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Disciplining with Love

The Lord  is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. . . . As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord  has compassion on those who fear him. — PSALM 103:8, 13

It doesn’t take us moms very long to discover that our little bundles of joy are not perfect. As our children grow up and begin making decisions on their own, we quickly see them make choices that are not always right. So how do we respond when our kids disobey? How do we react when we know they have chosen unwisely? Do we discipline in love, or do we discipline by inducing guilt?

If you’re reading The Better Mom Devotional, you undoubtedly want to lovingly discipline your children when they disobey, teach them what is right and what is wrong, and help them ask the Lord for the ability to do what pleases Him. Essential to disciplining in love is showing our kids that we still cherish them and accept them despite their sin. This is the heart of the gospel.

The danger of disciplining with guilt is that it is often rooted in anger. Angry parents tend to address the children’s behavior and miss their hearts. Our children need to rightly understand the Holy Spirit’s conviction. Sin is serious, and its consequences are real. But disciplining with guilt alone can leave a child living under the weight of condemnation. Why is this so dangerous?

Making our kids feel guilty communicates that acceptance and approval are based on their performance. The good news is good because we are saved not by our performance, but by the performance of Jesus. Because of Christ, the Father looks on us with acceptance and approval. We demonstrate the gospel to our children when we reaffirm our love for them even when they make mistakes (Romans 5:8).

So be careful not to express your love for your children only when they perform well. The next time they fail, be sure to let your kids know how much you still love them.

Father, help me love my kids with compassion, patience, instruction, and gentleness. Let Your love flow through me so that even when my kids misbehave or make mistakes, they know they are loved and accepted. In Jesus’ name, amen.

In what situations have you been tempted to discipline with guilt? What is one change you can make so that you more consistently discipline out of love?

Excerpted with permission from The Better Mom Devotional by Ruth Schwenk, copyright Ruth Schwenk.

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