As a parent of young children, I am constantly correcting behavior. I am always praying to have the correct balance between training with consistency and being tempered with graciousness. It is this godly balance that I seek, yet my pride and sinfulness comes out after my children continue with the same offense time and time again. My sin is exposed, and everything becomes inflamed.
Colossians 3:20-21 says, “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, or they will become discouraged.” Parents are commanded not to “provoke” their children. This is not just yelling and screaming at them, it also means not shaming them and treating them in anger, lest they become discouraged.
The book, Getting a Grip by Lou Priolo, gives words to my heart beautifully:
“When your parents are angry, it’s easier for them to over-discipline you. You may be tempted to interpret such anger as a personal attack. If you do view their discipline as such an attack, you will likely have done so only after concluding that your parents’ motive for the discipline is vindictive (wanting to pay you back for the misery your offense caused them) rather than corrective (they wanted to help you make the changes in your life that would be pleasing to God).”
As we train our children, we don’t want to break our bond of love with them. Do not hear me say that we are trying to make our home “child-centered,” meeting their every want and folding when they aren’t feeling “happy-happy-happy” every minute! What I am saying is that we want our home to be a place where our children feel safe to fail because they anticipate the correction to come along with grace and love as they are brought to repentance.
There’s a Proverb that says “train your children and the way they are to go and when they are old they will not depart from it.” As I heard on Christian radio this week, this is a Proverb, not a promise. That is enough to encourage me to carefully correct and instruct my children so that they know—even when they have major failures in their lives—they are free to come to me with anything because they have been shown great graciousness in the past.
In-the-moment discipline, for me, is usually wrought with my own sinfulness and pride. In my flesh, I can resort to shame and anger, which only harms the relationship I have with my child. I am working toward taking some time to separate myself from the child (time-out) and pray through WHY I am choosing to discipline. I want my children to live lives that are “pleasing to God” and not “easy for Mom.” Once my heart is right, it is much easier to discipline out of love and grace. Just as I desire to see my Heavenly Father as the God who longs to bring good to His children—even through discipline—so do I want to be a mother who longs to bring good to my children—even when I am frustrated. Lord, help me!
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