Child Discipline: Spare the Switch? - Efrem Smith
"Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him"
Proverbs 13:24 (ESV)
The recent news about Minnesota Vikings Running Back, Adrian Peterson whooping his 4 year son excessively with a switch has sparked a lot of discussion throughout social media. Even using the word excessively could cause great frustration with those who would say I'm using language to cover up child abuse. In the end, child abuse could very well be the verdict in the legal process. But I will let the process take its course.
Let me start by saying that there are a number of issues at work here. The first is the cultural differences and opinions about child discipline. When I say cultural differences, I'm not purely focused on race or ethnicity. Values and behavior within this issue can be based on demographics, economic class, and one's own childhood issues. The second issue is the value placed on children in our society. Some are reacting based on their love for football, not children. Some are reacting based on defending an African American male that they feel is being made an example of within the powerful institutions of the media, the NFL, and the ever-growing public opinion. But even this category doesn't seem to put children first. Some people are reacting based on what they went through as a child and the unresolved issues around how they were disciplined. I wonder what our discussions would be if we put children first.
I was spanked and whooped as a part of being disciplined by my parents. This was the cultural context in which I grew up. I have never doubted that my parents loved me dearly as a child. I also know that they took a different approach in disciplining me than how their parents disciplined them. Now that I'm a parent, I discipline my children somewhat different than my parents disciplined me. I know this: though I received spankings and whoopings growing up, my doctor never saw marks on my body that raised concern. I'm not here to judge Adrian Peterson. I'm here to say that we need to be willing to regularly revisit the complex issues around disciplining our children. Here are some thoughts:
1.) Never discipline your child when you are angry. Cool off, explain to your child why you are disciplining them, and when it's over hug them and tell them how much you love them.
2.) Ask yourself: Is physical punishment of some kind is needed? Are you doing it because it's all you know? Or are you too tired to think through other options?
3.) Don't parent in isolation. You should have other family members, friends, and even professionals who you allow to speak into your life about how you discipline your children.
4.) An arrogant parent is an ignorant parent.
I'm not telling you to spank or not spank your child. I'm not telling you to whoop or not whoop your children. What I am saying is this: continue to grow as a parent. Don't do something just because your parents did. My parents listened to 8 tracks, but I don't. It's a different day. Be wise, be loving, be consistent, and keep learning when it comes to being a parent. As a Christian, I ultimately want to be directed by God in how I parent. What directs and guides you? Speaking of Christianity, I would encourage you to study all of the interactions of Jesus with children. Also, reflect upon what could become the thin line between discipline and abuse. Finally, as a society we must wrestle with how much we truly value children in our society. We are so quick to judge and defend celebrities while our kids become second-class citizens.
King's Kids Bible Club
Seventeen years ago, a World Impact church plant in Newark started the King's Kids Bible Club on a Saturday morning. Today it continues to reach children in the neighborhood surrounding the Newark Christian School building—especially un-churched children — to evangelize, equip and empower them to follow Christ, even in their youth. The club's vision is to see entire families led to Christ through these children. In the coming year, there will be regular family movie nights co-sponsored by King's Kids and World Impact Community Church in an effort to reach the extended family.
DeeDee is one of the children whose family was impacted for Christ through the ministry. Her two older brothers, Daquan and Darnell have been attending King's Kids for four years. During their first year and a half, they struggled with getting along with other children. Occasionally, the boys were sent home for their behavior. Although they were angry and frustrated, they kept coming back, to the safe environment of King's Kids.
Daquan made a commitment to follow Jesus in December 2010 and Darnell in January 2012. There wasn't a significant outward change at first, but God is gradually transforming these two brothers. The boys are becoming more cooperative and attentive during the Bible teaching, and their behavior toward the other children is improving. They demonstrate more control over their anger and are more apt to listen to correction rather than shift the blame. Although memorizing is not easy for either of them, they have work hard to learn their memory verses.
Their mother is thankful for the influence King's Kids has had on her children. We are praying for the day when they will come to church as a family.
Newark Christian School Provides More Than Education
On June 12, Newark Christian School held its first eighth-grade graduation. As the graduates shared about their lives and time in school and recited Scripture, they were so poised and confident. The graduation service included sharing by former Newark Christian School graduates on how their education prepared them for high school and college. One graduate was Aziz. When he came to Newark Christian School six years ago, Aziz could barely read. The teachers invested their summers and many Saturdays to strengthen his academic skills. Now Aziz aspires to become a veterinarian—he was even able to take part in a summer program at Cornell.
Newark Christian School students receive a rich and fulfilling education that includes field trips few adults get to take. Their summers are filled with day camps and even more educational trips. They win awards in regional and state competitions against the top students in public and private schools. They go on missions trips and make gospel presentations in churches and other schools. With the help of your prayers and financial support our school is writing a powerful letter in the lives of our students. We are excited by the powerful verses they too will write.