On Discipline and Punishment (part 2)

Dear Reader,

So obviously this is  follow-up to part 1. In the first part I talked about how God disciplines His children. When God chastises us or sends us hard times, He is not punishing us. He is disciplining. The difference is that discipline seeks to make us better in the long run. Through discipline, God molds and shapes our characters and brings us closer to His ultimate goal for us, holiness.

So my next question is how do we as parents use this information as we train our children? I believe that we cannot change our children’s hearts. Only God can do that. Though clearly what we want for them is that they would know God and continue to grow in their knowledge of Him. But we cannot ultimately control these results. All of which means it is primarily God’s work not ours to sanctify our children. Once we know this we see that the training of our children is His work. The parents are His assistants, His stewards. Our children are not ours but He loans them to us for a time and gives us authority over them for a short while. We cooperate with God in His work in them.

So as we seek to raise our children, we must ask first what it is God’s wants for them and is doing in their lives. And what He is doing for His littlest people is the same thing He does for us big ones. God does not punish His children for their sins because He has already borne that punishment. But He does chastise and train and mold and refine and discipline. So as we work with God in His work in our children, we should have this same goal. Our discipline should never be for its own sake but for the sake of their souls and characters, to keep them on the right track and to move them along it.

There is a lot of debate in parenting circles about spanking, whether it is ever appropriate and if so, when and how it should be implemented. My answer would be the same as it would be for any other kind of discipline–if it is done for the child’s growth in holiness, it is good. If spanking is done in anger, it is usually about the parent’s need to punish and it is wrong. But if it done calmly and thoughtfully, spanking can be used as an effective discipline tool. Spanking is not the only tool that can be misused. Time outs can also be given in anger. A parent can withhold affection or they can shame a child. There are many ways to go wrong.

So how do we go right? We always remember that it is God’s work being done in our children and that we are His tools in this process. And we proceed with godly fear and much prayer.

I also feel that I should add that if you are beginning to lose it, it is better to give your kids and/or yourself a time out to calm down and then deal with the discipline later. I suppose this kind of time-out may not fit my initial criteria of being directly for the child’s benefit, but a calmer, non-angry mommy is also a benefit!


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