Church, Parenting, Worship

Throwback Thursday ~ Churchmanship 101: Training Your Child to Behave in Church

Originally published January 30, 2015

churchmanship-behave

they all walked sedately into the church. The first clang of the bell rang out when they were on the steps.

After that, there was nothing to do but sit still till the sermon was over. It was two hours long. Almanzo’s legs ached and his jaw wanted to yawn, but he dared not yawn or fidget. He must sit perfectly still and never take his eyes from the preacher’s solemn face and wagging beard. Almanzo couldn’t understand how Father knew that he wasn’t looking at the preacher, if Father was looking at the preacher himself. But Father always did know.

From Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder¹

A hundred and fifty-ish years ago, this is how children were expected to behave in church. I love a good sermon, but I’m not sure even I could meet those behavioral expectations, and, these days, I certainly wouldn’t expect my children to. But fast forward from the 1800’s to 2015, and think about how you may have seen some children behave in church. It’s quite a bit different from Almanzo’s experience, wouldn’t you say?

I don’t think we need to dial things back a hundred and fifty years, though. A little fidgeting, a Bible dropped loudly on the floor, a few seconds of wailing while you frantically search for the lost pacifier, a bit of jabbering, none of these things are a big deal. But neither should a toddler be allowed to run up and down the aisles of the sanctuary for the bulk of the sermon. Eight year olds do not need to be crawling around on the floor between the pews playing with toys. Twelve year olds can reasonably be expected to stay awake, sit still, and pay attention during the service. We expect our children to obey us (and other adults) and behave properly in a variety of places: school, the grocery store, restaurants, on their sports teams, at scout meetings. Why, when the worship service is far more important than any of these, would we not require them to act appropriately in church? And when we require them to behave themselves in all these other venues but not in church, what are we teaching them about the importance of church, reverence, God?

But, if you’ll determine in your heart to train your child to control himself and behave appropriately during church, you might be surprised at all the blessings and benefits you encounter along the way.

What is appropriate church behavior?

That’s going to vary by age. Obviously, a three year old isn’t going to sit perfectly still for thirty minutes and take sermon notes. But, believe it or not, you can start (and I would strongly recommend) training your child from infancy that church is a place where we sit still, sit quietly, listen when it’s time to listen, and participate when it’s time to participate.

How do I train my child?

The first and best way to train your child is by modeling proper church behavior yourself. Does he see you singing enthusiastically during the worship time? Are you checking your makeup or Facebook during prayer? Are you visibly paying attention during the sermon? Constantly talking to your husband or a friend during the service? Your child will imitate what he sees and take his cues from you as to what is acceptable behavior.

Otherwise, you train your child in church the same way you would train him in any other situation. If you were at a restaurant, and your baby was crying incessantly, you would tend to his needs at the table, or, if you couldn’t, you would take him out to the lobby or outside until he calmed down. The simple act of doing so begins to plant the idea in his mind that a certain level of behavior is expected in that venue.

If your school aged child won’t sit quietly in his seat at school, the teacher administers the appropriate discipline, and, possibly, you do too, at home.

It’s the same way at church. You let your child know what is expected of him behavior-wise at church, praise him when he does well, and administer discipline when he disobeys.

A few helpful hints:

Infants and toddlers:
If your church offers a nursery, there’s no shame in making use of it. As a stay at home mom, I well remember the days when church was the only opportunity I had for a small breather from my children, adult fellowship, and hearing God’s word without interruption.

But if you want to have your infant or toddler in church with you, that’s great! Be sure your diaper bag is well stocked with anything you might need to keep a little one relatively still and quiet. Bottles, pacifiers, small snacks that won’t make too much of a mess, some small, soft toys (such as stuffed animals or board books- maybe even a special one that’s only for Sundays) that he can quietly play with in his lap.

Try to choose a seat on the aisle near a door in case you need to make a hasty exit. Also, try to sit somewhere where any noise your child might make won’t be picked up by the pastor’s (or other) microphone.

Older children:
Sometimes well meaning Sunday school teachers serve sugary snacks or other foods/drinks that might make your child jittery. If so, it may be more difficult for him to sit quietly during church. Check out the snack situation in your child’s class, and serve him a breakfast that won’t give him the fidgets.

Make a bathroom/water fountain pit stop before the service a weekly habit. If your child would benefit from running a lap or two outside before the service to work off some energy, make that part of the weekly routine as well.

