This weekend at Oak Grove I talked about “Weird Parenting” and how as parents we are called in leave a legacy with our children by equipping them to follow Christ. At the end of the service we conducted a question and answer time where people texted in their questions, however we received so many questions that we weren’t able to answer all of them live. Continuing our questions from the Q and A this weekend at Oak Grove, today we are going to deal with a very sensitive subject in our culture. Here is the question:
“I struggle with discipline. I never spank. This is not a judgment, just a question. How is this type of discipline important spiritually?”
This is an amazing question and one that I believe is potentially dangerous to discuss, however, I realize that many parents have questions about this. Let me lay out a few principles.
- FIrst – discipline with your children is a must, but the method and mode of discipline will change from family to family and with the age of your children. Discipline is a must because our actions have consequences in real life and if we are sheltering our children from those consequences, we will be sending a few unintended messages. One message is this: the rules don’t apply to you. Another message is: you can do whatever you want. Now, that may work within the confines of your home, however eventually they will run into situations and authorities when that won’t go so well.
Discipline your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their death. Listen to advice and accept discipline,and at the end you will be counted among the wise. – Proverbs 19:18, 20
- Second – discipline is a must because our children aren’t morally neutral, they are touched by sin in every aspect of their lives. If our children were born morally neutral, they would only need information: instruction and direction. However, the Scripture is clear on this one:
“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked.
Who really knows how bad it is?” – Jeremiah 17:9
Since our children are not morally neutral, they are born with a proclivity toward sin, we need to correct it in order to see change. This is where discipline comes in. My child’s soul is in danger of spiritual death and God has ordained to use discipline…properly administered discipline as a means of rescue. Proverbs 22:15 says this: “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.” So, since my children are in need of heart changes, discipline helps correct and expose those heart needs so that rescue and change can occur.
- Third – utilizing wise and loving principles in discipline is imperative…not optional! Part of the reason that discipline, (whether it involves time out, loss of toys and/or fun opportunities or even spanking) is so weird in our culture is because so much of it has been utilized in a wrong way. Discipline for discipline’s sake or for establishing demeaning authority over your children is not right. Discipline that is harsh, negative and destructive or even abusive is always wrong. But that is not the only option with discipline. Loving and wise discipline will include the following:
- Establishing the rules long before correction takes place. This safeguards the children from confusion and helps them understand their own responsibility.
- Disciplining with consistency. Your children should not be surprised by your choice of discipline. They may object but they shouldn’t be surprised.
- Listening to and instructing them first. Have a conversation with questions and refrain from lecture.
- Going after their heart motivation for their actions. This may take some listening and time to be able to expose. Ask questions like, what were you trying to accomplish? What did you want?
- Explaining your course of discipline right there. Let them know that they will be in time out for 5 minutes because of their actions.
- Reminding them incessantly of your love for them and refusing to attach your love for them to their performance. God never does that with us.
- Owning your own sins and failures and refusing to avoid consequences. Let them know when you’ve handled things poorly and let them see the changes in you.
Let me close with this thought, harsh and mean-spirited discipline is never acceptable, nor is discipline that the child doesn’t understand, however discipline is designed to safe guard and protect our children. Why does it matter? Becaue left to themselves…things won’t go well.