Obedience is vital in our home because it builds three essential ingredients within a child. It builds trust, respect, and responsibility. Without these ingredients, your child will be a social cripple and will be handicapped for life.
Proverbs 13:24: “He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.”
Proverbs 19:18: “Discipline your son while there is hope, And do not desire his death.”
“Any time your children will not follow your teaching, you are in trouble and they are in worse trouble. Furthermore, until you get your children to mind you, neither independence, good habits, work, communication, no togetherness will work for you. Having an autocratic family will come to a dead standstill if you don’t have obedience.”
Proverbs 20:11: “It is by his deeds that a lad distinguishes himself If his conduct is pure and right.”
Proverbs 22:15: “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will remove it far from him.”
In previous posts, we were cautioned that training involves getting a child to follow your instructions…without begging, nagging, anger, and counting. We have now reached the point where you must learn how to accomplish getting this obedience. Are you a winner? Winners are parents who have reared or are rearing obedient children. Their children respect and honor them; they show it in their speech, manners, and actions.
I can remember a visit made a few years back that was important, and, after meeting and greeting the family, it was time for the adults to talk alone in the living room. At the time, two children were in the room watching television. The husband/father made a simple statement: “Boys, turn the TV off…we have to visit alone for a few minutes.” What did the boys do? Without hesitation (or begging or further explanation) they got up and obeyed their father. No talkback. No nasty attitude involved. What would you expect as parents? Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way in many homes because the children are treated differently on a daily basis and don’t know how to act when “company arrives.” True obedience in this regard is: (a) immediate; (b) unquestioning, and (c) to the letter — no substitutions, additions, or omissions.
Let’s discuss ten basic facts that contribute to getting obedience in our homes:
- To love and to discipline don’t conflict. The first fact you need to know before you can win the obedience race with your children is that to love is to discipline. “The greatest social disaster of this century is the belief that abundant love makes discipline unnecessary.” It is for the good of any child to have acceptable behavior and to be able to get along in the family, in the neighborhood, and at worship.
- Punishment isn’t always discipline, but inflicted discipline is always punishment. There is a difference between pure punishment and true discipline. Punishment is pain or discomfort inflicted upon one. Now if pain or discomfort is inflicted upon a child for his welfare and to make him a better and more acceptable person, it is discipline. But if pain is inflicted on a child out of spite, anger, hate, or when a parent is in a rage, it is pure punishment.
We must work diligently to make them follow our instructions with a calm and firm hand and a loving spirit. Given this way, it will be discipline for the child’s sake and not an outlet for our own frustrations.
- A child’s judgment takes years to develop. Children are children, and it takes months and years of living for their judgments to develop. One writer said: “On behalf of children everywhere, I beg of you, don’t terrify them with explanations. Just support them with facts. Don’t force a child to make decisions before he has the facts upon which to decide and the self-confidence to do so.” Two examples: a mother walks her preschooler to the closet and asks: “what do you want to wear today?” The child doesn’t know what they are going to do that day and has no concept of the outside weather. Mother is the one to make this decision. Example two: a couple takes their child to the church building for an event. It’s late and time to leave…the Dad turns to the child: “are you ready to go home?” They can’t tell time, don’t always understand they need to get to bed at a time appropriate for their age, etc. The Dad should make this decision, not the child. Parents who deal with their children in the ways given will usually have to contend with some terrible scenes. All of those incidents could have been avoided if the parents had furnished the child with facts. We spare our children unnecessary anxiety, tension, and anger by supporting them with facts until they are old enough to make sound judgments on their own.
- Your child needs to learn respect for authority. This is a major lesson that simply must be taught: respect for authority. No matter what else they learn, they must learn this because all the others work from this foundation. I know of a situation recently at the church building where an adult kindly told some elementary-age children to quit standing on the tables in the fellowship hall. The response by one of the boys? “You’re not my boss.” While it’s clear that strangers are not the boss, it’s also clear that in such an environment, that youngster should have responded differently.
5. You are your child’s first authority. The basic purpose in God’s using parents to be the child’s first authority is not to give the parents an avenue for boosting their ego and exercising their power, but to build a basis for the child’s attitude toward other people. There are key steps in being an authority. An authority: (a) knows the subject better than the person being addressed; (b) verbally gives the facts (one time…never more than twice, unless asked); and he then follows his facts with proof. Example: It’s time to put the three-year old down for a nap. Step 1: You know the subject better than the child (it’s 1:00 and youngsters need extra rest); Step 2: you verbally give the fact once; Step 3: you follow your fact with proof (take the child and tuck him in bed). Look what your child has learned: their mother spoke and they didn’t have to wonder whether or not she knew her subject. She knew what she was talking about, because she furnished immediate proof. The child will trust her next time and will show her respect by following her spoken word. In time, they will learn responsibility because they were taught to yield consistent obedience to a trusted parent. The key ingredient? Consistency! Too often parents use ‘noise’ to get action, when they should use ‘action’ to get action. No ‘authority” (parents) would allow misbehavior on Monday (when Mom is happy) and then allow it on Tuesday (when Mom might be tired). Moods, good days, bad weather, sickness, etc., should not change the facts. An authority, therefore, will teach consistent facts Sunday through Saturday. And remember, Dad and Mom are working together, agreeing on what these facts are and in their willingness to back them with proof. What do you do when these steps have been followed and they don’t obey…that’s next month!
- To discipline you need a rod. If our children won’t stay in bed when they are told, or refuse to leave the chair alone, you will have to reinforce that your facts are true by furnishing further proof. Often, in order to make a child obey your spoken word, you will need action, and that sometimes means a ‘rod.’ Why is that so? Because God said so! Listen to His words and forget the words of psychologists who often are not guided by Godly principles.
Another principle that some also ignore: the rod is the first response, not the last resort. There should be no “waiting till Daddy comes home.” If your child is not minding your spoken words, then you are the one to respond with the proper correction. If we learn one thing, learn this: if your child is rebellious, it is no small thing…and he needs to know that you will win the rebellion skirmishes!
Sometimes when you give your child a fact, he will not obey
immediately and will continue to procrastinate. When he/she sees you coming with the ‘rod’ in your hand, however, he will hasten to do what you told him to do. What is a parent to do when this happens? If you go to the trouble to get a rod, you must go ahead and use it…if you don’t, your child will develop this little ‘daring’ act into a game of tag every time you tell him to do something, and you will be the one who is always “it.”
Two important things should be understood at this point: (a) the spanking should have some ‘sting’ in order to get its point across, but pain is not the goal. The goal is to get their attention and know you are serious! (b) a belt or a ping pong paddle on the fatty part of the seat will accomplish this without causing welts or bruises…it has always been recommended to me that you not use the hand, since it is attached to a “loving mom or dad” while the paddle, belt, or switch can become the enemy instead of the person using it.
And don’t underestimate a good swat on the seat or fatty portion of the leg to also get their attention when smaller things occur.
One more thing: parents who spend a lot of time “yelling and nagging” a child into obedience is simply being used by the child…children who have been scolded and nagged for weeks and months acquire the habit of deafness and rarely are moved to action until they see something more substantial.