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  • Writer's pictureTy Montgomery

Disciplining Your Child: And What I See in God's Fathering

Updated: 2 days ago

I’ve been a father for almost 6 years, and a Jesus follower for quite some time now, depending on when you start the clock (lol) and the two relate more than you think. As I’ve sought to lead and discipline my son, I’ve spent some time reflecting on my own childhood, taking what I can, and asking God to make me an even better parent than what I know, or at least how I interpreted it to be. You see, God works in generations, and through those generations, we can break chains, redefine family storylines, and see His healing hand move from generation to generation. So much of what I do is for my son and for the life he will live when he’s my age and a huge part of that investment is Godly, intentional, discipline.

The more I learn about God’s heart for me, and the more I can see how He disciplines me, the more I apply it to my son. Like a good parent, God gives me boundaries (Psalm 16:5-8), God is rich in mercy (Ephesians 2:4-5), and God treats us as the individuals that He created us as. It’s these characteristics of the good Father that I work to mimic as a good father.

God works in generations, and through those generations we can break chains, redefine family storylines, and see His healing hand move from generation to generation.

For example, I give Stone, what I like to call, freedom with a boundary. The boundary is made up of these foundational rules: Be honest, be obedient, be respectful, be authentic, stand up for yourself, and love God. As he progressively grows, the boundaries will shift over time but while he has freedom, I am still in control, and that’s good news for him. He is not responsible for getting to school or church on his own, or feeding himself dinner every night. He doesn’t make most decisions that ultimately affect his wellbeing, but as he grows in his own character and understanding, his freedom will expand.

When Stone breaks or disrespects the freedom he’s been given, that’s where discipline comes in. Hebrews 12:6-11 says, “The Lord chastens who He loves,” and the same is true of any good dad.

Chasten is a form of rebuke, but when disciplining your child I believe you have to be aware of two things:

Even if two kids are acting out the same bad behavior, that doesn’t mean that they need to be met with the same discipline. For example, imagine my son spends all year long acing math at school, and then for a few weeks his grade tanks, seemingly out of nowhere. After talking to the teacher she tells me a new kid showed up to his class and this child and my son have been disrespectful and distracted. That kind of behavior merits one kind of response.

But imagine I had a second child who struggled with math. We’d gotten tutors, we’d invested in studying, but he couldn’t get it. Come time for finals and he does terribly. It looks like he simply gave up. Because I know his journey with this class is different, my response is going to be different, and more gentle than my response to Stone. One child needs to learn focus and respect, while the other needs to learn perseverance. 

Even in this moment, the kids won’t see their unique treatment as fair, but it’s actually incredibly loving. God loves all of us equally as well, but more importantly, He loves us uniquely based on what we need to learn in that season.

2. The discipline isn’t for you, or against them, it’s for them

Your discipline isn’t designed to break your kids. It’s not a release for you but a guidance for them. It’s not a chance for your character to take a break but an opportunity to build theirs. It’s a chance to instill qualities and values you want your children to have as adults. 

Ephesians 6 calls for children to obey their parents and then immediately follows with, “Fathers don’t exasperate your children...” This means that parents need to have a level of discernment of how far is too far for each child; it’s not our goal to drive them to anger but to chasten them. This requires communication with our kids. Even at my son’s young age, I communicate with him, I work to teach him what’s happening, answer his questions, and have conversations with him. Why? Because I’m teaching him how to communicate. Where I ignore him, am short, or discount his questions he will learn to do the same. Where I respect him I am teaching him how to respect others.

Where I ignore my son, am short, or discount his questions he will learn to do the same. Where I respect him I am teaching him how to respect others.

Parenting is not easy, and there is no one-size-fits-all to parenting, it’s stretching in ways I never expected but it points us back to our relationship with the Father over and over. As we think about the families we came from, we shouldn’t discount what we were given in our own upbringings, even if difficult. We should neither adopt our childhoods completely nor completely reject them. It’s from past generations where we can gain wisdom, and ask God to refine it for what He wants to do in the generations to come.

Parenting is an honor, and the chance to discipline our kids is God trusting us to make disciples.

How do you set boundaries for your kids? Share in the comments.

Live love,


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