Disciplining Your Children with Ice Cream

When it comes to the subject of disciplining our children, it can quickly become an overwhelming and emotionally charged issue. It’s complex and dynamic. It’s situational and even child specific. There isn’t a single solution that is capable of being law for all parents and kids. I fully understand that, and am by no means trying to create a manual for your home. What I am hoping to do though is understand a principle that should be a biblical foundation for our homes.

Disciplining our children is biblical and good.

We need to understand this and we need to see it from an array of perspectives.

When most people hear the word discipline they automatically think of consequences like time-outs, spankings, or having pleasures taken away from them. This is a form of discipline and one we practice in our home. However if we see discipline from a more holistic perspective we can see most things we do in the home as discipline. Like teaching your child to not touch the hot stove. That is discipline. It is creating healthy restraint in the life of your child. Giving them chores and tasks is discipline. It disciplines them to be responsible and take care of their gifts and possessions. Reading their Bible and praying is practicing discipline in the life of your child.

For us to really understand discipline, we need to understand it’s purpose. Discipline matures us. That’s what it does and that’s what it’s meant for.

We need to be matured, we need to grow, and we need to see discipline as something greater than a time-out. Discipline shouldn’t just come into our homes when our children are breaking the rules, but it should be there to guide them and encourage them toward the very rules that have been established.

Breaking the rules.

But what about when they break the rules? What about when they break all the rules?

I want to remind you that I believe and practice spanking, time-outs, and taking away certain pleasures from my children, but that’s not the only way I respond to their rebellion and rule breaking. Sometimes I respond with Ice-cream and blanket forts. Sometimes I respond with gifts and parties. Sometimes I respond by giving them everything they don’t deserve.

I think this has to be a major focal point in our practice of discipline, because it is an overwhelming focal point in how God the Father disciplines us. In the midst of our rebellion and law breaking, the Father lavishes good things on us. I know personally I have been so much more aware of His love by receiving the very things I know I don’t deserve, than by having things taken from me. This is grace. This is discipline. It is God bringing us toward a delight in keeping His law. It’s how God breaks us. Romans 2:4 tells us that it His kindness that leads us to repentance. Not His fist, not His punishment, but His kindness.

Where grace comes in.

I want to stress the reality that I believe we need both types of discipline in the life of our children, but my hope is that we would be reckless in our grace toward them when they break all the rules. Let’s buy them ice-cream and take them to the park when they rebel, proclaiming to them that this is grace and this is what the Father extends to us through His Son Jesus. After all, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8.

Let’s not have the reality of the Gospel absent in our discipline practice, but rather let it fuel our entire motivation for disciplining our children. Let the Gospel be heard from our mouths whether we are placing them in time-out or buying them a new toy. Let grace abound to break our children and to lead them to the Father.

Missio Dei