Have you ever heard a parent say, “Well, I guess he will just have to learn his lesson the hard way.” I have, and it always makes me cringe because the hard way can be far more than you bargained for.
Should children learn that the gas flames on the stove are hot by the parents allowing them to place a hand in the fire? The answer is an obvious “no.” To avoid learning the heard way, while children are young, parents can apply a carefully controlled short term consequence like a spanking. It piques the child’s attention and allows the parent to teach the lesson without any harm. In the process children also learn to respond to their parent’s words of protection.
Your words and the Word of God set boundaries of behavior that serve to protect your children. It’s important that children learn to respond to those words when they are young because as they get older you can no longer control the consequences. For example, a one-time experimentation with methamphetamines could literally destroy a young person’s mind or end their life. No good lessons are learned from tragedies like that; it only leaves regret and sorrow for everyone.
2 Corinthians 7:8-10 says, “For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while. Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.”
I encourage you to speak the truth to your children and then do whatever you can to stand between your child and behaviors that could bring about a devastating consequence. When our children were teenagers, if one of them said they would be attending a party at a friend’s house chaperoned by the parents, I took the time to drive across town and make an unexpected visit to see for myself. I didn’t do it every time, but they knew the possibility always existed.
My son once asked, “Dad, don’t you trust me?” I answered him this way: “It’s not that I don’t trust you, I just don’t trust the flesh. Any one of us can have a weak moment and then do something we would regret the rest of our life. I just want to give you one more reason to do the right thing.” Checking on them was not an act of distrust but one of love and they knew it. It was all preparation for the time there would no longer be any parental control.
Remember, they need you to be the parent. Dad’s you can’t always be the best buddy to your son and moms you can’t always be a girl friend to your daughter. But if you’ll be the parent now, then later in life, you will have the opportunity to be their friend and confidant.
This blog is an excerpt from the book,”Contending for the Heart” the hidden key to your child’s behavior.