Dress your child appropriately, yet comfortably for church. I still remember scratchy lace on some of my childhood Sunday dresses. And sitting up against the back of a pew or chair wearing a dress that ties in the back? Absolute torture when that knot dug into my spine. It’s kind of hard to sit still when your entire outfit is conspiring against you.

Get them started on taking notes during the sermon. Give your preschooler some crayons and paper and help him listen for something in the sermon he can draw a picture of (a sheep, Jesus, an angel, a garden…).

Lower elementary aged children might enjoy taking “tally mark” notes. Make a brief list of words your child is likely to hear during the sermon (God, Jesus, Bible, Love…) and instruct him to make a tally mark next to the word any time he hears it during the sermon. Some pre-readers can even attempt this if you draw a couple of small pictures instead of words (a heart for “love,” a cross for “Jesus,” etc.) Before church starts, try to guess with your child which word will get the most marks. After church, count up the marks and see if you were right. You may even want to do your own tally mark sheet during the sermon to model for your child what you want him to do.

Some churches offer a fill in the blank sermon outline in the bulletin. This is a perfect note taking activity for older children and tweens. They can also be encouraged to turn in their Bibles to all the Scriptures the pastor mentions, copy down a verse from the text of the sermon, or write down any questions that occur to them as they listen.

And, speaking of questions, another fun activity is for each family member to write down a couple of questions, and their answers, from the sermon. Then, in the car on the way home, each person gets to ask his questions. Whoever gets the most correct answers gets to pick what’s for lunch (or bragging rights, or something else fun). It’ll keep EVERYONE paying attention, and it’s a great way to reinforce and discuss the sermon.

Attend church every Sunday. Not only is it biblical to attend faithfully, but children thrive on routine, and it will be easier for them to remember how to behave if they’re learning and practicing those behavior skills weekly instead of in a “hit and miss” fashion.

 

Training your child to behave well in church isn’t easy at times. I know. I have 6 children and we have raised all of them in church. But if you and your husband will invest the time and effort, everyone benefits. Your pastor will be able to preach uninterrupted. Your fellow church members will be able to worship undistracted. Once your child begins to behave himself better, you will be able to focus more on the service and be less frazzled. But most importantly, your child will develop the skills necessary for hearing and paying attention to God’s word being proclaimed, and what a blessing that will be to him now, and for the rest of his life.

What are some things that have worked well
to help your child behave in church?

 

¹Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farmer Boy  (New York: Harper Collins, 1933), 90-91

This article was originally published under a different title at Satisfaction Through Christ.
Biblical Womanhood Bible Study

Imperishable Beauty: Lesson 12- Beautiful Motherhood

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

Read These Selected Scriptures

In lesson 11, we looked at God’s design for women who are wives. Lesson 12 focuses on the beauty of being a godly mother.

Questions to Consider

1. In lessons 2 and 3 (links above) we took a look at some of the attributes of a godly mother that we can emulate. What are some of those attributes or character traits from Proverbs 31? In today’s lesson, rather than attributes to emulate, we’ll be focusing on God’s instructions to obey for mothers. We’ll examine how we’re to regard motherhood and our children, how we’re to train our children in godliness, how we’re to discipline our children out of ungodliness, and the example we’re to set for our children. Some of these instructions can also apply to childless women in their relationships with their spiritual children (i.e. younger women or children they disciple) and others. As you read over today’s passages, explain how childless women might apply some of these Scriptures.

2. Examine the first three passages (Psalm 127-Titus 2) together. What do these passages say about how we are to regard motherhood and our children? What should the attitude of our hearts be? In what sense are children a reward? How do we know that Psalm 127:3 does not mean that if you act in a way that pleases the Lord He will reward your good behavior with children? What does this verse mean? Is loving your children (Titus 2:4) simply a feeling of affection toward them? If so, why would young women need to be trained to love their children? When you finish today’s lesson, come back to Titus 2:4 and give a fully-orbed biblical definition of what it means to love your children.

3. Examine the next five passages (Proverbs 22-Ephesians 6) together. Why does God want us to train our children in godliness? Explain the phrase “in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6). How does the gospel figure in to training your child? Look carefully at the three Old Testament passages. At what age should we begin training our children in godliness and the Scriptures and how long should this training continue? Is Proverbs 22:6 an iron-clad guarantee or promise from God that if we raise our children in a godly home they will definitely get saved and turn out to be godly adults? Why not? (Scroll down to the Deuteronomy 21 passage if you need help.)

