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I’m your host AMBrewster, and today we’re closing our current series on God-honoring consequences in parenting. Obviously, there is still much more to say, but we’re trying to deal with it in manageable chunks.
By the way, if you know of a group that would benefit from a workshop, conference, or series of messages on biblical discipline, parenting, consequences, and the like, please go to TruthLoveParent.com/conferences and fill out the form.
I would be honored to speak at your teacher’s convention, couple’s conference, church, camp, school, and the like.
You can also visit AMBrewster.com to learn more.
And don’t forget to take full advantage of our free episode notes, transcript, and related parenting resources.
Okay, so now we want to talk about the steps necessary to transition your home from ungodly punishment and discipline methods to a more Christ-honoring, biblical model.
As a biblical family counselor, I have had the supreme privilege of training parents, teachers, counselors, pastors, youth workers, and so many more about biblical consequences.
The first hurdle is communicating the truth and getting buy-in. Let’s be honest, none of us like to hear that we’ve been disciplining our kids in a way that doesn’t please the Lord.
To be honest, my first child was born in 2007, and it wasn’t until around 2014 that I was introduced to the seed ideas that would — by the grace of God — grow and motivate me to stop taking for granted that I had the whole discipline thing figured out, and — more importantly — study the Bible to learn God’s way.
So, that step right there can be difficult enough. I have definitely worked with people who didn’t want to hear that God’s plan contradicted their plan.
But even when people do accept it . . . the second hurdle — which many don’t foresee being an issue — is working through how to actually implement the changes in the home.
Whether you realize it or not, even if you’ve never really given any significant thought to the discipline structure in your home, it’s an ingrained habit. In fact, things we do with little-to-know thought are the hardest habits to overcome.
Therefore, it’s important to have a plan for making the transition. That way, when (not if) you fail implementing the plan, you can at least go back and look at the plan on paper to see where you dropped the ball and remember what you need to do to get back on track.
So, whether you’re a super organized person who likes rubrics and spreadsheets, or that type of thing overwhelms you, at least you all have the same thing in common. After today’s show, you can go to TruthLoveParent.com by following the link in the description, and you can download the free episode notes . . . and — if nothing else — that can be the bare bones of your plan. What you choose to do beyond that is up to you.
Okay, I have 10 steps that should see you through the entire process of transitioning your home from an unbiblical discipline model to one that pleases the Lord.
Oh, and I have a bonus point at the end as well.
So, here we go!
1. You need to make sure you know and understand the biblical data.
There are definitely two sids to this coin. Some people jump in before they really understand what they’re doing, and the rest of us get the paralysis of analysis where we don’t do anything until we believe we have it all figured out.
I’m going to suggest that neither of those approaches is best, but can say with all certainty that the second approach is worst.
We mustn’t not discipline our kids or knowingly continue disciplining them the wrong way while we try to figure out what we’re supposed to do.
So, here’s the first step. Learn what God has to say about consequences.
And the good news is that we’ve been doing just that for the past month; these episodes are evergreen and always available at TruthLoveParent.com, and we have so many other resources that speak into this subject.
And — as we’ve observed on various occasions — it is vital that we don’t just know the material, we need to make sure we really understand why God wants us to discipline the way He does. When we don’t understand the why, it’s really easy to mess up the what.
And then — whether you’ve learned it all or not — the Christian’s responsibility is simply to obey what he knows as he continues learning. As he learns and understands more, we obey that, and the cycle continues.
So, that leads us to our second point.
2. You need to make sure you understand how to wisely apply what you’ve learned.
It’s one thing to have theoretical knowledge and understanding, but we need to know how to put it into practical use in our lives. I pray our last episode was very helpful in that regard.
This is the wisdom step. This is where we separate the nominal Christians from the genuine believers.
James 1:22-25 throws down the proverbial gauntlet, “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. 25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.”
I’m pretty sure that if you’re listening to this podcast, you want to be blessed in your parenting. So, that means we’re going to actually have to do what we’ve learned.
By the way, please remember what we learned in our Teach Your Children to Learn Series . . . you don’t become wise and then stop learning. Wise people increase in learning. They pursue more and more learning so that they can become wiser and wiser.
So, here’s an important sub-point: You need to commit to growing in your knowledge and understanding and wise application of biblical discipline.
Now, for those of you parenting alone, you can skip to point to 4. But, since many of you are married . . .
3. You and your spouse need to make sure you’re in agreement.
I know. I know. It doesn’t matter what kind of couples’ counseling I’m doing, disagreement and conflict is the main problem.
But the reality is that it was Jesus Who said, “If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.”
