30 Jan 2014
Yesterday while walking through the grocery store parking lot I heard a father yelling at his son to come over to the car. I mean he was yelling. The son looked to be about four maybe five, too young to not have had a parent holding his little hand in the first place in a busy parking lot like that. After some yelling, the counting started. You know “if you are not over in by the time I count to three you’re going to get it, oonneee, ttwwooo, I mean it, get over here, ttwwoo in a half”.
By the count of two-in-a-half, I was at my car and on my way, but it got me to thinking, this child has not been taught to obey what his parents say at all. Sadly I think this is becoming more and more common, parents seem to either want to be friends to their kids rather than a parent or, they are afraid to discipline a child out of fear of child protective services being called.
Now before anyone gets all worked up, no child should be abused, never ever. However, discipline and a, as my mom called it, tap on the leg, is sometimes required. All children want to know what their boundaries are, and if you as a parent don’t set strict clear boundaries, you child will continue to push you and eventually control you. Not only that, there may come a time when you need to tell your child to move as a matter of yours and their own safety, if they are not trained to do what you say, when you say it, it could put them and you in harm’s way.
When I was around 11 years old, we were traveling through Pennsylvania. My Dad was in one car and my Mom and I were following him in another car. The roads were icy, and there was a mist in the air. This was long before the day of cell phones so our form of communication was walkie-talkie radios. Well as we traveled on, we were rounding a pretty good curve in the road that had a mountain of rock on one side and a large down grade on the other side. Somehow my Mom got into a slide, hit the guard rail and the car spun around stopping so it was right across both lanes. She immediately said “get out of the car go to the side of the road” I moved! I didn’t hesitate, I didn’t ask why, she said move and I did. As I exited the car I grabbed the walkie-talkie and started calling my dad. He knew something was wrong and got to the shoulder of the road and started backing up to get back up to us.
In the meantime, my mom said, “I’ve got to get that car out of the road”. You see, she instructed me to get out of the car because she was afraid someone would round that curve and slam right into our car which was across the road, if that happened it would of caused us and them serious injury. Thank goodness and in God’s providence, the road wasn’t busy, my Mom had enough time to get back in the car and get it moved to the shoulder. The only damage was a scrap down the side, it was in perfect running order and we went on our way with no further instances.
The reason I shared that story is because right from a very young age I was taught to do what my parents said and move when they said. While very young, even before I really remember, if I didn’t respond to my parent’s instruction, my mother gave me “a tap on the leg”. I wasn’t a beating, a bruise was never left, but there was a consequence to not obeying my Mom or Dads instruction and it didn’t include a three count or timeout threat. As a side note, my Dad never laid a hand on me, Mom was the disciplinarian, I don’t think any father should strike their daughter, sets a bad precedence that it is okay for a man to hit a woman and that is never right, but I digress.
By the time I was three or four I can remember that I very seldom got a tap on the leg, I would however get a look and was asked in a stern tone “do you want a tap on the leg?” to which I immediately realized I should move as she instructed, you see, I knew the tap on the leg stung a little, I had been taught that when she said I would get a tap, I would get a tap…it wasn’t an idol threat, there was always consistent following through so by the time I got old enough I was already properly trained to do what my parents said without really getting further discipline. I respected my parents, wanted to please them and obey them.
What is my point? My point is, if there is a time of trouble, be it bad weather, a car wreck or some other type of dangerous situation you must know beyond a shadow of a doubt that when you tell your kids to move or get home now, or other type instruction, that they will obey, because they know and trust your instruction as their parent. You must teach them this right from a very young age or start teaching this now. Kids must know that you have their best interest in mind, you are in charge, and you are there to protect them. They must know that if they do not obey you there will be a consequence. The consequence must fit their age, must be dealt when the disobedience occurs and needs to be fair to the level of disobedience. Your children yearn for this from you; it will also help them become good citizens and workers in the long run. They will properly respect authority.
It is part of being a good and responsible parent to “train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 ESV. Just as they should be taught to follow Gods law, they must also follow Mom & Dads law. In addition to discipline there should also be much love given as well, they both go hand in hand. You can’t just dish out discipline or just dish out love, there has to be a balance and your child will give you back, love, respect and loyalty. They will follow your instruction in good times and bad for their safety and enjoyment. In the long run they will grow, and as time passes, they will hopefully in turn take care of you in your old age and when they do, you will be able to trust in them that they too will take care of you in a time of trouble.