Do you ever feel you have messed up as a parent? Perhaps you have disciplined your kids when you were angry and you were too hard on them, or your expectations were unfair. Do your kids tell you they hate you? Welcome to the club! There isn’t a parent alive who has not felt this way at one time or another. So, what can you do about it?
Did you know your kids can be disobedient because of your sin? Ouch. As painful as this is to hear, it is certainly the truth. If you consistently discipline your kids while you are yelling at them because you are angry, you are not disciplining them, you are punishing them. Kids who are punished do not learn to deal with their sin. They get mad at you for your harshness with them (especially a sensitive child), so they deliberately do something to make you mad again as this is the only way they can pay you back.
What’s the difference between punishment and discipline? The definition of the word “punish” is, “To deal with harshly, roughly.” The definition for “discipline” is, “Teaching or training which corrects, molds, and strengthens.” That is quite a difference.
When you cannot get your anger and frustration under control before dealing with your kids, you are in sin. When you correct them, all they get out of it is the fact they made you angry. Where is the teaching and training in this? How do you turn this around with a child you consistently are harsh with? How do you open up their hearts again so they will listen to you? If you have taken the Growing Kids God’s Way parenting class, this would be an excellent time to dig out your manual and review Chapter 13, which talks about the Repentance, Forgiveness and Restoration process. Only this time, don’t think of how it affects your kids, think of how it affects you. The key to turn children who are angry and rebellious (because of your sin) around is for you to apologize to them.
Step 1: Repentance – This is recognizing you have done something wrong and need to confess it. When in Backyard Bible Club (w/Child Evangelism Fellowship) while I (Carla) was growing up, we learned ‘to repent’ was to make a U-turn. You turn around and go the other direction. Start the apology by telling your child you know your anger is wrong and why it is wrong.
Step 2: Forgiveness – Jesus gave us the example of forgiveness by dying on the cross for us. When He did this, He gave us the opportunity to come to Him and make our relationship right by confessing our sin and asking Him to forgive us. This is the example He set before us on how to wipe out our sin with those we have wronged. Forgiveness is a gift Christ gave us for all of eternity if we ask for it by accepting Him as our Lord and Savior. Forgiveness is a gift the one we offended gives us, especially if we ask for it.
“If we confess our sin he is faithful and just
and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
I John 1:9
Step 3: Restoration – In simple terms, this means you make right your wrong. You give back what you took away. How do you make right the wrong your angry heart did in the eyes of your child? Let your child know how much you love him, and that you will work on not getting angry when he disobeys. Then go through the scenario again, teaching and training him how to do the right thing the next time he is confronted with the same choice.
A parent’s goal through this process needs to be the same as what you expect of your children when they sin and disobey you, and that is to restore the relationship. So what do YOU need to do to restore your relationship with your child when you have offended him? Apologize. When your children forgive you, he typically has a very soft heart towards you as he does not like being estranged from you.
How are you going to work on not getting angry the next time your child willfully disobeys? When one of your children needs correction, first, have him sit in an isolated place to think about what he did wrong (age 5 years and up). Tell him he cannot get up until he is ready to come and talk to you about what he did wrong and apologize. While he is sitting, you need to go sit too. Take a few deep breaths and calm down and pray and ask God for His wisdom to deal with this child. After your child apologizes, he/she gets their correction. This is discipline.