Take a look at this father and son, with the dad showing his young son how something works.
Contrast this everyday kind of photo with recent domestic abuse news stories that make your blood curdle.
Fathers and sons are a hot topic since Minnesota Vikings player Adrian Peterson was charged with child abuse.
He admitted to using a switch--a tree branch stripped of leaves and smaller branches--to "discipline" his four-year old son.
Peterson told People magazine, "I have to live with the fact that when I disciplined my son the way I was disciplined as a child, I caused an injury that I never intended or thought would happen."
Let's get one thing straight right here
- Discipline is not beating a child
- Discipline is not screaming and yelling at a child
- Discipline is not name-calling, threatening or humiliating a child
Webster's Dictionary defines "discipline" as:
"training that develops self-control, character, or orderliness and efficiency."
Most of us would connect training with patiently showing a child or another person how to do something--again and again--until they "get it."
Parents do that all the time. We're here to help our kids master the necessary skills of living so they can thrive even when they're apart from Mom and Dad.
Look at the root of the word "discipline"
For three years the twelve men we call "disciples" walked and talked with Jesus, listened and learned. They followed His instruction and His example.
Jesus discipled His spiritual "children."
Jesus was getting them ready to live without Him, because He knew He would be returning to the Father.
We oh, so human parents, with all our human failings, disciple our children, too, whether we realize it or not. Our kids watch us every minute and hear every word we say--even when we think they're not listening.
They do as we do, much more than they do as we say.
Adrian Peterson used a switch on his four-year old because his parent(s) used switches on him.
Peterson took his cues on how to parent from how his parent(s) treated him and his siblings.
Apparently it never occurred to him there was anything wrong with treating his young son so harshly. He says of himself, " ... I am not a perfect parent, but I am, without a doubt, not a child abuser ... "
It's worth noting that his parents never married and that Peterson reportedly fathered from four to seven children, with several women. He recently married for the first time.
We CAN break away from harmful patterns--if we recognize them and decide to end them
One couple I know, let's call them Laura and Mark, both were badly abused as children. Yet each one wanted to have a family. Before they married these two promised each other they would never abuse nor humiliate their children, no matter what.
"Oh, it was hard!" Laura says. "Especially when our two kids were young, there were times I had to walk out of the room, even out of the house and go sit on the front step until I cooled down. Then I'd go back, give them big hugs and tell them Mommy had been too angry and needed a timeout, but I loved them very much. That's pretty much what Mark did, too.
"Did we pray? Oh yeah!
"Our children are young adults now and I'm thankful to say neither Mark nor I ever raised a hand against them. Our marriage is strong and the four of us are very close as a family. We really enjoy being together. That's nothing like the way Mark's and my birth families relate to each other."
Take hope! Help is available, any moment of any day
Some of us are stuck in the old ways. Some want out, but we think we're not strong enough.
That's true on our own. But we + our strong resolve + Jesus' strength within us can do it.
Here are some "energy pills" for the journey--all ESV:
(Jesus said) I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. --John 15:5
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. --1 John 1:9
I can do all things through him who strengthens me. --Philippians 4:13
Some of us know by experience that asking Jesus to guide and empower us is the only way to live.