August 07, 2018
I attend a Bible Study Fellowship group and have recently learned about redemptive discipline. This is an amazing Christian tool all parents should have in their back pocket. It is all about reaching into your child's heart.
When they misbehave, sure it's easy to lose patience, yell and throw out punishments, but what are you teaching them? That mommy is mean? At any point in the day mommy could just blow up? Nothing they do or say will be safe. They will begin to think that mom's love and happiness with them is dependent on their behavior (first of all, if that is true - mommy needs more of Jesus).
In order to understand redemptive discipline and appropriately apply it, you must first accept that your child is a sinner, no matter their age. Straight out of the womb, a born sinner. We all are. Your job as a parent is to guide your child into adulthood. To teach them how to live, to lead them by example. God has provided an instruction manual, we call it the Holy Bible. It is always relevant. All scripture is useful for correction and teaching.
When using redemptive discipline, you are addressing the heart of the behavior issue: your child's sinful human nature. For example, if they have toys all over the floor and refuse to obey your request to clean it up, what sin are they committing? Being disobedient to your parents is a sin. It is not wrong to tell your child that they are sinning. Too often parents sugar coat things for their kids, and therefore unintentionally turn their children into adults who aren't able to cope with failure, rejection, constructive criticism and who feel like everyone else is the problem. Don't be those parents. Don't be afraid to parent your child in a way that produces fruit in the future.
To continue the above example, say your child is disobeying your request to clean up their toys. You should only have to ask once. Consistency is key. Once, no more. As soon as they make the choice to disobey, send out a quick prayer, ask the Holy Spirit to guide your words. Then you should immediately pull them aside and have a conversation with them. Get onto their level, never stand over and look down on them and never do this from across the room with a loud voice. You should be face to face, at eye level, preferably close enough to touch, using a gentle but stern voice. Ask them if they know what they did wrong.
"Honey, do you know what you did wrong?"
Let them answer. Sometimes they'll know exactly what they did wrong, sometimes they won't, but that's ok because they are learning. If they know, and they tell you, praise God. If they don't know, tell them.
"You disobeyed mommy. When I asked you to clean up your toys, you said no."
Then teach them about sin.
"Do you know that God commands us to obey our parents? It is a sin to disobey your parents. A sin is when we do what we want to do, and not what God wants us to do."
Right now would be a great opportunity to open your bible and show them Exodus 20:12 and Ephesians 6:1-3, even if they can't read (this will teach them that their mommy treats God's Word with respect and takes it seriously). Allow them to respond, if they want. Then continue.
"When you disobey mommy, you are sinning against God. God does not like sin, but He loves you so much. Everyone sins, even mommy and daddy. But God still loves us, too. That's why He sent His son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. You have been freed from the power of sin, that means you don't have to sin! You have a choice. You can choose to obey! Isn't that cool?"
Give them a chance to offer a response but don't expect one. Remember, learning is a process.
Ask them to pray with you. It is never too early or too late to start praying out loud with your child. If they want to say the prayer, let them! And then praise God for it. If they will let you, pray out loud with them afterwards, if they don't let you, do NOT force them. We don't want to make any of this feel like a punishment. Prayer is a gift from the Holy Spirit and He will never push himself onto us if we are unwilling, so offer that same courtesy to your child. After you pray together, give them a big hug and a kiss. Let them know you love them and that you expect them to be obedient. And then (good luck) ask them to clean up their toys again (everyone deserves a second chance ;)
This example is assuming that your child is a believer and will sit still for this conversation. But what if they aren't, and what if they don't? Redemptive discipline is still the best route. You can modify this technique to fit your specific family dynamic, but don't stray too much from the main goal: winning your child's heart to God. Relay facts that you can back up biblically. Share the gospel with them, teach them that they are a sinner in need of a savior. Let them know how much their Creator and Heavenly Father loves them.
This technique won't be effective for behavior modification without heart change, that is not our main goal anyway. Do not try to scare them into obedience. That is not God's way, there's no gospel in that message.
Never imply that when they disobey, you or God doesn't love them. We don't want them to come away from the conversation with the idea that they need to work for your love or for God's love. The love of God is unconditional, He wants our hearts first, not our behavior. A child can understand this, they just need to be taught.
Read Romans 8 and thank God.
Romans 3:23, 1 John 1:5-10, 1 John 2:1-2 are about sin.
Proverbs 22:6, Proverbs 29:17, Deuteronomy 6:4-9 are verses about raising children.