This past Saturday, Japanese parents abandoned their 7-year-old son by a road near a forest, as punishment for throwing rocks at people and cars. There’s anger over the incident– they left him, drove about 500 meters and came back – and when they returned their son was gone. All they wanted to do was discipline him a little.
What would make parents do such a thing?
The same weekend, parents at the Cincinnati Zoo watched in horror as a 450-pound gorilla grabbed a toddler by the leg and pulled him aggressively through the water of his enclosure. The gorilla became more agitated with the screaming audience watching helplessly from above. According to reports, the little boy had to go under a railing, through 3 feet of grass and shrubs, and over a wall before falling 10-15 feet into the gorilla enclosure. 
Where was his mother? How could she let this happen?
Parenting is overwhelming and how we parent is constantly being questioned and tested. Unfortunately, in today’s world, our decisions and the consequences of those can even go viral. In reality, we make a lot of bad decisions.
We might not leave our child alone on a road as punishment, but we have all made poor parenting choices at times. We are far from being perfect. And acknowledging this is the first step to becoming the best parents we can be.
- We are imperfect and have a sinful nature. Let’s protect our children from it.
“The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.” Galatians 5:17 (NLT)
Thankfully, we have the Holy Spirit, our Helper, who can guide and instruct us through parenting. Furthermore, our heavenly Father is our greatest example. We need to fill ourselves with Him by engaging with His Word daily. Our sinful nature will diminish as we learn to walk and live according to the Spirit of God.
- We need to learn child-rearing through the lens of Scripture.
Research shows that child-rearing cognitions influence parents to either act positively or negatively toward their children. In other words, parents see their children through a filter of thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes which direct how they perceive and respond to their children’s actions.
You are probably not even aware what your filters are. You might feel pressured to perform as a parent due to society, family or cultural perceptions. Triggers can be subtle – stress, onlookers, selfishness, laziness, hidden anger.
In correcting your child, are you quickly losing your patience, because you’re in a public situation and embarrassed? Don’t react to the environment. Respond to what your child needs.
Stop for a moment and go back to the beginning. These are selfish concerns. Sometimes we don’t even know we are allowing other thoughts dictate how we are disciplining our children. Ask God to help you see them clearly. Ask God for wisdom. Our Father knows the art of parenting.
- Children are vulnerable.
Those Japanese parents probably had good intentions about teaching their son to be courteous and kind to others, but the method they chose couldn’t have been worse. Scaring their son into obeying by abandoning him on the roadside is not a good way to discipline. Beneath the surface of that unruly, rock-throwing, rebellious child is a little boy who will never forget the moment he was left alone. We need to remember that emotional scars are very hard to heal. And as parents we are responsible for the physical, emotional and spiritual well-being of our children.
- Don’t sin against your children.
This is in the Bible, too. Of course we never intend to hurt our children or damage them in any way. But we need to consider the importance of our words, actions, and even body language in our everyday interactions. Everything we do “says” something.
“Fathers, do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged.” Colossians 3:21
Let’s treat our children with respect, as well as with love. We are the role models they will follow, and will emulate when raising their own children.
- Always discipline your children with love.
No one is questioning the importance of discipline. It’s wisdom and life to our children. Without discipline, a child will suffer as an adult.
- “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” (Proverbs 29:15)
- “Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death.” (Proverbs 19:18)
May we correct, encourage and love our children as God corrects, encourages and loves us.
Leiza Gomes has a passion to see children and youth find their true identity and purpose in Christ. Together with her husband, she served in overseas missions with youth in Germany and at-risk youth and children in Brazil. Leiza is both a graduate from the International School of Ministry in Boca Raton, FL and of Florida Atlantic University with a Bachelor’s in Multimedia Journalism. She currently works as a Project Design Manager developing tools to share the Gospel with children and youth around world with OneHope.
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 Galatians 5:24-25
 Grusec, PhD, Danyliuk, BA topic ed. Parents’ Impact on Children’s Development – Synthesis. Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development [online]. CEECD, SKC-ECD. December, 2014. URL: http://www.child-encyclopedia.com/parenting-skills/according-experts/parents-attitudes-and-beliefs-their-impact-childrens-development. Accessed [May 31,2016].