Discipline: Communication and Prayer

Dialogue

One of the most destructive aspects of ungodly discipline and correction is the lack of godly dialogue. God has wonderfully provided all the apparatus for meaningful communication with one another. Yet the most life shaping opportunities parents have in their children’s lives are often one-sided.

Monologue is not godly communication. Long speeches that try to strong-arm our children with arguments, threats, warnings, and predictions will not change their hearts. It will harden their hearts.

All of our conversation with our children should afford them an opportunity to respond—not as peers, but as children interacting with the direction and instruction of parents. We should encourage children to respectfully respond in conversation to help us understand how they are feeling, thinking, processing, understanding, and responding to our direction and inquiries.

Often conversation needs refining so that we don’t misunderstand one another. We should be sensitive to whether our observations and assessments are fair and true. This can be done in ways that respect parental authority. Has our child been able to get everything out? Have I adequately understood the situation and circumstances?

If a child feels misunderstood or treated unfairly, little will be accomplished. We can disarm so much rebellion by defusing resentment and hurt. Give your children a chance to respond in conversation, especially in times of correction.

Prayer

Prayer must always be a part of the discipline process. It may belong at another place in the process—perhaps after the “How Can You Help Your Child?” section, or even in two or more places in the discipline process. Remember that you are a tangible representative of God for your children. Prayer is like helping your child with a school assignment, and then saying, “Now we’re going to call your teacher and confirm all that we have been talking about.”

Prayer signals to our children that this is for their benefit, not ours. It puts everything in perspective. Praise, acknowledgement of sin and inability, and placing trust and confidence in God, bring all of your correction, discipline, and instruction to a focused conclusion. Summarize all your hopes and concerns for your child in prayer. Model the truth of 1 Corinthians 10:13 and Hebrews 4:14–16 as you take your children with you to the “throne of grace” in prayer.

from Instructing a Child’s Heart by Tedd & Margy Tripp

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