If you are a parent and you’re reading this, I am honored. I am honored because I am not a parent myself. So who am I to write about this topic? Well let’s just say that growing up as a pastor’s kid, being a pastor myself, and being married to a woman who worked with children for years, gave me some pretty good insight into parenting.
It’s hard to ignore the patterns and it’s also hard to ignore what Scripture says about parenting. So I have put together 5 lessons I have learned about parenting through my own experience as a child myself, counseling and observing other families in ministry, and simply learning about the subject from school and reading. I have broken it up into two blogs. Let’s go through the first three lessons.
1. Consistency is everything
Parents, remember that your children notice everything you do. It sticks with them till the day they die. If you want them to learn how to be an honest person, then you must be an honest person. If you want them to prioritize going to church, then you must prioritize going to church. When you argue with your spouse, they need to see how you argue because if you expect them to apologize to the boy at school, they’ll expect you to apologize to your spouse.
Your children will be an exact replica of you. I see my dad in myself more and more as I get older. From the things he says to hand movements when he speaks, it’s incredible to see how similar I am to my dad. We already know this will happen, so parents, let’s do our children a favor and give them something beautiful to imitate. You can tell them how to be kind all of your life, but until they see you be kind to others, those words will be meaningless. You can tell them the importance of giving and tithing at church, but until they see you take 10% out of your paycheck, put it in the envelope, and place it in the offering plate, they won’t believe you think it’s important. Be consistent and be an example!
This doesn’t only apply to how we live our lives. It applies to discipline as well. So now we go onto the next lesson.
2. Spanking works wonders
My dad would spank us with a leather belt when we were kids. It hurt but we never forgot it. Spanking is not the same as physical abuse. Proverbs 23:13 says, “Don’t fail to discipline your children. The rod of punishment won’t kill them” (NLT). It needs to hurt just enough for the child to understand that if it happens again, they’ll know what’s coming.
My dad never spanked us out of anger. If he was angry, he would wait until he cooled down. He would spank us (number of lashes with the belt depended on how bad we were), let us cry, and then later returned to our room. He would ask, “Do you know why daddy spanked you?” Through gasps, tears, and groans we would respond with something like, “B-b-b-because you t-t-t-told us not to run in the g-g-grocery store and we did.” Then he would respond with, “Do you know that daddy loves you?” We would nod our heads, still crying, as he prayed with us and kissed us. This is a beautiful picture of a loving parent.
My mom, on the other hand, felt sorry for us. She was and still is a rock star mom but when she spanked us, she did it ever so lightly that we had to pretend to cry just so she could stop. Guess which parent was more respected? Guess which parent we listened to more? My dad. We never talked back to our dad but with my mom, ehh…it’s just mom. We still loved her but we definitely gave her a harder time.
I have seen the difference that spanking makes. However, parents must be consistent! The key is: tell them what they must obey and tell them the penalty for disobeying.
Obedience: Do not run in the grocery store.
Penalty for disobedience: Spanking when we get home.
Now, if the child runs in the grocery store and we do not spank them, what will happen next time we go to the grocery story? They won’t take you seriously. They won’t listen. They are not thinking about long-term consequences and the person they will grow up to be. Kids only think short-term. They think, “If I run again, what will happen when I get home? Last time he did nothing, so I’ll just run again!” Do not feel sorry for your kids. They will thank you later.
Hebrews 12:11 says, “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.”
Let me add that not every child who gets spanked will be a well-behaved child. Furthermore, just because a child is not spanked doesn’t mean they will be a rebellious child. There are many other factors that come into play. However, from what Scripture tells us and from the patterns we see in children, we can all agree that time-out and a corner to consider what they have done does not always work.
3. You’re the boss until they move out
It is heartbreaking to see kids control their parents. My heart cries out to these parents but also to the kids, who need to learn the importance of submitting to authority. The reason why kids grow up never submitting to teachers, professors, cops, and their manager is because they never submitted to their parents at home.
The lesson is simple: if they’re under your roof, they’re under your authority. There are parents who show up to church sometimes without their children. When they are asked where the children are, the parents say, “Well, they wanted to sleep in.” That’s a definite no no! It does not matter how much your kids hate church or how much they love sleeping in. You’re the boss!
I grew up in church and most of the time, I wanted to go. However, when my dad planted his second church and made us go with him, there were days I despised going. However, today, I am a pastor who is planting a church. My brother-in-law was a skater dude growing up and hated going to church. First of all, he didn’t understand my dad’s preaching very much (since he only speaks Portuguese), and second, it was boring for him because there wasn’t even a youth group. His parents continued to force him to go. No questions asked. Years later, he became the first youth leader in that church, along with my sister, and today, he is an associate pastor at a large church and the director of the youth ministry.
Parents, your job right now is to give your kids what they need, not what they want. At their age, they don’t know what they want! In order to learn this lesson, you must learn to do lessons one and two.
What’s Coming Up?
In the next blog, we will go through lessons 4 and 5. It will discuss having serious conversations with your children and determining what phase of parenting you are currently in.