Central Baptist Church of Southington Connecticut

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Do You Really Love Your Child?

  • Jim Townsley
  • Mar 18, 2008
  • Series: A Heart for the Home

Excerpts from Pastor Townsley's book A Heart for the Home

Chapter Eleven — Do You Really Love Your Child?

"He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes" (Proverbs 13:24).

It is difficult for some people to see a relationship between the words love and discipline. However, the two words (and concepts) are inseparable in child rearing. Parents can and must discipline their children in love. The Bible explicitly states that parents who withhold correction from their children do not love them. The word translated hate literally means "to be an enemy." Failure to correct a child identifies a parent as unloving. It is important to understand the difference between beating a child and employing loving discipline. Chastening a child is proof of love, while refraining from discipline illustrates a lack of love. I have met my share of rebels and many times watched them destroy their lives. Rebellion has led fine, innocent young people on a downward path to drugs, drunkenness, promiscuity, disease, incarceration, and even premature death. I have performed the funerals services of rebellious teens, and in every case I know their deaths were avoidable through proper discipline. One young man at one time felt called to preach the gospel until his rebellion derailed his plans. I will never forget going to the scene of his motorcycle accident and mourning over his lifeless body. It was difficult to go to his home and explain to his mother that he was dead. Unfortunately, his sad story is not uncommon.

Small children need parents to protect them from dangers without, as well within. Left to themselves small children can succumb to dangerous situations. Our granddaughter was born with a life-threatening stomach problem, yet she is constantly putting things in her mouth that don't belong there. When we see her chewing, we must force open her mouth and find out what she is eating. Little boys don't realize that knives cut and fire burns, often they must find out the hard way. After experiencing the pain of fire and the pain of an incision they begin to learn to become more responsible, but parents must realize their duty to constantly watch their children to protect them from danger. Failure to protect a child from physical harm could brand a parent as negligent, but if a parent fails to protect a child from social, emotional, and spiritual ills, he is especially negligent of his child. Heartache and tragedy can be turned into a blessing, as illustrated by Glen Cunningham. Glen was seriously burned and crippled while trying to light the old-fashioned school stove. As a result, Glen was told he would never walk. Not only did he walk, but he won an Olympic gold medal for the mile. Glen's inspirational story is one of courage and triumph, but I have observed many other young people who never recuperated from their mistakes.

Teach your children to respond to you. The first matter of discipline for children should be teaching them to come to you. I have observed parents chase their child, while the child knows he is disobeying their commands. Disobedience is not a laughing matter, and it is never cute. A disobedient child could run into traffic and be killed simply because no one taught her to respond to authority. Every child must learn the meaning of NO. Children should learn respect, good manners, and consideration for others. All children will experience sibling rivalry and these opportunities can be utilized to teach character. I remember on one such occasion my children were arguing over something, at times they enjoyed needling one another. I finally decided they would stand together, facing each other and not move until they resolved their conflict. I didn't know who started the argument or who was at fault, but I explained they must resolve the issue before they could move. To this day I don't know what they did, but after only a few minutes they did resolve the problem. The point is that our goal should be to help our children correct their behavior and make right decisions on their own, realizing we will not be with them forever.

While my youngest daughter and I were visiting a missionary in Japan we all decided to do some shopping at a local mall. I remember a child screaming and throwing a temper tantrum, which could be heard throughout the entire mall. The missionary explained to me that very few members of this culture spank their children and further explained that the child's parents would try to reason with him. Eventually we came upon the family, observing the child lying on the floor, attended by the parents stooping over him, and trying to reason with him. The screaming persisted the entire time we shopped. I felt like offering my services to fix this problem, but of course it was not my place to do so. Unfortunately, this family knew nothing of biblical discipline.

"And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up" (Deuteronomy 6:7). We must constantly monitor and guard our children's behavior. Appropriate discipline requires consistency, persistence, and self-control. Rearing children is a tough business and not for the faint of heart. If you think your children will rear themselves you are mistaken. The responsibilities of parenting require diligence twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The rod teaches children to honor parents, while the parents provide children with clear limits to safeguard their well-being. Spanking demonstrates love and yields peace and good fruit. A child will be blessed who has been raised under proper discipline. Discipline will create security, respect, and a close bond between a child and his parents. Though chastening is not a pleasant experience, it must be done with the future in view. There will be wonderful results that one day will bring gratification, knowing you followed the exhortation of God's Word: "Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby" (Hebrews 12:11).