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Principles and Practices of Biblical Parenting

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Principles and Practices of Biblical Parenting

– Raising Godly Children –

Paul and Linda Bucknell

Sesssion #6

Correcting Our Children


Develop a scriptural perspective of how to properly deal with disobedient children so that they might become joyful family members.

A) Cultivating Parent-Child Relationships
B) Going Beneath the Surface: Touching the Heart
C) Principles of Trust & Freedom
D) Confession is cleansing to the soul
E) Training the Untrained Child
     Principles /Questions/Notes

Parents must keep their goals for their children right in front of them. Not only must they pray for their godly development, but they also should praise and encourage them in the many small steps that they take to getting there.

As we learn to handle disobedient children, focusing on the task itself can easily distract us. Because of the long-term nature of training children, a parent's eyes might never be lifted above the problems that are being addressed.

As we go through this lesson, we should keep two kinds of disobedient child in our minds.

First, we will focus on general guidelines for parents as they correct their child. Each child unfortunately, will break lose from their generally accepted routine at times because of the sin nature. We will speak about chastisement (physical correction) in the next lesson, but today we want to mention general principles that work hand in hand with chastisement.

Secondly, we will learn how to deal with the child that has not been trained. They have little self-control and despise authorities upsetting their desires. The parent is looking for specific help in training their children.

The parent is in authority, but the child will challenge that authority. When we bring our child back to where they need to be, we will face opposition, crying, rude remarks, big tears, etc. The parent must be confident that they are leading the child along God's way. Otherwise, the parent will tend to drift into compromise and inconsistency. Before you know it, they are back to where they started. The parents must work as a team to endure the resistance that will come in correcting their children.

Pause for Reflection: What kind of challenges to your parental authority have you received from your child? How did you respond?

The end goal for parents for their training is to have an excellent relationship with their grown children who are full of God's love and principles. So let us look at the stages that we need to go through to reach those goals. At any point in time, we should know where our child is and how we generally need to relate to him.Principles and Practices of Biblical Parenting

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A.) Cultivating an Excellent Parent-Child Relationship

The surgeon must realize that his goal goes far beyond just having an operation. He could, if he so desired, perform five different operations on one person. He must learn to strictly limit his operative procedures to the greater goal of his patient's good health and overall well-being.

Parents must also have a greater purpose than just correcting the child. We are accountable to bring up children to respect authority and having mastered self-control, are able to express their love for God and man. This is done through modeling and teaching God's love and righteousness as well as by training them to limit their desires in order to serve God and others.

Parent's Goal  for Their Children

The parent is responsible to bring their children up so that they respect God and man. This is done through modeling and teaching God's love and righteous as well as by training them to suppress their desires in order to serve God and others.

Parents can model a love for God and man but cannot change the heart of their child. They must pray for them, coax them and even plead with them that they love God, but in the end we must leave this work with God where it originates.

And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Mark 12:30-31)

Here are five principles from these thoughts.

God has given everything parents need for good parenting.
Parents can learn from God the Father as to how to care for their children.
Our greatest goals are not riches, wit, skill or fame but to love God and man.
We can train our children only to the point of respecting God and man.
They need to become Christians to really love God and mankind.

At the same time as we focus on these goals, we need to develop a good relationship with our children. The real test whether they respect God and man is whether they respect the parents' authority and can have a close relationship with their parents. The good relationship that parents have with their child is the first results of proper training.

Respect authority and  Good relationship Development

Let's take a look at the way the parent and child should relate to each other. We have marked off five different stages as the child grows. Please remember that the given ages are only suggested as a guideline and not meant to be a rule. We use them to emphasize the stages of the relationship between the parent and the child. Unfortunately, many parents never take their child beyond the first stage and end up having no real relationship with their child.


Prebirth-5 m.
6 m. - 2 1/2 y.
Ages 3-11
Ages 12-19
Ages 20+






The parent lavishes love and care on the child. The child begins to trust his parents' words.
The parent carefully tells the child the rules to follow and consequences for disobedience.
The parent teaches how biblical principles relate to the instructions that they are to keep.
The parent guides their teenager as to how to apply God's principles to different areas of life.
The parent shares as a good friend, listening to their child rehearse aloud different life situations.

