The Power of Self-Government

          I have raised five children.  My experience does not necessarily make me wise, butaccumulated knowledge applied to my life’s experience has yielded some fruit ofwisdom.  The Bible declares thatknowledge, understanding, and wisdom are primary building blocks of life.  Human disciplines, such as mathematicsand science, also stress the importance of these fundamentals. 

Early in my life of parenting, Idiscovered a primary and indisputable pearl of wisdom:  self-government is learned throughparental discipline.  In applyingdiscipline, my role was not that of the punisher for unacceptable deeds.  My role was to train my child in theability to self-discipline.  Thatmay sound contradictory, as I was the big one carrying the “big stick.”  However, if pain was the only lesson mychild learned, I had failed to obtain the greater goal.

            Disciplinemust never include the element of power struggle.  Doubtless, the adult is the greater power who can yelllouder or exert the stronger physical pressure.  Pain can be inflicted through power struggles, but noknowledge of self-government is cultivated.  The child is taught that might makes right.  Bullying, intimidation, threats ofviolence, or other such physical displays of rulership are learned and willundoubtedly be practiced upon the child’s siblings or peers.  Such inculcation builds adults who areinclined toward crime on a societal level or anarchy on a governmental level.

            Toavoid power struggles, the child should be taught to submit to discipline,which is to be meted out in just and controlled doses.  Whether a parent is applying a time outor a rod of correction, the child must be brought to a posture of compliance,thus signifying that the child has activated self-control, acknowledged thehierarchy structure, and chosen submission in a spirit of humility.  Such inculcation builds adults who areof great value in the market place and priceless in relationships.

            Trainingthe child in self-restraint is accomplished by the proper use of correction andthrough the example set by the parent. A child who has learned to control his or her spirit in the pre-schoolyears, will more easily implement the skill of self-discipline to scholastics,in the rigors of athletics, and throughout hormonal changes.  During the teenage years when thechild’s volition must be matured, the parent’s role shifts to more of a guideand counselor.  If power strugglesare still the preferred mode of pedagogue with a teen, the parents have almostforfeited the opportunity to train the child in self-control.

            Aself-governed child produces a self-governed adult.  A self-governed adult does not need to be forced intocompliance by the threat of violence from an external parent figure, becausethe self-governed adult will voluntarily embrace and apply truth.  A family of self-controlled persons ispeaceful and gratifying.  Abusiness of self-controlled workers is productive and prosperous.  A nation of self-controlled citizens islaw abiding and freedom seeking. 

The wisdom of self-government orthe folly of power struggles results from the application of parentaldiscipline.  (Prov. 16:32)


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