Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline [correction administered with godly wisdom and lovingkindness] will remove it far from him.
Proverbs 22:15 AMP
I love Proverbs 22:15 and the words highlighted by the amplified version for clarification help to give additional guidance. First, I will like to clarify that when the Bible admonishes us to chastise, it is supposed to be an act of love, not aggression or abuse. I have often wondered how many children have been lost because we are too obsessed with being cool parents and ‘spare the rod’. I have heard all the arguments for and against, but it seems to me that these days, everyone is too afraid of the potential for abuse that we now watch children wallow in foolishness even openly and expect that by some twist of fate they will self-correct. In my little existence, I have come to realise that everything happens when someone does something deliberately. Children cannot be left to self-correct. I am a firm believer that responsible parents, not the government need to step up and do the right thing that ‘Love’ will do.
So let me step back to explain my understanding of the rod of correction or discipline (ROC). It represents your child’s language of correction. Every child is different and responds to correction differently. While growing up, my parents spanked me not with the intention to hurt but to register in my memory that if you don’t want to feel that way then behave properly. Guess what, I quickly outgrew the pain, for some reason, my hands developed resistance or maybe I trained my brain to norm the pain. As I grew older, ‘The talk’ became my language of correction, it works on my inside and I could literally hear my parents’ voice linger for longer than I wanted it to.
Correction in love will not kill a child. Looking back at all my childish foolishness, I am grateful that someone somewhere was bold enough to spank me when they had to, courageous enough to give the talk when that was needed and not too tired to act because in reality looking away is the easier path to parenting.
So here are a few tips on correction:
- Spanking when required has its place but should not be abused or used to cover up for bad parenting
- No single mode of correction works all the time, every child has a unique language and as they grow older, it may evolve as mine did
- For correction to happen, it has to be done in the right place, through the right mode and at the right time
- Correction is not a one-time event, it is continuous, deliberate and targeted at producing a better behaved and well-rounded child
- As parents, we should examine our parenting style regularly, observe how other parents interact with their children and pick the good, admit when we have made a mistake and be open to learning from it
- I acknowledge that some people may find this statement challenging, but I have learned that apologizing to my children when I am in the wrong is an excellent example to them. It demonstrates that when I make a mistake, I am humble enough to take responsibility for it. Remember when it comes to parenting, ‘more is caught than taught’; so let your teaching align with your living
On a final note, we are called to parent out of love, not fear or obligation. Parenting is not a chore, it is an act of love. Love is patient, kind and reliable – love never fails. It is our prayer that we will love our children enough not to fail in our responsibilities towards them.
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