"Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them."
Most parents have heard the phrase "spare the rod, spoil the child." Many of us use the phrase as a justification for us spanking/whooping/beating our children. But have we ever read the entire verse in the Bible? The word that sticks out to me is "careful." We have to be "careful to discipline them." I think that care is something that is lost on most parents.
Think about it: you were trained for your job, you were trained to drive your car, but what did you do to train for becoming a parent. If you are like most folks that I know, that "training" involved a good time and a messed up form of birth control. Or if you were really advanced you attended a childbirth class. That's great for getting a little person into the world but then what? Have you trained to handle a toddler? Have you trained to deal with a middle schooler? What about training to deal with a college student? Most folks would answer "no." And that's a problem.
The mere ability to reproduce does not make a person a good parent. Just because your mama was a good mama, doesn't mean you will be a good parent. Being a good parent is innate in some folks. But what about the rest of the folks? Are they actively seeking training to become better parents?
I readily admit that I am not Dr. Spock or a child psychologist. But I am a scholar (normally, I am called a nerd). I believe in researching and trying different techniques to effectively parent my children. From reading articles on the web to checking out books at the library to talking to youth workers; I surround myself and my children with information to help us communicate better. Why? Because I love my children and want to be careful with the precious gifts that God has given me.
I want to make sure that nothing I say or do crushes any of their dreams. I want to make sure that they know that I love them, support them, believe in them. I want my children to come to me if they are ever in trouble. That doesn't mean that they get a pass to act a fool, but it does mean that we will deal with it and I will still love them despite their misdeeds. I love my children enough to use care with them.
So take a moment a access your parenting skills. If you have a deficit in an area, work on improving it. Seek help at churches, youth groups, schools, or grab a book from the library. Check yourself. If you can't objectively judge your own actions, take a look at how your children treat each other. What you see may shock you. When I saw how my oldest child was speaking to my youngest, I had to check my own tongue... Now I make a conscious effort to speak life to not only correct misbehavior but to praise good behavior.
So use care when disciplining your child, but make sure it comes from a place of love.