The end goal for our child is to be one of our best friends on earth. The way our grown children relate to us is the final test of how we did.

Pause for Reflection: What kind of relationship would you like to have with your children at each of these stages? Is it possible? How do you get obtain that goal?

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What does it mean to have good relationships with your older children? In our house, at about 10 or 10:30 p.m., all a sudden my wife and I, who are usually getting ready to pray, hear an increasingly loud sound coming from upstairs. The sound is our two oldest daughters running down the stairs to join us and make some good conversation among us. One of them usually teases Dad, perhaps by occupying his lap space. Sometimes both do! We all laugh and have some fun talking. Sometimes we even talk about matters that are more serious. We are so glad to be together as a family.

The scriptures repeatedly promise to bring blessings into our family through the lives of our children. Children do not only create a community of joy and love (Psalm 127:3-5) but also extend the mission God has given to the family (Psalm 103.17).

Behold, children are a gift of the LORD; The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one's youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; They shall not be ashamed, When they speak with their enemies in the gate. (Psalms 127:3-5).

But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children's children, (Psalm 103:17).

God's design is to bring blessings through children, and it is not only for the first six months of life when they are still cute. Our pursuit as parents, then, is to train up children in a way that they are joys to our souls. They are the ones through whom our love, joy and work are sent into the world. Through them, God's praises go out to the world.

For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should teach them to their children, (Psalms 78:5).

All the important concepts that help us reach that kind of relationship fit into this general framework. Stages #2 and #3 are the most crucial. The last two stages will develop rather naturally if stages #1-3 are in place. Stage two helps associate correction with instruction. Stage three uses biblical principles to assist the child in affirming the worth of his parents' instruction and values. Children actually adopt the values as they understand the principles.

The scriptures repeatedly state without reservation that children are a blessing. Few people now think this way. They want a child but then start fearing the toddler stage and dread the teenage rebellion and don't know ....

This does not sound like a blessing! Blessing is sharing in a happy family that loves to be together. We need to keep our eyes on the goals as we settle in and follow through with determination to rightly train our children and correct them in their disobedience.

Now that we have a whole picture, we need to look at what steps need to practically be taken to get to that point. We will speak very specifically about chastisement in the next lesson. We first have to touch on other issues that are just as important but often neglected.

B.) Going Beneath the Surface: Touching the Heart (Attitudes)

Children are not naturally compliant. Some might be more compliant, but they all struggle with obedience. Obedience does not come naturally. Disobedience does!

The fact is that all of our children, for better or worse, at some point will exercise a rebellious spirit. They have a rebellious nature inherited from their parents! They do not carry out what we wish or in the way that we desire it. Some parents might think their child is an exception to this. They reason that their children are not so bad. The truth is, they are not looking carefully.

Comparison and pride blind some parents. They allow inferior standards. They might say, "I know my Joey would never ... ." It might be true, but some parents are not very aware of what their children really do or to what standard God holds them accountable. We must judge our children by God's Word as explained in the Bible.

Other parents are relativistic and emphasize self-expression. They have no real standards. They think their child is great no matter what he does. This of course harms the child more than helps him to reach God's goals.

Pause for Reflection: How good are your children? The real test is what God thinks of them. Since this is harder to judge, we need to ask the next reliable test: What do your neighbors think of your children?

Dealing with Bad Attitudes

Relationship between actions and attitudes.Others parents, though, are convinced their children are not that bad because they only focus on a certain set of actions. They never think of examining their child's attitudes. For this reason, many a parent has a built in rebel in their house. War has set in; there is no peace. Here are a few examples.

After a reprimand or chastisement, the child shrugs a shoulder as he walks away showing he doesn't really care what the parent had just said.

The daughter says, "Please let me through," but with such a sassy voice, she generates a horrible nasty feeling.

The child is warned to pick up the room quickly but just keeps on playing with the toys as if he didn't hear a thing his parent said.

Mom told her son not to watch any more television but to get to his homework. He marches off to do his homework, but stomps on the steps leading to his room.

