While typically spending my time doing a number of constructive things like running, reading, playing guitar, and as of late, singing Psalms, I did something different. GASP!!! I situated myself in front of the piece of electronic equipment known as the television. Other than the occasional movie, I’ve gone weeks at a time without turning the thing on. The few channels I have are simply included with my internet package. Anyway…
There was a show that I’ve seen a few times in passing called “Super Nanny”. In the over abounding presence of reality shows this one is actually an attempt to be constructive, though I believe, on the wrong foundation. The show takes a family composed of a husband and wife (GASP!!!) and kids. Typically, the parents have no backbone whatsoever, habitually fail to discipline their children, and constantly cater to themselves (with certain exceptions). I am in such disbelief watching these “parents” interact with their kids. The show then sends a Nanny…a Super Nanny to teach the parents how to deal with their kids with love, discipline, etc.
On this particular episode the family is composed of a Husband, Wife, and Three Kids. I would venture to say that the ages of the kids are 8 yr old boy, 7 yr old girl, then a 2 yr old boy. The 2 yr old steals all the attention of the mother, leaving the others no time at all with her. The father is, you guessed it, a passive, uninvolved, man who interacts little with the kids or the wife. Herein lies a major foundational problem, but is not for this particular blogpost.
Just a litte summary of the problems in this family. The youngest demands all the time of the mother. He is constantly attached to her. He owns her. He masters her. She lets him. She is attached to him. She didn’t go to bed until he went to bed. Neither of the parents were in control. The husband would immediately recline on his “throne” as soon as he got home. Meanwhile, the wife would be tending to the kids (as best as she could), cooking dinner, and taking care of household duties (with no help from the husband who “just didn’t feel like it”). When the youngest was told he’d have to do something, but he didn’t want to do it, he would latch on to one of the parents and commence to pinch them! And they did nothing. They would simply put him down. This kid was physically hurting them and they just took it! How incredulous this makes me!
While the Nanny introduces many somewhate effective methods, if you will, to train the children on a surface level, there’s a major problem from the biblical parent’s perspective. She does not employ physical discipline as the Bible commands. Instead, things like a naughty circle are used to replace this. If the child acts out they will be placed in this naughty circle, unable to play, or do anything of any redeeming value. While I do not have a problem with this, in and of itself, I disagree with replacement of physical discipline by anything. Now, mind you, I wasn’t surprised at the fact that she didn’t suggest spanking; however, I make mention of it because physical discipline seems to be rare even WITHIN the walls of the church, too.
Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.
Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. 14 If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol.
The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.
Now obviously, these few passages are not the sum toto of the biblical teaching on discipline, but they do lay out the importance of physical discipline and the spiritual, practical advantages it yields. There is so much to be said about this, but one thing that is vital to the conversation is this fact. We are born depraved. Thus, our children are not innocent as we so often like to say. That being said, though, NO ONE is innocent. This means that our children’s depravity necessitates the reality of discipline in the training of children, especially for the children of believers. To withhold physical discipline from our children, the Bible says, is to hate them. That is clear. At the same time, notice the wording is not “punishment”, but “discipline”. I think that’s important to note. Anyway…just some practical food for thought.