There are two types of discipline and we want to be faithful to do both with our children. So many parents wait to correct and train their children until there is an urgent conflict. They hastily punish out of annoyance or anger and then wonder why their children are unruly. I am not saying we will raise perfect children perfectly. I do believe that with the guidance of the Holy Spirit we can raise children with discipline that honors Him.
dis·ci·pline–noun1. training to act in accordance with rules; drill: military discipline.2. activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training.3. punishment inflicted by way of correction and training.raining
The first two definitions for discipline are alike in the sense that it involves a proactive training to develop discipline. The only way to learn to do something well is by practicing, we all know that, and the same is true with teaching a child to obey.
The third definition for discipline is a result of direct disobedience. It means that there is a consequence for not following the expectations of the required discipline mentioned in the first two definitions.
Discipline of the first category begins, whether you realize it, in the womb as the baby begins to understand the characteristics of the mother. The growing baby is not oblivious to patterns, which is especially true once they can begin to hear what is happening in the outside world. What are those sounds? Voices? Are they arguing? Are they kind? Is she singing? The baby can begin to experience the routine of your day- a hot shower, the hair dryer, the TV, music, etc. The most basic, yet foundational, type of discipline has begun even before you hold your baby in your arms!
I could go on and on about this because I loved being pregnant and finding ways to begin building this new relationship with my baby. Looking back I wish I had done a lot more, but I am happy for what I did do all the same. I am not a talker, but I tried to do even more talking to the baby while at the same time touching my belly to somehow communicate that I was talking to them. We sang aloud more than normal. Jeremiah would become extremely active when he heard Joel singing- it was amazing! We also read the Bible aloud and Joel would pray near my growing midsection for baby to hear.
The greatest discipline we could EVER ingrain in our children is a love for God, His Word and a love for daily communing with Him. This discipline must first be in my life, though, if I am ever going to influence my children to do the same. I am not a fan of telling my child to "do what I say and not what I do." First, it is not Biblical. Second, would you want to listen to a fat and lazy Drill Sargent tell you to run 5 miles? Me either.
We were able to watch a few seasons of the Duggars on Netflix and we respect their parenting for so many reasons. The Duggars, while the older children were practicing their musical instruments, would sit the 2-3 year old in a chair to listen. The child was supposed to sit there without talking, wiggling or getting down. Mrs. Duggar explained that they want to train their children to do things like sitting through a performance, church service, waiting at a doctor's office, etc., before they were actually put in those situations. Instead of dragging a screaming child out of church they are hoping to build discipline, as well as obedience, into the child before a crisis breaks out. If the child started crying or got down they were able to correct and instruct in an environment that allowed focused training.
We know this is true in other areas of life, so why do we not apply this to parenting? No soldier is taught to handle an AK47 during the middle of active combat. There is no word to describe how foolish that would be. Why do we do this to our poor children? We get angry with them, grab their arms and jerk them out of the room when some extra time and care to training at home (or in other less urgent situations) would probably solve 95% of the problem.
The second part of discipline, where punishment and consequences for disobedient behavior must be enforced, is much easier to confront when the first type of discipline has been instituted. The child clearly knows what a healthy and obedient life looks like. They already know the boundaries and the consequences for crossing them have been lovingly established. They know basic things like touching the hot stove will cause pain to in-depth realities that yelling at mommy means a spanking.
We have tried hard to begin the first type of discipline with Jeremiah already. Since he was born we talk with him constantly about what we are doing and why. He may not have understood it at 2 weeks old, but the consistent reminders of what is going on has been good training, I believe, for both us and him. It has put me in the habit of explaining things to him and now, at 8 months old, I can see the fruit of that simple discipline. He knows the word "wait." He knows that I will pick him up- after I am done brushing my teeth. He knows we sing and play in the morning.
As good as he is, though, I am beginning to realize that this will take a lot of work. It will not be easy at all. He is starting to push boundaries. I must be disciplined with both types by my Heavenly Father so that I can be a faithful parent. I cannot be lazy if I expect my child to work. I cannot get frustrated for grumpy attitudes when I waver in the same way. I must be as patient with our children as God is with me.
Coming Soon: Raising Jeremiah: When to Say No!