Take Them by the Hand
“Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. ‘Honor your father and mother.’ This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, ‘things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.’ Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” Ephesians 6:1-4, NLT
In my decade of youth ministry experience, I have seen every parenting style you can imagine. Regardless of how a family chooses to feed, educate, celebrate, socialize, or entertain their children, the factor with the greatest character influence was definitely godly discipline.
Proverbs 13:24 reminds us that “A refusal to correct is a refusal to love; love your children by disciplining them.”
Although my own daughter is still in diapers and the teen years feel far away, I am beginning to recognize how quickly that time will pass. As such, I’ve begun to jot down all of the lessons I learned while working with teens in regard to godly discipline.
This isn’t an all-inclusive list, but I believe we can empower daughters to obey when we serve them in a few key areas. Servant leadership is key!
- Set clear boundaries. Children need to know what is expected of them and know you mean it. This doesn’t mean your kids and teens won’t test boundaries, of course they will. But this is an area you don’t want to choose to implement when they turn sixteen. Start now and remain consistent.
- Recognize that each child is different and that you just might have to set boundaries to fit different needs. Your home doesn’t need to be judged by your children as fair in order for you to be a good parent.
- Be quick to apologize and ask for forgiveness when you are in the wrong. Even if your desire was to discipline, if you acted out of anger or spoke harshly, take the time to ask for forgiveness. Your kids will respect you far more when they know you respect them. Your mission is to live (first!) and teach (second) a life that is glorifying to God.
- Praise obedience! It takes seven compliments to undo the effects of one criticism. Peter was called “The Rock on which I will build my church” by Jesus when there was nothing remarkable in him for anyone else to see. Jesus spoke life into Peter’s God-given potential. You have that same power in your words! Use them wisely.
- Speak well of your daughter. I can’t tell you the hurt I see in the eyes of a teen when I watch a mom or dad belittle their child in front of others. I remember one mom in particular who was desperate to curb some of her daughter’s behavior. She walked up to me with her daughter in tow and lamented the situation in public view and with a very loud voice. Your daughter longs to hear you encourage and speak well of her.
- Don’t avoid the tough conversations. If your daughter is not getting wisdom from you, she WILL seek it from somewhere else.
- Pick your battles. My parents battled my brother over the length of his hair for years. My mom eventually decided it was better to have a pleasant house than military precision in that department.
- Pray for them and with them! Let your children hear you praying for them, not just that they “would be more obedient” – but that they would “know their purpose, have courage, find expression for their gifts” – use prayer as a time to praise the Father for them!
- Be the parent. It’s a place of authority given to you by God. Feel the weight of it and then lead from there. Your child has plenty of friends. They only get one mom
My daughter is only 19 months old, but I know the foundation we are building with her NOW will be critical in the years to come. When our children choose disobedience, me must use that opening as a doorway to speak the Gospel into their lives through consistent discipline and affirming love.
Talk to your daughters. Love your daughters.
“Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master.” Ephesians 1:4, The Message
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