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To Discipline? or Not To Discipline? - That Is the Question

Updated on January 16, 2015
Sonjia Upshaw profile image

Sonjia is a retired Literature instructor. She runs a piano/voice studio and has taken up writing to encourage others as her new passion.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

I am a child of the 70s, so that means I was raised when "it takes a village" was serious business, not just a cute cliché serving as the subtitle for a best selling book. If you are 40 or older, you know exactly what I am talking about. Children were seen and not heard, spoke when spoken to, and greeted every adult when walking into a room. These were not options, but expectations. On those rare occasions when we got beside ourselves, there was either a belt or a backhand waiting in the wings to snap us back to reality. When you think back, it sounds kind of rough, but in all actuality, it helped to shape and mold us into young adults with character and respect for authority.

All you have to do is turn on the evening news or walk through your local mall to see that there is a generation of young people who are greatly lacking when it comes to discipline. So if it wasn't broke -- disciplining -- then why is society trying to fix it?

So, do you HATE your child?

As a born-again believer, I always try to line up my actions with the Word of God. When it comes to raising our children, or grandchildren, the Bible is pretty clear on what we are supposed to do and how it is supposed to be done. The book of Proverbs, often referred to as the Book of Wisdom, provides several biblical guidelines when it comes to discipline.

The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame. - Proverbs 19:25 KJV

Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. - Proverbs 23:13 KJV

Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him. - Proverbs 22:15 KJV

He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. - Proverbs 13:24 KJV

Now if applying the Word of God to every situation is not your cup of tea, then this Hub will probably not set too well with you. At the end of the day, those who withhold correction do a lot more than "spoil" their children, they actually HATE, yes the Bible says you HATE your children. As with anything in life, parents should always act in love and never in anger or out of frustration. The same God that tells us how to care for our children also demands that we rule our own spirits well. (Proverbs 16:32)

Redefining "NO"

In what I lovingly refer to as Parenting 101, the lesson of "no means no" is at the top of the syllabus. How did such a short, simple word become so hazy and confusing? From the time I can remember hearing the spoken word, the word "no" had a crystal clear meaning. When it came out of my mother's mouth, it was the warning before the coming judgement. If you are like most children of the 70s, our parents were not real big fans of repeating themselves. So that meant you were told "no" and that was the end of the discussion - proceed at your own risk!

So what meaneth this new, revised definition of "no" in today's society? According to, the word "no" has several meanings based on the part of speech, but they all imply the EXACT same thing.

adverb -- not in any degree or manner; not at all
noun - a denial or refusal
verb - to reject, refuse approval, or express disapproval of

All three of these seem quite simple. It is the execution and enforcement where parents tend to jump off the wagon and subsequently fail Parenting 101! In a misguided attempt to befriend our children, we lose sight of the fact that God told us to "train them up" and not allow them to run wild. It was not difficult to locate videos on YouTube that are perfect examples of what happens when "no" is redefined in the life of a child.


Negotiating with a 10 Year Old...Really?

The Negotiator...NOT!

In the real world where your children, and grandchildren, will have to function one day, there is not a lot of tolerance for the individual who can't handle "no" for an answer. The idea that a parent would enter into negotiations with a child over what needs to be done, or what will not be allowed is ridiculous.

Newsflash parents, you are in charge. Let your "yes" mean yes and your "no" mean no in every situation. Let the punishment fit the crime, even if it means spanking your little darling. Children are smarter than you think, and they will love you no matter what. So set the boundaries and stand your ground. This mother is under the impression that she is in charge, but just take a look at her house, and her son, and you can see who is going to walk away from the negotiations as the true victor.

The Parent vs The Pacifier...Really?

The Pacifier...NOT!

Merriam-Webster defines "pacify" as causing someone who is angry or upset to become calm or quiet. The pacifying parent with the pacifier sucking child doing battle in the parking lot does not fit this definition in any way, shape or form. Over the course of more than 3 minutes, this child told his mother "no" more than he was told "no" - and we never see the "become calm or quiet" portion of this episode.

I was no stranger to public spankings and neither were my children. The interesting thing about this is that I got the message from the first spanking in Piggly Wiggly. My daughters seemed to have inherited the same "comprehension" gene, because it only took one public spanking in Wal-Mart to get the point across in their little minds.

Warning -- if you do not discipline at home, don't try it in public! Kids do in public only what they are allowed to do at home, so an inconsistent parent gets exactly what this mother got in the parking lot - an all out pacifier protest caught on tape!

If You Don't Mean No, Someone Else Will...Really!

Police + Tantrum = Pepper Spray...Really!

