When love and acceptance are found at home they are not searched for elsewhere. There will be times when it will be necessary to discipline your child when they have done wrong. How can you discipline your child while still expressing your love and acceptance of them? We must imitate the loving discipline of our heavenly Father. With the goal of the Christian parent being their children’s salvation, sanctification, and joy in Christ, let’s look at some helps in disciplining children.
The results that you want from disciplining your child is not outward religious conformity. As parents, we must desire for our child what God desires of us: Repentance over sin. When the inside is right, the outside follows. “For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:16–17, ESV)
Discipline is a form of love. It is a love that looks beyond the immediate situation and does what is best for the long term good of the child. And since discipline is a form of love, it should be administered in love. NEVER EVER DISCIPLINE WHEN YOU ARE ANGRY. Wait until your anger has waned and you can exhibit self-control when disciplining your child. The following questions may help discern the heart of the matter.
What did you do?
Why was that wrong? This helps them to identify sin biblically.
What desire was in your heart that made you choose to do wrong? This helps drive the conversation to the cross and the gospel.
Who do you need to ask for forgiveness?
What should you have done? Teach them right behavior.
Your children need to learn at a young age that sin has consequences. As they grow into adults, their sin will have consequences that cannot be undone. After administering the punishment you deem appropriate, you need to stay with them and finish with a hug and reassurance of your love for them. You must make it clear that the punishment that they received is followed by forgiveness and a restored relationship.
You can discipline your children and still reassure them of your love and acceptance of them by imitating our heavenly Father.
Further reading: Ex.20:12; Eph. 6:1-3; Col. 3.20; Heb. 12:3-11; Prov.29:17;
David Harris is the Senior Pastor at Faith Baptist Church. A former programmer, in his free time he enjoys spending time with his wife Kim and trying his hand at the illusive craft of smoking meat.