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Proverbs 19:18

Discipline your child while there is hope. Otherwise you will ruin their lives.

Have you ruined your child’s life? Unfortunately, there are lots of parents who may be thinking this is exactly what they did. “We were way too hard/easy on them” they lament in anguish. Before we pull this proverb apart, let me say two very important things:

  1. You are not powerful enough to ruin your child’s life.
  2. Good parents can raise kids that make bad decisions.

There are numerous translations of this proverb and none of them make the claim that this is a law or some kind of promise. Rather, it is a general principle that reminds parents of the dangers of leniency.

Sound biblical teaching about parenting always includes the need to discipline your children. And while we can argue the pro’s and con’s of spanking, one truth remains clear: our children need correction, and to withhold it is not only dangerous, but unloving, especially when they are young. The hope is that by helping your children to recognize selfishness – and to fight its destructive ways – you are giving them hope for a better future. Children need consistent guidelines and boundaries to help them deal with their sin nature until they come to saving faith (God willing!) and grow enough to fight those battles in the Spirit and without mom and dad hovering over them.

As the parents of four children, my wife and I have made plenty of mistakes. Sometimes we have disciplined out of anger and provoked our children unnecessarily (Eph. 6:4) and sometimes we have been too lenient which only made matters worse (1 Sam. 2). Fortunately, God’s grace and providence is more than able to overcome our parenting mistakes and His love for our children is far greater than even our own. Parent according to God’s Word with full reliance on His faithfulness and leave the results to Him.

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