Obedient attitude produce obedient actions.Rebellion is revealed in the actions but seeded in the attitude (heart). Just like a plant. The roots are hidden underground. Although one cannot see them, we know when there is a plant, there are also plant roots. The scriptures often speak of what a person actually does and says reveals the true nature of the person (what's in the heart). When we train our children, we often only focus on the behaviors and ignore the attitudes. We can see poor attitudes expressed in the haughty tone of a voice, the sour facial expression, or in the slowness to obey. Attitudes as well as behaviors can be evil and need to be removed in order to have a peaceful home.

Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Neither can salt water produce fresh. (James 3:11,12).

Rebellious attitudes produce rebellious actions." The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart. (Luke 6:45).

The fountain's water will be characterized by what is down below the ground. Either it will be bitter or it will be sweet. It cannot be both. Only good can produce good; evil only evil.

Did you ever have a child that obeyed what you asked, and yet something was still surely wrong? You had a hard time identifying it. More likely it was the bad attitude that you noticed. They use their attitudes as well as other responses to express their rebellion.

Pause for Reflection: Can you identify some of these bad attitudes in your children? Write them down. At a proper time, share your observations with your child.

If we tolerate these subtle challenges to our authority, then our children will continue to act in this way. If we want sweet, nice and gentle responses, then we need to train them to respond that way.

For example, one can say, "Thank you" with a bad intonation and a curled lip. They did say thank you, but it wasn't nice. As a parent, we might need to imitate them and show them how they looked and sounded. We then can politely show them the right way to say, "Thank you" and have them repeat us. We use a nice warm and expressive face saying, "Thank you" to show them how to do it.

As long as we tolerate these rebellious attitudes, we will never be able to train the child's heart. As a parent, we want the loyalty of their hearts. We cannot accept those attitudes that would be considered hostile because God does not like them, and they will jeopardize a good relationship with our child.

Bitterness between parent and child.
Harmony between parents and children.

Most parents focus on actions, but for our purposes we must go down and reach the heart. If a parent wants loyalty and closeness, they must not allow things to keep them apart. Bitterness is a oft-warned against problem in the scriptures.

See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled. (Hebrews 12:15)

These barriers can largely be prevented by a parent's honesty, humility, hearing and 'heart' dealings with the child.

1) Honesty: The parent doesn't lie. The child knows there are no ulterior motives for the parent's actions. Honesty chases away superficial relationships.
2) Humility: The parents' ability to acknowledge their mistakes. This doesn't make the wrong right, but it does enable the child to respect and love the parents. (More on humility)
3) Hearing: The parents desire to listen to the child express him or herself goes a long way in developing a good relationship. Malachi 4:5 says that restoring the father's heart to his child must occur before the child can be restored. In other words, the father really cares about his child.
"And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse" (Malachi 4:6).
4) Heart: The parents must secure the heart and affection of the child. This is done by dealing with the child's wrong actions and attitudes. Parents often ignore attitudes perhaps because they are more subtle. But as long as the child can express these rebellious attitudes, the child's heart will still be raging with anger.

We need to start by apologizing for tolerating unacceptable behaviors and attitudes. List these specific attitudes out. Tell them how they have hurt your relationship with them and would like to restore that if at all possible. The children are now quite used to doing certain things in certain ways. They do not even know how terrible they are. The parents' neglect of disciplining them for such things enabled such bad habits to form.

Let them know things are changing. They need to know that you are no longer tolerating such behaviors, sounds and expressions. Tell them the consequences for such things.

Help them identify the problem. They might not be aware of what they do either. So maybe for the first or second time, do not chastise them. After they have made the face or 'attitude', show them what it looks like or what their voice sounded like. Remind them that correction will start next week or whenever you decide.

One of the most sour experiences of life is
to face a child that complies on the outside
but not on the inside.

Summary: Our parenting needs to go beyond the typical outward expressions of disobedience and include the not so hidden attitudes. By doing this, they eliminate the subtle but sure rejection of our authority. This does not change the heart, but it does curb it in such a way that healthy relationships can grow between the parent and the child.

C.) Principles of Trust & Freedom

Our God-given goals will help keep before us what needs to be done. When we see our child varying from what is expected, we need to make a judgment as to what is wrong and correct it. We must deal with every disobedience. Each disobedience is like a seed that grows and pollutes the rest. We see this analogy given by Paul. "A little yeast leavens the whole loaf." When I make bread, only two tablespoons of yeast raise three whole loaves of bread.

