June 8, 2005
Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him. -- Psalm 22:15
In life’s training camps for children, or the home, we owe the child love. But the second principle in raising children is to give them limits. Read this carefully—love precedes limits. Some parents set the limits and don’t express the love. And the limits without love exasperate the child and can produce rebellion. Make sure you major on the majors and not on the minors in the university of life.
Some children are constantly hassled by the stuff that doesn’t matter. I heard of one young man who said, “You know, in my family I grew my hair long. The only time my dad talked to me was to criticize me about my hair. If it wasn’t for my long hair, we wouldn’t have had anything to talk about.”
Many children live like that. They live facing flack daily from their parents over the small stuff—a messy room, how long their hair is, or what their clothes look like. I know all of these things may be important to you as a parent, but it is more important to major on the internal character of your child and not on their externals. Don’t be constantly fault-finding and nagging about the little things that can just discourage your child.
If you don’t know what to teach your child, read your Bible. Find your wisdom there. In the verse above, we are taught how to "raise up" a child according to his or her habits, interests, and degrees of physical and mental development. If you want to know how to set the proper limits for your children, study them. Every child is different and you must know him or her well enough to respond, correct, or chastise if necessary.
Finally, you should discipline at whatever age when your child willfully disobeys. In my home, our first and most important rule is to be respectful of God, parents, school authorities, church, and church leaders. We’re all born with a bent toward disobedience, so your child needs to be corrected when inclined to rebel.
Parents, your children want to know what their boundaries are. Set the rules! Make it fair and reasonable, but set their limits. Major on the things that are precious, valuable, and eternal, and those will be the things that will last them a lifetime. Pray that God would reveal to you pieces of wisdom in His Word on discipline and training for your children.
DISCIPLINE YOUR CHILDREN. YOU SET THE LIMITS!