs 19:18 addresses this subject: "Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying." Wise words of Solomon--do it while there is still time, while there is still hope, leaving us with the impression that someday it will be too late.

The Living Translation of this verse says that we can ruin our children by not disciplining them: "Discipline your children while there is hope. If you don't, you will ruin their lives."

According to the KJV Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon, the word chasten here means “to instruct and to discipline.” This is consistent with our thinking about the two aspects of "negative" (i.e. corrective) child training:

1. Instruct indicates teaching (i.e. through verbal instruction, preventive parenting, and consequences for poor character)

2. Discipline indicates what some call punishment or chastisement

The other words here are fairly literal--while there is still hope (before time runs out and it becomes a hopeless situation); he will not die (from the "chastisement"). Of course, even without that Proverb, we know in our hearts that this is true. We allow a baby to manipulate our home and schedule--at six months, nine months, twelve months--having to be walked around at night to go to bed, giving him our watch because he will not quit screaming in church until he has it (no toy will suffice), letting him determine our family's schedule.

Then that baby becomes a demanding toddler--two year old who has to have his cup with the lid off or else. Then a preschooler, of whom nobody wants to be around.

Into elementary school--a know-it-all, my-way-or-the-highway ten year old girl or demanding, pushy boy. Need I go on?

Then the young teen, who is shunned even by his own siblings because his personality is so abrasive….and, well, you get the picture. We have to take back control now. Not later.

Tomorrow—the antidote for the child-controlled home: recognizing and instilling boundaries in children’s behavior.

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