TeamTLP and I are looking forward to the day we can start the Truth.Love.Marriage podcast. But for now, we have a couple resources that may benefit you if you recognize the fact that you and your spouse are not functioning as a team. Episode 86 is called One Flesh, One Team and may be helpful for you.
Also, the TLP Counselors would love an opportunity to meet with you and your spouse if you’re both interested in getting help.
But, for the sanctified sake of optimism, let’s say that you have both learned and understood the same material, it will be very important for you to have applicational agreement in at least one of two ways.
In a best case scenario, it would be wonderful to have . . .
A. Agreement in method.
This basically means that you’re both on the same page theoretically and practically.
But if you’re having a hard time coming to terms on all of the finer points, you need to seek . . .
B. Agreement in trajectory with a willingness to tolerate appropriate differences.
The idea here is that you both agree with God’s commands and expectations, and that you’re willing to allow the other to exercise their liberty in Christ-honoring discipline though you may — perhaps — take a different tact.
Obviously, the husband’s authority needs to be taken into account, but let me talk to the guys just for a minute. Gentlemen, if your wife is wanting to try a discipline method that isn’t condemned in Scripture, and she wants to do it in the right way for the right reasons, but it’s not the way you would do it . . . let her try it.
If she’s not sinning, perhaps the differences between the two of you will have a powerful influence on the child.
And if you’re worried that the kids may favor one parent’s approach over another, that’s not going to happen if you’re keeping the Primary Consequences and lessons the main thing. Children only appreciate getting away with their sin or receiving laxer punishment. If they’re not interested in changing, but they’re hearing the same truth and being called to the same standard and receiving appropriately painful (though different) consequences, they’re not really going to have a favorite.
If they have a favorite, the favorite parent needs to seriously reconsider whether or not they’re working according to God’s plan. In my experience, the preferred parent is the one not giving consequences or not giving them as quickly, but — even worse — they tend to be the ones who aren’t bringing the spiritual truth to bear on the situation.
So, make sure you and your spouse are in agreement. And this will hopefully be part of . . .
4. You need to develop a new disciplinary plan.
A. You need a new motivation.
If you’ve been punishing your kids, you need to stop. If you’re not been giving your kids consequences, you need to start. If you’ve been giving your kids consequences to achieve your own pragmatic purposes, you need to cut it out.
Your goal in parenting is to worship God. Your goal in disciplining is to worship God. You need to do it in His way for His reasons and in His power.
B. You need a new vocabulary.
We don’t have time to talk about the vital importance of your family vocabulary, but we have tons of resources all about it. Please check out any of our episodes about communication.
First on the list, you need to stop referring to your discipline as punishment. Just stop it.
Second, you need to you get used to talking about the most important things. Primary Consequences, Spiritual Lessons, God’s expectations, pleasing the Lord, the Bible — all of this needs to become a regular part of your family talk.
C. You need to have a process for determining biblical consequences.
Think of it like a list of criteria. If you’re teacher, imagine it’s a rubric for determining the best consequences for your child.
Unfortunately, I can’t necessarily give you a one-and-done rubric for determining the best consequences for any particular child’s sin at any particular time. But using the guidance from last week’s episode would be a good place to start.
The key is to choose a consequences that clearly flows from and points back to not just the sin, but — more importantly — the lesson God wants to teach your child in this season of their life.
But you also should tailor it to your child so that it has maximum impact.
And then . . .
5. You need to teach your children what you’ve learned.
Don’t just toss it on them the next time they sin. Plan it out. Talk about it with your kids. Take a family meeting; take a couple family meetings. Keep the conversation going as long as it takes for your kids to understand that something different is going to happen.
It’s not just about adding to the current system, it’s about a systemic change.
So you probably need to plan to teach your children age-appropriate versions of all the following:
A. You need to teach your children about consequences.
This should include consequences in general — the whole action/reaction nature of existence.
But you also need to teach them about biblical Primary Consequences. And then use those truths to help your kids see why it’s so important for biblical Secondary Consequences.
And then take some time to
B. Teach them about punishment.
It’s not bad when the right people do it in the right way, and they need to understand what it is. However, they also need to understand that no one in the home has the right to punish anyone else for their sins — real or perceived.
This has a lot to do with our series about the Biggest Parenting Challenges You Will Ever Face and our recent discussion about authority. One of the lies of sin is that we have the right to punish people who do things we don’t like. Kids punish people all of the time, including their parents, and they need to learn that this is not Christ-honoring and will always bring pain into their lives.
So, then . . .
C. Teach them the difference between punishment and discipline.
Along these lines, if you haven’t already, you should teach your kids about the Parent’s 5 Jobs. Those 5 jobs are the very warp and woof of biblical discipline.
And — of course — please use any of our free episode notes in this process if they will help.
