On Discipline

Christian parenting is actually pretty simple to define – it’s parenting by people who claim to be Christians – full stop. 

There are many books and interpretation about passages in the scripture about Christians and parenting, but there are as many different ways that those are worked out as there are people. There is no be all, end all system. 

We parent the best we can. I’m a bit concerned however when I pick up a Christian book on parenting and all it is about is discipline. 

Yes, that is important- but it isn’t the only thing. Reading through some of these books is scary to the point that I have honestly just stopped. 

I read child psychology books instead. 

I don’t discipline all the time. In fact it’s pretty infrequent that I even need to. When I do, I quickly put my son in timeout for a few minutes. For us, for now that is all he needs. It will change as he gets older. 

There is a lot of talking about spanking in Christian parenting circles. But I have yet to see a need for it – in fact the older my son gets, the more I doubt its effectiveness altogether. It seems like an easy way out – scaring the kid so they change behavior rather than taking the time to teach them why it’s a problem. Fear based parenting isn’t something I see as beneficial. 

But what gets me is that these discussions of discipline distract from the larger picture of teaching. As a teacher, I don’t spend the majority of my time grading. I spend it teaching. 

Kids learn by hearing, repeated exposure and modeling. The structure simply provides a place to learn. That’s why it’s really annoying to have to stop class to deal with a students’ behavior and why it’s more of a last resort for the most part. Yes, I have to do it – but it isn’t beneficial for me or the students to focus on that one aspect all the time. 

Relationship, creating camaraderie, giving space for ideas and questions and differences of opinions – that is all more important than the disciplinary tactics here and there. I suppose that years of teaching has affected the way I parent. I don’t like to have to focus on discipline and don’t think it needs to be the be all, end all of our focus in books and lectures. 

Love your kids. Build a relationship with them. Listen to them. Model good adult behavior. 

This is what I think we should focus on more. Much, much more in fact. Spanking, time-outs, whatever – they only produce temporary results in the now. How do we teach kids for a lifetime? 

That’s what I would like to see more books about. 

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