I'm gonna try and link up today with Kelly at Build 'Em Up.
First of all, no one has all the answers when it comes to discipline. I think it's one of the most hotly debated and discussed topics...in churches, in families, among friends. Because haven't you been somewhere and thought, "why aren't they doing something about their child's behavior?" Or, the flip side..."man, they are so hard on that kid!" Or, like me, "I wish MY child would act as nice as THEIR child."
Yep. We all do it. We're all watching....why? Because most of us don't have a clue what we're doing...and we just want to find something, some "magic" technique, or "easy" trick, that will work with our kids.
There is no magic technique or easy trick. It's hard, and it's tears, and it's on-your-knees-in-the-trenches and it's storming the gates of Heaven on behalf of your child...and yourself. LORD, HELP ME HELP THEM!
For me...our family...the biggest thing that helped me focus when disciplining our children was thinking about how God views discipline, and how He disciplines ME. I mess up ALL the time...every.single.day...but there's never any spiritual "yelling" from God. He doesn't shut me out. He speaks the truth in love. And because the Bible clearly spells out the right way, there's no excuse. And there are consequences for my actions...and there is forgiveness. And God restores my heart, and brings me back into the fold.
Another big thing with discipline is consistency. Kids need to know that there are consequences to their behavior...and that you will follow thru every single time. Your kids? They will wear.you.down. It's kinda like their job. Sometimes you just want to throw candy on the floor and leave the room...don't do that! Stick it out! It will be worth it!
Discipline changes as your kids age...don't be afraid to check and adjust as your kids get older. If there are things that are really, really important to your family, don't be afraid to stand on those convictions. But pick your battles carefully...you don't want to die on a mountain if it's going to do more harm than good to your relationship. The goal is teaching our children to make the right choices, right? We want to shepherd and guide their hearts. And always, always...we want to point our children to Christ, not drive them away from Him.
Just last night, we had a discipline situation with our oldest son, our man-child. He's 27 and he has Down Syndrome...but he knows right from wrong, OH YES HE DOES. Don't let his grandmother (Mammaw Jack) convince you that he didn't mean it. He meant it. Oh, yes, he did. And so...wow. Talk about having to handle things delicately...because I never, ever want him to feel like a baby. Because, he's a MAN. But we still have issues with him that we have to deal with...we can't have him acting ugly any more than we can have our 17 year old acting ugly. So, it was a situation that I talked to him about...and I told him I was taking his phone for a day, and that he couldn't go on the outing with his "group" today. And it KILLED me to say this to him. I love him so much. When I was done, I said, "Joshua, will you accept these consequences?" And in his manliest voice he said, "I will." And we hugged and hearts were restored.
Sometimes I think we think that God delights in disciplining us. Sometimes we are taught that way. Have you ever heard things like, "the good Lord's gonna get ya?" I have. Like God is waiting in the bushes to pounce on us when we mess up. But, I think it's more like how I felt with Joshua. Sad at his disobedience...and even tho it was breaking my heart, I had to discipline him for his own good. I think that's how it is when God disciplines us. With love, and for our own good.
Discipline in the early years is HARD. It is time-consuming and frustrating (at times). You cannot do it alone. You need the support of your spouse, you need the encouragement from friends, but mostly, you need the Lord. And you need to realize that your children will never be perfect. Jim and I say that we are two imperfect parents raising 4 imperfect children. Even with your best efforts, they are gonna mess up. Don't you? I do. But if you seek the Lord as you teach and guide your children, you will know that you are planting a seed for Christ that will hopefully grow for a lifetime. Because, when you see the fruit of all your labor...well-behaved children...polite, kind, sensitive, caring young people...well-adjusted, adults who respect others and authority, who love God, who acknowledge Him as the giver of every good thing, and who are raising and teaching their own families...it's worth it all.