Have you seen it? It’s yet another video gone viral, and it’s called “Facebook Parenting: for the troubled teen.” In the video, a father reads and responds to a letter that his 15-year-old daughter posted on Facebook. In the letter, she rants and swears and complains about her parents. In the video, he calls her names and humiliates her, and then he shoots her computer. Yes, shoots, like with a gun. Friends, this is what NOT to do in response to a rebellious child.
When this video first appeared all over Facebook, I saw many comments on the post which applauded the father’s behavior, for “laying down the law,” so to speak. I was absolutely aghast at how many people thought that this method of parenting was not only okay, but should be held up as a good example. Firm parenting is absolutely essential; discipline and repercussions are important parts of raising our children. But destruction and humiliation? Really?
There may be a better way.
“Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children. Those who love their children care enough to discipline them.” Proverbs 13:24
We care enough to discipline even when it’s inconvenient, even when it’s easier to ignore the behavior. Little misbehaviors can lead to big ones down the road. When we love our children, we need to be firm and to take the time – every time – to teach them the right way to live.
Discipline with Respect
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2
How we treat our children is going to be a big part of how they will treat us. Oh, sure, they’ll have disrespectful moments. Don’t we all? But if we are consistently treating our children with respect, talking to them like intelligent human beings instead of enforcing our rules by way of bullying and intimidation (and by shooting laptops), then they will learn how to treat us and others with respect as well.
Discipline with Love
“I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them.” Hosea 11:4
They KNOW when we’re disciplining them just because we’re mad. That’s not discipline; that’s punishment. When we discipline them with love, “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15), we’re doing it because we care about them, and care about the people that they are becoming. We want them to live full, good, godly lives, have healthy relationships, and make good choices. When our discipline is liberally coated with love, they know it and they respond to that, even if that response doesn’t come to fruition until later.
My husband, Brian, and I are the proud parents of one adult son and one so-close-he-can-taste-it almost-adult son. They are two of the most fantastic people I have ever met. I love them, of course – I am their mother, after all. But I also really LIKE them. You know the difference? When our boys were young, many people warned me that the teen years are awful, that my sweet children would turn into monsters, “people you hardly even know anymore.” I’m here to tell you that the teen years do not have to be that way. We have been having a blast with our boys, right through the “monster” years. Of course we’ve had our ups and downs and I’ve made plenty of mistakes, but ask either of them and they’ll tell you that they have never doubted that we love them (are absolutely bonkers about them, actually) and that when we disciplined them it was because we loved them. It can work. Did we have to do some firm parenting? Absolutely. Were there some tough repercussions? You bet. But I’ve got to tell you, we wouldn’t have gotten very far by humiliating them, “laying down the law,” and shooting their laptops.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what that young girl’s response may have been to the video her dad posted. Do you think she feels loved and valued by her father? Do you think she feels she can trust him? I can just picture it … “Oh, NOW I see the error of my ways and I’ll never do anything like that again. I love you, Dad!” Not likely.
Romans 2:4 says that it is God’s kindness, His tolerance and patience, that leads us to repentance. Now that’s my kind of Father. Why would we want to offer our children any less? When we discipline our children, we need to speak with them face to face. We need to treat them with the respect due to any human being; we are all made in the image of God. We need to tell them how much we love them, and why their behavior is unacceptable. We need to explain the repercussions, perhaps even hashing them out together with the child. Then we need to pray together, and reiterate how much we love them.
That’s how to do it. ♥