Self-control and your children

Posted on February 16, 2016 · Posted in Discipline, Parenting, Wisdom


Self-control is the fruit of the Spirit. In other words it is the evidence, the legacy of the Spirit’s work in the life of God’s people. This means we are talking about more than just physical or mental discipline. Any human can show control over these things. But only someone who is born of the Spirit of God can practice biblical self-control. This is why the biblical definition that Ruth Younts gives for self-control is vital for your children.

“Self-control is the ability to say no to my wrong desires and yes to what God wants me to do.”

This is why the gospel must be the center-piece of your parenting. As a parent you are to constantly teach your child to turn from the deeds of the flesh and embrace the singular fruit of the Spirit, which is manifested in the many ways that Galatians 5:22-23 indicates. No child, or adult, can practice biblical self-control in his own strength. The power of Jesus is the only means to be able to say no to self and yes to God.

Just because you don’t know when God will save your child is no excuse for not proclaiming the gospel to them 24/7. God has commanded your children to obey you in the Lord. God has commanded you to teach your children his ways from your heart. You don’t dare do anything else but teach and discipline your children to obey God’s commands. You do this while pleading to God to rescue your children from the gates of hell. But you are never in neutral. You never withhold teaching them the gospel and biblical obedience because you are unsure of their spiritual condition. This is why teaching the good news of the gospel is a 24/7 mindset.

You never want your children to think that they are saying no to themselves and yes to you! This leads to brokenness and bitterness (Ephesians 6:4). You don’t want to teach your children to go to where you are. You want to bring them to the same place you long to go – the foot of the Cross.

Self-control means saying yes to God and turning away from self-reliance and self-understanding. Don’t settle for the culture’s version of self-control. Tell your kids what the Bible says.

Teach your children this prayer that Ruth prayed. Live it yourself. Rejoice in the beauty of the gospel.

“Father, please help me to say no to sin and yes to obedience and pleasing you. I really want to do whatever you want me to do, but it’s too hard by myself. I need your help all the time to say “yes” to you. Please help me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

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Jay Younts
Jay Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger. He is the author of Everyday Talk and other materials on parenting. He has been teaching and speaking on parenting issues for 30 years. Jay and his wife, Ruth, live in Fountain Inn, South Carolina. He serves as a ruling elder at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He and Ruth have five adult children.