By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)
Scripture Readings: Proverbs 29-30
Key Scripture Verses: Proverbs 29:17 (NIV, Life Application Bible)
“Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire.”
Our scripture passage today has to do with childrearing and discipline of children, so I have to start my post with a disclaimer. I am not a parent; however, I have been around a lot of children at different times in my life, was actively involved in working with children in the public schools, in rehabilitation, in caring for my niece and nephews when they were young, and I have taught children in Sunday school. I have specific training in how to work with and discipline children through my education as a teacher.
And I have observed some particularly good parents. I can think of some in particular right off the top of my head. The good moms and dads whom I believe handle discipline well know how to allow their children a good time, to have experiences in the world, and at the same time show them how to have respect for others, and are in control of their children.
When I mention control, I mean that the parents have taught their children good manners and socially appropriate behaviors that are culturally acceptable. They know to share their toys, they know to ask for permission, they know to speak politely and to take turns in conversation—they’ve been taught some social skills. They are easily controlled with regard to rambunctious behavior—when they get too excited, mom and dad know when and how to reign them in.
Good parents know that they have to set boundaries with their children. And, in my experience, children are happiest when they understand the rules of behavior and when they have some structure to their activities so they can anticipate what happens next.
I worked in a preschool for a year or two in graduate school and what seemed to bring order easily and naturally was a schedule that was predictable. The children thrived in an environment where they knew when it was time for story time, when it was time to rest, when it was time for a snack, when it was time for going outside, etc. They seemed happiest when they could trust how things were to happen. And when new things were introduced, it always worked best when they were given a heads up as to what to expect. These little reminders or tips ahead of time helped develop trust and a feeling of security.
I remember when my sisters and brother and I would get into some trouble with other children and my parents would tell us that we had to own up to our behavior. If we were right, they would defend and support us, but if we were wrong, we had to face the consequences for our behavior. And we learned to say “I’m sorry” and we learned to accept apologies from others in forgiveness.
My husband Paul sometimes tells me about his childhood and how he felt so secure with his parents, that he could trust his world when he was at home—it was predictable and safe, even though there was a lot of rioting and civil rights unrest at the time in the world around him and a lot of opportunities to be afraid—he felt safe and secure at home.
Safe and secure with appropriate discipline and boundaries, knowing what the rules of behavior are, knowing how to behave socially with others—all of these help a child to grow and learn. Positive reinforcement for work well done and more positive interactions than negative interactions can facilitate a child’s striving to please you. Children will thrive in an environment like this and parents will reap the rewards for their care and attention to nurturing a positive environment.
I am sure that parenting is not an easy job. Bless all of you who are parents out there—it’s the most important job anyone can have. May you remember that God is with you in your parenting and can give you the patience you need when it gets difficult. May you and your children be blessed by your careful attention to discipline. May your children “give you peace” and the “delights you desire.”