The Role of Discipline

Mistake #3. They neglect to discipline their children. 1 Tim. 3:4 says an overseer (that’s you in this case), “must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect.” See Proverbs 22:15 and 13:25 for God’s word on proper discipline. The key is to be consistent in enforcing rules and keep in mind that if they don’t obey you, they won’t obey God!

Perhaps the reason home schooling is so closely linked to character training is because it involves more than just a classroom type of teacher-student relationship.  There is that complex dimension of “parenting”.  For true home schooling to take place, the role of parents in the home must be established first.  As homeschooling parents and authors, Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn, point out as one of their suggestions to first time home school parents who have decided to remove their children from state schools,

Make sure your children obey you.  First time obedience promotes good internal discipline in the children, bring order to the home, and makes learning easier.  Children must have this internal discipline developed within them before they are academically prepared… — Teaching the Trivium, Christian Homeschooling in a Classical Style  

Part of what our 3 year old calls his “school” at the moment is his effort to memorize a few verses from the Bible.  There have been days when I gently inquire of him about doing his “school” and he replies with a negative.  At this age, we are careful enough not to make him feel forced to do formal schooling but as early as a few years back, we have been diligently preparing his heart to obedience.  Of course, we reserve the instructions in both Proverbs 13 and 22 (mentioned above) for direct disobedience to instruction or disrespect, but we more often make use of the communication (Proverbs 23 illustrates both methods side by side each other) part of discipline, even more so, as the children grow older.  So, even as our youngest is trying to memorize the verses, “Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord” (Colossians 3:20) and “Do all things without complaining and disputing” (Philippians 2:14), I explain to him that he must develop a heart that is willing to yield to authority.  He will most likely want to go his own way but God has placed me (and dad) as his caretaker and we are answerable to Him.  This makes the discipline more internal.  He will not obey just to keep appearances but he will hopefully have a little understanding of what is going on inside his heart.

You want to understand your child’s inner struggles. You need to look at the world through his or her eyes.  This will enable you to know what aspects of the life-giving message of the gospel are appropriate for this conversation — Shepherding a Child’s Heart, Tedd Tripp

It definitely varies from child to child what methods of discipline to utilize.  Some children are more mature for their age and you can reason with them earlier.  I must also admit, my husband and I have, by God’s grace, grown in our understanding of what it means to discipline our children as years have gone by.  Although our older children may have had different experiences from our now youngest child (well, our older girls were also not as strong-willed as those that followed them), it was clear to us even then that we were to establish their recognition of our authority in the home and therefore, by God’s grace again, they have turned out to be children who are easily influenced by us as they grew older.

As long as this issue of discipline is consistently dealt with, home schooling will be, well, not exactly a breeze but much doable.  It is a joy to guide teachable children and watch them learn.  And as they progress, they will also reap the benefits of their obedience.  Our 3 year old is always relieved that he can recite a few complete sentences with big words in the form of his memorized Bible verses.  When it is his turn to pray, he often blurts out,  “A soft answer turns away wrath. Proverbs 15:1. Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God. Matthew 5:9″ just so he can keep up with his siblings’ more lengthy petitions.  Part of the reason we encourage him to memorize verses is because there is value in keeping beautiful (descriptive and grammatically correct) language in a young child’s mind. The ability to speak language above his level from memory and the sense of accomplishment that comes with that he reaps now.  Hopefully, he will not have only learned these verses by rote but will slowly grasp them in his heart as he grows older.

This idea of discipline is not a one-time event though but a process so we must be vigilant as parents. And home schooling allows us to nip unbiblical values at the bud before they are deeply rooted.  When I noticed the tendency to vanity in some of the children, I talked to them about this.  I shared with them truths such as, “Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting but the woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”  When I was  regularly distressed because one of our children had trouble focusing on his work, I  tried motivating him with little rewards of free time if he finished portions of his work but this didn’t get us far.  Then I thought about sitting this child down and making him read about diligence and laziness in the book of Proverbs.  After about a dozen of them he realized his error and this child came to the conclusion that being willing to work hard and do one’s best in any given job is part of living wisely in our service to God.  We didn’t have the same problem after that.

Indeed, as the children mature and other issues come up, there is a continual need to shepherd their hearts.  The assumption in all this is that, as parents, we have 1) established a good relationship with them, and 2) we are continuing to grow in our own relationship with the Lord.  To finish the quote from the Bluedorns above,

…You will find your own weaknesses and develop your own self-discipline as you do the work of developing this internal discipline in your children.  Discipline is a disaster if yourself you do not master.


One comment

  1. Pingback: Creating Enthusiasm for Learning | living and learning

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