The following principle has helped us discern and correct our children in so many situations from young to old. Let's first discuss the principle and then discuss why it works so well. Freedom is built on trust established by obedience.

If we cannot trust them in our sight,
then we cannot trust them out of our sight.

Obedience earns trust. Repeated obedience produces freedom. Disobedience creates distrust and takes away the freedoms they have gained.

The child is expected to perfectly carry out parental instructions in front of the parent before he is allowed (trusted) to carry them out where the parent is not present. If the child does not carry his parent's commands in the parent's presence, they certainly will not consistently carry them out at a neighbor's house.

Children can understand the logic of this argument. If the child is disobeying in the house, then certainly he cannot be trusted to obey at someone else's house. We can get even more specific. The applications are boundless. If the boys cannot play nicely in their bedroom, then they will need to play within our sight. What this means practically is that they will need to stay with us for the afternoon, or however long we judge is necessary to see if they have corrected their attitudes and actions.

The scriptures describes this process of development. Children at first are led by laws; this is a temporary stage. The laws are external stimuli and standards that they are held accountable to. The walls are the four walls of the protected garden where they are kept safe. Our goal is to see these 'laws' internalized so that whether far away or near, they will be governed by them. These laws can be summarized in Christ's way of life (i.e. love of God and one another).

But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith. (Galatians 3:23,24).

The advantage of this process and wording is that it puts the burden of solution on the child. They want the freedom of playing by themselves in their bedroom or when older with their friends outside. They know the rule. Because they have done something wrong, they had formerly lost that freedom. No one likes losing their once-gained freedoms. They cannot blame dad or mom. But they also know the solution. If they are to regain their freedom, they will need to make corrections.

The solution focuses on the renewing of their commitment to do what is right. They are motivated to do what is right. Do you see the bargaining chips? Freedom demands obedience.

Obedience for freedom. If we are consistent in pulling back their freedoms when they disobey, then they will less likely disobey. Their desires then focus them on the worth and reward of obedience.

Responsibility and Freedom

The funnel does a good job illustrating this principle.

Children are responsible to live within the boundaries (their parents' instructions) the same way wherever they are in the funnel (life), even though it is out of the parents' presence. We will discuss how to form these boundaries for different stages of life later on in the series.

Responsibility and Freedom

Freedom increases as one moves away from the small mouth of the funnel. Children are responsible to live in the same manner even though out of the parents' presence.

The funnel represents the range of freedom given to a child.

As freedom increases, responsibility increases. Although one's duties do not differ, the principles need to be consistently applied to a greater number of circumstances.


Freedoms include going further away, having more activities to do, and associating with others. Freedom never means or implies doing things that their parents or God would not accept.

As freedom increases, responsibility increases. Although one's loyalties to the parents' instruction will not change, the principles need to be consistently applied to a greater number of circumstances. The parents will help define how the principles will apply in different circumstances, but the child will need to obey and apply the principles to circumstances which his parents did not.

The premise: a disobedient child has too much freedom. He is too far down on the lower and wider circles of the funnel away from the source of truth (the parents). Their misbehavior shows that they are not carrying out the original instruction so something is wrong. The solution is to bring them back closer to the head of the funnel. This will mean restrictions and loss of freedom in one way or another. Of course, we can and should warn them of the consequences of certain behaviors.

The scriptures acknowledge our innate desire to be free. The reason the child wants to grow up is to be more free. Freedom, however, is tied to our responsibility to live for others rather than for our selves.

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (Galatians 5:13).

The principle: their freedoms depend on how responsible they are. Isn't this the way life is? This principle can be spoken and used with any age child that can understand simple logic, but the principle is one that we can use on all ages.

Parental instruction forms a child's basic rule of life.
As the child grows, parental instructions alter slightly.
Boundaries are extended.

What if the child is not held accountable? This allows a child to develop irresponsibility. The child will incur a great amount of guilt because his sin has not been dealt with. The child will grow hardened and bitter both against his parents and God. He will want to be away from them rather than with them.

Parental instructionsParental instructions form a child's basic rule of life. As the child grows, parental instructions slightly differ. Boundaries are extended.