Lastly . . .
D. You need to show your children that you and your spouse are in agreement.
You don’t want them thinking that this is a mom-thing or a dad-thing. That will breed favoritism issues as well as the age-old tactic of playing the parents against each other.
So, You need to make sure you know and understand the biblical data. You need to make sure you understand how to wisely apply what you’ve learned. You and your spouse need to make sure you’re in agreement.You need to develop a new disciplinary plan. And you need to teach your children what you’ve learned.
Then . . .
6. You need to invite your children to partner with you in serving the Lord.
This needs to happen formally. Just like Joshua in chapter 24 verses 14 and 15. He issues a challenge to the people of Israel and says, “Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the [other] gods . . . . 15 If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve . . . but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
I have found that this formal invitation can be massively impactful. Our society is losing the significance of contracts and vows. But the Scripture is full of ceremonies and significant moments of decision-making where the weight of the choice was fully felt by all who were there. Even God made multiple vows all throughout the Bible. This is a good thing.
Sure, you and your kids will fail at many points, but it’s so helpful to get buy in.
But the formal moments can so easily be forgotten with time. That’s why it’s important to keep the conversation going with casual invitations.
These can come when there is not corrective consequence needed. For example, “Remember kids, while you’re at school, God wants for you to live for Him and be salt and light to everyone watching.”
And it can be casually brought up in times of discipline. It’s so valuable to be able to say to a child some time after the formal invitation, “Hey, do you remember when you told us you were going to do what it takes to serve the Lord with the rest of us? Well, this situation we’re in right now is part of that. Are you with us, or are you going to choose to serve your own god of self?”
Now, again, hopefully you’re seeing why I don’t suggest you necessarily try to cram all of this into one family devotion time.
If your family needs to make a few tweaks, and they understand most of this stuff already, sure, have the conversation. But if your family needs a more significant paradigm shift, then prepare for these conversations to happen in installments — perhaps over the course of a week.
Because — in addition to the other foundation stones you need to lay . . .
7. You need to clearly explain your plan for discipline.
Obviously, the level of detail is up to you and your kids, but please — for the sake of your children — don’t leave them with more questions than answers. Allow them to think through what you’re presenting and get any clarification they need.
Bare minimum, you definitely need to explain the new vocabulary as well as the criteria you will use to determine a consequence.
It’s so helpful for then to realize that you’re not going to be capricious and unjust with this new system. It’s important for them to recognize that you’re learning too, and that the whole family needs to work together.
This is one huge reason . . .
8. You need to be consistent.
We talked about this last time. My friends, I cannot stress this enough. It’s so important!
I know you’re going to fail . . . just like I am. So you need to be consistent in acknowledging your sin and repenting. Don’t continue in sin. Confess it, ask for forgiveness, and repent — change.
We don’t have time to talk about the doctrine of perseverance, but it’s a topic I’m working on for a family Bible study from the book of II Peter.
Perseverance, steadfastness, and consistency are all the same thing. And since much of this is a new endeavor, it’s going to take concerted, intentional effort to make the changes necessary.
Plan on making a lot of mistake and having to work really hard for at least a solid 2 months before it starts to feel more comfortable and start working well more consistently.
It won’t start to feel more second nature until you’ve been doing it for at least 6 months, but — then again — it may take longer than that.
Persevere in this transition, my friends, persevere.
And don’t believe the ‘It’s not working” lie.
I never promised that changing your consequences structure would change your kids. I did say that in order to worship God, you need to give biblical consequences the way He outlines. This is about changing you, not your kids. This is about changing your worship. And if God is pleased to change your kids by using the changed-you to do it . . . amen.
Do right regardless of how your kids respond.
Now, here’s something that is going to be so important for you at this juncture . . . get help. Whether it’s a TLP Counselor or someone from your local church, you as a couple are going to need some outside help to remain consistent with this. You’re going to need accountability. You’re going to need someone to hold up your arms on this one.
Again, never hesitate to reach out to counselor@TruthLoveParent.com on this one. I’d love to serve you in any way that I can.
This is hard, and you will fail, so build a team of people who are committed to seeing your family thrive to the glory of God.
But, now let’s take a minute to discuss one of those failures. We all know you’re going to sin in your parenting just like you sin in other areas of your life . . . just like I do. And when that time comes, you need to arm your children with a Christ-honoring way to speak into the situation. You need to invite them into the accountability team.
But in order for this to work in a Christ-honoring way . . .
9. You need to teach your children to make a wise appeal.
I want to do a full episode on this point in the future, but for now, teach them the 3 C’s.
First, Consider the truth.
