Discipline has been all the rage in Christian circles for several decades now. In response to the cultural war cry of 1960s free love, Christians have buckled down on their youth, training to abstain from sex and drugs and anything else that might taint them.
I have read tragic stories of families whose desire to protect children from the culture has lead them to follow training methods from books that promote harsh discipline methods to promote obedience.
I have been told of churches who have deeply divided over child-rearing methods, because one way is touted as being God's way, and I have heard of children who complied outwardly only to turn away from God and their parents when they grew up.
Sometimes, in our zeal to produce kids who won't turn from the kingdom, we've forgotten one crucial aspect to this parenting thing: being our kids' friend.
Warning: you're not going to find this in any of the leading Christian parenting books circulating today, but perhaps you should.
Being my child's parent and her friend are not mutually exclusive. Consider this: Abraham could be a friend of God, and yet God could still be his God. Is it not possible then that I could continue to parent and be a friend to my child?
Exhibit B: in the upper room, Jesus said:
I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
Jesus can still consider Himself our God and our friend. Parenting is a lofty institution, but not one so high that we cannot be our child's friend. Parenting is not above being God, and God can be our friend.
You may be asking, but how can we be our child's friend and still apply discipline? I'm glad you asked! Proverbs 27:6 says:
Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.
The wounds of a friend are words that tell us what we don't want to hear but that are good for us. Instruction in other words.
I gather stories, as I am a writer, and one day, I heard a story told by a prominent speaker from within a Bible institute giving a lesson. He said that he had learned so many great Bible principles and that he had endeavored to live by them and that he sought to teach these to his children, but he noticed that they were avoiding him.
He dearly loved his children and was hurt, as they would leave a room when he entered it. He asked his wife what was going on, and she said that they did this, because they felt they couldn't do anything right. Appalled, he said that he was just trying to teach them the principles of the Word not drive them away.
He knew that something had to change.
You may be scratching your head wondering what I'm getting at. I'll give another example.
I had a foster daughter one time. I felt the weight of my responsibility as a heavy load that I carried on my back day in and day out. I did not realize it until the day when we were given a time frame that she would be going home. That same day when I got off of the phone, I smiled at her, and we laughed easily over some things.
It immediately hit me that that was the first time I was relaxed enough to let her enjoy my company without correction. Granted, she needed a lot of correction, but what I am saying is that there is a need for balance, especially as, over time, our role as disciplinarian will become less, and our role of trusted adviser and friend becomes greater.
I want to train my girl in the way she should go so that when she is old she will not depart from it, but I don't want to provoke her to anger or be too hard on her.
I build blanket forts with her, and make sure to give belly laughs and tickles and hugs and kisses and to dress the same when possible. I give her the extra toss in the air that she wants and the trips to the bounce house when I can. She'll only be this little once, and laughter and fun are part of the way I believe I am to train her as the way she should go.
I pray that when she grows old she will not turn back from it.
I also do not demand rigid behavior in the house of God, a big no-no for some. I want her to enjoy her time in God's house and to want to come here when she is no longer required to. If God delights in my presence and beckons me to spend time at His feet, I want her to feel she can do the same with Him, because He loves her.
I had my first child as an older person, and I want to enjoy these tender years with my baby, as they will pass by so quickly. A good relationship is vital to my work of guiding and protecting, as the Shepherd who holds the staff and the rod in His hands also holds us in His bosom when we need special attention.
I've lived enough to know that I can be my child's parent, AND I can be her friend. After all, if she doesn't have a friend in me, how can I be trusted to discipline her?
Think a woman can't take an active role in her own life and pop the question? Think again!
Subscribe below, and I'll send you 3 free gifts!
You'll get access to:
'Ruth Did Not Wait for Her Boaz', + 2 free albums.
'Give Me a Song to Sing' - a folky country happy extravaganza (played on the radio!) and
'Salvation Songs' - a roots rock-inspired call to live for Jesus daily (also played on the radio!).
All 3 are yours when you subscribe by adding your email address to the prompt below....aaaand you'll get weekly updates from Gutsy Christianity. What are you waiting for?!? Subscribe today!
I Am A Cussing Christian
You're Not A Christian if You Celebrate Halloween
Haters Gonna Hate: When Others are Jealous of You