I have learned that motivation is necessary to accomplish a worthy goal. So, in my teaching and preaching one of the areas I always include has to do with why we should or should not do things. To simply exhort someone toward behaviors without addressing the “why” issue will not motivate obedience.
This is especially true in disciplining our children. The most difficult and emotionally draining aspect of raising children is that of disciplining them. While simple obedience to God’s Word is enough for us to do this, understanding the benefits and consequences of doing so gives additional motivation.
Perhaps there are those reading this post that do not believe in disciplining their children at all. I want to be clear that the reasons I am giving (and there are others) are based on the Bible. Since God is the designer of the family He knows what it takes to be successful parents. He will bless those that follow His directions. And, His directions make sense.
Here are three compelling reasons for parent to discipline their children.
The first reason to discipline your children is that it is an expression of love. This hits at the heart of one of the primary reasons people fail to discipline their children; they think it is not a loving thing to do. The logic is that whatever brings pain and discomfort is not an act of love. However, this is not true according to the Designer of the home, God Himself. In fact, the way our Heavenly Father treats His children is that He chastens them when they are disobedient and He does so because He loves them.
Sometimes pain is necessary to keep us from that which will bring far greater harm and pain. Here is what the Bible teaches about disciplining because you love your children.
“For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.” (Proverbs 3:12)
Rather than discipline causing a child to feel unloved, the Bible teaches that a child without discipline feels unloved. In his heart he senses that you care about the way he behaves when you discipline him and that this is a relationship characterized by concern, not passivity or indifference.
Here’s another verse on this truth – “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” (Proverbs 13:24) When you see a self-centered and spoiled child you see a child that has not been disciplined, but worse, this is a child that wonders if his parents really care about him. The biblical text is very strong. A parent that neglects discipline is expressing hate toward the child.
Another text from the Bible on how that parental discipline is an expression of love for a child – “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.” (Hebrews 12:6-8)
Please read the above verse again. It contains some of the most important motivations for chastening your child, chief among them is that you love your child when you discipline them. Again, it shows that failing to discipline makes a child insecure as to where they stand with their parents. It is normal for parents to chasten their children when they misbehave.
Here’s another truth that teaches that principle.
“Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.” (Proverbs 19:18) Only a twisted and wicked person would enjoy hearing a child cry in pain. However, temporary pain is necessary to prevent greater pain later. An underlying principle is also given here: the punishment must be commensurate with the offense. If it isn’t then the child will consider that his behavior is worth the punishment.
Neglecting discipline is not loving at all, but hurting the person that needs it.
A second reason for disciplining a child is that it is essential to making them wise. Whenever you see someone that is wise at the root of it is their willingness to submit to discipline and authority. Here’s why. We were not born wise, but foolish. Our natural propensity is to do wrong. (See the previous post).
Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” (Proverbs 22:15) The word “bound” means to tie or bind something. The idea is that of something being knit tightly with multiple layers. It is a picture of a heart that has layer upon layer of foolishness.
When a farmer wanted to lift something especially heavy he had to make sure his rope would handle it and it would have to be a multiple weave bound many times to provide adequate strength. Likewise, foolishness layered in a child’s life is not easily removed. God’s prescription for dealing with foolishness in your child’s life is through discipline – “the rod of correction shall drive it far from him”.
This is one area I emphasized whenever I had to discipline my children. I would ask them a question when I had to deal with wrong doing in their behavior, “Do you want to be a wise son, do you want God’s best for your life?” Discipline is not just to punish behavior, but to correct it toward that which is beneficial for the child.
Undisciplined children have a false view of the world. They think if they persist long enough they will always get their way. They believe that a parent’s word doesn’t really mean anything in the long wrong – no consequences will be forthcoming, warnings are just empty threats. They believe the world revolves around their desires.
This is not the way things work at the job site, on an athletic team, or in a marriage. Children that are given loving, consistent discipline have wisdom and have an advantage in the world over children that have not been disciplined.
A third reason to discipline your child is that it brings a peaceful life to the parent. A lot of jokes are made about the difficulty of parenting, especially teenagers, and the stress level it brings to parents. One of the keys to dealing with this stress is to practice discipline on the child.
The Bible states, “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame”. (Proverbs 29:15
“Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.” (Prov. 29:17)
The older the child becomes, the more serious are the consequences of his bad behavior.
Parents that refuse to discipline them will experience both high stress and shame at the actions of their kids.
Here are three reasons, and motivations, to discipline your children: it is an expression of your love, foundational to them gaining wisdom, and it lowers the level of stress in your home and your heart as a parent.
In the next few posts I’ll deal with some practical aspects of discipline, but if you don’t buy in to these reasons you will lack the motivation to discipline them.