If, after you have done all you can, your daughter remains unresponsive to your leadership, may I encourage you to obtain the help of godly friends or pastors? My daughters knew that if they refused to respond to C. J. and me, we wouldn't hesitate to ask others to counsel them. Nicole, Kristin, and Janelle have since told us that this was an incentive to repent. We must not be too proud to position our daughters to receive all the help they need. And in addition to requesting counsel for our daughters, we should seek evaluation of our parenting as well.

The mother of famous nineteenth-century pastor Charles Spurgeon was an example of a woman who aggressively sought to bring her children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Her son wrote of her:

I cannot tell how much I owe to the solemn words of my good mother. . . . I remember on one occasion her praying thus: "Now, Lord, if my children go on in their sins, it will not be from ignorance that they perish, and my soul must bear a swift witness against them at the day of judgment if they lay not hold of Christ."3

May we as mothers all be able to pray as Mrs. Spurgeon prayed. May we be faithful to discipline our children and so help them avoid both the temporary and eternal consequences of sin.

But our discipline must spring from and not be separated from our tender love. In fact, the phrase "bring them up" in Ephesians 6 has a distinct relational component and could be translated "rear them tenderly." We show loving discipline by refraining from harsh or angry correction and by not withholding our affection—regardless of the nature or frequency of our daughters' sins.

Bringing our daughters up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord is hard work. God never said it would be otherwise. But He has promised to provide help and assistance to all who call on His name. This promise gives us the faith and courage to discipline our daughters with the end in view. They may not thank us for it right now. They may not thank us for a long time. But one day they will.

It took some time before Kristin appreciated our decision to take her out of school. But today she is grateful for the consequences she was spared and for the grace she's experienced as a result. And it is so rewarding, as a mom, to observe God's kindness to Kristin. For now she loves the Savior and is devoted to her home and family. As a wife and mother, she selflessly cares for her husband and three small boys. Not only is she a difference-maker in their lives, but she is also seeking to make a difference in other young women's lives. Even her sisters tell Kristin that they want to be like her when they grow up.

The book of James closes with this stunning promise: "Whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins" (James 5:20). Let's be ready and willing to perform this merciful service for the daughters we love.

Chapter 10: A Mother's Discipline

 1. John MacArthur, "A Crash Course in Christian Parenting," audio message (Sun Valley, Ca.: Word of Grace, 1997).
2. John Charles Ryle, The Duties of Parents (Conrad, Mont.: Triangle Press, 1888 repr., 1996), 7.
3. C. H. Spurgeon, The Early Years, Autobiography, Vol. 1 (Carlisle, Pa.: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1962), 43-44.

This column is part of an ongoing series on Mother-Daughter Conversations on Biblical Womanhood. Last month's installment:   Titus 2: Express a Tender Love for Your Children