The Balance Between Grace and Discipline When Training Children

My children are an indescribable gift.

Each one is different, crafted with particular traits and talents that make them unique. While we share traditions and memories, favorite books and foods, values and beliefs, I can see God's fingerprints on each one -- and His way of crafting each individual to reflect something different of His own heart.

This is why there will never be a formula for exactly how you should raise your children. Because each one is an individual, living in your home, with your circumstances and your values and your community of friends.

Discipline encompasses all we do to train and mold and encourage our children to grow in the grace of God, to shape their characters to be like His, to help them find those particular bents and talents that best magnify God in their lives.

Disciplining children well means first knowing them--what's going on in their lives, their strengths and weaknesses, their particular idiosyncrasies that perhaps no one else would know. And then it requires that I know and listen to the Lord, asking for His wisdom when I'm confused as to whether they need correction, encouragement, or more training. So often the whiny child is tired, the grouchy child is hungry, and what they really need is a fix to that problem rather than a stern correction--and that goes for adults, too!

"I have often met well-intentioned parents who think they must be harsh and demanding to their young children in order to secure their obedience and good behavior and to build their characters. Too often, I'm afraid, they fall into the trap of simply lording it over their children rather than truly reaching their hearts.

I'm not saying that obedience and behavior and character aren't important. In fact, I think that teaching our children these qualities is essential. I believe, however, that Jesus showed us plainly the most effective way to do this: by modeling obedience and right behavior and good character. And this requires us to do what Jesus did for the disciples--to lead our children not only by telling them what to do, but by showing them.

When we choose to graciously overlook our children's messes and accidents, we are teaching them to be patient and forgiving with the mistakes of others. When we react sensitively, thoughtfully, and patiently to them, we are helping to instill these qualities in their lives. As they benefit from our unconditional love, they learn to extend it to others as well. As they watch us extend hospitality, care for others, and pray for them, they learn to make service a part of life. And as they observe us searching Scripture, spending time with the Lord, and making faith-based decisions, they learn these things as well. Modeling loving service to our children gives them something to emulate in their own lives." The Mission of Motherhood

Aren't you glad He knows you and is patient with you? Do you ever feel pressure to discipline a certain way because someone else said so, rather than trusting your heart about what your child might really need?