All joking aside, the longer a child's inappropriate behavior goes unrestrained, the more danger you put your child in later on in life. This video made me shutter. When a teenager has not been taught to respect authority - that "no" means "no" - this is the result. Our children do not stay little forever. If you keep feeding them, they will grow into big, strong, healthy young people that have the ability to stare you down, challenge boundaries, and maybe even take a swing at you!

It is clear that these parents have put their son's life in danger by failing to train him up according to the Word of God, or even the laws of common sense. When you have to call 9-1-1 to get your own child under control, that is a huge problem and it did not develop overnight. It took years of neglect, yes neglect, to get this child to this point. Parents, and grandparents, we have a job to do, and it seems many of us are failing.

A word of wisdom - "Raise your children so that somebody else can love them." These profound words were spoken by my pastor's wife. She says it to parents of young children all of the time. She has reminded many of us over the years that our children will not be with us forever and if we don't teach them, the world will. I know from first hand experience that the world is a harsh task-master and the lessons are tough. The teenager in this video has just experienced one such lesson. I wonder if the next one will find him starring down the barrel of a gun?

The Parenting Styles Graph

The Question Has an Answer...

After reading an article from Focus on the Family on Effective Child Discipline, it became clear that the age old question, "to spank or not to spank" does not have an easy answer. Every person raising a child struggles with getting children to obey because foolishness is bound in the heart of EVERY child. The article concluded that HOW we parent contributes to the problem, especially in today's society where to even speak the word "discipline" makes people want to call the Department of Social Services.

The Parenting Styles Graph was the result of a study by sociologist Reuben Hill of thousands of teens and parents in Minnesota. The horizontal axis measured how much discipline or control parents exercised in their relationship with their child. The vertical axis measured love. Hill found that different parenting styles produced different responses among children. So, which parent are you?

The Permissive Parent. The upper left quadrant represents parents who are high in love but low in discipline: the permissive parent. The study revealed that permissive parents tend to produce children with very low self-esteem and feelings of inferiority. The kids feel loved, but they are never sure of their limits.

The Neglectful Parent. The lower left quadrant belongs to the worst of all four combinations: the neglectful parent. This kind of parent doesn't express much love and also doesn't really care enough to discipline. Their children tend to grow up with little or no lasting relationship with Mom or Dad. These children grow up with unbelievably deep emotional scars, and their only hope is to find Christ, be surrounded by godly role models, and get some good Christian counseling.

The Authoritarian Parent. The authoritarian parent shows up in the lower right quadrant. This kind of parent doesn't express love and affection well but is very high on discipline. They raise children who are provoked to rebellion. The bar is always high and the "musts" are always abundant, so there's a strong sense of safety. But this kind of parent isn't content just to win the war; they have to win every battle too.

The Authoritative Parent. Those who land in the upper right quadrant provide the best combination of love and discipline. This kind of parent is authoritative — not an overbearing authoritarian, but a compassionate yet firm authority. They have clear boundaries but are also very loving. The result is a child high in self-esteem and equipped with good coping skills.

Just Say "NO"

Myth vs Reality

Parenting Myth: Your kids will feel most secure if they know you're their buddy.

Parenting Reality: Your kids will feel most secure if they know you have set appropriate boundaries for them that you aren't afraid to enforce.

"DISCIPLINE IS NOT THE ENEMY OF ENTHUSIASM." -- This is one of my favorite quotes by the great educator Joe Clark. At the end of the day, our children need order, direction, and most assuredly correction if they are going to survive in today's society. The book of Hebrews reminds us that no correction is pleasant at the time, but the end results are always worth the effort.

Parents, we are the only ones in the world with the primary responsibility of giving our children what they need, not what they want. God demands that we keep our eyes on their ultimate welfare instead of on their momentary comfort. Effective parenting will always require effective, consistent, Bible-based discipline.


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    • Sonjia Upshaw profile imageAUTHOR

      Sonjia Upshaw 

      3 years ago from Richmond, Virginia

      Thanks for the encouragement Janice! I always believe there there is life, there is hope. Parents just have to get back to their main job...PARENTING! #beblessed

    • profile image

      Janice Knight 

      3 years ago

      I enjoyed reading your article. My children are grown and I am not raising my grandson but I am trying by Gods grace and guidance to do better by him than I did with my kids. I try to impart Gods Word to him everyday that I see him (which is pretty often.) He asks me something about Jesus everyday. This passive, emotional or violent method of raising children is not working as we can plainly see by the looting and or weeping we've seen in the streets over the past few months. People with excuses say there is no manual by which to raise children but they couldn't be more wrong. The Bible has always been there to instruct us.


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