The Bible’s Viewpoint
Raising Children in God’s Discipline
“How to Set Rules Your Kids Won’t Break”
“Five Values You Should Teach Your Child by Age Five”
“Five Emotional Skills Every Child Should Have”
“Five Signs You’re Being Too Lenient”
“One-Minute Discipline Magic”
IF DISCIPLINING children were easy, there would be little interest in magazine articles such as the ones listed above. The stream of books written on child rearing would dry up. Raising children, however, has never been easy. Even thousands of years ago, it was said that “a foolish son brings grief to his father and bitter regrets to his mother.”—Proverbs 17:25, Today’s English Version.
Today, despite the abundance of advice on the subject, many parents are unsure about how to discipline their children. What assistance does the Bible offer?
The True Meaning of Discipline
The Bible clearly defines the role of parents regarding discipline. For instance, Ephesians 6:4 says: “You, fathers, do not be irritating your children, but go on bringing them up in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah.” This scripture mentions particularly the father as the one who should take the lead in caring for his children. The mother, of course, works alongside her husband.
On this subject The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible states: “In the Bible discipline is closely associated with training, instruction, and knowledge on the one hand, and with reproof, correction, and punishment on the other hand. Its natural application is in the sphere of child training.” Thus, discipline goes far beyond reprimands; it includes all the training that children need to thrive. But how can parents avoid causing irritation?
What irritates a child? Think about this situation. You have a workmate who is ill-tempered and impatient. Nothing about you pleases him. He seems to find fault with everything you say and do. He often rejects your work and makes you feel rejected as a person. Would that not irritate and dishearten you?
The same can happen to a child when his parents are constantly badgering him or correcting him in anger. It is true that children need correction from time to time and that the Bible authorizes parents to give such. However, irritating a child by harsh, unloving treatment can cause emotional, spiritual, and even physical harm.
Your Children Deserve Your Attention
Parents must make time for their children. Regarding God’s regulations, Deuteronomy 6:7 tells fathers: “You must inculcate them in your son and speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road and when you lie down and when you get up.” Children are born with the need to feel that their parents deeply care for them. Engaging your children in calm conversations on a daily basis can help you to understand their feelings. This can make it easier to reach their hearts with Bible-based principles, motivating them to “fear the true God and keep his commandments.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13) This is part of godly discipline.
If raising children can be compared to building a house, then discipline is one of the construction tools. When parents use it properly, they can build desirable qualities into the personalities of their children and equip them to face the trials of life. Proverbs 23:24, 25 describes the result: “The father of a righteous one will without fail be joyful; the one becoming father to a wise one will also rejoice in him. Your father and your mother will rejoice, and she that gave birth to you will be joyful.”
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THE “MENTAL-REGULATING OF JEHOVAH”
Ephesians 6:4 mentions the “mental-regulating of Jehovah.” The original Greek term for the expression “mental-regulating” is translated in some Bibles as “mindfulness,” “counsel,” and “admonition.” These terms all indicate that families must do more than just read the Bible or routinely cover material in a Bible study aid. Parents need to make sure that their children understand the meaning of God’s Word, the importance of obedience, the love Jehovah has for them, and the protection he offers them.
How can this be accomplished? Judy, a mother of three, saw the need to do more than constantly remind her children of godly principles. “I saw that they did not like it when I repeated the same things in the same way time after time. I began looking for different ways to teach them. One way was to look up articles in the Awake! magazine that presented those points with a fresh approach. Thus I learned how to give the kids needed reminders without irritating them.”
Angelo, whose family went through difficult times, tells how he taught his daughters to meditate on God’s Word: “We read Bible verses together, and then I isolated certain phrases and explained how they applied to my daughters’ circumstances. Later on, when they were reading the Bible on their own, I would see them deep in thought, meditating on the meaning it had for them.”