The biggest problem when kids don’t like what’s happening in their lives (consequences included) is that they compare what’s happening to what they want to have happen. Honestly, that doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. They’re in the situation they’re in because they cared more about what they wanted than about what really mattered — what God wanted.
Therefore, the truth of a situation refer to 2 main ideas: A. The truth includes the actual, factual events as they happened, and B. God’s Word.
For example, if your child doesn’t have permission to be in the pantry, and you walk in and immediately respond the wrong way without seeking clarification, and you send them to their room, it’s good for your kids to have a system whereby they can politely make you aware of necessary facts. You know, like, perhaps dad sent them into the pantry to get something for him.
Or it may include some biblical realities we need to hear. Here’s a really personal example. My son and I were in the car, my wife called me, I didn’t like the conversation, and I got angry and raised my voice.
When we arrived at our destination, my son politely said, “Dad, I don’t know what happened, but as a brother in Christ, I would like to kindly encourage you not to be angry.”
I’d like to think that I would have responded the right way anyway, but I did thank my son, apologize to him for my bad example, and later asked my wife to forgive me.
So, first, Consider the truth.
Second, Communicate lovingly.
I think my son was a good example of that. This is not a time to get angry, whine, complain, be unkind, impatient, and so on. A wise appeal must be loving.
So, let’s go back to the pantry example. You send you child to their room, but they politely ask, “May I make a wise appeal?”
By the way, having to start the appeal that way is a huge help to you and them. They need to carefully consider what’s about to come out of their mouth, and that needs to be a sign to you that potentially valuable information is about to come your way.
Hopefully, you say, “Yes, you may.” The child then says, “I know I’m not supposed to be in here, but Dad asked me to get the popcorn out of the pantry for him. That’s why I’m here.”
He’s spoken the truth in love.
Now, hopefully, you will be sure to make certain that whatever comes next, also aligns with truth and love.
Still, after your child has Considered the truth and Communicated lovingly, if they really want to glorify God, they need to be prepared to . . .
Third, Comply with their parents.
The Bible tells our children that they need to obey. No, they never have to sin, but it’s not a sin to go to their room even if their parent’s shouldn’t have sent them.
Of course, this isn’t an excuse for us to sin against God and our kids, but it is an important lesson for them to learn. Whether the appeal goes the way they want it to or not, they need to humbly and obediently be willing to comply.
I’ve rarely ever had a child do a perfect appeal — especially when they’re in trouble. If they try, I try to encourage their growth in that area by showing grace. However, sometimes they’re just shrouding their manipulation or discontentment in a fake appeal. Often times the facts of the situation were exactly what you knew them to be, and your consequence was good. And they need to comply.
Consider, Communicate, and Comply. Each of those simple words carry deep and significantly biblical concepts in which we all need to grow.
Okay, You need to make sure you know and understand the biblical data. You need to make sure you understand how to wisely apply what you’ve learned. You and your spouse need to make sure you’re in agreement. You need to develop a new disciplinary plan. And you need to teach your children what you’ve learned. You need to invite your children to partner with you in serving the Lord. You need to clearly explain your plan for discipline. You need to be consistent. You need to teach your children to make a wise appeal, and . . . .
10. You need to keep the conversation going.
Don’t stop talking. Discipleship requires conversation. And since this is likely a paradigm shift in your home, it’s that much more important to keep the God-exalting goal in front of everyone’s eyes.
Listen, it will be nearly impossible to over-communicate the new plan. Talk about it, post reminders up all over the house or on your Celebration Wall.
Talk about it before your children sin. Talk about it during the consequence process. Talk about it after the consequence is over and before they sin the next time.
Keep it up. Remember, this is going to be a multiple-month long process to get to a new normal. Keep your eye on the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus, and help your kids keep their eyes on the prize as well.
There you go, my friends, 10 steps in rolling out a more biblical discipline structure for your home.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, what about that bonus point I promised?
Well, it’s this . . . please get help in this process. Especially if your children are older and your family has a history of punishment, pragmatism, and/or passivity . . . please get help. Don’t go it alone.
This is the third or fourth time I’ve mentioned it, because it’s that important. You may think it’s easy to flip the paradigm upside down, but it’s not. It can be very heavy.
Please find a mature believer to help you through this process. Ask them to listen to these episodes; make sure you’re all on the same page. You owe it to your God, and you owe it to your kids.
I pray this series has been valuable for you. If it has, please share this series with your friends. And never hesitate to send an email to Counselor@TruthLoveParent.com.
Now, I’m really excited about our next episode. Not only is it our 500th episode, but we’re tackling a topic about which many of you have asked. So, I hope you’ll join us next time as we once again open God’s Word to discover how to best worship God with our parenting.
To that end, we’ll be discussing Parenting a Lying Child.
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