Are you helping your children to despise themselves?
It is simple thing—you asked your 8-year-old boy to take out the garbage. He doesn’t respond. You reason that maybe he didn’t hear you. So rather than cause a scene, you just ask him later. Then, later comes. So you ask him again, a little more loudly this time. This time he responds and says he will, right after he finishes his game. You tell him you’re good with that and move on.
A half-hour later, you see he is still at the game and the garbage is still in place. You walk over to him and demand that he take the garbage out NOW. He says okay and does it but he is clearly acting as if he were inconvenienced. But you are just happy he took the garbage out, so you breathe a sigh of relief. No real harm was done and at least he finally obeyed.
On the surface, it may appear things are okay. But beneath the surface, at the heart level, things are not good. The truth is that this boy has taken a step down the road to self-hatred. Solomon warns that those who disregard discipline despise themselves. What appears to be just an inconvenient delay is actually a progression of thought that will cause the child to despise himself. Look at Proverbs 15:31-32:
He who heeds life-giving correction
will be at home among the wise.
He who disregards discipline despises himself,
but the one who heeds correction gains understanding.
In contrast, your role as a parent is to raise children who embrace obedience as a blessing in their lives. God calls you to nourish your children as they grow up in your home. It is important for your children to see obedience as a blessing rather than the means to obtaining blessing.
When this boy quickly embraces correction, he not only does well in the moment, but he is learning to value the company of people who love wisdom. But when he rejects discipline, he is on a path that leads to self-loathing. To reject discipline is to invest in one’s own judgment. This is not a good idea. He is headed toward the awful fate of the young man in Proverbs 5:1l-14 who had come to the point of ruin because he rejected correction.
The goal of obedience is to do exactly what is directed, right away, with a pleasant and willing attitude. Anything less is self-accommodation on the part of both the parent and the child. This will lead the child to despise himself!
So what appears to be a harmless exchange of little consequence is really the beginning of a child learning to not trust God and despise himself. Solomon is not mincing words in Proverbs 15. He is making an urgent plea to remember this warning the next time your child refuses to obey exactly, quickly and with a pleasant, willing spirit.