A family friend and listener to this podcast told me about an unpleasant experience she recently had at a big box retail store that got me thinking about climate change. Not the climate change we hear environmentalists and politicians talk about. I’m thinking about relational climate change. How the climate in a room changes when parents fail to discipline their children. And how it improves when they do.
Continuing our “Thankful in November” series, today’s episode is about how we can be thankful for parents who discipline their children because of how it improves the relational climate we live in.
But before we get into today’s episode, here’s what this podcast is all about.
Welcome to You Were Made for This
If you find yourself wanting more from your relationships, you’ve come to the right place. Here you’ll discover practical principles you can use to experience the life-giving relationships you were made for.
I’m your host, John Certalic, award-winning author and relationship coach, here to help you find more joy in the relationships God designed for you.
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The need for a relational climate change
I think most of us at one time or another experienced what a listener to our podcast went through recently while in the check-out line at Walmart. A father in front of her had a toddler strapped in his cart, while another young child, standing at his side, engaged in all manner of behavior to irritate the kid in the cart. The poking and taunting of the toddler elicited back-and-forth yelling between the two kids.
And what do you think the father did about this? You guessed, it. Nothing.
It got so irritating to our listener friend that she stepped out of line, abandoned her cart, and went across the street to a grocery store to buy the same items she left behind at Walmart. The climate change between the two stores was palpable. From chaos at Walmart to peace and calm at the grocery store. No undisciplined kids creating tension for fellow shoppers.
The sad thing for me about stories like this is that it’s not the kids’ fault. It’s on the parents for failing to disciple their children. The dad in this case needed to go sit on a chair in the time-out corner.
My thoughts on child discipline
Having raised two kids of my own with my wife, and then watching them parent their own children, I learned a few things about disciplining children.
I’ll start with this. Parents who discipline their children well when they are younger will have to discipline them less when they’re older. When you don’t discipline kids when they’re young, it is much harder to do so when they’re older as teenagers when the consequences of bad behavior are much greater.
And then if you don’t discipline them as teenagers, you get adults like Meghan Markle who’s at the epicenter of the family dysfunction in Britain’s royal family.
It’s been reported that he said he regrets not disciplining his daughter when she was a child. “I gave her everything she wanted,” he said. “I never said no.”
Parents are sometimes reluctant to discipline their kids because they want their kids to like them, to not be upset with them. They want their children to view them as a friend. Children don’t need you to be their friend. They need you to be a strong parent to teach them the most important thing they need to know as a young child, and that is to obey.
The most important thing a young child needs to know
The main job of young children is to learn to obey. Oh, there is so much disobedience out there. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Years ago I attended a week-long conference featuring Christian Counselors Larry Crabb and Dan Allender. During a Q & A session, someone asked Crabb for parenting advice. He paused for a moment to gather his thoughts and said, “I’m not a parenting expert by any stretch of the imagination. All I can tell you is that the main task of a parent is to drive foolishness out of the heart of a child. Stick with that, and you’ll do fine as a parent.”
Let that sink in for a moment, “the main task of a parent is to drive foolishness out of the heart of a child.” It’s taken from Proverbs 22:15 in the Bible.
Parenting by a thousand paper cuts
If there was ever a comment to illustrate the phrase, “easier said than done.” It would be Crabb’s comment. Parenting is hard work. Kids wear you down. Over and over again they push you to your limits of patience.
If I were to write a parenting book, I would entitle it, Parenting by a Thousand Paper Cuts. How many times do you have to say “no?” How many times do you have to pit your will against your child’s will? It is so much easier to give in to your kid’s disobedience. To just raise your voice at them, with no attendant consequence for their disobedience.
When a child disobeys, a negative consequence for the child is called for. Just raising your voice out of frustration for the child not obeying you won’t cut it.
A parent’s job in dealing with disobedience is to introduce some form of “pain” into their life. Depriving them of something they enjoy usually works. And every kid is different in this regard. It’s not rocket science.
So what does God say about discipline?
Through Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, God has a number of things to tell about us about discipline in the Book of Proverbs. I count ten verses dealing with the discipline of children. The first five are directed to children themselves, the recipients of parental discipline. If you have kids, you might want to share these with them. It likely won’t register with your children at the moment you need to disciple them. Instead, share these verses after the storm of misbehavior passes and relational calm returns.
