I think it is safe to say that any parent is embarrassed from time to time at the behavior of their children. This is usually true in public, when your rosy-faced darling pitches a fit. One that, to your chagrin, equals the tantrums of the children that made you NOT want children. In the back of your head you push aside that emphatic statement you had made, "My child will never act THAT way!" as you hastily shove a candy bar in the siren like mouth. This form of "survival parenting" is a common response to dealing with our children's misbehavior. It is safe to say taht we all choose not to discipline our children properly or fully because we are afraid of how it will make us appear to others. So, we do whatever it takes to avoid actually parenting our children in a way that is pleasing to the Lord and in the model his word has provided for us. Unfortunately, we unintentionally make greater fools of ourselves and worse of all we do our children the greatest disservice possible...failure to teach them that they are sinners in need to forgiveness and restoration with God and man.
Proverbs 29:15 is spot on, "The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother." When I first read this, I tend to think that it is the child that is a disgrace, an embarrassment and shameful. That may be true, but my own experience and further study has lead me to think that the disgraceful behavior isn't all that of the child, but more often the failure of the mother to correct and discipline her child's naturally sinful nature. Young's Literal translation renders the verse this way, "A rod and reproof give wisdom, and a youth let away is shaming his mother." The difference is that the mother is actively letting the child have his way through not providing the proscribed correction. The "rod and reproof" are that correction. When they are given consistently and lovingly the out come is wisdom in the child. A child needs both physical correction, matching equally with communicating how the child failed to meet the correct standard to produce a right heart and understanding of their faults.
Reproof is defined most simply as, "To rework, so as to eliminate what is considered to be faulty." This definition applies directly to the hearts of our children when they are disobedient to us. It is our responsibility as parents to "rework and eliminate" those errors, so that they don't continue to grow in these incorrect qualities that will later cause them harm.
Furthermore, Proverbs 29:15 goes on to say, "a youth let away is shaming his mother," This implies that mother actively let the child go his own way because she failed to provide correction. This is common in that parents choose unbiblical forms of discipline because they are the method that is currently acceptable, but they don't end up working out in the end. Some examples are, rewarding or bribing. They tend to produce a spirit or attitude of self-gradification or selfishness. The child thinks they are owed something when they act a certain way. Repeatedly warning children produces delayed obedience or disobedience and in turn a stronger willfulness. Take away privileges produces the desire for independence form parental authority and to be good only in outward appearances in order to get what is wanted. These and other unbiblical methods don't correct errors or change hearts. At most they will change outward behavior for a time, until the child figures a way around it.
My favorite part of this verse is actually the last words, "a youth let away IS shaming his mother," What is shameful or disgraceful is that the mother is letting the child call the shots. It is the mother's actions or failure to act that is disgraceful. However, I know as a parent I don't see my failure to discipline in that light. I think of it as being gracious, polite, considerate to others, or seeking to show others what a kind and sweet mother I am. They may or may not see it that way, but God definitely sees it as disgraceful and as a distinct failure to accomplish His delegation to me as a mother to the children he has so graciously given me care and training of.
This verse may specifically say mother for a reason. God know that it is often a pit-fall that women fall into. We want to be viewed as nurturing, caring and loving, especially in front of other mothers. We feel our value and worth is judged on these qualities. We also don't want to be embarrassed because we sternly and rightly discipline our children and we fear looking mean if our children cry or if we spank them. When we fear these things we are placing our focus in the wrong areas. If others do criticize or think poorly of us we should rest assure that the Lord will deal faithfully between us and them. If we aren't in error he will protect and provide for us. James 4:17 says, " Anyone who know the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins."
In am encouraged to look foolish or to even embarrass myself as I use loving and biblical discipline with my children. I know that spanking is viewed as barbaric and verbal correcting my children isn't the popular method these days. In a day and age that uses methods based on nothing but grace, where no punishments can be used, few corrections and even discourages naming behaviors as wrong or naughty, I find hope in these words, "For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength." (1 Cor. 1:25). It is very reassuring to know that God love my children far more than I do, that his word is with out error and would not contain an incorrect method for training children and that where I fall short he is gracious and sovereign over us all!