Our society has become a society of children, there is ample evidence to back up my claim. Think about how a child acts, they have a short attention span, they easily change their mind, they see something in the checkout line at the grocery store and they want to buy it. If a child doesn’t get their way, they might throw a temper tantrum. I witness child like behavior from adults all the time. We see it demonstrated in TV shows, and movies, this behavior is portrayed as funny and thus glorified.
Many years ago I was on a short flight from Houston to Austin and I was sitting behind a guy who was repeatedly disregarding the flight attendants instructions. He wasn’t angry or belligerent, just completely ignoring the normal rules that are always enforced on flights these days. He didn’t turn off his electronics, kept texting on the phone during the flight, and only a few moments after departure, while the airplane was still climbing at 2,000 feet per minute, got up and attempted to go to the restroom despite the crew members orders directing him to return to his seat. When we arrived in Austin, we were instructed to remain in our seats even though we were parked at the gate, this guy still had a hard time abiding by this final directive, but eventually he sat back down. The rear of the airplane started to applaud as two officers boarded the airplane and escorted him off for interrogation.
As parents, we are obligated to discipline our children, without our loving guidance, they could grow up and be to be an immature adult that will be disciplined by less loving members of society. Most children are naturally selfish and unruly early in their lives, it is our job as parents to transform them from selfish children into mature adults that respect lawful authority. The root of many evils in our society is immaturity, selfishness and a lack of self discipline. The discipline we apply to our children is not just to protect them from imminent harm, but also imparts important lessons in self-discipline as they move into adulthood. In St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, he explains that, “discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it”.
One of the most common questions parents have is when it is appropriate to begin to discipline their children and how do you do it. You need to pick your battles, but the battle you pick could greatly decrease the number of battles you encounter. Disrespect and willful disobedience should never be tolerated and in our family we expect first time obedience.
The key is to effective discipline is consistency, no exceptions, if you say that their favorite toy will be taken away if they don’t put their toys up, then you better take that toy away if they disobey. If you don’t your credibility will be severely diminished. Don’t make the threat if you are unwilling or unable to follow through. Consequences should be appropriate to the offense and to the child. But as with any interaction with our children, we should take great pains to ensure that we are disciplining for the right reasons. We should never discipline out of anger, but always out of love. We love our children enough to discipline them, to help them to mature and become responsible adults and to become saints.
For specific ideas on the when and how of discipline, please read my article entitled, “Practical Discipline”