THE THREE “F’S’ OF GOOD DISCIPLINE
BY DR. RICHARD DOBBINS
We are adrift in a sea of moral relativism and we are paying the price for it. Common sense tells us that the Ten Commandments, which have been around for millennia, are superior to other sets of values that come and go. These are not Ten Suggestions; they are Ten Commandments.”
Even the National Commission on Mental Health of Children has said that those who go into adult life without a clearly defined set of values are more likely to be overwhelmed emotionally.
That’s why it’s so important that children are taught the bedrock of values on which the Church has stood for 2,000 years. Young people need to know the difference between the values of their faith that are of supreme importance and the fads of their faith which might not matter as much. These can be sorted out on a continuum. On the one end are the values that will continue to be eternally important; on the other end are fads that are of temporal importance, but certainly aren’t going to be part of our eternity.
Those matters of eternal importance include: the Atonement; Biblical inerrancy–God has said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away” (Mark 13:31} the Ten Commandments, with which the values of eternity will agree; and the disciples’ prayer where the Lord taught us to pray that His kingdom would come and His will be done in earth as it is in heaven. (See Matthew 6:9-13.)
It also is important to remember that some things we hold regarding faith are a matter of denominational preference, tradition, and attitude. Such things may or may not be eternal “values.” Sometimes we hold too tightly to them and they become divisive.
Conscience is vital, and it is formed between the third and fifth year of life, growing out of the interaction between parents and children. There’s a strong correlation between the physical limits the parent places on the physical activities of the child and the moral limits that are drawn within the mind of the child. So the physical freedom that a child is given correlates with the bounds of conscience inside the child’s mind.
When you say “no,” you are drawing limits. But if you draw those limits narrowly and enforce them severely, you can create a child who, in the long run, is ruled by a tyrannical conscience which often leaves him feeling guilty. Limits that are too narrow produce a child who can’t stand himself. Limits that are too broad produce a child that other people can’t stand. You don’t want limits that are too broad-and you don’t want limits that are too narrow.
THE THREE Fs OF GOOD DISCIPLINE
1. FAIR LIMITS. You set fair limits on your child’s behavior.
2. FIRM ENFORCEMENT. You enforce the limits firmly as well as fairly.
3. FRIENDLINESS. You remain friendly and loving during the entire process.
This gets down to practical child-rearing decisions: Should you take beautiful figurines that are so attractive to a toddler and put them out of reach, or should you simply slap his or her hands and teach them what they can and cannot touch? I say the figurines are much less important than your child’s budding conscience.
A healthy conscience that is neither too broad nor too narrow is formed out of the consistency of a parent who is compassionate with the child. This is a parent who can put himself in his child’s place. “What would the world be like to me if I were learning to crawl or learning to walk?” Seeing the world from your child’s point of view will help you set fair limits.
Sometimes parents fail to understand the correlation between the physical limits they permit and the bounds of conscience they are creating in a child. And at times a parent’s fear for a child’s safety prevents the child from taking just the kind of risks the child needs to develop self confidence. So, let your child have some “space” where he or she can explore the world.
It is also important to stress the things for which a child should be made to feel guilty and the things for which a child should be praised. For example, a child should be given some ways of expressing anger that meet with the parent’s approval. You don’t let the child verbally abuse people or destroy property when he is angry. But you may let the child go to his room when he is angry . . . even stomp up the stairs.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY MEDIA MINISTRIES OF THE ASSEMBLIES OF GOD, VOL. 1 NO. 9. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.