There are a lot of ideas out there about how to best discipline your child. Some are good, some are not so good. I’ve shared before that one of the most important questions a parent needs to ask when they discipline their child is if they are accurately reflecting the heart of God in that moment.
Parents will often parent to something or for something. This could be getting your child to behave a certain way or do certain actions. Many Christian parents will feel like they are winning at parenting if their child goes to church, does certain things or doesn’t do certain things. The reality is, that doesn’t say anything in and of itself, only that your church does or doesn’t do things.
Some parents, especially pastors, will parent for their reputation. They’ll put pressure on their kids to act a certain way because of how it makes them look to those around them. This isn’t a win at all, but it is easy to fall into. If my child does ____, how will that make me look? If my child gets bad grades, a tattoo, parties, hangs out with the wrong crowd, how will that make me look? I understand the fear, but parenting for your reputation isn’t a healthy long term parenting strategy.
Instead, I would say to parent with the relationship in mind. Andy Stanley says, “I want to parent so when my kids leave the house one day, they want to come back.” There’s a lot of wisdom in that.
One of the areas that many parents struggle in and has an enormous effect on what their children become is discipline. Remember, the goal of parenting is incredibly crucial not only to how you parent right now, but also to how your kids ultimately end up.
William Farley in his book Gospel-Powered Parenting: How the Gospel Shapes and Transforms Parenting lists how the gospel affects disciplining children:
1. The gospel convinces parents that indwelling sin is our children’s problem.
2. The gospel convinces parents that authority is a crucial parental issue.
3. The gospel instructs us to pursue our children’s hearts rather than their behavior.
4. The gospel motivates parents to discipline to preach the gospel to our children.
5. The gospel motivates parents to fear God.
6. The gospel helps parents to grow in humility and sincerity.