The child is expected to perfectly carry out parental instructions in front of the parent before he is allowed (trusted) to carry them out where the parent is not present. If the child does not carry them out near the parent, they certainly will not consistently carry them out when at a neighbor's house. This would result in disobedience that is not being corrected and encouraging a situation where the child incurs a great amount of guilt.

Sometimes we notice that when a child has been away from home, that they are rather rebellious, not ready to carry out our instructions at home as they formerly were. This most likely reveals a hardened heart of guilt. We demand a change of heart (attitude) before they are allowed to again play with their friends. Since we don't know what the 'sin' is, we can' t chastise them. But this is where this principle powerfully comes to play. They hate loosing their freedoms and still are motivated to obey. This also helps them to see how disobedience never pays off.

Pause for Reflection: Can you trust your child when he is out of your sight? If not, what areas of self-control does your child still need. What would you do with a child that does not have self-control?

Examples for a Young Child

A toddler has just learned to walk. He loves walking. He has to have boundaries set for him. At times he should be limited to one room or area to play. We might have doors as physical barriers or just draw an imaginary line and associate the crossing of it with our word, "No."

As the child gets used to these borders, it will be appropriate to let him have greater range at certain times. Again, in the new area the child must first be taught what they can or cannot do in those other rooms. If they disobey a clear rule, then they should be chastised and restricted back to the first room or area.

A playpen is good training for this whole concept. It is safe and small. They can always be returned to the playpen for a spell to reinforce this principle identifying freedom with responsibility.

This training can be applied with toys they have not put away, freedom to play with friends or siblings, etc.

Examples for an Older Child

An older child might be mastering boundaries like staying in the yard or staying away from certain cable television stations. How does one train them to obey you in new circumstances such as on the sidewalk or field near your home?

We again tell them what we do or not want in the new spheres of activities. We might observe them for a while to see what else we might add to what we said or to modify our instructions. We of course remind them that only 'big and responsible' children can play on the sidewalk near the street. This means that he has to carefully obey his parents. We warn him of the consequences of disobedience: chastisement and losing of the freedom until we see obedience.

Dealing with Disobedient Children

We often use this principle with watching television, computer games, eating, talking on the phone, going to bed on time, etc. There is no limit. In each area, the parents have their rules, rules for when they were younger, and modification of these rules as they get older. No child wants to return to the old rules!

If they disobey in one area, make sure your discipline matches what they have done wrong. If they stayed up late, then they will need to go to bed early for a set number of nights. If they again disobey, then it is obvious that they need further training by helping them go to bed earlier.

If they used bad words to talk to a friend, then they cannot see their friend for a set amount of time. If a repeated offense occurs, lengthen the restrictions. If they sneak a snack, then make them go without that kind of snack for a set time (maybe two days). We make sure that the consequence is severe enough that they never want to repeat the bad behavior.

God as our Father regularly disciplines His children, that is, us Christians. He disciplines in the same area that we have disobeyed. When Abraham compromised his wife, he didn't get what he so desperately wanted until later (a son). Jacob the deceiver was trained how terrible the use of deception was by his father-in-law. Prideful Joseph was humbled before he had success several times.


There simply is no end to circumstances in which we can use these principles. They form an instant arsenal in dealing with our children when properly handled. When the children are small, we just restrict their freedom. We do not explain anything. When the children are older, we only need to explain how the offense is related to the consequences. We are strengthening their self-control. One day they will not have us around them at all. The funnel keeps expanding, but hopefully all the important rules have been internalized by then, making it easy to obey the Lord.

Pause for Reflection: Have you been able to put this exercise into practice yet? How have you restricted their freedoms for disobedience? How have you slowly expanded their freedoms? Have you explained your new expectations for their behavior in such situations?

D.) Confession is cleansing to the soul

Confession is an important part in enabling our child to have a healthy and cheerful life. As long as guilt has not been dealt with, children will feel burdened down. Guilty people, whether old or young, react sharply rather than respond humbly. This makes it much more difficult to solve issues.

Regular confession along with chastisement enables the adult to instantly regain a good relationship with the child. The child loves this and so does the parent.

Sin is like a wall that comes between people. Guilt has us hiding and covering ourselves. We avoid the one we have wronged. We see this principle very clearly illustrated in the garden of Eden where Adam and Eve avoided meeting with God. John 3:20 actually instructs us on how sin separates us from God because the 'light' threatens the 'darkness.'

