UNDENIABLY, parenting is hard work. But holding back discipline when it is warranted makes the task even harder. Why? Because without discipline (1) children continue to be unruly, which exhausts the parents, and (2) parents give inconsistent direction, which confuses the children.
On the other hand, loving, balanced discipline can train a child’s thinking and shape his moral character. It also helps children feel secure as they grow to responsible adulthood. But where can you find reliable guidance for disciplining your children?
The Value of Bible Principles
The publishers of this magazine, Jehovah’s Witnesses, believe that the Bible is, as it claims to be, “beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for correcting, for disciplining.” (2 Timothy 3:16, footnote) The Bible is far more than a mere parenting manual; its principles provide realistic guidance for families. Consider some examples.
THE BIBLE SAYS: “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child.”—Proverbs 22:15, footnote.
Although children can be delightfully thoughtful and kind, they are also inclined to do foolish things. Therefore, children need discipline. (Proverbs 13:24) Acknowledging that fact will help you fulfill your responsibility as a parent.
THE BIBLE SAYS: “Do not hold back discipline from a child.”—Proverbs 23:13, footnote.
You need not fear that balanced discipline will damage your children or cause them to resent you later in life. When lovingly administered, discipline will help your children learn to accept correction humbly—a skill they will need even as adults.—Hebrews 12:11.
THE BIBLE SAYS: “Whatever a person is sowing, this he will also reap.”—Galatians 6:7.
Parents naturally want to protect their children, and rightly so. Again, however, balance is needed. You do your children no favors by “rescuing” them from the consequences of their errors or by defending them when a teacher or another adult brings real misconduct to your attention. Instead, view those people as your allies. In so doing, you teach your child to respect authority—including yours.—Colossians 3:20.
THE BIBLE SAYS: “A child left unrestrained brings shame on his mother.”—Proverbs 29:15.
Be loving, consistent, and reasonable
While parents should never be abusive, they also need to avoid the other extreme—that of being permissive. “Children of permissive parents have little sense that the adults in the house are the ones who are in charge,” says the book The Price of Privilege. If you do not assume your authority, your child may well assume that he is at the helm. Inevitably, he will make unwise choices that will cause him—and you—grief.—Proverbs 17:25; 29:21.
THE BIBLE SAYS: “A man will . . . stick to his wife, and the two will be one flesh.”—Matthew 19:5.
According to the Bible, a man and woman should be married before children are conceived and should still be together after the children are grown and gone. (Matthew 19:5, 6) In that sense, you are a spouse first—a parent second. If your priorities are reversed, however, your child could come to “think more of himself than it is necessary to think.” (Romans 12:3) A “child-centered” family also weakens the marriage relationship.
Help for Parents
For you to accomplish your goal as a parent, your discipline should adhere to these principles.
Be loving. “Do not be provoking your children, so that they do not become downhearted.”—Colossians 3:21, footnote.
Be consistent. “Let your word ‘Yes’ mean yes, your ‘No,’ no.”—Matthew 5:37.