We all fail at times when it comes to disciplining our children. Neither we as parents nor our children can claim to not be influenced by sin. The truth is that we all struggle with self-control; even as parents our first instinct can be to scream at our kids when they do something wrong. When discipline seems hard and ineffective, it can be easy to just give up. Or to justify our parenting techniques based on the child’s age or mood.
As parents, we must be aware and ask ourselves, “do we want to do what is easiest?” or “do we want to truly honor God through our parenting?” and instruct our children in a godly way. As Christians, we are required to take discipline seriously. God is very clear about this in the Bible. It’s not particularly enjoyable or fun, but it’s our purpose as parents.
Hebrews 12:5-6 says,
And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”
-If we love our children, we will discipline them.
Whoever spares the rod hates their children,
but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.
The main point in this verse implies that if we love our children, we will discipline them. No matter what your thoughts are on how you discipline, we can all agree that the verse calls us to correct our children’s bad behavior. We live in a culture that is against being strict with our kids. Many parents believe in letting go and just allowing kids to be kids without all of the rules, but if we believe the Bible then we should be able to agree that that cannot be right.
I don’t want this post to come across as “preachy” or give the impression that our parenting methods are perfect. The truth is that when our oldest child was just a baby, I believed in “gentle parenting”. I wanted my kids to respect me but I didn’t want to make them resent me for being too strict. I didn’t want to make my kids upset or unhappy. This caused some conflict with my husband and I, but after many stressful, emotional talks I felt convicted by this feeling of wanting to be my kids’ friend. This isn’t what God had called me to be. He has called me to be an authority that does discipline my children and I should expect them to obey me. Years later, I’m thankful that my husband and I came to the decision to follow God’s Word when it come to discipline. I highly recommend reading Shepherding a Child’s Heart. For a time we would read this every night then discuss it together. We would talk about the issues that we were having with each child and what we felt was the right direction to go.
-Respect for authority.
“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”
Sadly, we live in a culture that lacks respect for authority. When we don’t teach our children to respect us as parents then they will struggle with respecting any other authority figure in their lives. The truth is that even as adults we may not always like dealing with the authority, but obedience is essential to Christianity. We must be an example to unbelievers in submitting even when we don’t feel like it. We should show them that God can be trusted in any situation, even the hard ones. Jesus himself obeyed His authority when He died on the cross for our sins. This required Him to humble himself even before corrupt human authorities so that God’s ultimate purpose would be brought about.
-It prepares our children to be obedient to God.
“They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
This verse was one that I thought of often when I was in labor with my third child. I even had it displayed in the room on my “motivation board”. I knew labor was going to be painful and I knew it wasn’t going to be pleasant at the time. But I also knew when my baby was born I would suddenly forget about every moment of pain that I had felt before. I had peace knowing that my baby boy was here.
This verse teaches us that God uses our pain for a purpose. We were never promised an easy life as believers. When we fail to discipline our children, they are not prepared to be disciplined by God. Sometimes God will work in our life and we won’t like it. We may not understand the bigger picture like He does. When we discipline our children we want their hearts to be obedient to Christ no matter how hard life gets. They will wonder why God would allow something bad to happen instead of trusting Him through a hard situation. God disciplines us so that we will bear fruit and become more like Him.
Discipline is a touchy subject in our time and my main point of this post is to always fall back on God’s Word. Try shutting out all of the popular parenting techniques and theories, focus on the truth. It’s not going to be easy but it will be worth it!