To whom are the Colossians and Ephesians verses addressed? Does this mean they don’t apply to mothers or that it’s OK for mothers to provoke their children, but not fathers? If they apply to both parents, why are they addressed to fathers? How are we not to deal with our children according to these verses? What does it mean to provoke your children? Why are we not to provoke them (Colossians), and how are we to deal with them instead (Ephesians)? Compare Ephesians 6:4b to the Old Testament verses in this section. How are they similar?

3. Examine the next three passages (Proverbs 29-Deuteronomy 21) together. What is the purpose of godly discipline? What are the biblical definitions of the words “discipline” and “reproof”? Are discipline, reproof, and training the same as punishment? Why or why not? What are some of the consequences of disciplining your child? The consequences of refusing to discipline your child? According to Proverbs 13:24, what motivates someone to discipline her child? What motivates someone to refuse to discipline her child? Are “love” and “hate” simply emotional feelings in this verse or an attitude, posture, or orientation of mindset toward the child? Look closely at Deuteronomy 21:20. Is this passage most likely talking about a very young child or an older child/teenager? According to the Deuteronomy 21 passage, does godly discipline always result in an obedient son or daughter, or can there be exceptions to the rule?

Why is it important to both train your child in godly ways and discipline him out of ungodly ways? Explain how this fits into the “put off the ungodly, put on the godlymodel of biblical sanctification.

4. Examine the last five passages (Deuteronomy 21-Matthew 10) together. What do these passages teach us about the godly example we need to set for our children?

Sometimes we see implicit instructions to parents in passages that explicitly teach children how to treat and regard their parents. For example, if there were a verse that said, “Children, love your parents,” we could learn from that verse that we need to act in a way (lovable) that makes it easier for our children to obey that Scripture. Considering this concept, look at the Exodus 20 and Proverbs 1 passages. If your children are to honor you, in what manner should you behave? What should your teaching be like if your children are not to forsake it and to consider it a “graceful garland” and a “pendant”?

What is the context of Ezekiel 16? To whom is the parent/child metaphor in this  passage addressed? Explain the phrase “like mother, like daughter”. Why is it important to set a good example for our children with our own behavior, and why was this a good metaphor for God to use in addressing Israel’s unfaithfulness to Him?

Examine the Deuteronomy 21 and Matthew 10 passages together. What is to be a mother’s highest priority – her relationship with her child, even the life of her child, or her love for, obedience to, and loyalty to Christ? Do you love Christ more than your child? If you had to choose between your child and Christ, whom would you choose? What message does it send to our children when we show and tell them that we love Christ more than we love them? How can you demonstrate to your child that your highest love and loyalty is reserved for Christ?


Homework

Examine each of the instructions in Deuteronomy 6:6-9. Make a list of practical ways your family could put each of these instructions into practice and discuss it with your husband. Together, pick one of these practices and implement it with your children this week.


Suggested Memory Verse

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
Matthew 10:37

Church, Parenting, Throwback Thursday, Worship

Throwback Thursday ~ Churchmanship 101: Training Your Child to Behave in Church

Originally published January 30, 2015

churchmanship-behave

they all walked sedately into the church. The first clang of the bell rang out when they were on the steps.

After that, there was nothing to do but sit still till the sermon was over. It was two hours long. Almanzo’s legs ached and his jaw wanted to yawn, but he dared not yawn or fidget. He must sit perfectly still and never take his eyes from the preacher’s solemn face and wagging beard. Almanzo couldn’t understand how Father knew that he wasn’t looking at the preacher, if Father was looking at the preacher himself. But Father always did know.

From Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder¹

A hundred and fifty-ish years ago, this is how children were expected to behave in church. I love a good sermon, but I’m not sure even I could meet those behavioral expectations, and, these days, I certainly wouldn’t expect my children to. But fast forward from the 1800’s to 2015, and think about how you may have seen some children behave in church. It’s quite a bit different from Almanzo’s experience, wouldn’t you say?

I don’t think we need to dial things back a hundred and fifty years, though. A little fidgeting, a Bible dropped loudly on the floor, a few seconds of wailing while you frantically search for the lost pacifier, a bit of jabbering, none of these things are a big deal. But neither should a toddler be allowed to run up and down the aisles of the sanctuary for the bulk of the sermon. Eight year olds do not need to be crawling around on the floor between the pews playing with toys. Twelve year olds can reasonably be expected to stay awake, sit still, and pay attention during the service. We expect our children to obey us (and other adults) and behave properly in a variety of places: school, the grocery store, restaurants, on their sports teams, at scout meetings. Why, when the worship service is far more important than any of these, would we not require them to act appropriately in church? And when we require them to behave themselves in all these other venues but not in church, what are we teaching them about the importance of church, reverence, God?

