Motherhood is hard. From morning sickness to teenage meltdowns, the challenges are endless. The world offers mothers criticism and guilt, but rarely praise and encouragement. Social media is filled with fake glimpses of people’s lives, shielding us from their reality, but giving us a false picture to aspire to.

Some mums seem to have it all together and if only we follow their suggestions we too can have children who fall in line. Really? I’m not buying that. Children are unique and so are their parents and therefore each family will need to go to their creator, our Lord Jesus Christ, and ask him for parenting advice. The Bible is full of parenting advice but it’s also full of grace.

If we are to use the Bible as our number one parenting handbook, then we need to submerge every rule in grace. We need to allow the living waters of God’s love to become the conduit of those guidelines, as they soak into the hearts of our children.

Yes, we need rules, but rules without grace will only harden the hearts of our children and give them a false picture of the God of all grace.

God forgives us and shows us endless mercy, he also disciplines us out of love, but thankfully not for every misdemeanour, and so that’s our parenting model.

I recently learnt that the ‘discipline for every misdemeanour’ school of parenting was still alive and thriving in parts of the Christian world. I naively was shocked by this because this is definitely not my style of parenting.

So the question is, how to discipline a child without harsh punishment? And how does discipline work in the Goldby house? Our approach is that we explain something is wrong and that there are consequences (often extra household jobs) for wrong behaviour, we model what is right and explain what the behaviour we expect is. It might involve removing a child from the situation and then setting them up for success by changing the ongoing scenario. For example if the children are arguing over toys I would explain that it’s wrong to argue, I would encourage sharing, but if that fails then we change the activity. I would probably set them an age appropriate household job to change the mood. I also use this as a time to share the gospel story about giving extra to the one who asks.

I know that Christ has shown me so much grace, whenever I’ve taken a wrong turn, he has lovingly guided me back to the narrow path and this is how I choose to parent. I guess the phrase might be parenting by grace, not legalism. I fear that the harsh disciplinarian style of parenting teaches children to be outwardly well behaved, but doesn’t transform their hearts, only grace can do that.

The gospel is all about grace and so that is at the centre of everything I want to communicate to our children.

I’m writing this as a way of thinking through these concepts, as I never feel truly confident that I’ve figured parenting out. I know I’m a soft touch, as I really struggle with confrontation, but I do expect obedience and mostly we get it, even if we get grumbles first! We don’t get obedience through harsh parenting, but through trying to set a good example, reminding them of our expectations and reminding them that there are consequences if they step over the line, like removal of phones for the teens or no screen time for the littles, or straight to bed if necessary. We focus on the big issues and let go of some of the petty squabbles.

I also think that bad behaviour has causes other than just sin. Often children are more badly behaved when they are tired, hungry or bored and so, where possible, I will try and make sure these needs are met and thus avert many issues that would otherwise occur.

I haven’t mentioned Phil much in this and I think fathers have an essential role to play in discipling (yes discipling, not just disciplining) their children. The route word of discipline is disciple and so that would be our goal, to have children who want to follow our example, as we try to lead them on the narrow path, pointing them to Christ. Of course we do have boundaries and Phil is better than me at maintaining them, I’m grateful everyday to be a team in this parenting challenge.

For us, our main goals would be that our children love God, love one another and are servant hearted, so everything we do would be to encourage those things.

How about you, what are your childhood experiences of discipline or your parenting discipline choices? Maybe you don’t agree with our way, that’s ok, we’re all different. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject.

Blessings to you all.

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7 thoughts on “Punishment or Grace- How we raise our Children

  1. Judaism (& Messianic Judaism) attributes great importance to preventative discipline, which should begin at an early age. As the child matures, the parent must suit disciplinary measures to his or her needs and stage of development. This is implied in the biblical passage: “You shall not place a stumbling-block before the blind.”(Leviticus, 19:14) We find in the Responsa literature that this passage concerns one who strikes a grown child. Rashi explains that an older child who is hit may strike back and is thus incited to violate the injunction against striking a parent. Because of this, Jewish law forbids administering physical punishment to a grown child (a girl over twelve or a boy over thirteen) or to a younger child who is mature (shows two hairs). In the Responsa of Benjamin Ze’ev, the author cites Rabbenu Jonah as explaining that one should not strike a grown child, for this causes the youngster to sin with his tongue and curse his father (Responsa Binyamin Zeev 407:1,5) Similarly, M aimonides states that the courts ban a father who strikes a mature child. (Hilchot Teshuva).

    In the talmudic period, it was considered the father’s duty or mitzvah (not prerogative) to discipline his child. Similarly, it is a “mitzvah” for a teacher to discipline his/her pupil. Rabbah, one of the greatest sages in Babylon, who was active in the field of education, expresses the opinion that the father must relate to his son with a strong hand even if the son wants to learn-for it is written in Proverbs: “Correct thy son and he will procure thee rest; yea, he will give delight unto thy soul.”(Proverbs 29:17)
    For more information copy & paste the link below,mature%20(shows%20two%20hairs).

      • I am delighted you found the link interesting Vicki. There is a lot to take in, in a one read sesion.

        It’s always good to educate ourselves on the Jewish laws & ways that were followed when our Lord Jesus Christ walked the earth, & to know these laws & ways are still followed by Jews of all branches of Judaism Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, & Messianic Jews (i.e. Christian Jews).

        Unfortunately the vast majority of our Christian brothers & sisters, either do not acknowledge, or accept, or want to know, that Christianity is the completion of God’s promise to send the Jewish Messiah Yeshua our Lord Jesus Christ who is the fulfilment of that promise.

        Neither do they acknowledge, or accept, or want to know, that Jesus & the first followers of Jesus were fundamentally worshiping as Messianic Jews, not as “Christians” do in the modern world.

        Unfortunately the Judaeo-Christian message has in many cases been adulterated, & we need to be on our guard to adhere to the first original principles of Jesus’s teachings & to let the Holy Spirit guide us in all things.

        Getting back on topic, you, & hopefully others may find these links of interest in the following links:

        May God bless you all and keep you all.
        May God’s light shine upon you all, and may God be gracious to you all.
        May you all feel God’s Presence within you always, and may you all find peace.
        Hebrew Translation
        Y’varechecha Adonai v’yish’m’recha.
        Ya-er Adonai panav eilecha vichuneka.
        Yisa Adonai panav eilecha
        v’yaseim l’cha shalom.
        יְבָרֶכְךָ יְיָ וְיִשְׁמְרֶֽךָ.
        יָאֵר יְיָ פָּנָיו אֵלֶֽיךָ וִיחֻנֶּֽךָּ.
        יִשָּׂא יְיָ פָּנָיו אֵלֶֽיךָ, וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם.


    Psalm 122 NIV
    3 Jerusalem is built like a city
    that is closely compacted together.
    4 That is where the tribes go up—
    the tribes of the Lord—
    to praise the name of the Lord
    according to the statute given to Israel.
    5 There stand the thrones for judgment,
    the thrones of the house of David.
    6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
    “May those who love you be secure.
    7 May there be peace within your walls
    and security within your citadels.”
    8 For the sake of my family and friends,
    I will say, “Peace be within you.”
    9 For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
    I will seek your prosperity.

    Psalm 121:4-5 NIV
    4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.
    5 The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;

  3. It is a good idea to start teaching a child at a young age to ask for forgiveness to avoid a punishment & to try & not do it again, this can be used as a tool to reinforce the biblical knowledge within the child, that through the Messiah’s Yeshua’s death on the cross we all are forgiven if we believe that Yeshua Jesus Christ is the prophesied Jewish Messiah

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