People often gasp when we tell them we have seven children. "Seven children? I can't make the two I do have listen to me, much less seven of them."
To which I reply, "Well, we didn't get them all at the same time. We had time to get used to and teach one before another one arrived."
It is often assumed that because we have seven children, we have seven times the amount of disobedience, disrespect, and discontentment that someone with one poorly disciplined child has.
First of all, it doesn't matter if you have one, seven, or twelve children; if they are disobedient and disrespectful, it still brings heartache to the mother and shame to the father, according to the Bible.
Secondly, when you begin disciplining your children effectively from the beginning, or at least with the first two or three children in the case of a large family, it has far-reaching effects to your younger children. You set a standard for behavior in the older ones that has the potential to trickle down to the younger ones, assuming the older ones interact with the younger ones and the entire family spends a lot of time together. We actually have had to punish our ten and thirteen year old sons (our fifth and sixth children) about twenty-five percent of the amount that we had to punish our second child, who is now one of the most selfless young adults I have ever met. Of course, she wasn't selfless at ages two and three!
(Note: I am referring to punishment here; training and consequences have definitely been more extensive with our younger boys than with the girls. Gotta love three cooperative, diligent, responsible girls in a row!)
Thirdly, yes, there is the potential for seven times the amount of heartache for parents of seven children as there is for parents of one child, but there is also the potential for seven times the amount of joy. We have chosen to focus on biblical, effective discipline so that the potential for those joyful, loving, less problematic times is increased exponentially.
Reprinted from Training for Triumph newsletter @ 2005