Several years ago, I was fortunate to attend a wonderful event hosted by the M.G.T. & G.C.C. (Women of the Nation of Islam) in Houston, Texas. During this event, I was blessed and privileged to be among a group of sisters who attended a workshop conducted by Mother Tynnetta Muhammad. Though it was not her specified topic, she shared profound advice and gave words of encouragement regarding the rearing of our children. I recall her tone being serious when she said, “Our children come through us, but they are NOT from us. They are from Allah (God).” Those words illuminated the proverbial light bulb over my head. As a new mother, I was simultaneously humbled and elevated at this affirmation of the divine value of motherhood.
Our children are from God, but He charges us with caring for what He created. How does one handle a gift from God? The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has stated that mothers, in particular, are the supreme being in the lives of their children before the child is old enough to recognize the real Power - God. Any need the child signals, the mother provides – the child is not yet aware of the One that mother is depending upon. This gives parents tremendous authority, power, and responsibility. An unbalanced parent can easily abuse this authority; forgetting that the child is from Allah (God). Authority can make us arrogant and crazy if we do not respect the AUTHOR who gave us the authority in the first place. When we disrespect God by moving Him out of the equation of our parenting, abuse is inevitable – verbal, physical, and/or sexual.
Allah (God) is our Father; so, there is no better reference for parents to study than how God handles His people. God is balanced. Every decision He executes is justified. He punishes; He rewards; He chastises, and He elevates. He will straighten our means of subsistence; He will amplify our means; He gives us difficulty; then He gives us ease. We could go on and on. But according to the Holy Qur’an, His chief attribute is Mercy. Mercy takes precedence over punishment – this is God’s way. Mercy is undeserved kindness, compassion, and forgiveness. If Allah’s (God’s) overarching attribute is Mercy, then shouldn’t ours be as well? How do we know when mercy is required and when it should take a backseat to punishment? Study God.
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan said, “When children come out of a home where there is no discipline and go into a home where there is discipline, you will find that they like being where there is discipline. There is a human need to be disciplined, and, therefore, to discipline is a human right. As parents, we must have the right and authority to discipline our children.” Chaos and confusion are unnatural. The universe is governed by laws, order, and structure set in place by the Creator. The most energetic, active toddler craves structure and normalcy. He may not be able to communicate it, but his nature bears witness – there’s a time for play, a time for rest; a time to learn, a time to eat; a time to bathe, a time to be comforted, etc.
In an article titled, Family…From the Perspective of Children, Minister Farrakhan wrote, “Some of us think that disciplining our children is abuse, but everything in creation has its affair regulated by law. In the home, there is a need for rules, regulations or laws. Rules and regulations are a human need, and to deny our children the discipline of rules is to deny them that which ultimately will make them secure. There must be rules in the home. There must be rules that teach us how to relate to one another properly in the home. There must be rules of respect for parents, children, self and one another that are taught in the home because everywhere we go, we will find existing rules and regulations. Where there are no rules, there will be no order. Chaos will be the result. Where there is chaos, it will bring to an end the activity or the life of the home, school, community, nation, and the world.”
Why is it that being disciplined is positive if we are dealing with adults, but seen as negative if we are dealing with children? Discipline in any field involves instruction, training, structure, regulations, guidelines, correction – and yes, punishment. Those who undergo the process of discipline reap the benefits.
Neither the Holy Qur’an nor the Bible condones abusing children. Discipline is not synonymous with abuse. Punishment is not synonymous with abuse. Spanking or corporal punishment is not synonymous with abuse. The latter must be done in moderation and with the thought in mind of correction, not inflicting as must pain as possible. No sane parent takes pleasure from bringing pain to their child. However, the enemy is playing a dangerous game when he threatens to take the God-given rights of parents away for spanking and disciplining their children in an effort to correct or protect them. These are children given to them by God, not by governmental agencies. These same policymakers then have the audacity to look the other way when police officers brutally beat and murder our Brothers and Sisters without cause – the hypocrisy is sickening. Universal law demands that we are disciplined. At some point, we must all submit and humble ourselves to a higher authority. So, it is better that the parent is the one to regulate the child early in life, rather than the judicial system, fellow prisoners, a disease or terrible tragedy.
