Friday, October 1, 2010

Teaching Our Children Self-Discipline From an Early Age

One of the main duties of parents is to teach their children mastery over self, or self-control. Not only is this a main duty, it is actually one of the best things parents can do for their children.

The nature of a child is not neural; they are born with a bias. Due to inbred sin there is already a twist towards self-centeredness and lawlessness which will not correct itself under the gentle rays of a Christian environment. Instead, this sinful nature in children will feed itself on your kindness, turn liberty into license, and grow alarmingly more so over the years, if not rigorously curbed by a very firm rule from the parents.

Teaching our children self-control (beginning at the earliest years) will not do away with their sinful nature, but it will at least bring it to light for the child to see; and it also makes the adjustment to the restraints of adult society much easier, to say nothing of the greater ease in submitting to the rule of God. Admittedly, practicing self-control falls short of holiness, but it is better than nothing. The more self-control a child possesses (control of sex, of anger, of impulses, of speech), the greater safety and happiness the child will have.

If self-control is not taught by the parents in the earliest possible years, it will have to be taught by others later on. And if the school, or the police, or the military have to teach it, the process will be much more painful and the success less likely.

This is a matter that should be taken very seriously by Christian parents. The challenge of parenthood is overwhelming at times, and to raise self-disciplined children requires unwavering consistency on our part. Do not cave in to infantile or juvinile demands from the child; impose parental rule in your home. It’s much easier to avoid a fight than it is to take little Johnny or Mary firmly by the hand and correct them. To leave a child to their own devices is a crime against society and against God, not to mention the child. Parental weakness or inconsistency has severe consequences. May every one of us turn to our parental responsibility with firm resolution.

The task of teaching children self-control is much easier if begun in the first four-five years of a child’s life. The habits of obedience need to be formed early on, so that little Johnny is not governed by his own infantile judgment in later years. Boundaries must be enforced. Good behavior expected. He must learn that "No" means "No." At least the child will learn what is expected, and that painful consequences follow wrongdoing; and there is no more basic lesson than this... for both this life and eternity.

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