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Biblical Discipline in a Time-Out World

Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him. Proverbs 13:24 (ESV)

Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol. My son, if your heart is wise, my heart too will be glad. Proverbs 23:13-15 (ESV)

Our job as parents is to train our children to be productive members of society, not to be their best friend. My daughter and I would say we are best friends. She is twenty. When she was five, she might have said differently. Trust me when I say that I am not advocating child abuse, nor am I suggesting that time-out is ineffective. Every parent has to decide for himself/herself what type of discipline is right for his/her family, no matter how much outside criticism they may face. What I am saying is that to allow a child to behave outrageously without consequences is doing that child a disservice.

I understand very well how unpleasant it is for the parent, as well as the child, to have to punish. I say my husband is The Enforcer, because what I want is to threaten to punish and have the child capitulate so I do not have to follow through! But, as I said, that is doing the child harm in the long run. We have all seen (and heard) the unhappy child in the grocery store who cries and screams and begs from one aisle to the next, or the child that no other child can get along with, the one your child tells you has no friends, or the child no relative will keep because of his bad behavior. Is this what we want for our children? Of course not.

When my children were small I would take every opportunity available to point out the reason for the rules. When my daughter told me of a girl in her class that no one liked because she was a bully, I said to her, I know you think we are strict but do you want to be the one without friends because you can’t get along? When picking the girls up from staying over with a friend or relative, and the person would say how well they behaved and that they were welcome anytime, I would say, doesn’t it feel good to be invited back? It’s because you know how to behave nicely.

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11

The best thing we can do for our children is to teach them right from wrong and help them grow up to be people that others will like and respect, and know how to respect others as well. That is being a real friend.

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