The dream of every parent is to have their children grow into a responsible, productive adult and member of society. For them to show politeness, manners, and generosity toward others. But children can never learn what they are never modeled. I started calling my young sons and daughters, when they asked for something or ask me a question; “Yes sir” or “Yes ma’am“. Now that all but one are adults, they have continued this pattern when they respond toward others. It is now internalized and is intrinsic in their nature. They open doors for people, they say, “Yes sir,” or “No ma‘am,” and they almost always say, “Thank you,” and “You're welcome.” However, my children would never have listen to my words if my actions did not back up my words.
I love the old axiom that children can not hear what you are saying because your actions are drowning out your words. The Bible reveals that children develop in four areas and these areas are the same that Jesus developed in as a child, acknowledging that there are more than these four ways alone. Luke 2:52 records that as Jesus grew older He grew in four distinct areas that children are designed to grow in.
1. In wisdom (mentally)
2. In favor with mankind (socially)
3. In favor with God (spiritually)
4. In stature (physically)
Development in children includes discipline because God disciplines adults and it is a prerequisite to growing in grace and knowledge. As the Bible teaches, God disciplines those that He loves, otherwise, we’re simply illegitimate (Proverbs 3:11). Obedience in children flows only out of love, for if there is no love, the parent is nothing short of a drill sergeant. Ephesians 4:6 shows that without love, we will only provoke them to anger, and an angry child will gravitate to disobedience, just as any adult would.
True child abuse is leaving a child to themselves. Of course, physical, or sexual abuse is incomprehensible, not to mention punishable by law and you can cause a child’s life to become a train wreck latter and then the chances of the child becoming an abuser are increased exponentially. Verbal and mental abuse can also have similar devastating effects.
Neglecting a child or a child left with no discipline, is the same as telling the child you don’t love them. You don’t care about them if you don’t take care with them. Hate is not the opposite of love, it is indifference.
Even the non-Christian world understands that a lack of discipline and love leads to a child feeling unworthy and disobedient. In a study by Harvard University, called Unraveling Juvenile Delinquency, sociologists, Sheldon and Eleanor Glueck pinned down four critical areas that will prevent a child from becoming a delinquent and a future criminal.
1. The father's firm, fair, and consistent discipline.
2. The mother's supervision and companionship during the day.
3. The parents' demonstrated affection for each other and for the children.
4. The family's cohesiveness; time spent together in activities where all participate.
Harvard’s sociologists didn’t get this from the Bible, but it says exactly the same thing.
Provoking children to anger comes in many forms:
1. Verbal, mental, physical or sexual abuse
3. Lack of discipline
4. Lack of limitations or structure
5. Being over-protective
7. Overindulgence or under-indulgence
Parents are in the greatest position to model the love of God and Jesus Christ than anyone else on earth (notice I said on earth, for they will later learn about the Greatest Model of Love, Jesus Christ). Perhaps the five most important words that you can ever tell your children (or anyone for that matter) is, “I love you”, and “I’m sorry”. When they realize that parents admit mistakes and ask for forgiveness, then children can see that its okay to admit mistakes and that forgiveness is not just a child’s standard, its anyone’s standard. Admitting to children that you make mistakes and are far from perfect, takes a lot of pressure off their shoulders when they make their own mistakes.
An excerpt from the Amazon.com (and other online book stores) book, “Teaching Children The Gospel, How To Raise Godly Children”.