Topic: Self-Discipline
Author: Heather Portillo

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” Hebrews 12:5-6

As a teenager I chose to take parenting and child development classes from 9th – 11th grade so that I could “guarantee” that I would be a good mother one day. We learned a lot of really important lessons about age appropriate behaviors, expectations and development. One of the most valuable lessons I learned during this time was to be a parent who never confuses discipline with punishment. Until then, I thought that the two were synonymous – and if you refer to Webster, it would appear that they are. However, what I learned is that discipline is training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character while punishment is marked by suffering, pain, or loss that serves as retribution.

As a parent, I strive to never discipline my daughters in a way that is perceived as suffering or loss caused by me. I rely heavily on natural consequences because this seems the best way to train, mold and perfect their moral character. This goes along with the old saying “a thorn of experience is worth more than a field of advice”. Consider Hebrews 12:11, which says, “Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

By allowing our children to face natural consequences, we also allow them to gain the experience necessary to develop the critical skill of self-discipline. In doing so, we also give God room to develop their moral character.

Father, thank you for blessing me with the children you have entrusted to my care. I pray that you will show me when to discipline my children and when to allow you to teach them through natural consequences. May each day be an opportunity for me to grow as a parent and for my children to grow in faith. Amen.

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