For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light,
lest his deeds should be exposed. (John 3:20)

Some of the most intense hatreds are found in families that have not straightened out the many wrongs done. This bitterness has increased to such levels because of close contact to someone that they were offended by.

Pause for Reflection: Do people in your home apologize for their wrongs? What is the result of this policy?

This is where God's love so marvelously shines. Through Jesus Christ we are able to find God's forgiveness for our own sin and pass it on to others by being gracious and merciful to them.

One of the great tasks of the parent is to model and train their children to straighten out troubled relationships. Preserving relationships with people is more important than holding onto our pride. By modeling a sense of humility, we are preparing our children to seek out Christ for their sins.

The scriptures call the mission of a Christian to be a reconciler (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). We are to call both ourselves and others to be reconciled with one another. True religion starts here.

Namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:19,20).

If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. (Matthew 5:23,24).

Parents show children how to humble themselves by modeling the attitude and actions of confession. The child should see their parents apologizing not only to each other but to others outside the home and even to the children when they have wronged them. With this foundation, children will not feel awkward apologizing but just figure it is part of life.

If, however, the parents hold bitterness toward others, than this process of fostering a willingness to forgive in our child will backfire. Such children often get very bitter towards their parents. They have never had any of the 'walls of sin' taken down. Parents need to first check their own hearts for any unforgiving spirit.

So let's just rehearse what needs to be done when we hear two siblings starting to cry and yell at each other. Many of these principles are applicable to the relationships parents have with their children or children with their friends.

1) Call to Conference

All the possibly guilty parties must be brought before the parent. Sometimes witnesses are needed but not necessarily so. Usually their mouths are filled with all sorts of accusations. We ask them to be quiet unless spoken to. If they insist on speaking, then they would be chastised (see next lesson for more). After they quiet down, then we would start the meeting.

2) Raising the Hand

I usually start this confrontation by asking, "Who has done something wrong? Raise your hand." They (usually more than one child) quickly look at each other and raise their hand. It is rare that all of them are not guilty of something. They usually know one or two 'big' things that they have done wrong.

3) Confession Time.

I ask each of them what they have done wrong. I am firm at this point not to allow the others to 'leak' information. If needed, I can come back to them later. I want to cultivate in the children both the attitude and ability to admit what they did wrong. At the same time, they can see that though they have something against the other person(s), they themselves also have done wrong. Another advantage for this is to prepare them for the gospel. By admitting their wrongs, they get to see their need for Christ.

4) A Deeper Look

I usually start by talking to the youngest one, the most vulnerable. He has usually already said partly what he had done wrong. I now need to find out the full story so that justice is done and closure is brought to the incident. This is usually done by asking the youngest why they did something wrong to the other. I stay focused. I ask each one (from smallest to biggest) why they did something wrong so that they all can voice their chief complaint.

5) Correction

Sometimes they have banged up each other sufficiently that I don't need to do anything as a parent. They already did it! We are not dealing out revenge. We are disciplining them. But more often than not the switch (see next lesson) is needed to chastise them for doing wrong. If it is not serious, it is okay for each of them to apologize to each other for what specific wrong action they did or wrong attitude they expressed. Sometimes a toy has to be taken away. At other times a mere misunderstanding has to be cleared up. We get a lot of practice on this!

6) Most Importantly

Our goal for our children is to have clean consciences and good relationships. We cannot save them, but we can make them feel like they want to be saved. Confession and apologies cannot cleanse their souls, but they can cleanse their consciences. They no longer need to pretend they are right when they know they are wrong.

When they confess their sin and get their needed chastisement, they have a whole new attitude. (If they don't, something was missed.) If you have not witnessed this complete change that chastisement with apology brings, then you and your child have missed out one of the most wonderful experiences in life.

Each one needs to apologize to the one they have wronged, starting with the oldest. The parent doesn't do this, but sometimes the parent needs to prompt. If the child is just learning to talk or confused, the parent has the child repeat after him phrase by phrase, or for the littlest word by word. What do they actually say?

"I'm sorry for ..... (hitting, hurting, acted selfishly)."
Be specific. List all the crimes, whether embarrassing or not.

