A young friend posted pictures of the young ones of her family. I had to compliment and compliment and compliment again (I think that comes from some poem?). As I looked and commented, a fact came to mind that I decided to share. I spoke of how delightful each of these three children, five and under are, how attractive, and how not only were the parents teaching them, but also that the children were teaching the parents. To be sure the recipient didn’t think it was a mistake on my part, I repeated by stating, “Yes, I said they are teaching you. You thought it was the other way around, didn’t you?” Let’s see how I meant that.
A scripture that I have grown to appreciate so much is Hebrews 12:11 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)
"We don’t enjoy discipline when we get it. It is painful. But later, after we have learned our lesson from it, we will enjoy the peace that comes from doing what is right."
As parents we discipline our children for some infringement, and then almost before we turn around, guess what? Oh, you know, don’t you? Tell me, did you pray for patience? No? Well, neither do I recommend that you do so, unless you feel up to facing a whole lot stronger temptation than most humans seem to, because for sure you will have opportunity to gain patience whether or not you request it. Just look back over your shoulder at the earlier mentioned little incident . . .uh-h-h…no, make that two incidents, with the third in the making as we speak. Did we mention parents thought they were the ones doing the teaching (and they are) but every single time, they, too, are being taught.
Okay, so here is the perfect scenario: mom/dad, patience is required to handle each little persistent person. (Do you wonder how God may be looking at you, His child, while He is helping you work on your patience through this time?) Yes, please remember this is an individual with individual needs. If this is your first child, you have not yet had the same opportunity to have learned that quite as well as once you have had a second or a third “family unit”! A friend of ours once told a class in which my husband and I were members, that had he and his wife had only the first two children, he could have written a book on “How Easy It Is To Raise Children”, but then they added Child Three and Child Four! Was he saying families should have no more than two children? Was he saying only two children guarantee an easy task in raising them? Unh-unh, definitely no! Look around and see: I can immediately think of one in quite recent years, highly-publicized, single child jailed male who should be incarcerated for the murder of four people and may eventually be. One child, or several, is no guarantee in the ease of child-rearing. There are families in whom the older ones tend to help nurture the younger with much of what they have learned from listening to and/or observing their parents. There are children in those families who often love being cared for by the older ones in such ways and there are others who rebel against being told how to live and what to do by their siblings. No guarantees!
You’re likely thinking (and rightly so), “Yes, but not every child ends up like that incarcerated one!” So when and where does the difference enter? “He’s just little. He doesn’t understand.”) Really? (Remember, making excuses is how Eve and Adam started out!) Okay, make eye contact with a new, and I seriously mean, a new infant. Do you see how studiously he/she is intent on watching you for moments before looking away? During those few moments, stick out the tip of your tongue a noticeable, distance, pull it back in, then repeat, all the while maintaining eye contact. Can you guess what’s going to happen to this one who is “just little” and “doesn’t understand”? I’ve tried it and the infant mimics my actions! Done enough times, I’d think it to become an expected “game”. Since I learned about such, I’ve not had an infant in my care long enough to try it repeatedly; however, I have observed infants with parents who persistently talk, coo, giggle, and smile repetitively at their babies, who have babies who just as persistently talk, coo, giggle, and smile repetitively right back, sometimes even introducing the “conversations! “Too little”? “Too young”? I don’t think so! What a pleasant life-start to interaction between parents and little ones that eventually becomes a natural expectation of communication times of learning about one another.
So, the conclusion of the whole matter is this: while mom and dad have started out with pleasant lessons of communication, a time is coming when both parent and child must face growing beyond the bonds of infancy to lessons of discipline. As earlier stated, parents are also learning the same lessons in discipline as they are teaching, but having started with pleasant communication, they readied themselves and their child. They took particular time with their child and now, setting time aside is again necessary. Is it pleasant? Hebrews says, not while it’s being taught. Having been on both ends, I’m going to say it’s not pleasant to have to be either the teacher or the recipient! However, the end result yields what? Hebrews says, ”Peace comes from doing what is right.” What does “right” involve? God has set up a pattern: I Corinthians 11:3 But I want you to understand this: The head of every man is Christ. And the head of a woman is the man. And the head of Christ is God.” (Another lesson, if you want more than the simple truth of that statement.) Again, in a family circumstance, does peace come only to those who have been disciplined? Move ahead ten years from three children five and under, to three children fifteen and under. Have you observed teens in real life, read, or heard stories about them - really great youth, and troubled, too? Which grouping do you see as more truly happy? Children who have been taught, not only discipline, but also self-discipline (aka: a form of love of self) or children who have never been taught anything about care/concern for self or others?
Discipline is a gift we have been given towards learning obedience, but not simply for peace in our day-to-day living, although it is certainly a great side effect! Ultimately, discipline is a training ground for obedience to God, both for ourselves, and thereafter, for our children. How can we teach them if we ourselves have not learned discipline? We can keep learning, practicing daily the lessons we have learned that we teach by living, and striving daily to be more like Jesus. With Jesus, it didn’t just happen because He lived on earth as the Son of God. Hebrews 5:8 (ERV) tells us, “Jesus was the Son of God, but he still suffered, and through his sufferings he learned to obey whatever God says.” Should we not, through pleasure and/or pain, in the teaching and the learning, “Go, and do likewise”?
© M Sue
With an extra special 'THANK YOU!" to Rebekah and Andrew Blakeman & Family for sharing this photo (by Rebekah) of their beautiful children that was on the FaceBook post where the idea for this article originated.