I was reminded once again at church on Sunday of Solomon’s wisdom and how sharpening a daily chapter of Proverbs can be. (Neat how God breathed inspiration for there to be a division of 31 chapters to make reading one a day every month an easy feast in the Word, huh?) Today’s coinciding chapter, for July 13, was instant revelation for most of the things I had just prayed about before my devotion. Again, God, you certainly know our inmost needs!
Recently I was led to the Duggar family’s website. You know them, right? The family that has a reality show and the name of the show keeps getting changed because they keep getting blessed with more children. The stats are 18 children now and one grandchild on the way! As I perused their website, I landed on the FAQ page where there are many questions about their lifestyle and belief system. It’s evident that they lead their family with a desire for everyone to have a deepening relationship with God, but something really struck me in their response to questions about how they discipline their children.
Now, let me introduce one area of my life I’ve been blown away with recently: the need for such early discipline and reinforcement with our daughter, now 11-months old, and how it started nearly five months ago! I was mistaken by thinking there was a stage in between immobility and full mobility where I got to stop and drink in all the cuteness and giggles long before the testing and worries over the safety of an active baby would begin! WRONG.
During our induction into parenthood at this stage, we are constantly being given lots of advice and opinions. As Dave Ramsey says about his financial advice, some of it’s worth what we pay for it. Nothing! Really though, we’re surrounded by great people with Godly advice, so we’re lucky! Anyway, I believe there is no new news under the sun. I really believe honest truth was imparted at the start of time through God’s abiding and abounding love and it birthed scripture, which has been our most concrete form of rereading and rediscovering historical truth. Wisdom and truth has always been here! So as good counsel seems to go, the words that the Duggars received as a sound parenting technique was passed by a generation of wise (mistake-making, even) parents. Here is what they were told:
Praise your children ten times more than you correct them!
I had to reread that sentence several times and then revisit the site again that same day to really grab hold to what it was saying. Because here’s what I know … we’ve been doing a lot of correcting lately. A lot! I also know that this is going to be a consistent pattern for many years to follow and then repeated or simultaneous to any other children the Lord blesses us with! The counsel the Duggar parents received is rich and it’s loaded with opportunity to present your children with acceptance and God’s love. However, for those who also don’t understand or know the truth God’s Word imparts for parents, some may make the mistake of using this sentence as a means to be friends with their child and throw correction out the window.
Notice the words “more than” in that statement. The two words can be translated as: while, in the middle of, and in addition to. Take note that it doesn’t say “rather” or “instead”, a common mistake, or “or”. It’s not a one, the other, or neither option. It’s both! The praising and love comes before and after the correction and perhaps sometimes, in the midst of discipline. But it doesn’t exist without the correction.
Here’s where the truth in scripture really supports this technique. In Proverbs 13:24 [NLT] it says, “If you refuse to discipline your children, it proves you don’t love them; if you love your children, you will be prompt to discipline them.” First, our two greatest commandments are to love God and others equally (Mark 12:29-31). And what we find in the scripture in Proverbs is that discipline is a form of love; a purposeful training to correct behavior according to God’s laws for us. For God’s standards, love and discipline are both prerequisites for Godly parenting; they are one and the same. Try raising a child without love and discipline and what do you get? The ruins of your unloved child’s life (Proverbs 19:18), foolishness (22:15), and possible death (23:13).
Solomon goes on to say, however, that there is hope in that (sometimes exhausting) loving correction! “Teach your children to choose the right path, and when they are older, they will remain upon it,” Proverbs 22:6.
To sum things up, I realize more and more each day what a high calling it is to be a parent. I am called to love (said discipline and praise) a person who sometimes makes it incredibly hard to see straight and model grace and calm instruction when they are testing your patience at every second of their waking hours! The statement of “praising tens times more than correcting” is a challenge to see where my husband and I fit into the story of Vivian’s life. We are her Earthly extension of God’s love, acceptance, and grace. We are the ones responsible for her well-being and her growth throughout life. Certainly God is our replenisher and restorer of strength and love, but we are her first glimpse into the love of God and it’s realness, it’s effectiveness, it’s holiness and wholeness, and it’s boundlessness. Should we love her without discipline, it’s not really love. Should we correct her without high praise and encouragement, it’s only aggravating and will steer her the wrong direction–away.
If God really requires that we discipline and teach our children consistently, as a sign of love, and in one day alone, this technique is exercised to it’s fullest, can the heart, then, even fathom the great love we are to have for our children? Can your heart fathom, oh child of God, how much He loves you?
Young parents, first-time parents, listen! Don’t be discouraged if your journey as parents goes from sleepless nights, to fast-paced moving and constant correction that leaves you breathless and wondering if you’re ever going to have another word for your child other than “no” (or “stop” … the word we’re using). You may think your bonding time has been replaced by the endless need to discipline and stop everything you’re focused on to teach and guide. Know this: you are loving your child and the time you are taking is making it possible for your relationship to grow and enjoy your children fully, to relish in their Godly design, and delighting in their growing wisdom. Most importantly, know that you are carving out a path to aid them in walking toward the arms of their Savior! The obedience they learn from you and the trust they have due to your praise and instruction will pack their bags for a deeper journey in Christ; a journey where they can grow in God’s love and receive His direction, teaching, and even discipline when someday, albeit sooner than we can even imagine, the shoe is on the other foot and *sniff, sniff* they are guiding, disciplining, and loving their own children!