As a parent I can tell you with absolute certainty, discipline is one of the hardest things to figure out. It's also the topic that generates the most discussion and controversy. That's why I'm glad Michelle Anthony, in her book Spiritual Parenting, reminds us what the Bible says about this important topic.
The greatest news of all is, it doesn't matter what side of the discussion you fall on. What she shares applies across the board.
Here's what she says:
"The task of biblical discipline can be exhausting and bring even the most dedicated of parents to their knees – which, ironically, is the first place that a spiritual parent needs to begin. Instead of relying on our own wisdom and strength or giving up all together, we must first come to Jesus and ask Him, 'How would You like me to bring correction to this child You have given me?' In this act of surrender, we are ready to understand what God desires for us in course correction." (pg. 152)
"The end goal for us as parents is to conduct God's discipline in our children's lives in such a way that they experience healing from their sin." (pg. 155)
"Ultimately, the purpose of discipline is to create an environment where the root of the problem is exposed and healed so that it no longer causes the negative behavior. This is true spiritual formation, but so often we settle for behavior modification ... Our goal in course correction is to align their hearts with a path of healing that only God can bring. When we do this, we allow our children to be honest about sin, not to hide it or manage it in their flesh, and by doing so we help the begin to understand why they need a Savior." (pg. 156)
Anthony ends the chapter with a 3 step process that is based on Hebrews 12:11-13. It looks like this:
1. Pain (vs. 11)
According to Anthony, "... true healing starts with pain." She suggests that this pain should be "child-specific" (pg. 159) because all children are unique and respond differently, rather than a predetermined "parenting style" (pg. 160). The purpose of this pain is break "down the child's will, bringing them to a place of submission." (pg. 161)
2. Building back up (vs. 12)
This step should be immediate and, "... bring restitution to the the child in love, in affection and in encouragement." (pg. 161) Love needs to be demonstrated with eye-to-eye contact and words of affirmation. Affection is shown with a hug (even if it isn't reciprocated). The encouragement being discussed, "... gives hope, without it the Enemy will lie to our children and convince them they can never change." (pg. 162)
3. Make paths straight (vs. 13)
The final step of discipline is, "... simply plotting a new course for them. Here we teach them what is means to change and acknowledge that they will need God's help to do this." (pg. 162)
Anthony wraps up this chapter this way, "Course correction is a loving, respectful, - and productive - way of dealing with our children's misdeeds." (pg. 170) We all know our kids are going to make mistakes, the real question is how are we going to handle them?
(All quotes taken from Spiritual Parenting by Michelle Anthony ©2010 published by David C. Cook)