Love, discipline and the disciple
A woman narrated an experience she had with her son. According to this mother, one day, her son braced up and told her some hard truths. He said: “Mummy even though you say you love me, but I do not believe it. Your actions do not suggest that you love me at all. In fact, I recently nursed the idea of running away from home into the streets, anywhere, just to get away from your constant shouting and nagging. You constantly shout at every mistake I make in the name of correcting me and I am fed up.”
This mother had no idea that her constant shouting was pushing her son away. She thought she was correcting him and the use of harsh words will make him a better person. Unconsciously, this mother spent a larger amount of her parenting time focusing on her son’s mistakes, without ever commending him.
It is easy to make the same mistake as parents and even as spouses, but I believe no child or spouse is 100 percent bad. Even though they may often make mistakes, look for the five percent good in them and magnify it. While correcting the faults, endeavour to commend the good.
What if my child is stubborn and lazy, you may ask? What if my spouse is the same way? Can I still love them? As a matter of fact, I believe the quality of your love is tested, when the other person does not behave in a way you expect him/her to behave. The normal human love is patterned after ‘do me, I do you,’ but it is not so for us in God’s kingdom.
Romans 5.8 says: “But God commendeth His love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Right there, without our ‘good’ behaviour on display, His love for us still shone through. How do we apply this in our homes? No matter the amount of misbehaviour displayed by our children and spouses, let us raise our love antenna higher. Never withdraw your love even when you discipline.
I have often said the word ‘discipline’ and ‘disciple’ are from the same root. The reason we discipline is not to pour out our frustration or vent it, but it is to make the other person our disciple. It is for the person being disciplined to become more like you. Creating disciples out of your children cannot be achieved overnight. It is also not achieved by only wielding the rod. Constant shouting does not make anyone become a disciple. Yes, there are times one may shout, but we believe this must not become a pattern.
Love is the most effective way of making anyone become your disciple. Even when you discipline, do so in love. Personally, I encourage parents to draw their children nearer and reinforce their love after an episode of disciplining the children. Sit with the child and explain the reason for the discipline meted out. Express your love and patiently carve out that child to be the disciple you want him/her to be.
Look for an area where your child excels and praise him/her. For example, your teenage daughter may not like sweeping, or performing other domestic chores, but she may excel academically or even in making you laugh every evening after a tiring day at work. Our point is, no matter how little or big that child’s strength is, magnify it while lovingly correcting his/her weaknesses. Love and not nag your child into becoming your disciple.
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