Raising a Christian Family
Raising a Christian Family: 5 Ways to
Incorporate Positive Discipline
The Bible tells us in Hebrews 12:6–8 that God disciplines those He loves. He doesn’t punish us. Jesus took the punishment on the cross for our sins. God disciplines and we learn—or at least, we should learn—to take our cues from God. Because the reason we have kids, the reason we have families, and the reason we’re here is to glorify God. He parents us lovingly, but He loves us so much that He doesn’t want us to behave in a way that’s contrary to glorifying Him.
After the children of Israel had been in captivity for 400 years, God led them to the Promised Land, what He called “a land flowing with milk and honey”; in other words, one that would have everything they desired. That was His intention for them. But the children of Israel, just like you and me, had the freedom of choice, the freedom of will. They rebelled against God, so they didn’t realize that full, beautiful experience that God had intended because of their rebellion. I’m a rebellious person, too. You are as well. So God has corrective discipline in mind for us so we can experience the life He intends for us.
A question all of us need to address is this: what are we supposed to be teaching our children? How do we mirror God’s way of discipline in our families and our children? The Bible has a lot to say about positive disciplining.
What Is Positive Discipline?
Discipline is about action before it’s about the reaction. I have two definitions for discipline, which I’ll share with you. The first is behavioral practices within boundaries. The second is behavioral correction when boundaries are crossed.
In other words, it’s an action. It’s things we do in order to achieve a goal. Whether you have a goal for your business, your home, or yourself, it flows from that.
Positive discipline is evident in the behavioral practices you establish. In the home, we should have behavioral practices—that’s the action. Then you have the reaction, and that’s the second part of discipline, which is the behavioral correction when boundaries are crossed.
If you look at just God’s directives, take the Ten Commandments. We step over those lines, it may be OK for a while, but I’m telling you, the consequences will hit and it’s not always fun. God set up the Ten Commandments as behavioral practices. In many places in the Bible, it talks about behavioral correction when those boundaries are crossed.
5 Ways to Instill Positive Discipline
Survey your own land
When a surveyor marks a piece of land, the boundaries are clearly marked so the builder knows where to build. This way, they know where the property line ends.
As a parent, you should have clearly marked boundaries so your children know how to behave. In our home, we try to communicate those expectations. You don’t want to make parenting boundaries a guessing game. The rules should be well laid out because every child is different.
They have different personalities, you have different responses, and there are different emotions, especially if you have girls. We decided in advance what the behaviors needed to be in our family.
Make the sentence match the crime
If you’re doing something with your children and they misbehave, and they’re having a difficult time, make the punishment or the discipline fit whatever they’re doing. For instance, one time when our girls were having a cat fight in the back seat, they were warned that if they didn’t stop, I would pull the car over and make them get out and walk. Guess what? They kept arguing, so I pulled the car over and made them walk home.
I followed them in the car to be sure they were safe. The sentence wasn’t overly harsh. But they didn’t enjoy having to walk home. And the next time they argued in the car, I simply reminded them of what happened the last time.
Consistency + Reliability = Security
All children desire security in the home. I desire security in the home. I desire security with God, so God is consistent with me. His Word is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and my parenting, my word, should be the same yesterday, today, and forever. That’s good parenting.
When I set up a boundary, and stick with it consistently, I’m teaching my kids that I love them. My love for them determines that I want to correct them, just as in the previous example when the girls were fighting in the back seat of the car.
Consistency and reliability equal security for our kids. Never forget that as a parent, you’re stronger physically, but more importantly, you’re stronger emotionally. God is consistent and our kids are looking at us as we mirror Him.
Avoid pendulum parent
Another thing to avoid as a parent is saying, “Well, I’m not going to be like my father,” or “I’m going to be different than my mother.” I get it. What can happen with that mentality, though, is that the pendulum can swing so far that you find yourself being a rebellious parent. While in reality, you’re acting like a rebellious adult child.
Forgiveness and reconciliation
If we don’t reconcile with one another when we have issues, our relationships will dam up. Sometimes as parents, we need to apologize to our kids. Sometimes it’s the other way around. And always, when our kids argue and fight with each other, they need to say, “I’m sorry” and mean it.
Develop a Family Mission Statement
Everything we do as a family operates off our family mission statement. Even if you’re single, you should have a mission statement for your life. If you don’t have kids, create a mission statement for your marriage.
Our mission statement is simple: “Our family exists to love God, to love one another, to serve God, and to serve one another.” That’s it. So in our home, everything—every action—should lift up that mission statement. It should come alongside us.
Trends come and go, but God’s plan is for consistency throughout our entire lives. Take time to write a mission statement for your family.
Join us in person or online at Fellowship Church, where we seek to incorporate positive discipline in our Christian homes and families.
Want to learn more? Watch the related sermon.