One of the hardest parts about being a parent is the whole “discipline” thing. For any of us, with kids of any age, who love our kids at all, this is a daily challenge. The questions we face as parents are endless; when to discipline?, how to discipline?, was that worth discipline?, how in the world can I get enough energy to discipline?, what happens if I don’t discipline right now?, why doesn’t my discipline work better?, etc. It is, quite honestly, overwhelming most of the time. I mean, let’s be honest, as parents, we are tired most of the time. We have so much going on in life, with work, relationships, bills, and more; that we don’t want to play cop at home. It’s way easier to just let things slide.
But then, we don’t want to be THAT parent. You know, the one with the kid who never listens to any authority, causes scenes everywhere they go, and has zero respect for anyone else. Somewhere, there has to be a healthy middle ground.
I’m not so much going to try to write “how” to discipline. That is a personal decision that requires a lot of thought, research, prayer, wisdom, and insight for each kid in each situation. Just know, when it comes to the “how”, we all blow it at different times.
I want to discuss the “why” a bit. Often, we need to remember the “why” so we can muster up the resolve, courage, and energy to even try. In Hebrews 12, the author is writing to Christians who are in hard times. They are oppressed, their money is being drained out of their families, they are under incredible pressure, and are facing death. That sounds like us as parents, right? Anyway, the writer says this:
Hebrew 12:7-11 – “Endure hardships as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined – and everyone undergoes discipline – then you are not legitimate children at all. Morever, we have all had parents who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! Our parents disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
Now, the author is using a parent’s discipline as an example of how God cares for us. I know the purpose of this passage is not to teach directly about parents and discipline. It’s about following God faithfully through hard times. BUT, there are several values implied in it that are worth looking at.
1. Parents who love their children discipline them. (7-9) – The author states that any parent will discipline their kids. The only reason a parent wouldn’t is if they were illegitimate children (i.e. they didn’t really love them). Often, the last thing discipline feels like is love. But it is. We have to hold tightly to that fact.
2. Children respect parents who discipline. (9) – As someone who counsels teenagers every single week, this one is true. I have had so many kids tell me they wished their parents loved them enough to discipline them. They won’t tell their parents that. They aren’t stupid! But it is a universal truth, no matter what you see or hear from them. They need, and want, you to set healthy boundaries for them. It conveys love to them. To ignore discipline with your kids, regardless of age, tells them you don’t really care. I know that seems backwards, but it is completely true.
3. Our discipline models a loving God for our kids (10) – The Bible compares God’s love and discipline for us to how our parents loved and disciplined us. Those verses aren’t going away. Your kids will read them in the Bible later in life. If you don’t faithfully discipline them, they will not understand why God does. You see, God does discipline us. Period. If you and I don’t discipline our kids, they will have a hard time following God when He does. Your discipline models God’s love for them, and makes it easier for them to follow Him.
4. Discipline stinks (11) – Discipline is not pleasant. Period. Even the Bible agrees. But this is where we have to do what is best, not easiest. Get a plan before you need to discipline. If you have a partner in parenting, make sure you are both on board as much as you can. What is a Class A Felony in your house? What is a Misdemeanor? What is the punishment for each? Then use it. Be consistent. Your kids MUST HAVE as much consistency as you can muster. Kids raised in inconsistent homes struggle over the course of their lives. It’s heartbreaking.
5. Discipline pays off (11) – Discipline from parents and from God makes us more like Him. It creates righteousness and peace as it trains us. If you and I don’t discipline our kids, someone else will have to if they are to survive in this world. Your kids will respect that person more than they respect you. Moms, dads, grandparents; this is our job. It’s our task. It’s our honor. It’s our opportunity.
SO MANY of the students I counsel as they go through high school could have avoided 80% of the heartaches they are dealing with if they had consistent, loving, Godly discipline at home. Parents, it’s worth it. Don’t give up. It’s never too late or too early. Stand strong, and prove to your kids that you love them.
I would love to discuss this issue with any of you who want to go further. I encourage all of us, read the passage in Hebrews, and spend some time praying through what God is calling us to. He loves us, and will give us the wisdom we need. There is a lot riding on it.