Don’t be afraid to discipline your children. Understand that, despite your mistakes, you’re in charge of your children because you’re the parent. Lead your children; don’t let them lead you. Go to God for the strength you need. Show your children that you’re submitting to God’s authority yourself while you expect them to submit to your authority.

Don’t take shortcuts when you discipline; make time to follow through as you try to shape your children’s behavior and develop their character. Make a concerted effort to train them well. Establish clear consequences for misbehavior and consistently enforce them. Don’t automatically discipline each of your children in the same way. Instead, carefully study each one’s personality to determine which methods would work best for him or her. Discipline in love, not anger. Whenever you discipline your children, let them know that it’s for their benefit and that you love them too much to let them get away with wrong behaviors.

Hug them afterward, assure them of your love for them, and pray with them to ask God to help them with the particular problem. Choose your battles. Let small issues that don’t ultimately matter slide; focus on what has eternal value.

Give your children security. Give your children the security of knowing that you genuinely and consistently love them and your spouse (if you’re married). Let them know that, no matter what mistakes you might make, you’ll do your best to be there for them and provide security in their home. Ask God to fill you with His love so you can love your children and spouse. Trust Him to empower you to choose to act in love toward them, regardless of changing circumstances or feelings.

Help your children connect to God. Make your children’s spiritual development a priority. Encourage them to turn to God for all their needs, knowing that He alone never makes mistakes and will never disappoint them. Take your children to church and Sunday School or a weekly Bible study regularly. Teach your children to read and study the Bible. Set boundaries to help them learn to say "no" to selfish choices and "yes" to God. Pray with them often, and make time regularly for family worship. Use everyday experiences to point out God at work and build character in your children. Do your best to trust God in your own life so you can model a faithful life for your children.

Pray for your children constantly. Realize that your prayers contain great power to benefit your children, despite your mistakes. Pray for God to help your children throughout each stage of their lives. Let your children know that you’re praying for them. Ask them to give you prayer requests regularly. Point out answered prayers to them and celebrate together.

Let go and let God have His way in your children’s lives. Ask God to give you the faith you need to commit your children fully to Him. Step back and invite God to work in their lives as He desires, without your interference. Be willing to give up your own plans for them if those plans conflict with God’s plans for their lives. When you pray for your children, make requests instead of demands. Remember that God, who created your children, wants the very best for them. Trust Him to fulfill His good purposes for their lives.

Adapted from Five Things I Did Right and Five Things I Did Wrong in Raising Our Children, copyright 2004 by Sarah O. Maddox. Published by Broadman & Holman Publishers, Nashville, Tn.,

Sarah O. Maddox is a popular conference speaker and women’s ministry consultant. She and her husband Roland currently reside in Memphis, Tn., where she is a Bible teacher, writer, and homemaker. She is the mother of two and the grandmother of five.