Parenting and Rebukes: Harsh Words vs Blessings


First, a scripture. 

Train up a child in the way he should go [teaching him to seek God’s wisdom and will for his abilities and talents], Even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Proverbs 22:6 AMP

The heart of every rebuke, chastisement, and correction, is training. The motive is to drive home a change in behavior or thought through that correction so the child does not end up 'perishing'.

Here's a truth we all probably know: no parent was handed a manual on the arrival of their child with a full rundown of how to take care of that child. Subsequently, that means there's no written rule that says "these are the ten best ways to train your child." 

Many people (parents) pass down what they've seen their parents do, and how their parents did it. Of course, the ripple effect of that is either positive or negative. Why? No two children are the same. Even twins do not have the same personality 100%. Hence, what worked between them and their parents may not as much as scratch the surface with their own new generation children. There are exceptions, of course.

If you're Nigerian, like me, and Yoruba too, gather here for a selfie. Every skit on Yoruba mothers and fathers have an element of something we can all relate to. It's either the shouting, or the paranoia, or the insulting similes that come from an endless source of God-knows-where, the types of punishment, or even the beating; those spicy slaps that sound no warning before they land.

Don't blame our parents too much. We know they love us, and we love them too. All that, including the prayers they pray for us, are from a heart of love, geared towards training us up in the way we should go.

Did it work? A large number of us can answer yes, but not without a BUT. 

Now, my plane of thoughts is taxi-ing. Why but? Some of us can accuse our Nigerian parents of being too high-handed in their modes of correction. 

Parents, don't be hard on your children. Raise them properly. Teach them and instruct them about the Lord. - Ephesians 6:4 CEV

Parents, don’t come down too hard on your children or you’ll crush their spirits. - Colossians 3:21 MSG

Often, of two parents, one is good with whipping and or scalding rebukes, while the other is good with the shouting. Blessed are you if you have all that in one parent or both in measures. 

I grew up with my fair share of whips, lots of shouts and piercing rebukes. And that's where this post is headed. 

We're surrounded by parents, whose default mode upon a mistake by the child is a scathing remark. Some go as far as uttering curses upon their own children. Questions like "s'o ya were?" (Are you mad?) and "s'ori e o dàrú?" which loosely means is your mind unsound or insane, and several like them that make you (who isn't the recipient) cringe.

Have we so quickly forgotten?:

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. - Proverbs 18:21 NKJV

Children can be exasperating. Having younger siblings and a child of my own makes that very clear. However, as Christians, where do we draw the line between rebuking in love and reacting on impulse with harsh words that are capable of crushing a child's spirit?

Is there a difference between "don't be stupid" and "you're very stupid"?

Having had an opportunity to teach a class of 7/8 year olds, I realized, it is more of a struggle than we realize, being hard pressed not to use the same words that scarred us on these young ones when faced with their childish and sometimes very annoying behavior. 

How do we break out of the mold that we might have unknowingly fitted into by virtue of being recipients of that mode of correction?

How would Jesus want us to rebuke our children, such that the aim is achieved whether in the long or short run, and their spirits are not discouraged or broken?

The first approach is asking for help from the Father of all. He's the one with an eternal scope of experience in parenting. How God fathers all of us without tossing us away in anger is applaudable, and worth conforming to.

It is very important for us to renew our minds because the training we received is resident in our souls and not our regenerated spirit. So, we must by the help of the Holy Spirit, through God's word and directions, begin to flush out the bad stuff we may have imbibed. Sounds easy, right? Come back to this post when you become a parent, lol. Is it possible? Absolutely!

So rather than say "ori ota e ti burú" loosely translated "your enemy is unfortunate" in a bid not to directly refer to the child, you can as well yell "ori e da!" Which simply means you're blessed/fortunate. You've blessed the child, even in your anger. Now, isn't that like God? You can back that up with moderate spanking or verbal correction of whatever they did, but let's not forget that our tongue carries a lot of power. 

We will give account as parents or caregivers when we stand before God, on how we raised the children He committed to our care. May you not be found tongue-tied when confronted with the words you uttered that did more harm than good. 

In all our imperfect parenting, may we receive grace to truly help our children walk in the path they should take. I hope this blessed you.

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