How children should view discipline
With regard to children and what their attitude should be, Solomon says the following:
Proverbs 1: 8 My child, listen when your father corrects you. Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.
Proverbs 4: 1-2 My children, listen when your father corrects you. Pay attention and learn good judgment, for I am giving you good guidance. Don’t turn away from my instructions.
Proverbs 6: 20 – 23 My son, obey your father’s commands, and don’t neglect your mother’s instruction. Keep their words always in your heart. Tie them around your neck. When you walk, their counsel will lead you. When you sleep, they will protect you. When you wake up, they will advise you. For their command is a lamp and their instruction a light; their corrective discipline is the way to life.
Proverbs 12:1 To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction.
Proverbs 13:1 A wise child accepts a parent’s discipline; a mocker refuses to listen to correction.
Why parents need to discipline their children
As for parents, here are principles from the Book of Proverbs to keep in mind about why it is so important for them to discipline their children.
Proverbs 13: 24 Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children. Those who love their children care enough to discipline them.
Proverbs 22:15 A youngster’s heart is filled with foolishness, but physical discipline will drive it far away. This is the sum total of Larry Crabb’s philosophy I mentioned earlier.
Proverbs 23:13-14 Don’t fail to discipline your children. The rod of punishment won’t kill them. Physical discipline may well save them from death.
Proverbs 29:15 To discipline a child produces wisdom, but a mother is disgraced by an undisciplined child.
Proverbs 29:17 Discipline your children, and they will give you peace of mind and will make your heart glad.
So what does all this mean for YOU?
How can you use what you’ve heard today to help you find more joy in the relationships in your life?
If you’re a parent, disciplining your children, not only benefits them and you, it also goes a long way to improving the relational climate of those around you. No one wants to be around bratty kids. No one wants to be around parents who ignore or can’t handle their child’s misbehavior.
People probably won’t say so, but we’ll be thankful for you when your kids act up and you step in to take control of them. So be the kind of parent we can all be thankful for.
To see this in action, one really helpful thing you can do is watch episodes of the TV Show, Supernanny. You can see past episodes on YouTube. You’ll get a lot of good ideas to help you understand what may be causing you to be weak when it comes to child discipline, and how to get a lot better at it. I’ll have a link to it in the show notes.
Here’s the main takeaway I hope you remember from today’s episode
Be thankful for parents who discipline their children. Teaching children to obey teaches them they are not the center of the universe, a lesson one can never learn too early. It also makes them a lot easier to parent when they’re teenagers. It’s a great gift to society when parents discipline their children well.
Relationship question of the month.
This question I’m asking you is part of the Relationship Question of the month for November. Namely,
What is one relationship you are especially thankful for?
Just go to PodinBox.com/John and record your answer using your phone or computer. With your answer, please include your name and where you’re from. It’s that simple.
I’ll need your response by 5 pm Central time on November 16, 2022. Again, head over to PodinBox.com/John and leave a message for me.
I’ll pick several responses to air on our Thanksgiving episode. Who knows, it could be yours! And if so, it will look good on your resume.
In closing, I’d love to hear any thoughts you have about today’s episode. I hope your thinking was stimulated by today’s show, enough to put into practice what you’ve just heard about disciplining children
For when you do, it will help you experience the joy of relationships God desires for you. Because after all, You Were Made for This.
Well, that’s it for today. If there’s someone in your life you think might like to hear what you just heard, please forward this episode on to them. The link is JohnCertalic.com/184. Or scroll down to the bottom of the show notes for this episode and click on one of the options in the yellow “Share This” bar.
And don’t forget to spread a little relational sunshine around the people you meet this week. Spark some joy for them. And I’ll see you again next time. Goodbye for now.
Related resources to today's episode
139: Why Should I Listen to This Podcast?
021: The Most Important Relationship of All
The TV show, Supernanny
Last week’s episode
183: Thankful for People Who Inspire Us
The place to access all past and future episodes go to JohnCertalic.com
You Were Made for This is sponsored by Caring for Others, a missionary care ministry. The generosity of people like you supports our ministry. It enables us to continue this weekly podcast and other services we provide to missionaries around the world.
I think this is the best podcast I have ever heard. It was wise and helpful for your listeners.
I have been blessed with a husband who believed what the Bible had to say about parenting and discipline, and as a result we are now reaping the harvest of peace and joy with our children and their children. Thank you John for sharing your thoughts today.