You can do amazing things with cement, but you must be prepared for it when it comes, and you must work with it until you have what your desire. First, you must prepare the ground and set the forms, which must be rechecked. Then you must be able to work with the cement, pour it into the forms, and let it set up. This is not to say that you choose your child’s life partner and occupation, but in a sense you do. You give the child a foundation from which the child can begin to build. The parent that believes loving their child is enough is mistaken and will probably one day be shamed by their own child. And much of the blame will rest with the parent because they failed to train the child through discipline.
If you have a child you don’t enjoy being around, and no one else does either, you have a problem that should be addressed promptly. It won’t go away on its own. A child needs boundaries. They flourish with boundaries and often try to figure out where the boundaries are.
While Eli, the priest (1 Samuel 2), was ignoring his son’s bad behavior, God was preparing a leader in the small child, Samuel. The narrative points us to a small boy ministering before the Lord. We should never discount the training and the potential of children. They must be trained and disciplined if they are going to be the person God has for them to be. To have a fool for a child brings grief; there is no joy for the parent of a godless fool” (Prov 17:21). If you think a child will grow up without discipline to be a wonderful person, you are sadly mistaken. As a parent, do not despise discipline and training. It is your friend and the transforming process for the child. Eli had difficulty with discipline regarding his sons. He was the kind of parent who wanted his sons to be happy, and he certainly did not like confrontation. His sons, however, became worthless and corrupt; they were stealing and committing immoral acts. Eli knew but did not want to confront them.
Eli’s attempt to confront his sons showed his weakness in dealing with them. Most likely, this is how he has always dealt with them, telling them what is correct but leaving them to keep doing their own thing. There is a lack of resolve to deal with the problem. Where is the outrage? Where is the shame? Where is the anger? Where is the action? Confrontation is not easy, but our integrity demands action. We cannot allow corruption to continue if it is within our power to end it. Anything less would be indifference, which we see in Eli. We are not helpless unless we believe we are. It is called “Learned Helplessness.” We must love and affirm our children, but we must also discipline them and, at times, confront them. We cannot allow a two year or a teenager to be disrespectful and out of control—we must engage them. If not, they will hurt themselves and others as they grow older into adulthood.