But, if you’ll determine in your heart to train your child to control himself and behave appropriately during church, you might be surprised at all the blessings and benefits you encounter along the way.

What is appropriate church behavior?

That’s going to vary by age. Obviously, a three year old isn’t going to sit perfectly still for thirty minutes and take sermon notes. But, believe it or not, you can start (and I would strongly recommend) training your child from infancy that church is a place where we sit still, sit quietly, listen when it’s time to listen, and participate when it’s time to participate.

How do I train my child?

The first and best way to train your child is by modeling proper church behavior yourself. Does he see you singing enthusiastically during the worship time? Are you checking your makeup or Facebook during prayer? Are you visibly paying attention during the sermon? Constantly talking to your husband or a friend during the service? Your child will imitate what he sees and take his cues from you as to what is acceptable behavior.

Otherwise, you train your child in church the same way you would train him in any other situation. If you were at a restaurant, and your baby was crying incessantly, you would tend to his needs at the table, or, if you couldn’t, you would take him out to the lobby or outside until he calmed down. The simple act of doing so begins to plant the idea in his mind that a certain level of behavior is expected in that venue.

If your school aged child won’t sit quietly in his seat at school, the teacher administers the appropriate discipline, and, possibly, you do too, at home.

It’s the same way at church. You let your child know what is expected of him behavior-wise at church, praise him when he does well, and administer discipline when he disobeys.

A few helpful hints:

Infants and toddlers:
If your church offers a nursery, there’s no shame in making use of it. As a stay at home mom, I well remember the days when church was the only opportunity I had for a small breather from my children, adult fellowship, and hearing God’s word without interruption.

But if you want to have your infant or toddler in church with you, that’s great! Be sure your diaper bag is well stocked with anything you might need to keep a little one relatively still and quiet. Bottles, pacifiers, small snacks that won’t make too much of a mess, some small, soft toys (such as stuffed animals or board books- maybe even a special one that’s only for Sundays) that he can quietly play with in his lap.

Try to choose a seat on the aisle near a door in case you need to make a hasty exit. Also, try to sit somewhere where any noise your child might make won’t be picked up by the pastor’s (or other) microphone.

Older children:
Sometimes well meaning Sunday school teachers serve sugary snacks or other foods/drinks that might make your child jittery. If so, it may be more difficult for him to sit quietly during church. Check out the snack situation in your child’s class, and serve him a breakfast that won’t give him the fidgets.

Make a bathroom/water fountain pit stop before the service a weekly habit. If your child would benefit from running a lap or two outside before the service to work off some energy, make that part of the weekly routine as well.

Dress your child appropriately, yet comfortably for church. I still remember scratchy lace on some of my childhood Sunday dresses. And sitting up against the back of a pew or chair wearing a dress that ties in the back? Absolute torture when that knot dug into my spine. It’s kind of hard to sit still when your entire outfit is conspiring against you.

Get them started on taking notes during the sermon. Give your preschooler some crayons and paper and help him listen for something in the sermon he can draw a picture of (a sheep, Jesus, an angel, a garden…).

Lower elementary aged children might enjoy taking “tally mark” notes. Make a brief list of words your child is likely to hear during the sermon (God, Jesus, Bible, Love…) and instruct him to make a tally mark next to the word any time he hears it during the sermon. Some pre-readers can even attempt this if you draw a couple of small pictures instead of words (a heart for “love,” a cross for “Jesus,” etc.) Before church starts, try to guess with your child which word will get the most marks. After church, count up the marks and see if you were right. You may even want to do your own tally mark sheet during the sermon to model for your child what you want him to do.

Some churches offer a fill in the blank sermon outline in the bulletin. This is a perfect note taking activity for older children and tweens. They can also be encouraged to turn in their Bibles to all the Scriptures the pastor mentions, copy down a verse from the text of the sermon, or write down any questions that occur to them as they listen.

And, speaking of questions, another fun activity is for each family member to write down a couple of questions, and their answers, from the sermon. Then, in the car on the way home, each person gets to ask his questions. Whoever gets the most correct answers gets to pick what’s for lunch (or bragging rights, or something else fun). It’ll keep EVERYONE paying attention, and it’s a great way to reinforce and discuss the sermon.

