A while back, someone made the following comment:
How people, who should know better, who where raised in serious christian families, try to construct their life into being a victim of their ‘bad’ or ‘afouled’ parents and their ‘bad’ view on the bible.
My sister once said of people who don’t spank, “Do they hate their parents or something?”
I guess our discipline choices go to the heart of what parenting is, so maybe it’s not so surprising that when people realise we are doing things differently they assume we had an especially brutal childhood. Or maybe we’re just rebellious and want to do everything different from our parents.
It would probably surprise some readers to know that I would have been defined a ‘compliant’ child. And I had, for the most part, a great childhood. My parents were not overly strict. I rarely ‘needed’ a spanking, never felt that I had been abused, never went through a rebellious teenage stage, never seriously questioned my faith. Why, then would I want to do things differently?
I want to start with a couple of analogies. Firstly, think of that great American ideal, the man who worked his way up to the top, with the aim of giving his children everything he had grown up without. Does his desire to give his children a better life reflect a hatred or contempt for his parents? Probably not. He probably owes much of what he has become to the lessons he learned from his parents. Would it be honouring his parents to deliberately withhold good things from his children because he didn’t have them when he was young (I’m assuming the things/opportunities in question really are ‘good things’, not just ‘stuff’)? Well, I don’t think so, anyway.
Another example would be our plans for our children’s education. My husband and I were both schooled in the Tasmanian public school system and we both survived. But we intend to home educate our children. Not for especially religious reasons, or because we think the Tasmanian public school system is especially bad, but because we think the entire school-based education system is fundamentally flawed. Does that mean we think our parents made the wrong choice to send us into that system? No, we believe they were doing their best in their circumstances. In fact, I don’t judge anyone who chooses to use the school system. But, having researched and concluded that we can prepare our children for life better ourselves, we have made the decision that we believe is best for our family. It would not honour our parents or teachers to reject the conclusions our brains have reached.
Discipline issues are the same. I actually think our confidence to take a different road is evidence of what a great job our parents did in raising us. They managed to instill their faith without destroying our independence of thought. They taught us to respect authority but not to blindly follow it. I just happen to believe that this was *in spite of* their punitive discipline choices, not because of them. In the end, we should not look to people, even our parents, as the ultimate source of wisdom, but to God and His Word. And I believe parenting my children with grace is most in line with God’s character and Biblical principles.
And I don’t expect my own children to do everything the same way I did, either. I hope they will one day do a much better job of raising my grandchildren than I’m doing now with them ;).