Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like you were in over your head? Ever felt like you didn’t know what the best plan of action was? That’s me almost every single day as a parent. Parenting is amazing, wonderful and exciting, and at the same time it can be the most completely frustrating experience! Have you ever heard a parent on TV or in the movies speak to a child and use the line, “I don’t know what I’m doing. It’s not like you came with a user’s manual!”? As Christians we are so blessed that we do have a user’s manual. The Bible. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction; for training in righteousness.” The Lord has entrusted us to take care of our babies, to love them, to train them and yes, to discipline them. Parenting is no joke, and it’s not for the faint of heart. As parents our goal is to be training our kids for His Kingdom and to do this effectively there needs to be some discipline. Proverbs 29:17 tells us, “Discipline your son, and he will give you comfort; He will also delight your soul.”
In scripture, discipline is a theme that recurs both in the Old and New Testament. There are many verses we can use as tools, so that when we discipline we act in a way that will bring glory to God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 reminds us “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” I have to say… I fail at this sometimes. I can easily get upset, get frustrated, and instead of disciplining my children and correcting them, turn to them in a fit of rage. Unfortunately when this happens, I’m not letting His light shine through me. James 1:19, 20 reads “This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” (Emphasis mine.) We need to constantly be thinking of the example we are setting. In Ephesians 6:4, Paul tells us “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” If we get upset easily, how can we expect our children not to? As I write this I have twinges of guilt, because I know I’m guilty of not always setting the best example, especially when I get upset. I also want to clarify that it’s not wrong or going against scriptures to get upset, it’s about how we control ourselves when we do get upset.
I have the privilege of participating in a home Bible study with some beautiful, insightful moms and one of the topics frequently brought up is our children. One mom shared the other day that she starts calm, simply asking her child to do something (or stop doing something). She said, “it’s not until I’ve asked 4 or 5 times with no change in behavior that I get upset.” Every single mom in the room nodded her head in unity, understanding the struggle. It’s real. But that doesn’t mean we give up. In Proverbs 13:24 the author says that “He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently.” In my opinion that second part is a key to effective discipline. It says he disciplines him diligently, consistency is key!!! Kids will know what to expect and will know their consequence when they behave inappropriately. We need to be strong and carry through with it, even when it’s no fun. I go back to Hebrews 12:11 often when I’m having a hard time giving a consequence that I know isn’t going to be easy. Its words give me hope that as a parent, I’m doing the right thing. The scripture reads, “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”
As parents, my husband and I want God’s words to be written on the hearts of our children. One way that this can happen is simply having them write down scriptures when you see behavior that goes against what the Bible says. Some go-to verses my kids (and myself sometimes too!) have written would include, Ephesians 4:32 if they are fighting/arguing with each other. “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” In fact, this scripture is written on a note card and posted in our kitchen because we need to be reminded of this so often. If my children have been in a situation where they’ve lied to me (yep, it’s happened) I will remind them that Satan is the father of lies, John 8:44. Another verse that is used regularly around here is Philippians 2:14, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” When writing scriptures, I try to use it as a tool for teaching what God says about their behavior, rather than it being punishment. I try to think discipline more than punishment and have a positive attitude. When I open the Bible with my children I want His word to be a positive source of hope and grace for them.
Finally, as you’re on this journey of being a parent and learning how to discipline your little angels effectively, know that you aren’t alone. Some days it may even seem too big a task to handle, but Luke tells us, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” (Luke 18:27) You are equipped, if you are His child. 2 Corinthians 9:8 assures us of this. “And God is able to bless you abundantly so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (NIV) You’ve got this!!! You may even catch glimpses of His grace when your preteen apologizes for speaking to you disrespectfully or when your 8-year-old comes up to you and wraps his arms around your neck, saying he loves you and is sorry. I’m sorry too buddy, for losing my cool, but we’re in this together, one day at a time. I’m so thankful that I have the Bible to use as resource on this journey, the best user guide ever.
By Heather Powell