“Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction will drive it far from him.” (Proverbs 22:15).
As the Princess transits from an inquisitive toddler to a self-assertive preschooler, I find myself lamenting in exasperation to the hubs that I am clueless how a child can be so willful and disobedient. The hubs’ cool reply made me ponder. His reply? ‘Why are you surprised? Didn’t the bible state that foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child?’
The hubs would go on to comment in jest that my view of the world is naive and idealistic for I believe that all humans are born good. Hence I am inevitably setting myself up to be disappointed when they behaved otherwise. After I became a Mom, I am increasingly convinced that selfishness, lying, stealing, defiance and other unacceptable behaviours are the child’s manifestation of the foolishness stored in her heart.
Because foolishness is bound up in the child’s heart, if it is not driven out, the child grows up to be a big fool. Foolishness in a child is often seen as cute and funny but if it continues into adulthood, it is no longer cute, but bears negative, often dire consequences. For a parent to allow that to happen to their child is, as the Bible tells us, to hate our own children (“He who spares his rod hates his son” – Proverbs 13:24). When and how do we use “the rod of correction” in today’s modern context? Note that it is called a ‘rod of correction’, not punishment. The objective is to ‘correct’ our children and lead them back to the paths of righteousness but not to punish or humiliate them for their misbehaviour.
Herein lies my dilemma…How do I effectively mete out the discipline towards the daughter who is God’s greatest gift to me? How do I balance the correction so that I do not crush her spontaneous, carefree spirit? After many restless nights, I have drawn up 3 simple principles to guide me on in my motherhood journey in 2013:
1) Motive: Do it out of love, for the child’s best good. It is important to end the session with reconciliation. We would explain to Dana why we had to do what we did; that we accept her apologies, we forgive her but we do not condone her sin. We would always direct her to say sorry to God for her disobedience which displeases Him and we would pray a prayer of reconciliation with her together. Recently, I discovered Daddy has been reiterating this rule to the Princess, that ‘If you obey, you get blessings. If you disobey, you get pain and suffering…’. I thought he summed up the fact that every action reaps a consequence for a 5 year old neatly.
2) Moment: Do it in private, after your anger has simmered off but do it while the deed is still fresh in her mind. We would walk Dana through the wrongful deed so that she knows where she has disobeyed/disappointed us or caused danger to herself and others.
3) Method: This is controversial as there are parents who object to any form of spanking but in our home, we do spank with a
rod cane. Child psychologists advised against using the hand as our hands should be used to minister love and provision, but a separate instrument (the very sight of which can remind children that there is a law in place) can be used to administer the spank. Daddy gives one spank across the Dana’s palm per offence. It stings, but only for a few seconds. Rest assured that we will never abuse our daughter by caning her excessively. We combine it with other methods of correction such as: withdrawal of benefits/privileges, time out and stern warnings (or evil stare from Mommy).
It is never a pleasant act to discipline and correct our children but if we don’t, who will? May God give us the courage and wisdom required to discharge our duty as parents as we raise them to be wise, happy and obedient kids.