Since we heard the news several days ago of our friends in Germany having their children taken from them, my mind has seemed to be a spinning top. So many thoughts going round and round, so many unanswered questions as if on a race course to the finish line of something, somewhere making sense of all this. So now, I attempt to wind down enough to maybe get out a clear idea of the truth I believe in the bottom of my heart.
It’s obvious to me that most people’s concept of discipline revolves around anger, frustration, and parents’ last resort to getting their children to do whatever it is they want them to do. Maybe some people’s idea of spanking is a violent act, as in beatings, being whipped, or another harsh punishment. If so, I can understand why they would have a positive response to the German government’s actions. No one in his right mind would think it would be good for children to grow up in a violent situation. I definitely don’t think this is what God intended when He spelled out clearly in His Word that if you love your child you will discipline him.
I grew up in the Twelve Tribes, the same community that these children were recently taken from. And yes, as a child I was spanked with a “small reed-like rod,” as were my six other siblings, who, along with my parents and I, had a very tight family bond. Discipline to me was a few stings from the rod on my bottom (never once was I spanked on my arms, back, or feet) followed by a warm hug and assurance from my parents that although they were displeased by my actions, they forgave me and did not hold it against me. So yes, it hurt for a moment, just as it says in Hebrews 12:11, but the feeling of being reconciled in the end was worth it. I knew that my parents really cared about me and loved me. Now, as I’ve grown into an adult and am raising my own family, I have a deep respect for my parents and the effort they put into raising us children. I see their selflessness by their kindness and time given to us, but also by their dealing with issues as they came up. Whether it was disobedience, disrespect, lying, or mistreating others, they did not wait until the tenth offense, when finally they were so fed up they couldn’t help but hit and scream out of utter frustration. If you were to ask me who my favorite people were, who I would love to be around more than anyone else, who were my best friends, I would have to say: my parents.
As the saying goes, “Judge a tree by its fruit.” If children grow up despising and hating their parents for the way they were disciplined (or not), wouldn’t that say something about their parents’ method of child rearing? In the same way, if children grow up to love and respect their parents, emulating them, wouldn’t that be good fruit? I think that’s the fruit God is looking for. After all, it is one of the Ten Commandments. Now as I struggle in making great effort to raise my own children the best I possibly can, I hope that the fruit of their lives will be the kind that God is looking for. Last night as I tucked them in bed, we talked about the children in Germany who were not with their parents right now. My 5½-year-old daughter turned to me and said, “I know why you discipline me. It’s not because you want to hurt me, but because you care about me and want to teach me a lesson so that I will stay on the right path.”
I was so happy to hear that from my precious little daughter. I never taught her to say this. It’s just what came out of her heart in the midst of our conversation. Now that’s not something you would just hear from any random child in the grocery store aisle. Have you ever heard anything like it? I’m not trying to brag about my daughter, but I am trying to make a point.
I have a friend in the Community in Wornitz. Her oldest child is around my daughter’s age. She still does not know where her two children are! How heart wrenching! This is a woman who also grew up with loving parents, had the same values put into her as the things I have described here, and is undoubtedly trying to do the same with her own children. So my point is this: Let the children speak for themselves. Then judge whether the tree is good or bad.