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  • Writer's pictureJohn Nolan


Updated: Jun 7

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Great Dads need to find the right balance in disciplining their children

Great Dads discipline their children fairly and consistently

I think the area of ‘discipline’ is probably the most contentious issue of fatherhood and is often confused with being the same as ‘child abuse’. It seems that everyone has an opinion on the subject and many roll out their PhD’s to justify themselves as ‘experts’ on the subject and their own particular theory as being correct. In my experience the best way to know if a particular ‘theory’ actually works or not is to look at the fruit of the teaching in their own children’s lives, unfortunately this often does not become apparent for many years.

I however prefer to rely upon the One who created us and His knowledge and wisdom of how we as fathers should go about raising our children. God has raised billions of children over time and knows exactly how we function and react to discipline in life, and He has set the checks and balances for fathers to follow in the application of positive discipline within the home.

Christian parenting requires a form of discipline that is based upon training and equipping our children for a successful life in this world. Here are just a few of the many scriptures relating to the importance of discipline within the home:

Hebrews 12:11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterwards it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Proverbs 13:24 He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly.

Proverbs 3:11-12 My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction, for whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.

Proverbs 29:15 The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.

Proverbs 6:23 For the commandment is a lamp, and the law a light, reproofs of instruction are the way of life.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.

How do we go about it?

The short list that follows offers some important insights into how to go about applying Bible based discipline within your home:

The importance of consistency

Galatians 6:9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

It is essential that as the ‘father’ we clearly define the boundaries of acceptable behaviour within the family unit to our children. Once that knowledge has been imparted to our child it is vital that we are consistent in enforcing the rules or boundaries you have chosen to apply in your family. If we discipline wrong actions today and do nothing the next time it sends a message to our child that you are not serious about these rules. Many behaviours will take some time to change in the life of our child and as we show consistency they will understand that they are not able to get away with wrong actions. When punishment seems inevitable for wrong actions then it is much easier for a child to make the right choices in life.

Counting to 10

Ephesians 4:26 “Be angry, and do not sin”

It is also important to know that as a ‘father’ our own conduct is on show before our children 24/7. Accepting our own weaknesses and failures as men can enable us to treat our children with empathy and understanding when it comes time to discipline them for wrong conduct. Taking the time to ensure that we as the father are not reacting out of anger is paramount if we are to be effective in getting the best result out of training our children up in the way they should go. Sending your child to their bedroom or time out location is a good idea to enable us as men enough time to gain self-control and ensure that we are thinking clearly and not saying or doing something that we may regret later.

Listening to their side of the story

Proverbs 18:13 He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him.

I have found that it is vital to give your child an opportunity to tell their side of the story before discipline is applied. Asking them to explain why they did a certain action also gives them an opportunity to retrace their own thought processes and can help bring about the required change in behaviour through self-reflection. Their explanation may result in only a partial requirement or no need for discipline at all if you decide that their actions were justified.

Explaining the reasons for discipline

Matthew 18:15 Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.

Positive parenting requires our child to be informed about the reasons that their behaviour was unacceptable, specifically identifying what they did that was wrong! Explaining to your child that you love them and do not want their life to go in a wrong direction is a great way to bring understanding for the need of discipline. It lays a foundation in love and minimises the possibility for your child to be offended by being disciplined.

Disciplining in private

Ephesians 6:4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

Needing to be disciplined is difficult enough for a child without the shame of their wrong actions being added to through the humiliation of being rebuked in public view. To save them embarrassment in front of their peers or siblings it is important to apply any discipline required to your child in private. If you are out in public let your child know that they have erred, and they will be disciplined when they get home.

Teaching them to say sorry

James 5:16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.

A major reason for applying discipline is to ensure that the whole family dynamic is not hindered long-term by the wrong actions of the one. For this reason, it is important as part of the process that you teach your children to apologise for their misdemeanours and especially to other members of the family that may have been affected by them. Saying sorry rebuilds the relational bridges that have been broken down through family conflict.

Hugging afterwards

1 Corinthians 16:14 Let all that you do be done with love.

Disciplining your child can actually be an opportunity for you to connect with them at a deeper and more wonderful level. In light of this it is important to hug and reassure your child after they are disciplined and to verbalise your love and acceptance of them as a valued member of the family.

Discipline that is lovingly applied on a consistent basis trains our child and points them in the right direction for a successful and happy life. In my experience when the correct discipline is applied early in a child’s life the need for discipline as they continue to grow is much less, because those lessons have already been learned.

It is encouraging to know that ‘Great Dads’ are not born that way, but they are just men like us who are transformed by realising the potential that they have within them, a potential we all share. Being a ‘Great Dad’ means being respected by your children and this requires both love and discipline.


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