“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” – Ephesians 6:4

Lynette’s father was a tyrant, according to her childhood friends. She was not allowed to eat with other children in the dining room but was banished without reason to the kitchen. She got the silent treatment often from her father. He disliked her intensely. “Her father’s treatment scarred her badly,” an old friend said. When Lynette was 16 she was kicked out of the family home. Charles Manson found her crying in the street and offered to look after her. Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme later attempted to assassinate President Ford.

Parenting kids by discipline without emotion is not the way to go. Strict disciplinary parenting without emotion tends to raise angry children who stop trying to please their parents because there is no point in trying. Parenting by discipline without emotion means we use the word “no” more often than we would like. Parenting is not something we can run away from. And we don’t want kids who have no emotional attachment. Kids that don’t smile, who scowl, and are ruled by a ruler. No one wants to be the type of parent who is not engaged emotionally, who lacks passion, and who is content to raise robot kids. This doesn’t work and is inhumane.

When thinking about this I came to the conclusion that there is a difference between being strict and being restrictive. What is the difference? Strictness is more of an attitude than an action. As an attitude, being strict, or discipline without emotion can be a limit to love. Being restrictive means the parent provides the needed guidance to do right and enough protection to avoid wrong. When parents have more rules than love, they lose. When they have rules inspired by love, they win. Overly strict parents are often resented while parents who live genuinely and love generously will rarely be resented. 

This means I must give time to my children. This means I must listen to my children. And yes, sometimes this does mean giving restrictions to my children. So, the question is not really, how strict should I be, but rather, how should I be strict. There is a fine balance as we talked about in this week’s message.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How do you define strictness?
  2. Do our kids think we are fair and do they understand us?
  3. Is there a right way to parent? Why do you believe that?
  4. How much time do you spend each day talking to your kids about anything serious in your life or in their lives?