Last week, I had the opportunity to go to a Mommy’s Drop-In with my church and hear a seasoned mother speak on discipline. Can I just tell you that before this point I had never been taught specifically how to discipline my child by a mother who has children who are grown up and have chosen to continue their walk with the Lord?
I had been given tips. Oh, so many tips. By new mothers, by mothers with young kids, by mothers with teenagers, by mothers with older kids, and finally, I’d been given a few tips from seasoned mothers who emulated Christ to their children and their children chose to follow after Christ. How do we make sense of all these tips?
Then there are books. Oh, so many books. Some books say to spank your children, some books say not to spank your children. Some books say give your children choices in order to avoid conflict, some books say your job is to be their parent not their friend, so bring on the conflict! I’m not sure about you, but I get some mixed messages from both Christian parenting books and the rest of the parenting books. Why can’t they agree?
After hearing this amazing woman of Christ teach about discipline, I don’t feel confused any more. I feel that the Bible is clear on how we are to raise up our children. We too often look to momma tips or to books for the answers of how to discipline and we don’t go to God’s Word. Let me spend some time taking you through what my new wise friend, Toma, shared last week.
How to Discipline Your Child
Discipline Is Training
Discipline is consistent and continual. If we do not discipline our children, we do not train them. We are in charge of cultivating habits in our children that will last a lifetime. The Bible says,
“Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6, ESV)
We’ve all heard this, but we fear. We fear that our children will make different choices that will take them away from God. Only . . . fear isn’t from the Lord. God has given us a Spirit of power and love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7). We are not to fear the outcome of our child’s life. We are to influence our children for Christ in God’s power, not our own. We are to love them with God’s love, not our own. We are to use self-control that is given by God as a fruit of the Spirit and emulate what that looks like to our children. In nothing should we fear, but in all things we should seek God’s kingdom and righteousness for our family.
Why Should We Discipline?
We discipline because God tells us to discipline. We also discipline because God tells us that in a child’s heart there is folly and foolishness.
“Folly is bound up in the heart of a child,
but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.” (Proverbs 22:15)
We discipline because our children do not know the right path. Haven’t you ever had your child insist that their way was right when as a parent you can see clearly that they are wrong? We have to train them to know what is right, because in our human nature we naturally follow after sin.
“There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death.” (Proverbs 16:25)
“The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life,
that one may turn away from the snares of death.” (Proverbs 14:27)
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)
Why Should Our Children Obey Us?
I think it is easy to fall prey to low self-esteem as a parent. I fail as a parent at times. Some days, I don’t feel qualified to be a parent. Glory be to God that He is the one who qualifies us to be a parent. God’s grace covers our human frailty. He says that we, as parents, should be obeyed by our children. He says that our children should keep our commandments and our teaching. God wants us to be an example for His truth to our children whether or not we feel qualified or deserving. We don’t demand obedience because we feel like we deserve it. We teach obedience, because we want them to learn to obey God.
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” (Ephesians 6:1)
“My son, keep your father’s commandment,
and forsake not your mother’s teaching.
Bind them on your heart always;
tie them around your neck.
When you walk, they will lead you;
when you lie down, they will watch over you;
and when you awake, they will talk with you.
For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light,
and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life” (Proverbs 6:20-23)
Our Life, Our Example
In fact, we are not only told that our children should obey us, but we find out that we are CALLED to be a parent. God plans to use you as an example in your child’s life. Just like in the verse below, our children should be able to follow our teaching, our conduct, our aim in life, our faith, our patience, our love, and our steadfastness. Can you do this without God’s help? Definitely not. Parenting without Christ is a lonely road. Don’t go it without Him.
“You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness” (II Timothy 3:10)
Our children are called, just as we are called. They are called to continue in what they have learned and firmly believed. Do our children learn about Christ from us? Do they firmly believe? Are we introducing them to and training them up in God’s word that is able to make them wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus?
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (II Timothy 3:14-15)
What Do We Teach?
We teach them to cling to God’s Word.
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (II Timothy 3:16-17)
We teach them to love the Lord with all of their hearts, souls, minds, and strength. Secondly, we teach them to love others.
““Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this:‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”” (Mark 12:30-31)
We teach them about sin.
“For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:20)
We teach them to speak and listen to God in prayer.
