This last step for reducing chaos in our lives is a pretty tall order. It’s going to take an abundance of work, and it’s not easy. The last step is D-I-S-C-I-P-L-I-N-E. Society considers this an ugly word. Most of us don’t like discipline. We don’t like to be limited. We want to live our lives how we see fit. We set that example to our children, and then we wonder why are lives are so chaotic.
We need discipline. Without self-discipline we allow ourselves to believe the lie of satan that life is boundless. We make decisions without considering the consequences to ourselves, our families, and others. This causes a downward spiral and before we know it our lives are spinning out of control.
Boundaries are for our protection. They give us parameters to keep us from stepping onto the side of danger. I don’t know about you, but when I was a rebellious teenager I liked to see how close I could walk to the boundary line to see how much I could get away with. Now that I’m older, have made plenty of mistakes, and have given my life to The Lord I realize that is the wrong way to live. I know God despises sin and He is the light in this dark world. The closer to the boundary we are the darker life becomes. He dwells on the other side where it is brightest. The Bible says where there is light there is no darkness. So nowadays I try to live as close to His light as I possibly can, not just for my own safety but also because after all He has done for me He deserves my obedience.
How do you set boundaries? Well, the best way is to let the Bible be your guide. There are clear, black and white boundaries in the Bible. It tells us what we should and should not do. There is also the Holy Spirit to guide those who have accepted Jesus as their Savior.
Not only should adults set and adhere to boundaries, but we should also set boundaries for our children. In this day and time there are so many children who are believing the lie that they are entitled to anything and everything, and it comes from a lack of boundaries. Some rules aren’t even classified as “boundaries”. They are simple manners and courtesies we should all have when following the Golden Rule. Here are some boundaries and rules we can set for ourselves and our children:
- Don’t try to explain to your children every reason why you said no. Sometimes they need to know why, but other times they don’t. I know God has told me “no” plenty of times in my life, but I don’t always know the reason. I need to be okay with simply obeying Him.
- There are times when it is okay to explain why a boundary has been set. If we know why, we may be more inclined to obey.
- Have you ever encountered this scenario: Children are young, sweet, innocent, and pure. All of the sudden you wake up one day ad they are using toilet humor, potty mouth, singing secular songs about adult situations, mimicking bad behavior, succumbing to peer pressure. You sit scratching your head, pulling out your hair, and asking yourself how the carnal world has entered your “sanctuary”? What is going on? Well, it stems from allowing outside influences to infiltrate your home and family. Don’t allow others to teach your children what you should be teaching them. I know many people who believe homeschooling is wrong because children don’t get “socialization”. What a crock! Children don’t learn what they need to know from other children or strangers. They learn it from their parents. If that were not the case, then God would not have created a family unit. He would just have children born into random social groups. I know plenty of children who were very well behaved until they started public school. Then they started getting their social skills from other children and teachers who did not have the same values as their family. This is not to say all public school children are poorly behaved. But those who are well behaved are those who spend more time at home than they do with classmates, neighbors, or friends.
- How about the scene when your children go into a home touching and breaking everything in sight? Teach children to keep their hands to themselves. That means keeping their hands off of other people and off of things that don’t belong to them. If it doesn’t belong to you, you don’t touch it.
- How about the embarrassment when your child enters someones home and starts thinking he’s entitled to help themselves to the hosts pantry or refrigerator? That may seem trivial, but it really isn’t. We need to teach children that they are not entitled to help themselves to the belongings of other people. They should always wait until something is offered. If the host doesn’t offering anything, then they have a good reason and you just have to be okay with that. You don’t help yourself.
- Simple table manners will go a long way in helping our children be successful. Chewing with your mouth closed, eating slowly taking small bites, napkins in the lap, elbows off of the table, and not licking our fingers–all of these simple table manners help our children learn to be respectful of the people around them and to have respect for themselves.
- How about those times when you want to crawl under a rock because your child said something insulting to someone? I’m sure we’ve all experienced this one. We need to teach our children to think before they speak.
- Respect your children. Don’t treat your children like pets. I know many parents who would never walk around with dirty clothes, faces, bottoms, etc. However, they show so little respect and care for their children that they leave them in soiled diapers because they want to conserve diapers or just don’t feel like changing them. Parents will bark orders at their children and call them names that belittle them, making them feel inferior or even “stupid” (I hate the word stupid). Parents will treat their children like their personal servants, “get me this”, “get me that”. If we don’t show our children respect, how can we expect them to know how to reciprocate it?
- Set boundaries for yourself. You cannot have one set of rules for yourself and another for everyone else. Children don’t do as you say, they do as you do. Your actions around your children will speak volumes over your words to them.
- Remember, discipline is not “fussing” at your child. Be sure your consequences match the offense. Many times as parents we give warnings, count to 3 or longer, and keep pushing our boundaries further and further until our word means nothing to our children. We must be consistent and follow through. Don’t make idle threats. In the real world there are consequences to our actions. If we don’t teach our children to fear consequences and to respect us, how will they ever respect the authority of God?
- All of these rules could be summed up by simply following God’s Golden Rule: Matthew 7:12 “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you,A)” style=”background-color: white; box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
Parenting and discipline are not as easy as setting boundaries and following them. Every day and every situation brings a mountain of challenges. Here are some helpful tools you may be able to utilize in setting boundaries and teaching your children to follow the Golden Rule:
- Creative Correction
- Created for Work: Practical Insights for Young Men
- Boyhood and Beyond: Practical Wisdom for Becoming a Man
- The New Christian Charm Course (student): Today’s Social Graces for Every Girl
- Family Driven Faith: Doing What It Takes to Raise Sons and Daughters Who Walk with God
- PEGS Discipline and Chore Chart
One additional thing you can do to help reduce chaos in your life is to surround yourself with people who are also seeking to do God’s will in the life of their home. We need all of the support we can get.