What is the difference between using violence and disciplining the children?

On the 21st of February 2008 the results of the study “Using violence to children” were published. It was realized by the IMAS organization, and initiated by the Ministry of Social Protection, Family and Child and the Ministry of Education and Youth, supported by the representatives of UNICEF in Moldova. According to the mentioned study 25% of questioned children said that they are beaten by their parents, and 13% mentioned that they were punished physically by their teachers at school. I would like very much to see the questions asked in that questionaire, because, according to the results presented in mass-media, every physical punishment used to children was qualified as violence and so, every parent who disciplined his child in this way was qualified as the one who uses violence to the children. This is a great injustice and deviation from truth. Yes, there are many parents in our country that use violence to their children, and I am the one who experienced this in my childhood from my father. But, it is a great injustice to qualify every discipline with physical punishment as violence to children. In fact, let us see what God says in the Holy Scripture concerning this subject and what is, according to the Bible, the difference between violence and discipline by applying physical punishment.

Discipline is a manifestation of a parent’s love

God said through the mouth of wise Solomon so:

He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently. (Proverbs 13:24)(NASB)

When you are not interested in your child’s life, then you remain indifferent towards all his acts and you don’t administer punishment, because you don’t care about him. But if you love him and you want to help him have a beautiful character, than you administer punishment for sure and use discipline. Children are not equal: to some is sufficient reproof and reprimand, while others need physical discipline. Children like to try the limits for many times and they realize the presence of limits when parents use physical discipline to them and other time they will listen to their parents’ words. But if one wants to be “good-hearted” or who “educates according to modern methods” and doesn’t administer punishment, God says that this kind of man hates his child. This truth is applied to us, adult people too, when we talk about our relation with God if we are his born again children by faith in Jesus Christ. Here is what God says in the Epistle to Hebrews:

And you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, ”MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD, NOR FAINT THEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM; FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.” It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they (parents) disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. (Hebrews 12:5–11)(NASB)

Discipline by administering physical punishment is a normal thing in childhood

Children cannot understand the meaning of punishment and they apreciate it only when they grow up. And, there are also cases when children came later to their parents asking why they hadn’t been punished in their childhood and they are right. The Bible says:

Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of discipline will remove it far from him. (Proverbs 22:15)(NASB)

What does this mean? Let me give you an example. Once our two sons played a game when they were throwing some kind of toys with pins into a target. And where do you think the target was? A wall from the dining room. The wall looked awful. When I came home, I began to ask questions to find out how that happened and suddenly they began to ask for forgiveness for their mistake. I was wondering why they had done that thing. I thought they were already grown-ups. But, I remembered immediately a case when I had been in the 8th or 9th grade and I had discovered that I had been able to throw the knife as Indians did in movies. I had been so overwhelmed and the door had looked awfully. So, the foolishness was bound in my heart then, as it was at that moment in my children’s hearts. But, the Bible says that the rod of discipline removes it far away. Beware the phrase “rod of discipline”, it is not only punishment, but reproof also, to explain the problem, the consequence, and then to administer the punishment. But, if discipline is not administered, foolishness will remain bound up in the heart of that child until the end of life. So, if you don’t punish your child in his childhood, you ruin him up for the rest of his life and those who have to suffer the consequnces, as his wife, children, and parents will also have their part of sufferings.

Using violence to a child is using physical punishment with wickedness

The Word of God says:

Discipline your son while there is hope, and do not desire his death. (Proverbs 19:18)(NASB)

There are parents that give vent to their anger when they punish their children. In fact, this is not a punishment but a violence, because every child feels the wickedness and he feels cheap, hateful and strange. Such kind of “discipline” doesn’t produce any effect, it brings only bitterness and a wish of revenge in the child’s heart. That’s why, God teaches us, the parents, the following:

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)(NASB)

When a child does a mistake, the parent should verify the reason he has done so. Maybe he hasn’t known how to do it right. In this case, you have to teach him/her how to do that thing right. But if he/she knows how to do and doesn’t take it into account, then he must be reproved and this has a great effect. I know many children and grown-ups who say that reproof had the greatest effect upon them, and they would have rather preffered to be punished physically than in the wise way their parents were doing that. But there are also some children that don’t change their behavior after reproof and in this way, using physical punishment is welcome until a certain age and he will understand the limits he can’t go over. But if parents use punishment out of evil reasons and in this way they “discharge” themselves emotionally upon their kids, this thing provokes them to anger and the child will not show any respect and obedience to these kind of parents.

