Q. My kids are driving me crazy. They are a law unto themselves and don’t listen to me. They’re growing up rotten. What can I do?
A. Parents Contribute to Children’s DelinquencyI have visited many homes where a tragic scenario played out again and again. Mom, or sometimes Dad, says to Junior, ‘It’s time to go to bed,’ or whatever. Junior ignores his mother and continues to watch TV.
After a few moments she says, ‘Junior, I told you to go and get ready for bed.’ He replies, ‘Awe, I don’t want to.’
Mom lets that go by, but a few moments later, now getting angry, she raises her voice, ‘I TOLD you to get ready for bed!’ Junior replies, ‘But Mom, I want to watch my programme.’
Tolerating his counter briefly, Mom announces, ‘This is the LAST time I am going to tell you; GO and get READY for bed!’ Junior, now exasperated, shouts back, ‘I TOLD you, I DON’T want to!’
Finally Mom shouts, ‘I’m WARNING you, MARCH RIGHT NOW, or I’m going to BEAT you!’
Variations of that scene play out by the thousand every single day in South Africa. The real culprit is not Junior; He knows from considerable experience that Mom can be ignored. Mom is too lazy to get up and deal with the situation. In fact, she is contributing to Junior’s delinquency – her words have become meaningless; they have no follow through. They reward rebellion and naughtiness.
‘If I insisted,’ she might say, or gave him the hiding promised, I’d have a pitched battle on my hands.’ But that applies only in the short term. Sooner rather than later Junior must learn the value of her words, and adjust accordingly. If you promise a hiding, give it when your requirements are not met. Get on with the battle and win the war while it can still be won – lest the day dawns when you win neither the battle nor the war! Speak once, speak twice – and then make your words count.
God’s Word is ever valid. Modern psychology avoids essential confrontation and discipline – for your ‘good’ and the child’s ruin. Train up a child – Prov 22:6 – that’s your responsibility! Don’t shirk it. If necessary, ‘beat him – he shall not die. Thou shalt … deliver his soul from hell. … Withhold not correction from the child.’ Prov 23:13-14.
Last thought; your child is not your possession, but God’s. He or she is given to you to parent on God’s behalf. You ought to do the best job you can – for Him and your child. Failing to discipline him suggests you care for your sensitivities more than for his good.