"Please forgive me."
Do not forget this important step. Do not let the other person say it is not important. It is very important. If they were also guilty, then they should apologize too.

Wait for an answer. Upon the okay, the two are to hug each other.
The hug might not be mandated by scripture, but it is a good way to enter back in the friendship stage. Less than 5% of the time we see a half hug. It might mean that some sin was not mentioned and that one rightly or wrongly thinks they were wronged; no justice. It is important to go back and see what might be wrong. If you don't, they will be fighting again in a very short time.

We train them in this process when young, and they do it fairly automatically after we have confronted them about some sin. In fact, I often ask them (ages 6-12) to straighten it out on their own. They usually can.

Pause for Reflection: What steps do you need to take to set up this habit of confession and apology in your own home? What will be the hardest part? Do the parents apologize to each other?

Renewing relationships allows siblings, friends and parents and children
all to maintain good relationships.

E.) Training the Untrained Child

If a trained child disobeys, we have the above means to deal with him. What about those who are not trained? Or more particularly, what about those parents who are beginning to sense that they ought to train their children in obedience? Can they start late? Yes, but it will be more difficult.

If the child has not been brought up under godly training, then the child will need some serious confrontation. We suggest the parents take these steps.

(1) Agreeing on the Plan

Parents need to agree on a common policy of what needs to be done. What is God teaching you that you are now trying to implement in your home? Clarify God's goals for your family.

(2) Setting an Example

Consistently model each of these polices as parents. Remember each policy will have its practical aspects. For example, humbly apologizing to your spouse for being gruff helps show children the humble heart each of us should have. If we wrong our child, we should confess our sins to them.

(3) Confessing Ones Mistakes

Parents need to explain the reason they are making changes in the way they deal with their child. Start by confession and apology for not rightly training them earlier on. This explanation will differ depending on how old the children are. It is important because it helps your child know you are serious. Again, your willingness to change helps show the way they should be open to change.

(4) Being Sensitive to Your Child

Make allowance for the child to confess and apologize for their wrongs, but don't demand it. Why? We think of it like this. We took so long to come to understand these things. We should give God time to work in their hearts. They will need to apply certain behaviors immediately, but some areas will come a bit slower. Be full of mercy and grace.

(5) Explaining the Biblical Principles

Explain the principles that you will consistently apply from now on. Include both behaviors/words/attitudes along with their consequences.

(a) If the child is older, make sure you clearly state your biblical purpose for making these changes. One should explain God's command requiring you to implement them as well as your desire to have a close relationship with your child. By referring to the chart, you can remind yourself the stages of relationship. You as parent are always in authority, but differently carry it out. If they marry, then they are no longer under your authority.

(b) Catch the bad attitudes. Remember that God wants right hearts as well as right actions. Explain that we want right actions and attitudes. Be specific. Illustrate. For example, if we want them to ask politely for food to be passed at the table, then we do not only tell them to say, "Please, pass ...." We also tell them to ask with a nice humble and grateful attitude.

(c) Explain that each principle is important. If we have not seen them patiently carrying these parental requests out, then they will be restrained from certain freedoms until they learn to carry them out faithfully.

(d) When they have neglected to do what is right, they will need to confess and apologize to the offended party.

This might sound hard, but it will begin to make a big difference in the attitude of the child because they will see your sincerity and want to better their relationship with you. They might test you to see if you are serious. Be serious.

Pause for Reflection: Have you trained your child according to God's standards? If not, are you ready to take the steps necessary to get properly started? Why or why not?

Principles for Parenting

  • Our end goal of parenting is to produce children that love God and man.

  • The fruit of good parenting fosters a great relationship between the parent and their child.

  • Children go through different stages in which the parent must respond to them differently.

  • Parents must effectively deal with a child's rebellious attitudes as well as their other behaviors to maintain a good relationship.

  • Trust in a child is built on a child's obedience.

  • Freedoms are only given to a child whom you can trust to obey you in a given circumstance.

  • Restrictions of those same kind of freedoms is necessary to make the child's desires work toward obedience.

  • Confession and apology are important parts of preparing the child for their relationship with God as well as maintaining a good parent-child relationship.

Scriptures typically quoted from the New American Standard Bible unless noted: (C) Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1988

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