Getting to the Root of Discipline!

I’ll never forget the first time I disciplined my daughter while visiting my mom and dad. Alyse, our oldest was being defiant and so I spanked her. She started to cry, so I sent her in back where she wouldn’t disturb everyone else. In my parents house there were two ways to the back room where we were staying. As I sent my daughter down one hallway, my mom was sneaking around through her room to meet and comfort her granddaughter. I remember thinking, “is this the same woman that used to blister my behind?” And now I am that grandparent… agonizing when my grandkids get disciplined… but grateful they have parents willing to “go there.”

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In our enlightened 21st century culture, discipline has become a bit controversial. In fact, some of you probably cringed when you read the word “spanked” above. Who knows, we maybe have lost some readers with this one revelation! But I’m getting ahead of myself. ‘Discipline’ of course has as its root word, “disciple”. So discipline can mean many things, but in some form or fashion it leads back to the idea of making a disciple- a follower of an idea or a person. I could spend the next three blogs talking about the importance of making sure you know what it is you want your child to become a follower of. Paul said it succinctly, “Follow me as I follow Christ”. Someday, your child will be an adult and he/she will decide what “discipline” to follow. Our job in the meantime is to put them on a path where they have a chance to see and experience truth and an opportunity to choose right. We always said, if our child ends up feeding pigs in the pig pen (Luke 15), we just didn’t want them to get there by accident. All we could ask of ourselves was to put them in position to say, I know what mom and dad believe and why, but I’m choosing to go a different way.

Of course the question becomes, what is the best method of discipline? And the honest answer is: it depends. What is the temperament of the child? What is the parent’s history and baggage? What is the offense? What is the context and situation? Of course, consistency is a must in parenting; so, how do we resolve, “it depends” with the need for constancy? This is why as parents, we need to spend much of our time on our knees seeking wisdom from God.  One of the first things I would suggest you ask of the Lord is for wisdom and discernment in evaluating what your child is doing. In other words, when something wrong happens, did it happen because your child was being “childish”… they didn’t know any better? Or did it happen because your kid knew exactly what they were doing, but defiantly chose to do it anyway. In many ways, this is one of the hardest skills in parenting. Sometimes its very easy… other times, it’s so hard to discern. If they’re being childish, we simply teach. But, if they are being defiant, then we need to discipline.

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We’re not going to cover all the methods of disciplining, although in this series we’re going to talk about spanking and Kelli is going to share a few mommy tricks when it comes to disciplining in some future “Koffee With Kelli” posts. We mostly want to encourage you, especially if you are that mom or dad wondering if you’re going to mess your kids up if you punish or discipline them. No parent will handle this area perfectly, but we must still be willing to do it. It is unloving to “not” discipline your child. Years ago I read a parenting book by Zig Zigler. I don’t remember much of what he said, but one quote from his book that stuck with me is this:

“The child who has not been disciplined with love by his little world will be disciplined, generally without love, by the big world.”

The issue isn’t whether or not our kids will be disciplined… the only question is who will do the disciplining and in what manner will it be done. As imperfectly as we will parent, we know our heart and our motivation! And just to be clear: we aren’t talking about abuse or unhealthy punishment. Training self-discipline into our children is a loving act of a loving parent. To do otherwise, is abdicating our role as mom and dad. Sadly, as a coach over the years, I’ve had to be a first hand witness to countless athletes who never achieved even a portion of their potential because of a lack of self-discipline. I’m not passing judgment on those parents, often they are doing the best they can. But I am asking the question of the rest of us: do we love our kids enough to do the hard work of disciplining? Even when it’s unpopular? Even when it’s hard and inconvenient? Even if, at the time at least, our kids don’t like us? Enter into the fray… do your best. After that… rest in God’s grace.

“Discipline your son, and he will bring you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.” ~Psalm 29:17

3 thoughts on “Getting to the Root of Discipline!

  1. This is a tough one, when to step in, when to step up and support, and when to step away, and do it all with the grace of God and love, and when is it abuse and you have to
    protect, so many veriables that are involved. Thank you for addressing this for the young and old couples out there that need biblical direction (that they them selves may have missed) and modern ways unleashed (Learned in their upbringing) Now to set the direction back on coarse in line with the teachings and understanding that God has designed. This one can be a “sticky bisket” to redirect and not be hung out to dry. If anyone has the skills to teach it, I believe in you and Kelly ! I so appreciate your willingness to bring the teachings of the bible to light in a way that is easy understood ! I pray for much success for you as you are teaching this difficult lesson.

  2. While I wholeheartedly agree that consistent, effective discipline is key, it saddened me a lot to read that you’ve chosen spanking as your method, and frankly, that surprises me since it has been shown to be one of the least effective methods of discipline. It is also not mandated by the bible (I think this 4-part article which studies it in its original language is a great resource for that: http://aolff.org/spare-the-rod/the-spanking-files-2/history-of-spanking ) but so many Christian teachers mistakenly teach that it is- even saying “spare the rod, spoil the child” is from the bible when actually it is from an erotic poem by Samuel Butler! My impression of you is that you are a mom who takes the time to really explore what is best, and so I would challenge you to pray and ask God about the following: was it spanking that worked for your kids, or was is simply the fact that you consistently disciplined them and they learned boundaries? There are a lot more effective and Christlike ways to do the latter than spanking, and since you are someone who promotes grace and christlikeness, I would encourage you to think twice about promoting the spanking method to others when Jesus himself never hit a child, and if anything, spoke up against those who were treating kids harshly.

    • Hope, first of all thanks so much for your reply. Second, I’m really sorry for the long delay in responding back. The truth is, we have been trying to figure out the best way to intentionally manage this website and this blog. We have a great sense that we need to stay proactive and hence you will see a lot more of us (which may or may not be good news to you :)). BTW, this is actually David, and I wrote the article you responded to. Thank you also for the link to “History of Spanking.” I enjoyed reading it very much. I don’t want to get into a debate with that article in particular. I will say, in my opinion it makes some pretty big statements and conclusions. I hope you will read my post Friday as I will continue the conversation on discipline. I do want to be clear, I certainly don’t think you have to spank. With that said, Hebrews 12:11 reminds us that all discipline is painful at the time. I realize that doesn’t necessarily mean physical pain, but certainly over history God hasn’t been opposed to using physical pain to discipline those he loves. I hope we can lovingly disagree and support each other in parenting. Eight of my eleven kids we have raised from birth. For us, spanking was the quickest way to lovingly bring consequences to their actions and restore our relationship with them. Today my kids are very well adjusted, kind hearted, compassionate adults that love Jesus. Again, I’m not saying that means everyone needs to spank. In the same way your article asks those that spank to have an open mind, I would ask the same thing. Thanks again for your reply.

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