dad holding son's hands standing

How should parents discipline their kids in a godly way? GOD's wisdom for disciplining children is quite different than the world's wisdom.

"The two topics about which people are least open to receiving advice are parenting and religion."
—Anonymous

I heard some variation to this quote years ago and have found it to be quite true, at least in American culture.

There are as many theories about how to raise children as there are people on earth because everybody has their opinion.

Unfortunately, many people fail to seek parenting guidance from the One who designed both the parent and the child.

If we want to succeed as a parent, we best seek advice from GOD.

Parenting: Worldly vs. Godly Wisdom

The word discipline means "chastisement, reproof, warning or instruction, restraint."

Prov. 22:15 says, "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him."

Parents (should) realize this truth very quickly.

How the parent responds to their young child when they misbehave has a tremendous impact upon that child's life.

The wisdom of the world's "experts" on how to correct and raise children is quite different than GOD's. Consider these examples:

World's Wisdom: Never spank your child or tell them "no." This is a form of child abuse and damages their self-esteem.

GOD's Wisdom:

  • He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly. (Prov. 13:24)
  • Chasten your son while there is hope, And do not set your heart on his destruction. (Prov. 19:18)
  • Blows that hurt cleanse away evil, As do stripes the inner depths of the heart. (Prov. 20:30)

Note: There is obviously a difference in "using the rod of correction" and child abuse.

The difference is shown in the parent's motivation and in the execution of the discipline.

Discipline must always be done out of love and with the intent to help the child, not harm.

In no way am I suggesting or condoning abusive behavior. Nor is that the purpose of GOD's instructions. Note that the verse above says, "But he who loves [the child]..." Abuse isn't love; discipline is.

World's Wisdom: If you spank your child it will drive them away from you and they will hate you later.

GOD's Wisdom:

  • Correct your son, and he will give you rest; Yes, he will give delight to your soul. (Prov. 29:17)
  • My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor detest His correction; For whom the LORD loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights. (Prov. 3:11-12)
  • Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. (Prov. 22:6)

World's Wisdom: If you spank your child they will grow up to be evil abusive members of society.

GOD's Wisdom:

  • Do not withhold correction from a child, For if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod, And deliver his soul from hell. (Prov. 23:13-14)

Fathers Need to Step Up

In GOD's design for the home, fathers are the head (see Eph. 5) and are therefore held responsible for the direction and development of their family.

It makes sense, then, that GOD holds fathers primarily responsible for ensuring their children are properly disciplined.

And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
(Eph. 6:4 NKJV)

Unfortunately, too many men of the current and past generation have been plagued by selfishness, unfaithfulness, weakness and passivity when it comes to our GOD-given family responsibilities.

We men need to step up!

Too long have we men sat back and made our wife handle the discipline process by herself. Mothers play a key role in parental discipline, too, but ultimately it is fathers that GOD holds responsible for setting the spiritual direction for their family.

Start the Discipline Process Early

Studies show that our personality is largely formed in the first 5-6 years of life.

If we are slack in discipline and correction with our children in those first few years, it would stand to reason that the negative behavior patterns they exhibit could potentially continue into adulthood.

A child that whines and throws temper tantrums to get what he/she wants, if left undisciplined, is likely to turn into a spoiled, unproductive adult (or worse).

However, if in those first 5-6 years we teach our children, through correction accompanied with corporeal punishment, the result will be much different, as the child learns to be patient, polite and courteous to others, and ultimately to please GOD.

Early in a childs life, before their intellect matures, all they can be expected to understand when it comes to discipline is pain associated with a strong "No".

But as the child grows and matures, if all we ever continue to do is spank or say "no" without explaining the "why," then the child won't learn the intended lesson and our discipline process will not aid us in turning their heart to GOD—which is our ultimate purpose as a parent!

There needs to be a combination of both the correction, and the explanation, as the child grows and matures. We often underestimate our children's knowledge and understanding.

As our children get older, if we have laid a good foundation in those first 5-6 years, the times where corporeal punishment is necessary will diminish and other forms of punishment should be introduced, such as temporarily suspending privileges and various things the child finds enjoyable, in order to correct the misbehavior.

Sometimes parents have to get really creative to find the most effective form of discipline at a particular age. Make sure that the punishment fits the "crime." For example, the punishment for a child who is being rebellious might need to be different than the child that is being thoughtless or inconsiderate.

Lastly, recognize that parental discipline is difficult and, at times, even the best parent can feel lost or overwhelmed.

Don't feel alone in these situations.

Pray diligently for wisdom and discernment in raising your kids. Remember, it's GOD's will that we succeed in this area, so He'll help us if we ask.

Tim Harris
Author: Tim Harris

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