Monday, March 3, 2014

Discipline In Love

Last Wednesday, I attended a very interesting event entitled: “Love Does Not Hurt”, which was an event intended to discuss and raise awareness for “positive discipline”, which, according to Wikipedia is a discipline that focuses on the child’s positive behavior and reinforces that, as opposed to corporal punishment i.e. spanking, hitting as a response to a child’s wrongdoing.

It highlighted how important it was to practice positive disciplinary methods with our children, and not resort to inflicting physical pain in doing so.

A child psychologist talks about Positive Discipline.

For our part, my husband and I are raising a strong-willed two-year old and needless to say, discipline has been weaving itself as a very important part of our parenting journey. Our little Gabbie threw his first tantrum at 11 months and we were amazed at how adept he was at screaming, wailing and kicking as he has never done that prior. As we watched our little guy fly into a rage, we instantly knew we had to get creative in the discipline department, or else we’ll both lose it, too.

The discussion during the event was a very informative one, and by the end of the night, I recognized that positive discipline certainly has its merits. I mean, it really does seem natural to any parent to affirm her child’s positive qualities. And certainly, we must be generous with our support and encouragement.

But, what about those moments when our child disobeys, or throws a tantrum or outright disrespects us? What then?

Positive Discipline encourages talking, explaining and imposing non-violent punishment.

To which I say, “Oo naman syempre!” (Of course!)

What parent in his/her right mind—and heart—would want to inflict pain on his/her child? Of course, we all want our children to grow up being good people with the right values. But positive discipline cannot be fully understood and implemented without setting the foundation of a good, healthy relationship with your child or children.

That's me sharing my thoughts on discipline. 

And my take on Positive Discipline? It should be put in context with “Biblical Parenting.”

Why? Because I don’t know anything about parenting, and I better ask the One who gave me the child in the first place.

Who best to ask?

It is not enough that we focus on the discipline aspect of parenting, without emphasizing the need for a deep, personal, unconditionally-loving parent-child relationship—which is exactly the kind that our God seeks with us.

And, let me digress for a little bit, I feel strongly that in supporting our Filipino families’ rights, we must put efforts to encourage and help get parents to spend more time with their children, and know them, and enjoy them, and raise them well. 

On a larger scale, I pray for, and would want to help in endeavours that would afford better work-life balance for our working parents. That daddies can go home 5PM sharp, deal with much less traffic so he can be home to share playtime and dinner with the kids, that mommies be given longer paid maternity leaves so she can care and nurture her child personally in her most developmentally-critical years, that companies can provide quality daycare services so that children can be closer to moms or give flexible working hours for mommies, that our citizenry can enjoy free healthcare, a clean and safe environment, and free, quality education so that there is less stress for the parents raising three or four children, and possibly less reason to vent out anger or frustrations.

No, it is NEVER acceptable to abuse or show violence to children in any circumstance whatsoever. But, the practice of corporal punishment is a deep-rooted problem.

The lack of the abovementioned rights is fact for us Filipinos. Our living conditions may be far from ideal but is most certainly not hopeless. Which is why it is all the more critical that we raise and nurture children with good moral character and convictions. Literal, sila ang pag-asa ng Pilipinas! (They’re literally the hope of the Philippines!)

And so I go back to the Bible. Here’s what God has to say about discipline:

“Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children. Those who love their children care enough to discipline them.” Proverbs 13:24

“A youngster’s heart is filled with foolishness, but physical discipline will drive it far away.” Proverbs 22:15

“My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.” Proverbs 3:11-12

“No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.” Hebrews 12:11

So, as a mom who stands by Positive Discipline, I also stand by the use of the rod, as one of the many ways that we instill discipline in our Gabbie. This is used because we know our child well and it works for him on some situations. It is used only when absolutely necessary, and as my husband always reminds me, it should never be in anger or frustration.

I will discuss the use of the rod on another post. But, one thing I’ve learned about discipline is that it all starts with us as parents, being children of our Father.

I had to yield to God’s parenting of me. I had to set my heart straight with Him, and the sooner I came to terms with His unconditional love for me, the easier I could accept His discipline when necessary.

As I accepted His love, I learnt what kind of parent I should be to my child (still continuing to learn day by day!). And while the rod can be used as a tool to help communicate our love (yes, discipline is also love), it should never be without, or replace, time spent with Gabbie loving him and enjoying him.

I’ll ask you, fellow Moms and other Dads, isn’t it much easier to show affectionate love to our children than it is to say no and discipline them? But, as parents, we have to balance that.

Author Lisa Whelchel says, “It’s the same love that tell them no that tells them yes.” (Creative Correction, p. 21.)

Given by a friend, this book contains a wealth of unconventional,
creative ideas on correcting! Thanks, Janet!

Disciplining will always be about the heart—we address the heart of our children that it may not steer towards lawlessness and sinfulness as they grow older. It will also come from our hearts, and will prick our hearts too us parents. So, for me and my husband, we're not going to try to do this on our own. We're setting our heart straight with our “Child-Giver” day by day, and allow Him show us how it’s done. May our little Gabbie grow up to be a fearless, confident, purposed, compassionate man who will exceed his potential, and spread the joy of being a man reared in God's own hands. Amen!