Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Is It Okay to Use Bible Verses to Correct My Children?

It's no secret that we like the Bible around here.  It's also no secret that we want it to inform every area of our lives.  We read about and try to apply ways we can memorize God's Word, we  try to surround ourselves with it, and use it as we encourage and correct our children.

That last one can be a little tricky.

I used to be uncomfortable with the idea of speaking Scripture to reprove my children.  I wanted Scripture to inform that reproof, but something about actually speaking those Sacred Words to them made me nervous that it would put a bitter taste in my children's mouths for the God of the Bible.

As I read The Well-Versed Family about a year and a half ago, I realized how useful God's Word is, not only for correction, but for encouragement.  Often the SAME verses can be used both ways.  (Example:  I've used "Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right." over and over again to cheer on my boys for an immediate response of obedience with the right attitude.)  I began implementing encouragement directly from Scripture in our daily lives, but over time I've noticed a little problem.

I'm a lot better at picking up on their mistakes than their successes.

It's easy for me to EXPECT the good and let it go unnoticed.

So, I've got a new goal.  For every instance where I correct one of my boys using the Living Word, I'm going to try and ENCOURAGE them with it at least two times.  (Totally made that number up, just using it as a mental goal... I'm not actually keeping tabs.  :)  Practically speaking, that means that if they're having a bad day (or week...or month...) I'm going to try to use Scripture carefully and wisely and not every 5 minutes when they need to be corrected AGAIN!  I will look harder for those opportunities to encourage.  I'm not going to beat them over the head with the most precious Words they'll ever hear.  

I'm also (gulp!) going to try to be more vulnerable with my boys.  When I'm not living out the Scriptures the way I'm supposed to, I'm going to try to draw attention to it and admit my mistake.  To show them that Scripture is for Mama's bad attitude, outburst of anger and gossipy words too.  I realized about a year ago the importance of apologizing when I mess up with them or in front of them.  I think speaking biblical correction to myself would be a good way to solidify that I am not immune to what I'm teaching them.  

To be clear, I DO think that using Scripture to discipline your children can dishonor God in certain circumstances.  I think it is unwise to use the Bible as the means of discipline (like having your child write out a passage as their punishment or sending them to their room to read the Bible, etc.)  I think this very easily could lead to a resentment toward the Word we want to facilitate a love in our children's hearts for.  

In addition, screaming, "A GENTLE ANSWER TURNS AWAY WRATH, BUT A HARSH WORD STIRS UP ANGER" at my defiant preschooler might be slightly ineffective in conveying the truth that I want to teach.  I'm kind of joking here, but seriously, I've got to make sure that I've got control of my tone and my heart before speaking.  Especially if those words I'm speaking are relaying a message directly from God.  

If I truly believe that God's Word is living and active and sharper than any two-edged Sword, then I don't know why I wouldn't use it as I parent.  It speaks to my heart and my child's heart in the moment.  And it's more than just words that I'm speaking...

What do you think?  Do you use the Bible when you correct your children?

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  1. First, I'm going to say how impressed I am that you have scriptures memorized so that you can use at the drop of a hat. Seriously cool. But, I think that if we look at the bible, parents often used scriptures themselves to help correct and guide their children (as well as others of course). I think it's great.

  2. I have found that The Child Training Bible has helped me. I try to teach my children and yet it helps to have a Bible dedicated to certain topics with the scriptures marked to show my children that it isn't "just Mommy" who wants them to behave in certain ways, it is God. They seem to respond really well to that!


    1. Suz, Jen did a review of the CTB a couple of months ago. It is at the top of my list of resources to invest in (very soon!). I'm so glad you mentioned it! Something like that is awesome for when you can't think of what to Scripture has to say about the matter off the top of your head too!

  3. This is great! I've used Scripture to correct, but you are right, it's important that it's used properly. I love the emphasis in using it to encourage as well. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  4. i agree completely - it all comes down to OUR own attitudes when we use the Word of God. The tone we use when quoting scripture can either be encouraging or disheartening - even in a moment of correction. Second, teaching our children the Word of God means we must be careful to teach (and live out)the entire counsel of God. Just throwing pithy verses at them in moments of reproof won't help the kids any. But if we show them how God's word is WISDOM that brings joy, then we've diligently fulfilled our calling to teach God's Word. All that say - this parenting gig is Tough! :) Great post!

  5. I haven't used scriptures to discipline yet, and I'm not sure if I will. I think it will depend on my child, and whether or not I think it will cause resentment towards God.

    I recently read something that advocated telling your children that God wanted you to spank them when they were being spanked, and I definitely think that would cause resentment towards God, and would damage the child's spiritual health.

    I do like the idea of encouraging children with scripture though.

  6. I agree this is a tricky area-thanks so much for writing about it and sharing your thoughts. So helpful! My only complaint is that every time I read one of your posts, Desire, I have to add a new book to my amazon wishlist!!! LOL! Just added, "The Well-Versed Family." :o)

    1. Lol, Teamboyer! Then DON'T read tomorrow's post! Haha! :)

  7. Yes, I believe you've got it. I struggled with the same issue. What better blessing can we speak over our children than scripture? And shouldn't we be speaking blessings over them even when we teach?



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