As requested, The Mystery of Discipline part 1

Discipline--that mysterious area of life where people are so passionate. To spank or not to spank, that is the question. But is it really? Seems to me that the discipline of a person is a whole life process. God has used so many different approaches in my life to discipline me.

Natural consequences--It you do something foolish, you will reap foolish consequences--speeding and getting a ticket--not God, my stupidity.

Scripture--conviction by the Holy Spirit

Training--learning all sorts of lessons through jobs, circumstances, missions, watching others and having the training of my parents or boss or friends in the midst of life

So much of life is a process and so is child training. Children at 2 are just less mature than children at 7 or 9 or 11. Parents of older children know that children will grow out of phases. Gentle instruction, training, "You may not speak  this way, what is a better way to say this?" and following through. "You may not hit another child when you are frustrated, ever?" And then you isolate the child from the others and work with the child until they can apologize and ask for forgiveness." It is the patterns day in day out of correcting. loving, training, instructing, putting to bed, holding, and asking God to show us, by faith what each situation and each child needs at the moment.

No training is irresponsible. One of my friends thought she was following Clay's philosophy in his book Heartfelt Discipline by being lenient, which is different from grace based. "My three year old refuses to respond to my husband and always runs to me and spits on him and kicks him and I tell my husband that it is just a phase."

I was shocked. No child of ours is ever allowed to treat anyone that way, let alone a parent. We were on top of our children training, training, disciplining all the time. It was the way of life to model and instruct them in maturity.

Since  I am in the mountains with my sweet family, and want to spend most of my time with them, I thought I would post a blog from before that many people have requested. And I pray for each of you who read it today, that God will Himself give you grace and wisdom in your home for each situation with each child. Even as we walk by faith, we must also parent by faith. Grace and peace to you this Wednesday!


"It just bothers my head off when I see parents who don't discipline their children!" Joy proclaimed after babysitting a group of kids at church tonight. After which a long conversation between Sarah and Joy ensued. So fun to hear them talk with such strong opinions--guess the Clarkson family culture was pretty strong!

When I asked what to write about, several of you asked about discipline. I am off to bed tonight, but I will throw just a few thoughts out. Seems to me that people tend to take two extremes. Either they are high disciplinarians and are too strict and harsh or they say they are grace based and don't intervene in their children's lives at all. Clay and I believed in high love and high discipline--but most of our discipline was training, instruction and correction.

I have learned more about my parenting by pondering Jesus than from anywhere else. In Hebrews we are told, "All discipline, for the moment, seems not to be joyful but sorrowful, but afterwords it leads to the peaceful fruit of righteousness." That right there says that God cares that we interfere with our children's development and maturity and discipline them to become righteous.

"He disciplines us that we share in his Holiness." His discipline was for a purpose--not to be overbearing with us and become authoritative--but to train us--to help develop His character in us. He has high standards for us. I feel that in my own life, he has used many obstacles, difficulties and stresses to help conform me more to His image--he does not let me off the hook--he uses His training to help me grow up- to become more mature.

So, I realize that I have to be willing to let my children suffer displeasure in order to train them to become excellent.   However, the point I want to make clearly is that discipline and training of a child is primarily relationship based----not rule based! We are to seek to win their hearts--to give them a reason to want to obey us. We are to accept our children as a gift and communicate clearly to them how we love and treasure them.But for Clay and me, it meant spending lots and lots of time.

How did Jesus influence His disciples, so that they wanted to follow Him to the cross? By spending 3 years with them day in and day out, teaching, training, modeling, correcting and loving and enjoying life with them. (I wrote about this a lot in Ministry of Motherhood) His influence was based on his servant-leadership--(The night before he died, he was pondering where he had come from--heaven with God where he was always worshipped--and where we would be going back--back to heaven--and then he knelt and girded himself about with a towel and began to wash the disciple's feet.

I was having a quiet time once and realized that Jesus washed 12o toes! He understood me as a mom wiping noses, changing diapers, etc. Seems he has such integrity--he never asks me to do what he has not already done! "If I being the Lord washed your feet, so you should do to one another."

He was a humble, servant leader, and so I must have such honor and integrity with my children. It is in serving them and honoring them that they develop a desire to respond to me.

However, training was moment by moment--every day. For instance, when  child whined, we took them away--away to their bedroom or if we were at someone's house, to a private room or bathroom. (What is the matter? Mommy and Daddy are allergic to 'whiny" voices. I cannot listen to you until you can talk in normal voice. (And then we put them in their crib or hold them firmly and  quietly until they could get control.

When they were disrespectful to either one of us or to someone else, we immediately corrected them and said, "How should you have said that to your brother, Father or whatever." Children should not be allowed the freedom to be rude or to be disrespectful--grace-based parenting doesn't mean that you don't do anything, it just means that you don't primarily use the paddle for everything. We would always pick up our child if they were disrespectful to either one of us and made them immediately do what we had asked. "Tell Daddy you are sorry you disobeyed. Now I will take your hand and I will help you pick up the toy he asked you to pick up. Please do it now." If the child did not comply, we worked with them until they did comply--right then and until the child complied. Do not train a child to throw fits or to cry or throw tantrums. And do not excuse behavior that you have decided is not acceptable.

But do consult the list below to see if you are provoking a child and testing them beyond their ability to control themselves. Each child requires prayer and thoughtfulness as they all have different personalities and your goal is to reach the child's heart with your training--to give them a desire to do well according to their own heart-felt motivation and needs, personality, gender and age. And be sure that your discipline is appropriate to the offense--a strict voice and long spanking and discipline should not happen for a child who has been careless or done something small--correction and consequences or doing it over is more appropriate--if you make every thing a big deal, your children will learn to dread you.

I have been really reacting lately every time I see a policeman. Our town is giving out as many tickets as possible to make up for lack of taxes on certain issues. So many tickets are given each day and police cars are everywhere (lots of articles and complaints have been in the local news.) I was wondering if this is how children feel when they have parents who are over bearing and authoritarian--dreading seeing their parents because they know their parents will find something wrong! How terrible to be afraid to be with your parents because they correct every single thing you do--that would be terrible in a friendship, marriage, or as a child--there must be grace in the midst of life.

Part 2 tomorrow