For another installment of Uncultured Dad’s Q&A, our question comes from someone who chose to remain anonymous. Regardless of anonymity, it was still a great question: What is the biblical example of “discipline” when it comes to parenting? So let’s dive into how to discipline biblically.
Disciplining your children is a necessary part of parenting. But as parents, our job is to shepherd our children for the glory of God alone. They’ve been entrusted to us to raise and nurture and it’s important that we “…bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4b). With God as our Father, we can take keys from Him as to how we might instruct and discipline our children. Even Proverbs tells us, “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him” (Prov. 13:24).
How can we discipline Biblically?
One of our main priorities as a dad is to disciple our families. Discipling and disciplining clearly have the same root foundation. Discipline is simply, “the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior,” with discipleship being the way we instruct our families, specifically our children to follow Christ. As we discipline, we have the opportunity to model for our children exactly how God operates as our Father.
set the standard
Quite literally the way we know right from wrong is the standard that is set for us. When we sin, we are by definition “missing the mark.” Like an archer that draws back his bow, lets the arrow fly, and it falls short of the target, that’s what sin is for us. But what is the standard that we fall short of? “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). That is the standard, and it is the standard that we should be teaching our children.
We have to have expectations for our children. Those expectations need to be communicated. But, we must inspect what we expect. When our children don’t measure up to those expectations we have to use it as an opportunity for correction and instruction. We have to fight the fear that by correcting our children it’ll push them away; it is our duty to correct and reprove bad choices, so they understand that their choices matter. We could even go as far as to say that disciplining your children is some of the best “love” you can give them.
One of the worst things parents can do for their children is to become inconsistent with their discipline. Think of the message it sends to our kids if we let certain things slide, then come down with the hammer on others. It is important that our consequences meet the level of the action. If you choose to remove electronics or an attitude, then you have to be consistent, always.
Another note, and one that should not be missed: you cannot react in emotion. It is permissible to step away from a situation if you feel your emotions taking control. But try to the best of your ability to never react in emotion—it won’t serve you well and for sure will not disciple your children well. We want our children to fear us, just as we fear God. But we don’t fear God because he’s angry and may strike us down—the worst thing that can happen is for our children to fear us out of their own safety.
don’t forget about grace and mercy
Finally, if God is the model of correction, we must never forget to always promote grace and mercy in our discipline. Grace is simply getting what you do not deserve; while mercy is not getting what you do deserve. We’ve experienced grace and mercy as Christians, and if we are to point our children to Christ, they need to be shown grace and mercy as well.
Taking the time to love our children well will never be a missed opportunity. Pairing that with the opportunity from their young ages to teach them about grace and mercy will serve them for eternity. So as we discipline biblically, let’s remember to model the same correction that God has given us, in order to promote following Jesus.