Attend church every Sunday. Not only is it biblical to attend faithfully, but children thrive on routine, and it will be easier for them to remember how to behave if they’re learning and practicing those behavior skills weekly instead of in a “hit and miss” fashion.

 

Training your child to behave well in church isn’t easy at times. I know. I have 6 children and we have raised all of them in church. But if you and your husband will invest the time and effort, everyone benefits. Your pastor will be able to preach uninterrupted. Your fellow church members will be able to worship undistracted. Once your child begins to behave himself better, you will be able to focus more on the service and be less frazzled. But most importantly, your child will develop the skills necessary for hearing and paying attention to God’s word being proclaimed, and what a blessing that will be to him now, and for the rest of his life.

What are some things that have worked well
to help your child behave in church?

 

¹Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farmer Boy  (New York: Harper Collins, 1933), 90-91

This article was Originally published under a different title at Satisfaction Through Christ.
Parenting, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ Parenting: What a Child Wants, What a Child Needs

Originally published June 10, 2014picsart_1402192749374

It’s a funny thing about parenting articles– they’re always written by doctors or psychologists or parents, never by the people being parented: the kids. I mean, think about it, if you were a waitress and you wanted to know how to serve your customers better, would you take advice solely from other waitresses, restaurant managers, and the guys at corporate? Wouldn’t you, at some point, want to hear from the people you actually serve regarding what they want out of a waitress? So how come we never ask our kids what they want out of a parent?

Well, I decided to.

My husband and I have five boys, ages 26, 24, 14, 12, and 11, and one girl, age 18. The two oldest boys are grown and out on their own, so I interviewed the four still living at home: my daughter and the three younger boys. They’re average kids from an average, church-every-Sunday-and-Wednesday, Christian family. My husband and I are imperfect parents who make a ton of mistakes, but we’re doing our best to raise them in “the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)

The interview consisted of one question: What advice would you give to parents?

M (18 year old daughter) has spent the year since she graduated from high school teaching pre-schoolers at a Christian day care, so much of her advice is drawn from that experience. She has learned a lot about parenting that will help her to be a great mother some day.

  • Don’t be scared to discipline your child. Children need discipline, and that’s part of your job as a parent.
  • Kids are smarter than you think they are. Take the time to work with them.You’ll be amazed at how much they can learn!
  • Giving in to tantrums will ultimately make parenting more difficult because you’re teaching your child that tantrums work when they want to get their own way about something.
  • When considering names for your baby, imagine one of your adult friends introducing himself with that name. If the name doesn’t work for an adult, consider another choice. Also be aware of any acronyms or foul words your child’s initials might spell.
  • Never lie to your children to give them a reason for telling them yes or no about something. (For example: one of my children was constantly begging to go to the park. Her mother finally told her, “No, we can’t go to the park because it’s closed.” Naturally, a few minutes later, they drove by the park and saw plenty of people there. The child said, “I thought it was closed!”)
  • Before buying your child any DVD, watch it several times to make sure it doesn’t drive you nuts.
  • No child ever died from a dog licking him in the face.
  • A little sugar from time to time isn’t going to kill your child.

J1 (14 year old son) just finished eighth grade and isn’t interested in doing anything that taxes his brain during summer break. After we got past, “Mom, you’re the perfect parent! You don’t need any parenting advice from me!” (so he could go back to watching TV), here are the few gems I was able to extract from him:

  • Teach your kids not to be aggravating to other kids.
  • Don’t let your kids date too early.
  • Don’t force foods on your kids that they have either tasted and don’t like or think they won’t like.
  • Don’t make your kids write your blog articles for you. It’s pretty boring for them!!!

B (12 year old son) is a take charge kind of guy who would have gladly written this article for me (and probably would have done a better job!) He just finished the 6th grade. B says:

  • Give a thirty minute bed time extension with every birthday. (He calculates this based on a baby from birth to one year having a bed time of 6:00 p.m. A one year old would go to bed at 6:30, a two year old at 7:00, etc.)
  • Have a large Christmas budget.
  • Buy your kids go carts.
  • Take more vacations.
  • Don’t make things sound better or worse than they actually are. (“Mom, one time I was going to get some shots and you told me it would hurt really bad. I didn’t think it hurt that much.”)
  • Set a good example for your kids.

J2 (11 year old son) just finished 5th grade and lives life wide open with his hair on fire. He had lots of great 11 year old advice for parents:

  • Spend more time with your kids.
  • More bacon. Also, more junk food and cokes.
  • Let us do good April Fool’s tricks.
  • Mud fights whenever we want.
  • Let us run around the house nekkid! (That’s “naked” if you don’t live in the South.)
  • Don’t make your kids go to school.
  • Be less demanding and don’t criticize your kids.

