Can you relate to either of these scenarios I recently encountered?…
I observed a scenario where a small child in a public place challenged their parent’s authority by clearly going against what their parent had just told them not to do. The scenario sadly repeated itself many times where the child was told to correct their behavior, only to immediately and deliberately disobey their parent’s orders again. After multiple more times of this cycle, the parent seemed highly frustrated, while the child seemed to be having a blast playing this “game” of disobedience.
However, no consequences were enforced, or discipline given for the disobedience, just gentle and useless reminders of how the child needed to behave. And while it was obvious to everyone observing that the child was out of control (or simply the one in control), the parent was unwilling to do anything about it, other than throw up their hands in frustration as if there was “nothing that they could do.”
I also observed a similar scenario in a local grocery store where a child wanted something on the shelf and their parent clearly told them no. To which the child started dropped themselves on the floor and started screaming. The parents told them no more firmly, to which the child simply started screaming louder and kicking at the parent to give them what they wanted. The parent’s response was to start yelling, screaming, and even cussing at the child threatening them to get up and stop. It was quite a scene. When the child continued with even greater passion, the parent did the unthinkable – she grabbed the wanted item off of the shelf, gave it to her child still throwing a fit on the floor, (to which he immediately stopped) and then proceeded to yank him out of the store as if it was ‘the only thing’ that she could do.
The sad reality is that the problem in both of these scenarios was very simple – the problem was not the child, but the parent – a parent unwilling to restrain their own child by enforcing what they expect, rather than simply expecting their child’s misbehavior as being the norm.
When parents start to have behavioral problems with their kids, what many of them fail to realize is that the problem is often not that they have disobedient children… but that they are disobedient parents. They are not obeying one of the most basic biblical commands that is an obligation of every parent – to restrain their children. And such extreme displays of public disobedience are simply manifestations of a lack of private restraint in the home.
“Good, godly, and obedient children don’t raise themselves. Good, godly, and obedient parents do.”
Many godly men in the Scriptures struggled in this area of restraining their children…
Concerning Eli and his sons, God said in I Samuel 3:13, “I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.”
David struggled with his eldest children, Adonijah and Absalom. Concerning, Adonijah, who was trying to take over his father’s throne, I Kings 1:6 says, “And his father had not displeased him at any time in saying, Why hast thou done so?”
Proverbs 23:13 reminds us to “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.”
The Biblical definition of “restrain” means to rebuke or correct.
But what does it practically mean to restrain your children? Here are three simple ways:
1. TELL THEM NO
What ever happened to parents telling their kids NO? Multiple men in the Bible failed to restrain their children, and they often paid the ultimate price. Why would we not learn from their mistakes?
Children who are not restrained are subtly yet surely being trained to rebel. This pattern is clearly demonstrated in the Scriptures. By failing to restrain our children, we are setting them up for a potential lifetime and lifestyle of laziness, entitlement, and destruction.
One of the greatest concerns of Christian parents in our generation is this thought, “I just don’t want to be too hard on my kids, or else they will rebel.” However, when it comes to strictness, there must be a proper balance, as an extreme on either side can be equally as dangerous. Sadly, we are living in a generation of many parents who have chosen the opposite extreme to strictness by failing to restrain their children much, if at all.
Parents, may I be completely honest with you?… As I’ve watched families in ministry for over 16 years, I have rarely ever seen families that are being too hard on their kids when it comes to discipline (probably less than I can count on one hand), but I have seen multiplied dozens and dozens of families who are way too easy on their kids, yet don’t even realize it.
In the majority of homes, kids need more, not less restraint. They need more accountability, and for us to have higher standards and expectations of them than what we do. God created us as humans (and especially our children) to need clear and concrete boundaries.
2. DISCIPLINE THEM WHEN THEY DO WRONG
(There is a right way and a wrong way to do this… How to Have a Balanced and Biblical Approach to Discipline in the Home) This is so basic, yet so quickly abandoned by many parents. Never before has the church seen a mass exodus of parents who have forsaken the biblical model of discipline, and many who are simply afraid to discipline their children at all. The excuses abound for why not to discipline, as well as for all the reasons why to use alternative methods of discipline, other than what the Bible clearly talks about. But can we honestly look at what all of those methods are producing, and say that it’s working in our own homes or in our society?
I can clearly remember being sent to the principal’s office as a kindergartener to get a spanking with a wooden paddle for my misbehavior, and that was in a public school back in 1986. Yes, times have changed, but that doesn’t mean that things have to change within the framework of our own homes. God has given you everything you need to be the parent your children need, and no one can strip that away from you without your permission.
Proverbs 22:15 Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.
What has become so appealing and convincing in recent years that made parents ever think we needed to abandon what God clearly says works? The reason why many question whether or not biblical discipline is still effective, is not because God’s plan doesn’t work, but because we simply don’t work God’s plan. And while I absolutely hate having to discipline my children, my love for my kids must be greater than my hatred for disciplining them. The verse above in Proverbs 23:13 makes it clear that if we’re going to fail at restraining our children (“withhold correction”), one of the ways we will do so is by failing to discipline them when needed.
Proverbs 13:24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son, but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.
Disciplining our children according to God’s plan takes parental obedience, personal discipline, and sometimes a whole lot of inconvenience. And while it may not be the only thing that works, it is the one thing that God has placed His blessing and promise upon in the Scriptures. So we should be very cautious of forsaking it as our primary form of discipline in order to raise godly children.
As parents, we must speak to our children in a language that God created them to understand – discipline. Not frustration, not anger, not venting, not yelling… but controlled, loving, biblical discipline.
3. BE “THE BAD GUY” WHEN NECESSARY
Here’s an honest confession… Sometimes I’m a mean parent! Not because I try to be mean, or because I believe I’m supposed to be mean. But to my kids, there are many times when I’ve had to restrain them and their desires, and they think I’m just being flat, out, mean. But let me be equally honest… to a certain extent, it doesn’t matter to me what they think! 🙂
While I absolutely hate being the bad guy, I’m certainly willing to be for the sake of my kids. Because it doesn’t matter whether they think the world of me, or the worst of me, in those moments. If I know in my heart what is best for them, I am going to put my big boy pants on, stand my ground, and make the tough decisions that I know are best for my family, even if it puts me on their bad list.
In our society today, we are facing an epidemic of moms and dads who are afraid to be “the bad guy”. But being the bad guy is exactly what we need. We need parents who aren’t afraid to put their foot down, and who aren’t afraid to tell their children that “these are our rules, and you will abide by them, whether you like them or not.” I’m not talking about being legalistic, I’m simply talking about unapologetically being the parent in our home, and our children knowing it. Parents have got to stop being afraid of their kids.
“Sometimes you have to care more about your child’s future than you do about your child’s feelings.”
Many parents are afraid to do this. Maybe it’s because they have overcorrected to the opposite extreme from the strictness of their own parents. Maybe they’ve listened to too much of what the culture is trying to tell us, and it’s out of fear of what others will think. Maybe it’s because they just “love their kids too much to discipline them.” Regardless of the reasons, the primary thing that really matters is that the next generation and future generations following will suffer the consequences for our failure to restrain our children if we don’t figure this out. Because…
“Good, godly, and obedient children don’t raise themselves. Good, godly, and obedient parents do.”
Mom and Dad, please help your children, and help the future of our society. Parents, I plead with you… please restrain your children.
If you agree, please share this open letter with others by clicking here. Thank you.