“Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him” Proverbs 13:24

Wow, to us that may sound like a harsh exaggeration.

How is failure to discipline our children like “hating” them?

Discipline is a necessary part of protecting, shaping and maturing our children. When I was a boy my mother often said:

“We are disciplining you, so you will learn self-discipline”.

Without self-discipline our children will live their lives as a series of foolish, impulsive and self-centered actions. This is not good for our home, their future, or the rest of society which also suffers under their behavior.

There are different ways to discipline our children that are healthy and productive. But the key is to do something and to have a consistent plan with it.

As Christians, we should recognize that teaching our children to obey us, at the same time is training them to obey God.

In reality, we are always training our children – either to obey us or to ignore and disregard us. This training will directly shape how our children respond to God’s commands.

And we ignore His commands at our eternal peril!

Parents, for many reasons it is not easy to discipline our children, but a failure to work at it – is a failure to love our children just like it would be if we failed to feed and clothe them.

Common mistakes parents make in the area of discipline:

1. Making discipline about us rather than about God: this steals from our children the rich spiritual benefits of discipline

2. Poor follow through: telling our children there will be consequences, but not giving them, which teaches them to disregard us

3. Inconsistency in discipline: this removes stability from our children’s lives and makes the principles behind obedience unclear to them

4. Accepting incomplete obedience: this trains sloppy behavior and the practice of doing the least you can. When our children were young, Debbie and I taught them that full obedience involves:

Doing what we ask

When we ask

In the way we ask

And with a right attitude

5. Discipline by emotion: this is leads to inconsistency as well as verbal and physical abuse

6. To correct bad actions, but not bad attitudes: sin is a heart issue, so we need to deal with the heart issues of having a bad attitude

Some thoughts on spanking:

1.  Spanking is for rebellious behavior, not for their mistakes.

2.  Spanking should be controlled and never in anger. Know before you start, the reasonable number of swats you will give

3.  Never be abusive or seek to embarrass them. As children grow older, other forms of discipline become wiser options (taking phones etc. for designated periods, is an excellent way to get their attention)

4.  Spanking is smacks on their bottom, not on their face

5.  The goal of spanking is reconciliation. Explain why you are spanking them first and always immediately affirm your love for them afterward

Another of my mom’s wise sayings:

“Child abuse is not discipline, and discipline is not child abuse”

For more helpful thoughts, read this article by John Piper on the Desiring God website: “Parents, Require Obedience of Your Children”.