Administering physical punishment to a child will influence his eternal destiny

The same wise king Solomon said:

Do not hold back discipline from the child, although you strike him with the rod, he will not die. You shall strike him with the rod and rescue his soul from Sheol. (Proverbs 23:13–14)(NASB)

Sheol is a place of suffering where go the souls of all sinners to wait for the day of judegement. The Lord Jesus told once about a rich man who behaved very disdainfully with people and with God. When this man came to Sheol, he was praying to Abraham to send Lazarus to put some water on his lips, that would cool him down – so great was the torture. When we administer physical punishment to a child, according to Holy Scriptures, out of love and not out of wickedness, we make them aware that every evil deed has its consequences and he will spend his eternity in the way he lives and behaves in this life. Look around, and see how many people don’t show elemmentary wisdom, that says that every cause produces an effect. Many do so much evil as if they will never be punished because of their sins. Administering physical punishment to a child, you make him/her realize the consequences of his acts and about God’s character. Here is what the Scriptures say:

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. (Galatians 6:7)(NASB)

This truth can be also applied to parents that don’t punish their children. They sow indifference and scorn now and they will reap an old full of scorn, as wise Solomon says:

The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother. (Proverbs 29:15)(NASB)

Listen to the wise man’s advice:

Correct your son, and he will give you comfort; He will also delight your soul. (Proverbs 29:17)(NASB)

Declare yourself against those who sow scorn

There is an article published on George Iosip’s Blog, that says:

The Ministery of Education and Youth of the Republic of Moldova has launched the National Project “School – environment without violence”. The Project will take place in all 1500 schools from our country and it will assure an educational partnership between children, parents and teachers. According to the minister of Education and Youth, Victor Tvercun, it is very important, on the one hand, to help children learn about non-violent communication and develop the abilities of peaceful solving of conflicts, and, on the other hand, to help teachers learn how to educate and discipline children without using physical or psychological punishment. “Taking into account the important role of the school in forming a child’s personality and the influence the school has upon families, we want to familiarize parents with positive practices used in schools and to motivate them to apply them in their families”, mentioned Victor Tvircun. The Project “School – environment without violence” includes many activities, such as trainings for teachers concerning positive and non-violent discipline, special lessons on the subject of violence in all schools, the editing of a leaflet for pupils, as well as informative seminars for teachers.

Using the words of the Bible, this project “School – environmnent without violence” is a trial to let children by themselves in schools, as well as in families. The consequences will come for sure and all will reap the shame and the scorn because of those children. Such tentatives have already been made in schools and here is an example we have experienced in our family. Our son, David, who is a very disciplined, dilligent and obedient boy, when he was in kindergarden, in a morning he woke up and said that he didn’t want to go to kindergarden because one lady came to them and told they that could whatever thay wanted. The teacher was a very wise and serious woman, but to them came someone from a certain organization to talk about human rights. So, David realized he had rights and he decided to profit and not to go to kindergarden that day. Then, my wife said: “Ok, David. We love you and we want you to grow up a good, wise man. That’s why, we do our utmost to feed you, to cloth you and we care about your needs. As long as you are our child and you live in our house, you have to do what we say. But if you insist to do what you want, you have to take off your cloth that we have bought to you and to go on street, where you can do whatever you want and you will fulfill all your needs.”

What do we want? Let your children destroy their life or help them build a future? I wrote this article to stop a great evil that some people want to impose us. We have to take action, if we remain indifferent, we will have to bear the consequences. May God protect us from such a great evil.

Translated by Djugostran Felicia