One of the hardest jobs in the world God can bestow upon us is being a parent. Many aspects of parenting are left to trial and error, but as Christians we must look to God for guidance. Seeing as we can’t just give God a ring at 1-800-CALL-HIM to get advice on exactly what to do in each situation, we’re left to reference the Bible as our instructional guide.
We find in Proverbs 13:24 that those who spare the rod hate their children, and those who love them are diligent to discipline them. We are called to discipline our children so they can grow to be fully functioning adults and spiritually rounded Christians in the future, but we aren’t to use just any kind of discipline, instead, we are to us godly discipline.
Godly discipline doesn’t look like us choosing prayer in lieu of actual correction when our children are defiant or disobedient. There are many different kinds of discipline, but at its core it is training that corrects, molds, or perfects mental faculties or moral character. As Christians, in everything we do we are to bring honor and glory to God, and this includes how we discipline our children.
In today’s society, there are many instances on social media and even in our own families where discipline has become perverted from what Christ has called it to be. Here are some examples of what godly discipline should look like:
1. Listening before disciplining
All of us can think of an instance where we looked like the bad guy in the situation, but all was not as it seemed. If we were not able to tell our side of the story and reveal what really happened, and our actual intent, we would feel as though we were being treated unfairly. So why is it fair to not give your children the same opportunity to share their perspective?
Like adults, our children are unique individuals who deserve to be heard just as God takes the time to hear us. By gathering all the relevant information, you can make an informed decision before dishing out consequences to your child. This shows them that you are being fair by providing an opportunity to allow their voice to be heard.
2. Letting your anger subside before disciplining
This can be a tough one as it requires a lot of restraint. I know there were countless times I back-talked my parents and they may have wanted to roundhouse kick me with a swiftness, but fortunately they usually took a breather before doling out consequences.
It is so easy to just retaliate when our children defy us but disciplining out of anger is destructive and sinful. Acting on our feelings in the moment may feel good but it can leave lasting scars in our children’s minds and hearts forever. We all make mistakes but I encourage you to take a step back from the situation and think about at the long-term outcome first.
3. Refraining from harsh discipline
This point piggybacks off of not disciplining out of anger. Sometimes you reach your patience threshold, and while anger itself is not a sin, acting on that anger in a destructive and excessive way with your children is not honoring to God. I’m not recommending that you let your kids get away with murder, but I don’t believe they need to be murdered for making mistakes that they can ultimately learn from with the appropriate consequences and guidance.
No one is perfect and to be fair, our punishments should fit the crime. Showing your children that you can be fair when they anger you will show them that you are for them and not against them. In return, you might find that they become more open and honest with you.
4. Refusing to discipline out of pride
Today it is almost treated like a badge of honor to brag about how much you discipline your child(ren) and the parents bragging usually aren’t the ones taking calm measures. In social media, there’s a newfound love for broadcasting how good you gather your child together after they disobey you, to show off your “stellar” parenting skills and maybe even shame them into good behavior. I’m not sure how successful a parent would be on either front when recording and posting this for the world to see, but the Bible warns us that pride goes before the fall (Proverbs 16:18). Before making decisions based on what you think everyone would applaud, take a step back and remember that God is the only one you should be seeking approval from.
5. Disciplining without holding a grudge
Sometimes our kids can be downright mean and hurt us to the core… so much so, that we want them to really feel the weight of what they’ve done to us. We don’t want to be quick to forgive because we’re not ready to forgive, and we also don’t want them to feel as though they’re getting off easy.
You want them to feel badly about what they’ve done until you are ready to move on, but God never does this to us. It is unfair and sinful to do this to our children because God doesn’t do this to us. His grace is sufficient and when we repeatedly ask for His forgiveness it is quick and He extends it without grudges. He doesn’t loom judgement over our heads, attempt to manipulate us or make us feel guilty all over again.
Discipline is the proof of our love for our children, when done correctly and in a godly fashion. We are humans and are bound to make mistakes but we should always strive to be Christlike in our actions with our children.
I think it would be beneficial if we all take an introspective look at how we discipline our own kids (or even children under our care such as youth in our church), and ask ourselves if our methods and tactics honor God.
Would God be pleased with how we are handling the blessings that He has gifted us?
Meet Our Guest Blogger
Hi, my name is Terez Lobosky. I’m originally from The Bahamas, but I currently live abroad with my husband and daughter. I’m the only mom you’ll probably ever meet that doesn’t need daily doses of coffee to function.
A teacher by profession, I’m a lifelong learner who genuinely enjoys learning new things and acquiring information through research and experience. One of the only things I love more than learning is using what I’ve learned to help people.