Awesome parenting advice, no? Maybe my husband and I should just change all our rules around to fit what the kids want. After all, going back to our waitress analogy, the customer’s always right, right?

Wrong.

The Bible says in Ephesians 6:1 (a verse every child in our family memorizes as a toddler) “Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right,” not “parents obey your children.” If we decided to become the parents they wanted, we’d have a bunch of naked, bacon-snarfing, go cart riding, uneducated pranksters who stay up until midnight.

The reason God gave children parents is so that we can exercise the wisdom, experience, and discernment they don’t have but so desperately need. As godly parents, my husband and I must listen to our children and take to heart anything that is wise or biblical (“Set a good example for your children.” “Never lie to your children.”) and say a firm “no” anything that isn’t (large Christmas budgets and living room streaking).

Because God has told us to train our children up in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6), not the way they want to go.


THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT SATISFACTION THROUGH CHRIST.
Parenting, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ Parenting Without Shame

Originally published March 5, 2015
parenting shame

I don’t know about you, but I find “pet shaming” pictures hilarious. You’ve seen them. They’re the ones that show something like a dog next to a chewed up tube of diaper rash ointment, and the dog is wearing a

Photo courtesy of "Life With Dogs." lifewithdogs.tv
Photo courtesy of “Life With Dogs.”
lifewithdogs.tv

sign around its neck saying, “I ate a tube of Desitin and barfed all over the new carpet during my family’s dinner party.” The funny thing to me is that the dog usually looks like he’s not the least bit sorry, and he’s certainly not ashamed. We can have a good guilt-free laugh at these silly pictures, because the dog has no idea what’s going on and isn’t feeling humiliated in the slightest. But what about the shaming of human beings?

Shaming as a form of punishment is nothing new. You read The Scarlet Letter in high school right? You’ve seen pictures of a one room schoolhouse with a child sitting in the corner wearing a dunce cap? More recently, we’ve seen judges sentence petty criminals to stand in a public place holding a sign confessing their crimes. But lately I’ve been seeing a parenting trend that isn’t funny or appropriate, especially for Christian parents: kid shaming.

This ten year old girl was lying about her age, sneaking out with boyfriends, and breaking her parents’ social media rules. So they forced her to wear a shirt declaring her age, along with a “little girl” hairdo and accessories

This barber offers parents free “balding man” haircuts for their misbehaving children.

This mom went to school with her teen-aged daughter, mocking, taunting, and videotaping her for skipping class.

If a child were doing this kind of thing to another child, we’d call it bullying, and everyone would be appalled. But if a parent does it and posts pictures of it on social media she’s hailed as an innovative disciplinarian.

Does kid shaming work to modify a child’s behavior? Sometimes. But as Christian parents, we are not called to merely modify our children’s behavior. We are called to cultivate the soil of their hearts, so that those little hearts may one day be fertile ground, ready for the seeds of the gospel and godly discipline. And shaming or humiliating a child doesn’t enrich that heart soil. It hardens it.

Children need discipline, but they need us to discipline them in a godly way. How do we discover the godly way to discipline? By following God’s example laid down in His Word. There are many reasons God presents Himself to us in the Bible as our Father. First, and foremost, it describes our relationship to Him: the depth of His love for us, His desire for what’s best for us, His authority over us. Our love for and dependence on Him, our desire to obey Him. But, secondly, God revealing Himself to us as our Father gives us a beautiful, perfect model to follow in parenting.

Want to know how to love your child? Look at the way God loves you. Want to know how to provide for your child? Look at the way God provides for you. And if you want to know how to discipline your child, look at the way God disciplines His children. Does God shame and humiliate us when we sin? No.

He disciplines us because He loves us…

For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives. Hebrews 12:6

He does not shame us into repentance, but draws us with His kindness.

Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? Romans 2:4

Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. Colossians 3:21

He does not discipline to humiliate, but to train us in holiness and righteousness…

but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:10b-11

Sometimes God’s discipline is pretty intense, but it is always done in love and always to draw us away from sin and back to holiness, never to demean us. Our children are a precious gift, entrusted to us by God. We are to reflect God’s character to them as we walk with Him and seek to love and discipline them His way. Choosing a worldly way of correcting their behavior but not tending their hearts, well…that would be a shame.


THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT SATISFACTION THROUGH CHRIST.