Graceful Discipline

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A couple of weeks ago we had something happen in our home that shook us up a tad. I won’t go into great detail because I do not want to embarrass my children, however, I will share a bit for the sake of the lesson we learned as parents. A couple of weeks ago we found out that one of our children did something dishonest on his Ipad. It wasn’t anything alarming, just some in-app purchases that he didn’t have permission to make. When the bill came, no one was willing to own up to the situation. When I called Apple to ask why my in app purchase block wasn’t working they told me that any time an Ipad is updated it opens that up again (I had no idea… take note of that one parents) they also were able to tell me exactly who’s iPad was used. He was caught red handed, to the tune of $65 (Apple refunded it all but that’s not the point) He would not cave. His brother had done it, maybe his sister? A friend down the street? Everyone but him. After being presented with irrefutable facts (sometimes having a cop for a husband can be very valuable) he finally admitted what he’d done. We were so surprised that John and I just looked at each other. These was uncharted waters for the two of us. We’ve never had to punish this child for something like this. What do we do?

We did what any parent who has no clue what to do does… we sent him to his room, and his brother too, for good measure. We tossed around ideas. Do we make him miss his baseball season? Just the first practice? Ground him for a week? Two? My husband had the brilliant idea to have him write the definition of lying 500 times. I vetoed that one, 500 is excessive for anyone, no less a child. I suggested that we have him write bible verses about lying… John was quick to stop that, he didn’t want to make the bible a punishment. He was right. We finally settled on grounding him for a week, while his brother is outside playing with friends in the evening, he will be doing chores. That seemed pretty reasonable.They both lost their iPads indefinitely too.

All of these things will sting him. He’ll miss his buddies in the evening, that’s hard, especially for a homeschool kid. Plus, watching his brother enjoy that time will be lousy. But will this change his heart? The more we pondered our decision the more we realized that it won’t. Yes, our punishment will still stand. You can’t back down over something like this, you have to stick to your guns. But we need to also point him back towards Jesus.

After all the dust settled, John needed to run to the store, he took our sweet boy with him. One of those rare moments when it’s just the two of them. He admitted that he had been struggling with exaggerations with his friends. His daddy helped him understand that he is enough without them. He doesn’t need to exaggerate anything at all, he’s this perfect, tenderhearted, godly young man. He is enough just as God has made him.

Do you know who that little heart reminds me of? If you’ve been following me for a bit you know that this sweet boy’s mother struggles with feeling of inadequacy. I’ve struggled with it my entire life and I know all too well what it feels like to exaggerate to make yourself look better as a child. I did it when I was his age too. I also know what it feels like to be caught in one of those lies by your peers. It’s miserable, it’s self-esteem crushing. Especially when you already feel as though you don’t measure up. I don’t want my son to feel that. EVER. I don’t want him to feel that he’s got to be perfect to be loved. This is the heart issue God brought before us today. It wasn’t about the lie over the iPad, although that is certainly something that has to be addressed. No, God brought this to us today so that we could work on the bigger issue with our child. We weren’t aware of this part of his young life. Now that we are, we can steer him. We can steadily walk beside him, teaching him diligently. We have to know where our children are weak so we know where to build and how to pray.

Deuteronomy 6:7And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

Sometimes I think we get caught up in this notion that children should always do the right thing. They know better, they know the rules, why can’t they just listen and obey? Our expectation of perfection in them can easily cause a perfection complex in their little hearts. Over time, they begin to feel as though they cannot make a mistake. Children are not meant to be perfect. They cannot be expected to make adult like decisions every time. They are going to stumble. When they do it’s up to us to not only punish the sin but to also mend the heart. We have to steadily steer them towards Jesus and His perfect love. We have to give them grace when they don’t deserve it just as our heavenly father has given it to us. Grace is a beautiful thing to give to your babies. It’s good for the soul. Demonstrating to our children what God’s grace looks like in those moments goes so much farther than any Sunday school lesson could.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go;even when he is old he will not depart from it.

I spoke to a friend about this and she reminded me of something she and I heard another homeschool mom say at our FPEA convention earlier this summer. This mother would write notes to her younger children (she’d text the older ones) and give them a bible verse or chapter to read, not as an assignment, more as a “Hey, I really think you’ll like this verse!” That little act of mom-grace would gently steer their days. That ever present reminder that God is with them and that their mother cared about them reached their hearts in a way that a punishment could not. As a bonus, they were hiding the Word of God down deep in their hearts.

So this is my new approach to discipline here in our home. Yes, there will be consequences for their actions, however, there will be love and grace. There will be gentle reminders that we have all come short. We all need forgiveness and that they are worthy, just as they are. Sometimes I think we, as parents, learn more from our children’s mistakes than they do!

I’ll leave you with this reminder. When you’re faced with a child who has stumbled, please remember that we are all in need of grace. Grace is a gift that God gives us freely and undeservedly. It’s a blessing to be able to give the same to our children.

Romans 3:23 -24 

23 For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by His grace, as a gift. through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

Thanks for reading!

Nicki

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