|Standing on the Promises:
A Handbook of Biblical Childrearing
The first thing to note is that effective discipline is painful. Hebrews 12:11 says it this way: “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Short-term discipline is painful. The long-term result of discipline is the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
God disciplined the Hebrew children in the wilderness for their grumbling. Because of our connection to Adam, children will start grumbling as soon as they figure out how. The parents must respond, “In God’s book, complaining and grumbling and whining were not permitted,” and then the child must be disciplined for it.
We tend to think that forgetting is a reasonable excuse [for not obeying], whereas in Scripture it is an additional offense. “They forgot God their Savior, Who had done great things in Egypt, wonderous works in the land of Ham, awesome things by the Red Sea” (Ps. 106:21-22).
Another aspect of effective discipline is that it cannot be prolonged. Pleasantness should reign in the biblical home, and discipline should be a brief event. But in many homes chronic unpleasantness reigns all the time. When discipline occurs, it is simply a matter of going from bad to worse. Godly discipline is not like that; of course there will be acute unpleasantness from time to time during the discipline, but an atmosphere of joy and peace and graciousness reigns most of the time.
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I can remember as a child intentionally not paying attention so that I could sincerely say, “I forgot,” which was the only acceptable excuse; although I would then get a lecture, I wouldn’t be spanked.
When our boys say “I forgot,” then they are in trouble for not listening *if* I am positive they heard me and I was clear and they have no legitimate reason for forgetting. Forgetting can be a symptom of the habit of sloppiness or laziness as well as a convenient, non-confrontational expression of rebellion.
It is their job to obey, and to obey you have to listen “with your brain” as we put it around here. So if we slip into patterns of forgetting/not-listening then we rev up the answering habit again: “Hans, please _______.” “Yes, ma’am.” or “What? I don’t understand/didn’t hear you” etc. It is common for children (and adults, I think) to not clarify what they don’t understand about commands because then they think they won’t be held accountable to it. But if they didn’t understand or hear, then they are accountable/responsible for clarifying. Of course, we do this through talking and having the boys repeat the process mostly; we only kick it up a notch on the discipline scale if it becomes stubborn or it’s not sinking in.
A good, short sting causes the memory to be much more active, especially in boys. 🙂 “You aren’t being punished,” I say sometimes, “Jesus took the punishment for your sins. This is so you will remember __________. This will help what I am saying stick in your brain so you will choose the right thing next time.”
Of course, as Brandy mentioned, it’s not a plug-and-go formula. It’s the parents’ job to try to discern what’s going on in the particular situation with the particular child and attempt to address that appropriately.
I completely agree that we can’t take this passage too far. I mainly posted the quote because it made me think about forgetting in a way I hadn’t before. Basically, the thought was: IF God disciplined for forgetting, then there must be an aspect of forgetting that is willful. It was a new one for me, even though we have disciplined a particularly forgetful child as a complement to deliberately training her in the habit of remembering. With this child, I had to finally conclude that her forgetfulness was her method of rebellion. So I think it resonated with me because of that.
With that said, our other children have forgotten things and we haven’t disciplined them for it, so I personally think it is an individual decision rather than a Biblical imperative. 🙂
Glad you like the quotes! I like this book a lot, too.
I have truly enjoyed this book!
Thanks for the quotes. (great reminders)
Brandy, it seems to me comparing forgetting to do something and Ps.106:21-22 can not be compared if looked at in the context of that scripture- in the previous verses God is talking about his people making themselves idols instead of worshipping him- it might be best compared to a child being in full-blown rebellion living out on the edge, not merely forgetting to do something in obedience?
Please correct me if I have misunderstood that quote.
As always- your blog is very thoughtful and a pleasure to read!