On Training a Child

“Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.” Proverbs 19:1818Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying. (Proverbs 19:18)
Discipline. This is a hard and painful subject. It is rooted in the word “disciple.” Perhaps one look at the disciples of Jesus will give us a clearer meaning of the word. They were followers and learners; but some of them were not true disciples, as John 6:6666From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. (John 6:66) tells us: “From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him.” There is a finality about that word “no more.”
We do well to pray before our children are born that God will draw their hearts to Himself. It is far better to be unmarried or childless than to conceive children who will go to hell. God loves to answer our prayers and to gather the lambs with His arms. “It is not the will of your Father which is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish” (Matt. 18:1414Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish. (Matthew 18:14)).
But they are not born saved, and they “go astray as soon as they [are] born” (Psalm 58:33The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. (Psalm 58:3)). There may be anger even in their crib-cry, and selfishness with their toys. There are struggles against dressing, and they shove unwanted food to the floor. We comment, “Oh well, he’s only a baby.”
When he is a little older, it’s easier for us parents to yield than to insist on obedience, and to unwisely let the child have his own way. It’s good to remember that “We have turned every one to his own way” applies to us as well as to them. Do they see in me an example of willing obedience to God? Am I imposing my will against the child’s will, or humbly desiring God’s will for both of us? God remembers our human frailty, and it’s well for us to remember this for our little ones also; but this does not mean that we choose the easiest path, whether it’s a path of my selfish desires or the path of least resistance. If a child rebels against his parent in childhood, he is on his way to rebel against God in adulthood.