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Pointers along the way #437

Christian parenting under siege
- Jacob Ninan

When a baby is born, he has a great potential for development. This is why, unlike in the case of animals, he needs parental care for many years for leading him in the right direction. It is surely the responsibility of the parents to train him up in the right ways, instead of just giving him the best food, clothes, education and toys they can afford, as many are doing (Pr.22:6). Though all children are born with a rudimentary sense of right and wrong from their conscience, they all have been born with a tendency towards sin (Ps.51:5). For example, they start fighting and telling lies without anyone teaching them, and the first time they tell a lie you can see guilt on their face because they realise they have done wrong.

The spirit of the world has opposed both these truths. Humanistic psychology teaches that people are born 'good' and it is their circumstances that make some of them bad. This has affected many people's thinking, and they assume that the best way of parenting is to leave children alone without interference so that the little ones can develop their own unique personalities. 'Positive' psychology tells us to avoid 'No'. The results are plain to see in the form of spoilt kids. God warns us in the Bible, "The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother" (Pr.29:15). Proverbs 22:15 says, "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of discipline will remove it far from him." Children don't know what is good for them, because they don't have experience, and parents are to pass on the benefit of their knowledge and experience to them while they still have the children with them.

Perhaps the parents themselves have learnt about God the hard way, having wandered deeply into a life of sin and finding salvation just in time before being swept away to destruction. Do they now leave the children to find their way themselves? The worldly wise man will tell the parents it is wrong to impose their own personal opinions on the children without giving them a chance to choose for themselves. But if we have found that certain ways lead to sure destruction don't we have the responsibility to tell the children strongly to avoid those paths? And if we have discovered the right path should we keep quiet about it hoping that somehow the children would also find it?

'Discipline' becomes abuse only when it becomes excessive, disproportionate to the situation, and carried out in anger looking out for the convenience of the parents rather than children. If it is done in love (with a history of love on which to build on), with the good of the child in view, in measured ways with good self-control, along with teaching about why it is necessary, it will do much good for the children. The world cries 'Abuse' at discipline, but we don't need to be scared. "Do not hold back discipline from the child, although you strike him with the rod, he will not die" (Pr.23:13).


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