Raising the Next Generation 5

ChildGod’s Design for Parenting

God’s design for parenting involves training the conscience. The tool God has given to parents to do this is the rod. Applying the rod is extremely important and must be used correctly.

Applying the Rod

You must never hit your child – but you must spank them diligently. These days people can’t seem to grasp the difference. But let us not give in to the ignorance of children’s rights activists – nor give in to the block-headedness of smacking a child around. Children are born into this world as sinners. Therefore, they need corrective discipline.

The world lies to us in 2 ways at this point. 1) Through movies and TV we are constantly shown that a mere “talking to” is all that is needed to change the child’s behaviour. But, of course, those are actors reading from a script in an edited situation – far from real life. 2) In the news all we here about is corporal punishment being equated with child abuse – and only the most monstrous cases are reported to us. But such abuse and cruel treatment are the farthest thing from biblical hidings. We must not be fooled by or intimidated by the world and its inability/refusal to understand God’s ways.

Corrective discipline must be applied when your child does not obey biblically. Hebrews 12:5-11 tells us that such discipline is patterned after God’s discipline of us. Since we discipline our children on God’s behalf, it is fitting that our discipline mimics His. There are 3 aspects to this God-like discipline. 1) There are painful consequences applied; 2) The motive is one of love not anger, frustration, revenge, etc.; 3) The goal and aim is to produce holiness (not mere punishment). The tool God has given for this is the “rod.” This is an instrument designed to inflict pain without causing damage. It is sometimes called “spanking” or “a hiding” but it is not just hitting the child.

Proverbs makes clear its use and benefits.

Proverbs 13:24 – It is not love that keeps parents from spanking their children. You must realise that, no matter how you feel, love is expressed by the rod.

Proverbs 19:18 – There is hope in doing things God’s way. To fail in this responsibility is to sign your child’s death warrant.

Proverbs 22:15 – The folly of sin in your child’s heart is driven out by the rod. God has designed children to learn the boundaries of life (physically and morally) through the experience of pain.

Proverbs 23:13-14 – The pain of the rod rightly applied will not harm the child. You must choose – a little pain now on their chubby backside or a lot of pain later from a life not in submission to God.

Proverbs 29:17 – Do not be afraid that your child will hate you if you discipline him. You must use the rod under God’s authority and as God’s authority in your children’s lives. You do this in faith, trusting that God will make your discipline effective in leading your children to Him.

The rod you use needs to be firm enough to sting and flexible enough to not cause damage. It is best to use a neutral object rather than your hand, but not absolutely. Very rarely should anyone other than the child’s own parents apply the rod – it is a sacred trust between parent and child in the context of their whole relationship.

Your child actually determines when he will receive the rod by any disobedience. Do not wait until you are upset. Train your child to God’s standard not to your moods. A suggested procedure for applying the rod is given below. Do this consistently and the need to use the rod will diminish over time. Your authority over them and under God will be clearly established. This makes guiding them through the teen years much more effective and peaceful.

  • Take your child to a private place. Your goal is not to embarrass your child in front of others or to show off your discipline to others. Privacy preserves the child’s dignity and enables you to proceed with a biblical focus. If you are angry, send the child to his room while you cool down and pray for God’s grace.
  • Speak to your child about what he did wrong. Ask him to repeat your instructions. Explain what his sin was and why it is wrong (age appropriate). Emphasise that such behaviour, attitude, etc. does not please God.
  • Tell your child that in order for you to obey God now, you will have to spank him. Once he has experienced this a few times, you can simply ask, “What does Mommy have to do now that you disobeyed?” Make it clear that it is by God’s authority and under God’s authority that you do this. “The most important thing in life is that you learn to do what pleases God. Daddy is going to spank you so that you will remember that.”
  • Have your child bend over your knee, the chair, the bed, etc. Put one hand on his lower back – this prepares him and guides your aim. Remove anything that would keep the pain from being felt (thick clothing, etc.) but be very careful of bare skin. Apply the rod slowly, deliberately, accurately and repeatedly (3-5 swats).
  • Embrace your child and affirm your love to him. Take care that his crying does not become rebellious. If it does, tell him to sit in his room and settle down. Then repeat the spanking for his failure to submit to and learn from the discipline.
  • While hugging your child, explain again that this spanking was to help remind him to do what pleases God. Instruct him in how to behave next time. Do not make him promise that he won’t do it again – this only sets him up for failure and you for frustration.
  • Explain that he needs to ask for your forgiveness. You may need to give him some time alone to prepare himself for this. Don’t just force an “I’m sorry” from him. You want him to learn genuine repentance and restoration from the heart. Only when this has happened may he be allowed back into the company of the family. Instruct him in asking God for forgiveness as well. When he asks for forgiveness with a truly changed attitude, immediately say, “I forgive you.”
  • Here is where the Gospel comes in. We sin because we have sinful hearts. God sent Jesus to die for our sin so we could have new hearts. We trust Jesus’ work for the forgiveness of our sins and for the strength to obey God in the future. Always direct your children to Christ as the result of discipline.
  • The  issue is then settled. There is to be no more mention of it or lingering attitudes toward it. That is the Gospel too.

At first, it may seem like this is all you do – but persevere and they will learn to be corrected by instruction. (It doesn’t work the other way around). The rod is not a magic wand. It won’t change their hearts – only God Himself can. But using the rod biblically in faith and directed toward the Gospel is God’s appointed means to turn your children from sin to Him.