Scolding: how not to love your children

Posted on · Posted in Discipline

Your day is busy, Things are running behind schedule. Amber, your six year old is not responding to your directions. She either responds slowly or not at all. But instead of addressing her disobedience immediately, you have fallen into a pattern of repeating your directions and scolding her for not obeying quickly. You find yourself wishing Amber would just obey so you wouldn’t have to become angry and fuss at her.

Then all of a sudden, the light bulb comes on! Amber isn’t the problem, you are. You realize that by scolding and continuously repeating yourself, Amber has learned not to take your direction seriously, at least not for the first five times you ask her to obey. You realize you have allowed yourself to be distracted by your busyness. So instead of scolding Amber for failing to come eight times in a row, you say something like this:

“Amber, please forgive mommy for encouraging you to disobey me.”

“Mommy, I don’t understand.”

“I realized that I have allowed you not to come when I called. Do you remember not quickly obeying mommy?”

“Uh, yessss.”

“Do you remember how God wants you to obey?”

“Ummm, to do exactly what I am told, right away, with a good attitude?”

“Exactly! This is why I am asking you to forgive me, because I allowed you to ignore me when I called. I was wrong to keep raising my voice and telling you to come. Will you forgive me?”

“Yes, mommy.”

“Great, thank you. I know it is hard to obey in your own strength. That is why Jesus died on the cross. When you trust Christ you really can obey the way Bible says. You see, I need to trust Jesus to obey just as much as you do. I need the power of the gospel to help me faithfully love you and teach you to obey. I am going to do what I should have done the first time you didn’t come when I called. Then we can pray and ask God to help us both obey quickly.”

Love is quickly and lovingly disciplining your children. Love is not being distracted by a busy schedule. Love is repenting of scolding. Love is humbly asking your children for forgiveness when you have not obeyed quickly.

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Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.