I have raised five children. My experience does not necessarily make me wise, but accumulated knowledge applied to my life’s experience has yielded some fruit of wisdom. The Bible declares that knowledge, understanding, and wisdom are primary building blocks of life. Human disciplines, such as mathematics and science, also stress the importance of these fundamentals.
Early in my life of parenting, I discovered a primary and indisputable pearl of wisdom: self-government is learned through parental discipline. In applying discipline, my role was not that of the punisher for unacceptable deeds. My role was to train my child in the ability to self-discipline. That may sound contradictory, as I was the big one carrying the “big stick.” However, if pain was the only lesson my child learned, I had failed to obtain the greater goal.
Discipline must never include the element of power struggle. Doubtless, the adult is the greater power who can yell louder or exert the stronger physical pressure. Pain can be inflicted through power struggles, but no knowledge of self-government is cultivated. The child is taught that might makes right. Bullying, intimidation, threats of violence, or other such physical displays of rulership are learned and will undoubtedly be practiced upon the child’s siblings or peers. Such inculcation builds adults who are inclined toward crime on a societal level or anarchy on a governmental level.
To avoid power struggles, the child should be taught to submit to discipline, which is to be meted out in just and controlled doses. Whether a parent is applying a time out or a rod of correction, the child must be brought to a posture of compliance, thus signifying that the child has activated self-control, acknowledged the hierarchy structure, and chosen submission in a spirit of humility. Such inculcation builds adults who are of great value in the market place and priceless in relationships.
Training the child in self-restraint is accomplished by the proper use of correction and through the example set by the parent. A child who has learned to control his or her spirit in the pre-school years, will more easily implement the skill of self-discipline to scholastics, in the rigors of athletics, and throughout hormonal changes. During the teenage years when the child’s volition must be matured, the parent’s role shifts to more of a guide and counselor. If power struggles are still the preferred mode of pedagogue with a teen, the parents have almost forfeited the opportunity to train the child in self-control.
A self-governed child produces a self-governed adult. A self-governed adult does not need to be forced into compliance by the threat of violence from an external parent figure, because the self-governed adult will voluntarily embrace and apply truth. A family of self-controlled persons is peaceful and gratifying. A business of self-controlled workers is productive and prosperous. A nation of self-controlled citizens is law abiding and freedom seeking.
Principle Based Evaluation: The family unit is the core value-setting place within a culture. The wisdom of self-government or the folly of power struggles results from the application of parental discipline. (Prov. 16:32)
For more information on the author, Dr. Patti Amsden, go to: www.pattiamsden.org