I am just eight months there-abouts in this Parenting thing, so I should be shutting up. What do I know about Parenting? I should actually be using my ears more than my mouth.
Yet my eyes continue to see alarming things about our ear-plugged adolescents for example, online in High school, exploring casual sex, list goes on, doesn’t it?
Well, I won’t go into the my-generation-is-better-than-yours self-righteous talk, yet I hope can remain sober enough to sound an alarm to, especially, fellow younger Parents today.
Growing up, mostly in Masindi and Namasuba for example, after lunch was sleep time, playing in the sun invited spanking, while discipline happened, nobody quoted human rights clauses, aimless loitering, popping by at neighbours during lunchtime, speaking “anyhow”- all attracted correction, correction often felt “bodily.”
In Africa here, there’s even a joke about children being spanked for both “crying” and “not crying.” Often intense, schools followed suit – vernacular, algebra, all attracted canes. We should be glad the Ministry reined in on corporal punishment. Clearly some of it was excessive, temperamental and thoughtless.
But what if by abolishing corporal punishment, we threw the baby out with the bath water? Not that my generation turned out perfect but trust, discipline then, even with wrong motivations sometimes, often bore fruit.
Stuff has changed.
Today, we train independent little ones, and we mean well when we say “let them be themselves”, but I wish we could see we what we mean by “them selves.”
Christian Parents understand “be themselves” is quite a large loaded word, David says “in inequity i was born,”(Ps 51;5) therefore nobody arrives neutral. Every child, however angelic, has got a twisted heart already.
We are pre-occupied with behavior change today, rather than heart change, we discipline actions rather than attitudes, before our eyes, a generation is grooming itself in city malls, and online, as churches and everybody else moves on.
“Independence” is how we respond to red flags of character. Dining table conversations are now punctuated by notifications. Discipline is for negotiation; even our questions about ‘returning late last night’ are answered with the remote control in hand.
Boarding school maybe?
And so, we have probably decided that because this is too much for a busy Parent, like us, to undertake, boarding schools should intervene and get the job done. Whether schools bear the primary responsibility of raising children is another discussion.
Good thing with boarding school is that “I pay the dues, focus on my stuff, stock their wardrobe and let it all be. ” But, is parenting only about “Clothes on the back, food on the table, and tuition on the account? Don’t we have a mandate to shape our children’s influences, nurture their hearts and rid them of the all-destructive self?
So now what?
My assertion is that there is more, if any family out there calls Jesus “Lord” the hearts of those little disciples around the table are at stake. How we re-arrange our pre-occupations to prioritise this matters, it matters for the kingdom and human flourishing.
And with the Lord’s help, I hope we will discover that our children, just like their adult parents, are not actually angels – the sooner we discover, the better. We can then endure the sacrifice of discipline, knowing there is more to Parenting, than food on the table and clothes on the back. (or in this case, a gadget in the bedroom)
This world is rarely kind to anybody, including the children we introduce it to, none gets away with transgression, it’s therefore a huge dis-service to our children if we shelve discipline, the very thing like King Solomon would say, designed to “drive out folly.” (Prov; 22:15)