by Neil Anderson
Discipline your son while there is hope
An average child begins to struggle with his identity and seek his independence as he approaches the age of 12. The permissive parent starts to panic when the child assumes his own identity and starts pulling away. Fearing the worst, the parent becomes authoritarian by tightening the screws of discipline and restricting the child’s activities. A power struggle ensues with predictable results. The child bolts and the parent calls for advice.
The problem of the rebellious, stubborn, disobedient child was easily resolved in the Old Testament: The child was stoned by the men of the city (Deuteronomy 21:18-21). Sometimes we wish discipline were that simple! Yet this passage helps us understand that even decent parents who try to be good disciplinarians sometimes have stubborn and rebellious children. Why? Because you aren’t the only influence in your child’s life. And by the time he enters school you may no longer even be the predominant influence. During the formative years from birth to five, you have your greatest influence. Your most important task during that period (especially around ages two and three) is to break the child’s will without breaking his spirit. It is then that you must establish boundaries of behavior that are progressively expanded until the child is on his own.
As parents, we must help our children establish their relationship with God so they know what it means to be a child of God. Once they go off to school, you can’t go with them, but God can and does. If we don’t help them establish their identity in Christ, they will establish their identity in the world. If we don’t give them an eternal purpose and meaning in life, they will establish a temporal purpose and meaning.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, guard my children from the conflicting messages and compromising values being thrown at them in the world today.