expiration date – parenting 101

In my quiet time this morning I landed in the 19th chapter of Proverbs. Some people love Psalms for the encouragement – and I do too, but being a lover of wisdom, principles and order, Proverbs is my go-to for daily direction.

Today I read something I had never seen before;

Chasten thy son while there is still hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying. A man of great wrath shall suffer punishment: for if though deliver him, yet thou must do it again. Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end. – Proverbs 19:18-20

Before I had children I thought the belief of us being born with a sin nature was so judgmental, completely outdated and absolutely wrong. How could a precious, innocent, newborn human possibly be capable of sin??

Then reality set in.

I was in a conversation once when a woman corrected me as I was sharing a story about my own parenting experience, letting me know that her son’s psychiatrist had told her that the part of the brain which regulates empathy isn’t fully developed until adulthood. Her argument was essentially that he would eventually just grow into being empathetic.

No. Our children don’t learn to be viable contributors to society merely by osmosis or natural process. They need to be taught, guided, molded.

Dedicate your children to God and point them in the way that they should go, and the values they’ve learned from you will be with them for life. – Proverbs 22:6

I love the affirmation found in these scriptures as they communicate some extraordinarily valuable truths about parenting.

  1. “While there is hope” implies that there is an expiration date to our children learning how to do relationship/life well. Consistent and intentional parenting is a priority.
  2. “Chasten they son” reminds us that we have a job to do. (No osmosis).
  3. One version says “Discipline your son while there is hope,
    And do not desire his death.” We are talking about life long trials for our kids who aren’t trained up well.
  4. You are their parent, not their friend. They have lots of friends but only one God-ordained parent. The Message says, “Discipline your children while you still have the chance; indulging them destroys them.”
  5. If they are happy with you all the time, you aren’t doing it right. Do not be deterred by crying, complaining or retraction of love from them.
  6. If we don’t train them out of self-indulgence, selfishness, fits of emotions or deceit, they will experience much greater consequences as adults (and we get to enjoy them, too!). The Passion Version states Proverbs 19:20 as “A hot-tempered man has to pay the price for his anger. If you bail him out once, you’ll do it a dozen times.”
  7. Parenting with intentionality and long-term perspective is vital.

When my oldest was a toddler, I expected first time obedience and there was a consequence whenever he didn’t. The rule was if he heard my voice, he stopped whatever he was doing immediately and turn to me. A friend mentioned once (or twice…) how strict I was, but I was undaunted. I always told him that as he got older, it would be important he learn how to obey those trusted with leadership in his life.

One day he went running after a ball towards the street. I shouted his name and he froze. Right there on the curb, inches from his precious ball. And, just a few feet from an oncoming car. My friend, whose child was often found in the street or being chased down the sidewalk, marveled at how obedient he was.

Obedience is taught, not hoped, into existence.

As my children got older, we talked about how when we learn to obey those we trust, we learn how to obey God. Learning to know His voice, how to stop when He warns us of danger, and how to trust that He has our best interest at heart, is something that starts when we are tiny.

I am confident many of you can attest to the fact that the later in life we learn lessons, the harder it is to turn and live them.

To the mamas who are tired of using the same words, and the dads feeling burned out teaching the old familiar lessons, do not weary in doing good (Galatians 6:9). There is no greater seed to be sown than training up your precious gift from God. One day you will see the glory of the Lord shining on your child’s face and you will know …


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