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)
How Do We Discipline?
We concentrate on cultivating our children’s hearts not just their actions.
- Repetition of God’s Word
- Setting boundaries at each age
- State rules and give expectations
- Write down the rules to make them clear
- Make a list of unacceptable behavior/home boundaries with appropriate consequences
- Teaching disobedience has negative consequences and obedience results in blessings
- Teach them grace: God does not bless us only when we deserve to be blessed, but He does it because He loves us.
- Utilize verbal correction, say no when needed
- “Do not let your frustration with them being a kid result in discipline.” – Toma K.
- Follow through with discipline or you will be teaching your child to lie
- Apologize when mistaken
- Delayed obedience is disobedience
- Spanking from ages 2-5; Less spanking from ages 6-10
- Pray before spanking
- Spank, encourage repentance, then give the child your love
- Desire a repentant spirit, not the breaking of their will
- Never out of anger or frustration
- If unrepentant, give 15-20 minutes and attempt to restore the relationship
- Have them issue an apology
- Reaffirm love and reason for discipline
(This list is very much Toma’s. I wrote down this list on my own note pad and am relaying it here. What a resource!)
Toma went on to talk about the difference between punishment VS discipline.
- Punishment is the penalty for offense. It brings fear and guilt. It also brings frustration and anger.
- Discipline is for correction and to bring about maturity. We discipline for the future. Discipline is for love and concern, no anger. It brings about security, love, and forgiveness.
The result of discipline is our children feel loved, it drives away foolishness, brings tenderness, and brings about a harvest of righteousness and of peace. Doesn’t that sound great?
Why Should We Spank?
I can only tell you what the Bible says. The Bible says, “whoever spares the rod hates his son” (Proverbs 13:24). The Bible also says,
“Do not withhold discipline from a child;
if you strike him with a rod, he will not die.” (Proverbs 23:13)
“Blows that wound cleanse away evil;
strokes make clean the innermost parts.” (Proverbs 20:30)
“A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey,
and a rod for the back of fools.” (Proverbs 26:3)
“On the lips of him who has understanding, wisdom is found,
but a rod is for the back of him who lacks sense.” (Proverbs 10:13)
“The rod and reproof give wisdom,
but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.
When the wicked increase, transgression increases,
but the righteous will look upon their downfall.
Discipline your son, and he will give you rest;
he will give delight to your heart.” (Proverbs 29:15-17)
Does this mean that we should beat our children? OF COURSE NOT. This rod is not a rod of hate or of disdain, but of love, correction, and careful discipline. I truly believe that parents should never physically correct their children when the parent is angry. I like how the writer Dave Miller describes the careful balance between physical correction and positive teaching, “The immense importance of the interplay between positive instruction, encouragement, and nurturing, in conjunction with appropriate physical punishment, cannot be overestimated nor successfully discounted.”1
I love that the Bible does not speak just about the rod of correction, but also that the rod brings comfort. Toma brought this up and made the correlation. While there are three Hebrew words that are used for the English word “rod,” all three are considered to be a wooden stick, two of the words are synonymous with the shepherd’s staff. While the shepherd may discipline his sheep with the rod when they are fighting or wandering off . . . that SAME road is used to protect them from predators. Are our children smarter than sheep? Absolutely. They can absolutely know that you can discipline them and that you also love them and will protect them.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)
What Do We Not Do As Parents?
We do not give up on our children and we do not cease in our discipline. We discipline because God says there is hope for our children and because we love them. If we stop, we are setting our heart on giving them over to death. Our lifelong calling is to guide our children’s hearts toward God. As they get older, our discipline changes. Still, we never cease the good work that God has given to us as parents.
“Discipline your son, for there is hope;
do not set your heart on putting him to death.” (Proverbs 19:18)
“Whoever spares the rod hates his son,
but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” (Proverbs 13:24)
Toma had great wisdom for parents with older children. Parents are called to point their older children to Christ when they cannot see clearly. You can pray. You acknowledge their sin, but you don’t expect upright behavior from a child that is not in Christ. You welcome them. Most of all, you love them and are gentle. I’ll leave you with these final words of wisdom,
“God loves us because we are His. We love our children because they are ours.” – Toma
1 Children and the Rod of Correction – Dave Miller
Brooke Shambley, THE Boholistic Mom