Biblical discipline calls for a proactive approach. We must aggressively and intentionally steer our teenagers in the ways of the Lord. Of course, action alone won’t prevent our children from sinning. It takes a work of the Holy Spirit, but action is vitally necessary.
Here are four suggestions for pro-active parenting:
1. Be unified. Unity between father and mother is essential. Now unity doesn’t mean the absence of disagreement. Differences of opinion are inevitable between couples. What is essential, however, is that we seek to resolve our differences as quickly as possible and present a united front to our teenagers. So if you and your husband are not of one mind on discipline, please seek counsel from your pastor or a trusted Christian friend.
2. Be discerning. To be active in our discipline, we must be watchful, attentive, discerning mothers. We need to study our teenagers carefully, ask them probing questions, and maintain a constant awareness of what is going on in their lives. We must be on top of sinful patterns and tendencies (e.g. laziness, self-righteousness, lust, deceit, vanity, pride, and so on). We need to learn their “hot button” temptations.
We seek to gain insight into their thoughts, temptations, and feelings so we can be poised to bring timely correction, hold our teenagers accountable, and set boundaries to protect them from ungodly influences. From there, we want to help our teenagers develop a plan to walk in godliness.
3. Be dramatic (when necessary). If our teenagers do not show evidence of steady growth in godliness or are unresponsive to our training—dramatic action may be necessary. If a teenager is veering toward worldliness, we may need to cut off ties with an ungodly friend. If he or she has been dishonest, then maybe we need to remove cell phone or Internet privileges. Proactive discipline may mean that you risk upsetting an otherwise “peaceful” situation in your home. It may initiate a conflict or a trial. But there is too much at stake not to take action. We want our teenagers to reap the sweet fruit of repentance.
4. Be clear. Dramatic action must be accompanied by explanation. Few things are more frustrating to a young person than: “because I told you so.” This response is appropriate for a small child who does not yet have the capacity to understand our decisions. However, a teenager capable of rational thinking (most of the time!) will greatly benefit from an explanation. Effective parenting involves teaching our teenagers to understand from Scripture why we’ve made particular decisions.
The fruit of discipline tomorrow…