To be clear: If there is irrefutable evidence that parents or guardians are abusing their children, those children must be removed from that home. Those parents have misused their authority from God in the worst imaginable way. Not only should they lose their children, but in truth, those that commit the most egregious criminal acts against children are worthy of death.
The Minister makes it clear, “Corporal punishment is not abuse if it is done with moderation, with the thought in mind of correction and not the thought of afflicting pain, but to bring about change in the behavior to make a better child and a better human being. Punishment must always be in accord with the violation, and devoid of anger. The love that we have for our children is the reason why we punish them because our desire is to make the child better.”
Corporal punishment has become a controversial topic, so it must be addressed. Physical discipline is not the only form of discipline, but it’s very effective. However, let’s be sure to follow God. Allah (God) is slow to anger; though He does get there. He is so patient with us and before His anger is unleashed, He could provide proof of ample reminders and warnings. So even though He is completely justified – when He finally punishes, His anger is still controlled. The Bible advises us to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger. We should never punish when we are out of control with anger; even if the reason is sound. Never should our frustrations be taken out on our children. Quick-tempered parents will soon abuse their children. Exercising patience helps us to be slow to anger. In other words, the disciplinarian must also be disciplined. Discipline should build character and establish regulation; not destroy self-worth. If we are impatient with our children, we will spank them for every single infraction, making our punishment ineffective.
The truth is that corporal punishment (spankings) should decrease as the child gets older; and at some point, it should end all together. Physical punishment is only productive at an early age. If we are still spanking our teenager, something was missed a long time ago. The Minister explains that in child psychology, there is a phase of human development called the animalistic stage; which is from birth to about five years old. During this phase of development, trying to reason with a child using logic, discussion and debate is a waste of time. However, they respond immediately to pleasure and pain. Animals and small children are creatures of instinct. It may sound crude, but just as animals are trained using pleasure and pain, it’s just as effective for children. A spanking (on the behind) brings about immediate results. Can this be found in the scriptures? Absolutely.
If our children are from Allah (God), we should rear them in the manner He dictates. There are many scriptural references that admonish parents to discipline their children and our sincere love for them is questioned if we do not. Allah (God) says that those whom He loves, He chastens much. The most common reference is to Proverbs 13:24, “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them” (NIV). Modern translation: Spare the rod, spoil the child. The King James Version uses the term “betimes” – discipline the child early, speedily. Younger children must learn to submit to their parents; even if it is out of fear. We cannot protect what we cannot control. The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan said that fear is more constant than love. So, initially, fear is necessary, but it does not last because their submission will lead to understanding. Punishment, particularly for toddlers must be swift. If we wait to punish our child, chances are he will have forgotten why he is being spanked or reprimanded; which then makes his punishment ineffective and unjust.
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan also stated, “The more correction one is given, the greater the demonstration of love.” He went on to say that, “There is no child who will not be comforted by the proper use of the rod and the staff,” for as David said, “Thy rod, and Thy staff, they comfort me.” As our children mature, understanding comes; so, the way we discipline has to also evolve. At this point, we should talk first and explain why such and such behavior is not allowed and what the consequences will be for persisting to disobey. This is when getting grounded, having stern conversations and employing reason becomes effective. It is imperative that we follow through with the punishment the next time it occurs. Every time we say we are going to do something and then do not follow through; our authority is weakened, and our children learn to manipulate us; getting away with more and more.
Parents must demonstrate a united front. Children should not see their parents disagree about the appropriate punishment. When Daddy is doing the punishing, Mommy has to stand down. She should not interfere physically or verbally. The same is true vice versa. Our children should be clear that if a particular behavior is not okay when Mommy is around; then it is equally not okay when Daddy is around.
There are real consequences for our children and for us when we choose not to discipline. So be careful about following the trends of the time. When in doubt, ask God. He is our example and He changes not. He makes it clear in the scripture that where there is no discipline, there is no love. So, let’s all strive to “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6 KJV).