As a professional animal trainer, Lori Andersen was disturbed when her own dog developed a bad habit. Every time she hung her wash out on the clothesline, her dog would yank it down. Drastic action was called for. She put a white kitchen towel on the line and waited. Each time the dog pulled it off, Lori scolded her. After two weeks the towel was finally left untouched. Confident she had corrected the problem, Lori hung out a large load of laundry and left to run some errands. When she came home, she found her clean clothes scattered all over the yard. On the line, however, was the white kitchen towel (Lori Andersen, Reader’s Digest).
Correcting bad behavior is not for the faint of heart. While this is true of animals, perhaps this applies even more so with children. Kids take “home decoration” into their own hands when they find markers, crayons, and paint. They are their own hair stylists when they find scissors. Children throw fits for the smallest and silliest of reasons. They can and will destroy, well, just about everything. Good parenting is tough work. Just when we think we have it figured out, the child finds a new loophole or creative way to break the rules without really “breaking the rules.” Sometimes it may be innocent and funny, other times it can test the limits of a parent’s self control.
As all of us with children know, parenting is a constant process of adapting, adjusting, correcting, and figuring out what is best. It is mindboggling how many different parenting theories and methods there are out there. However, without a doubt, the best parenting method is God’s method. Consider how God calls on us to parent our children:
- Train Up in the Lord. Beyond a doubt, the most crucial responsibility for a parent is to raise the child up according to God’s standards (Proverbs 22:6). The way we train up our children will influence how loving, caring, generous, kind, etc. they will be. The way we raise our children will directly impact their eternal future. For this reason, it is vital to teach our children about God and His commands (Deuteronomy 6:6-9). Certainly there is no greater victory for a parent than to see their children commit their lives to Christ (Acts 2:38), and then live faithfully according to God’s laws.
- Correction and Discipline. Over and over again Scripture calls on parents to discipline their children (Proverbs 13:24; 19:18; 22:15; 29:15, 17). Seeing as how the writer of these words was the wisest man to ever grace our planet (Solomon), and the fact that he wrote by inspiration of God all suggests that it is vital to correct and discipline our children. It takes real parents with some serious fortitude to punish their children. Hebrews 12:5-11 is an extremely enlightening section about disciplining children, but verse 11 reveals the good it can bring: “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” Correction is never fun, but it’s necessary.
One day, parents will have to stand before the Lord and answer if we have brought up our children in the “discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). The goal is to be able to answer, “Yes!” It won’t be easy to raise our children right, but it will be worth it in the end. Therefore, let’s train our children according to the best parenting method in the history of mankind: God’s method!