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Good Parents Discipline Their Children, Don’t They? - Encouragement for Today - May 8, 2018

Dr. Mark W. Baker

May 8, 2018
Good Parents Discipline Their Children, Don’t They?

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” 2 Corinthians 7:10 (NIV)

“Because I said so!”

I hated hearing those words from my father when I was a kid, yet here I was listening to the very same words coming out of my own mouth as a parent now! I don’t think I was yelling, but my son said I was. OK, I was upset, but I was trying hard not to be. Parenting is hard, and despite all my professional training, I still mess up sometimes.

The Bible tells us, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11, NIV).

I don’t want my kids to turn out to be self-centered and miserable. But the Bible also specifically warns, Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger …”(Ephesians 6:4a, NASB). Was my approach to discipline making my son unnecessarily angry? I wasn’t sure.

My guiding principle for the discipline of my kids is found in today’s key verse, 2 Corinthians 7:10, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” I know Paul was talking about eternal salvation with God, but I believe he was also giving us some insight into how healthy guilt works in restoring all our relationships.

I discipline my son to get him to take responsibility for his actions and make amends. If I’m too hard on him, it might push him away from me, from Christian values and even the church. I know that godly sorrow, or healthy guilt, is short-lived and inspires people to restore relationships. Healthy guilt prompts us to make things right.

But, worldly sorrow, or neurotic guilt, just goes on and on, and it doesn’t lead to anything good. Healthy guilt is motivated by the love of God and others, but neurotic guilt is motivated by the fear of punishment.

So, trying to follow my own not-so-easy-to-follow advice, I went back to my son and said, “Listen, Jake, I’m sorry for getting so mad. I love you, and as your father I want to help you do the right things. You know what you did was against the rules, so I’m going to keep your Xbox for the next 24 hours like I said. But here’s the deal. If you go up to your room right now and clean it up, I will give you a chance to earn back your Xbox. For every hour that you don’t fight with your sister and do what I ask you to do the first time I ask you to do it, I will let you earn back two hours off of the 24 you owe me. How does that sound?”

Fortunately, he took the deal.

I didn’t want an angry son moping around the house for the next 24 hours, blaming me for his misery. I wanted a son who accepted his discipline while working to restore his relationships with everyone in our home.

The problem with neurotic guilt is that it’s mixed with shame. Getting too angry at my son can make him feel I’m mad at him for not measuring up, instead of mad at the misbehavior. Guilt is about what we do, but shame is about who we are. I wanted Jake to feel badly about what he did, not mad at himself for doing it.

The Bible reminds us all children are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) in the image of God. Shame is believing the lie that this is not true. I wanted Jake to know that he’s a good kid who did a bad thing. That’s why I felt guilty about getting so mad at him, repented for it and then worked to restore my relationship with him.

So how did the next 8 hours go? It was a relatively peaceful day around our house, with one pretty good boy trying to get along with others. And that was a day that left us all with no regrets.

Lord, thank You for the gift of my children. Help me to discipline them in a way that builds character, teaches them godliness and leaves no regrets. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (NASB)

To go deeper in this area, check out Dr. Mark W. Baker’s book, Overcoming Shame: Let Go of Others’ Expectations and Embrace God’s Acceptance. He also has dozens of other lectures you can download at his website.

Connect with Mark for more encouragement on his Facebook page.

Has shame impacted your life? If the answer is yes, enter to WIN a copy of Overcoming Shame by Dr. Mark W. Baker. To celebrate this book, Harvest House Publishers will give away 5 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here. {We'll randomly select 5 winners and email notifications to each one by Monday, May 14, 2018.}

Have you ever disciplined your child in anger? Were you shaming your child, making him or her feel badly about who they are, or were you punishing their bad behavior by helping them feel healthy guilt for what they did? What would you do differently next time?

© 2018 by Dr. Mark W. Baker. All rights reserved.

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