Loving discipline is a part of parental involvement. Proverbs 4:11 says, "I have taught you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in right paths." But how do we get children on the right path? By discipline. Proverbs 13:24 tells us that "He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly." Now this doesn't mean blind brutality. It's not an invitation for parents to beat their children. The idea is to lovingly correcting their faults in order to set them on the right path.
And there's a stronger warning in Proverbs 19:18: "Chasten your son while there is hope, and do not set your heart on his destruction." The NIV renders that last part as "and do not be a willing party to his death." Get that: One who refuses to lovingly (you can underline that in red) discipline his child is one who desires the worst for his child. The parent isn't the child's friend—they're his enemy!
You may be thinking, Oh, but I love him too much to discipline him! Well then, the effect—in the end—will be as if you hated him! It is not love to withhold correction, or to overlook blatant disobedience. God loves us, yet His Word says, "For whom the Lord loves He chastens" (Hebrews 12:6).
Unfortunately, many people now believe that discipline is outdated; that you can just "negotiate" with your child. But some sociologists from Harvard University listed the primary factors necessary to prevent delinquency in children. Number one? Firm, fair, and consistent discipline.
There's a difference between corrective and preventative discipline. I think you need both. Corrective discipline is when you have to stop a behavior: You correct it immediately. Unfortunately, corrective discipline is the only kind that many parents know. They know how to raise their hand, or their voice, but that's about it.
But there's also preventative discipline. This should start early on, through practices like praying with your kids, playing with them, and getting on their level so they can explain their world and their life to you. Then they'll see you as non-threatening.
One mistake parents make is threatening their kids. They don't follow through with discipline. Instead, they raise their voice and threaten again and again. When they finally act, it's in absolute frustration and anger. The message they're sending is: "You can get away with a lot until I reach one certain decibel level. After that, you'd better look out!" My father and mother believed in promises, not threats. They would say something and if I disobeyed, they would follow through with the discipline.
According to a recent report, the primary cause for children living in foster homes is not divorce, money problems, or the death of their parents. The number one reason is the disinterest of parents. That's the lack of loving, preventative discipline. Let's discipline—but let's do it in love.
Skip Heitzig is the founder and senior pastor at Calvary Albuquerque. His teachings are heard across the country and around the world on The Connection. Skip and his wife, Lenya, and son and daughter-in-law, Nathan and Janaé, live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Skip and Lenya are the proud grandparents of Seth Nathaniel.