My how the world has changed. I feel like I have to go underground to even approach this topic.
Tedd Tripp, in Chapter 4 of Shepherding A Child’s Heart, looks at discipline. Now Ted doesn’t go right into spanking, but he’s letting parents know right off the rip that you, are in charge. That alone is enough to make some folks get a little scared.
From a biblical standpoint, you need to understand that your child is a little sinner. A cute one, but still a sinner in need of a savior. Our job as a parent is to use our God-given authority to direct them towards the cross. Now even if you are not a Christian, you need to be the authority figure in your child’s life and yes, as the one who “created” them, you are responsible for their upbringing and making sure they understand and respect your authority. If you choose to not exercise this responsibility, they will respect someone’s authority either willfully or by force.
As I tell my children often, if you do not control yourself, someone else will control you.
We should not be afraid, especially as men, to be in charge of our families and to call them to obedience. Be confident and in control. But the control I’m speaking of is over yourself! Control your emotions, be patient and again, look into the heart of why they may be disobeying.
In the 21st century, we have given up our authority to the school, the police, to the church, then turn around and complain when these agencies abuse their authority and lose control, or come up with the most efficient and profitable solution to “the problem” (e.g. school-to-prison pipeline).
Therefore, we need clear objectives as a parent, just as that 9-5 has clear objectives for you whether you like them or agree or not. But we also need to be humble, not afraid to admit when we’ve blown it (I’ve gone back and apologized to my kids many times) and again, control our tongues!
Since going through this lesson, I can say that I’ve become much better in using my parental authority with my children. While often uncomfortable, I feel much more firm in my decisions as I guide their hearts with humility, not as a prison guard, with love, and not with hateful emotion.
I don’t always get it right, but I’m always trying and I hope that is teaching them a lesson as well.
If you are a single dad, you have to be even more resolute. The temptation will be to abdicate your responsibility to be “the good parent”, not end the visit on bad terms, etc.. I understand, I’ve been there. Just know that you ARE “the good parent” if you raise your child to respect authority and discipline. But like many other areas of life, the fruits of your labor may be slow to bear fruit, and the planting process may be quite painful for you as well!