Monday, July 21, 2008

Disciplining our children

Discipline. What comes to mind when you hear this word? Harshness? Insensitivity? Perhaps even abuse? In the Bible, 'discipline' is consistently portrayed as an act of love. Consider these verses:

Proverbs 13:24 He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.

Hebrews 12:6 For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, And He scourges every son whom He receives.”

Hebrews 12:9-10 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.

I can testify that as a child, discipline was never "fun." But I am very thankful that my mom and dad faithfully disciplined me as seemed best to them. Even at the time, I respected them because I knew they did it out of love, and never out of anger.

Now, with children of our own, Natalie and I struggle daily with the matter of discipline.
How strict should we be in our rules? When should we be firm? When should we give another warning? And what punishment will fit the crime, so to speak?

I really appreciated these words by Danny Akin, as he recalled how he and his wife raised four godly sons:
In our family we tried to provide a big playing field not a small one. Why? Because kids are kids and, if the box is too small they will break the rules constantly and you will probably not be consistent in your discipline. We always told our boys they would establish the size of the playing field. If they were faithful, truthful and trustworthy, the playing field got bigger and bigger. If they were unfaithful, untruthful and untrustworthy, the playing field got smaller. We also adjusted the way we disciplined as they grew older. We believed spanking, in moderation and always under control, is both biblical and effective when the children are small (e.g. Proverbs 29:15). However, as they grow older, unless the situation is extreme and exceptional, the rebuke and restriction is a more effective way to mold and shape their character and behavior.

1 comment:

  1. Stephen,

    Interesting post.

    I completely agree! Discipline is one of the most difficult things I face as a parent. when to, when not to... and even how much is enough. Turns out spanking is easy compared to other things.

    We started a "Growing Kids Gods Way" group this week and I sure wish I could attend.

    I recently encountered Gary Thomas' book "Sacred Parenting" in which he proposes something I found interesting. he suggested that God gives us children to disciple US. That we become more like Christ through the process of raising our children.

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