Saturday, 13 March 2010

Working towards a Happy Home

As I  learn more and more about God's grace and how truly amazing it is, it overflows into every area of my life. As I see how the Father parents me I learn how to parent my own children by His example. One thing that I have been challenged on is how to train my children. After all, God doesn't punish me, but rather guides me and allows the lesson to be the teacher. He is always there lovingly guiding me, allowing me to make mistakes so that I grow. I wondered how I could be that kind of parent to my own children. I am still learning, but have made a start.

I have always thought that smacking (spanking) was the correct and biblical way of training our children. But I have been feeling lately that corporal punishment was not at all part of God's plan for us to train our children. After all, that is certainly not what He does with us. And this has turned my parenting upside-down. I have been using this tool of parenting ever since Leader Boy Warrior was 2 years old, and have even judged people that didn't use this method for their own children. It was really the only 'tool of the trade' in my parenting 'tool box'. It works, and it is simple and quick. But is it the best way? I don't want my boys to be controlled but I want to have a relationship with them and for them to obey me because they love me, not because of fear of punishment. After all, that is why I am obedient to my King, because He loves me and I have a relationship with Him, not because I fear that he will punish me if I don't obey.

On googling "Hebrew meaning of rod" I found some intersting reads on other parents who were questioning whether or not punishing your children was the correct intepretation for the infamous scriptures that most Christians use to justify smacking(spanking):
  1. Pr 13:24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. 
  2. Pr 22:15 Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.  
  3. Pr 23:13 Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.
  4. Pr 23:14 Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.
  5. Pr 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.  
Here is one of the links A study of the 'rod' scriptures that confirmed my suspicions that maybe, just maybe that smacking(spanking) wasn't God's way. At least I know that I'm not alone in my questioning of it.

One book that opened my eyes to parenting with love, boundaries, consequences and without punishment was Danny Silk's book Loving Your Kids on Purpose. When I first read this book, I was still on my journey of learning about what God's grace really means. Everything within me rejected the concepts presented, justifying with many scriptures that refer to corporal punishment and other forms of punishment. But now, having a better understanding of grace, I have returned to the book for answers to parenting my own children.

Another book that I have read recently (given to me by my friend Paula) that  taught me a lot was Loving Obedience by William J. Richardson. It spoke about filling the love hunger and motivating your children to stop one behaviour and start another with rewards. Although this book does encourage the use of corporal punishment, I found the other ideas in the book very pratical and user-friendly. I was taught that rewarding children will make children spoilt, but I can see now that it is not the case. The use of rewards was one that I had opposed, but on reading this book, I can see the value and in reawrding our children to motivate behaviour. After all, the Lord rewards us as His children all the time.

So feeling like I needed some more tools in my parenting toolbox, I have taken ideas from both of these books and have come up with the following system -
~Our new rewards/consequence system. Do you like the cute pegs that hold the tokens?~

~Tokens to be given and exchanged~

Here is what the coloured paper says (one for each boy):

How (insert child's name) can help us to have a happy home

RULES: I will:

  • Listen and obey Mum and Dad with no whinging or backchatting

  • Be kind to my brothers and not argue with them

  • Clean up after myself
REWARD: I will recieve 1 token when Mum and Dad see me keeping the rules. Each token can be exchanged for:

  • 10 minutes of computer time or

  • 5 miutes of x-box time
CONSEQUENSES: if I break the rules, I will

  •  get 1 token taken off me when I break the rules

  • have a time out if I continue to break them
If I follow the rules we will have a happy home. Thank you (insert child's name) for helping us have a happy home!

So far this week, the system has been working so well. Every time we see the boys behaving well, we give them a token. If we see them misbehaving, we warn them saying, "You will lose a token" and this is usually enough to stop their behaviour. If not, they lose a token. X-Box and computer time are 2 of their favourite activities, so they are highly motivated to earn more tokens. The boys have clear guidelines and we are now having a happy home with happy boys,a  happy dad and a  happy mum.

This is still very new to me and I am still getting my head around parenting without smacking(spanking). My desire is to parent as He parents and I am still learning exactly what that means. I'm still wearing my 'L' plates. I haven't meant to offend anyone that may use smacking(spanking) in their own home.After all, I have used it for the past 5 years in my home. Everyone must walk thier own journey and work out parenting for themselves. My only desire here was to share my heart.

******UPDATE: 01.02.2011 - we are still continuing to use this system. I catch them doing something good and give them a token to encourage their good behaviour. I remove a token for behaviour I want to discourage. I have a box full of prizes that they can 'buy' things with their tokens as well. They will ask me "Mum, what can I do for tokens?", if they really want tokens to 'buy' things from the prize box or want to play x-box. I get my laundry sorted and put away at these times. Win-win really!******

Still taking lessons from the King,


  1. This is brilliant Jo! I have to admit that I have been thinking about the smacking thing too since your visit. I have found that it is useful with Jasmine when she needs to be snapped out of a mood, but for anything else it's pointless. Now that she's older it is easy to rationalise with her than just outright smack her, and it makes more sense too! Great post my friend, and I will be doing the reward system too! xoxo

  2. This is a great idea Jo.
    I too was challenged by many people when I started out not wanting to smack. Many Christian friends would say 'It's what God says to do' After reading several Christian parenting books I read in one, that we should think of the rod like a shepherd uses the rod - to guide his flock not to whack them - unless he absolutely has too.
    I rarely smack now. In extreme cases the kids know when and why they will get one - they always move quickly if I lift my arm (that's the final sign)- it's my rod that I guide my children with - stern mummy!

  3. Oh this is very fortuitous, I have been on the same journey and working through what grace parenting looks like for our family. Thanks for the book recommendations, I will look them up. I love your system but instead of going out and copying (as I have been known to do) I will take this to the Lord. Blessings to you.

  4. Thanks for sharing. I am in a situation where I need to take some action and this could be a help. I do believe in spanking for certain theings but I also agree with what you said above. I want my kids to obey because of love not fear.

    Does that book have any suggestions on toddlers?

  5. I'm someone who was emotionally turned-off by the idea of spanking for a long time... and when I did venture to utilize it, it was purely out of feeling a conviction to take God at his word. These days I rarely spank because I've always tried to have it as only one option in my parenting tool chest and my kids are at ages/stages where many other approaches work better and, I think, are more effective at teaching whilst in the midst of disciplining. I've certainly found myself feeling uncomfortable when hearing other parents talk about spanking as if IT were the way, the truth, the life. And then I've been equally uncomfortable hearing parents talk as if spanking was akin to violent abuse. I think, like many, many other things in life, spanking is an area that appears gray to us but as we draw in to our Father for his perfect guidance for each moment, then he'll make our paths straight. Now, how many of us draw in 100% of the time and never have a mis-step? Not a one of us. And I think that same reality will influence our parenting... including our choices to spank or not as each ocassion arises. Ultimately, I don't think there is reason (from man's thinking) or warning (scriptural) that a spank missed or a mistaken spanking will rock the life of a child so long as Dad and Mom are generally building on the solid foundation of Christ.

    I think what you said about us each walking our own journey is key.

  6. Hi Jo,
    Love what you're starting in your home! We have used consequences for a long time with all our kids. I had a chart a bit like this one when they were young..need it less now that they're mostly a bit older :) I think the big thing for me was learning to stay calm, talk in a clam tone of voice, and give a consequence. We still talk about being responsible for our behaviour, and having to accept the consequences that flow from it. And I still mess it up at times :0 , but this style of parenting soon becomes a habit and is really much less stressful! Love your mother heart! Mel xx

  7. Thanks for sharing, Jo. I appreciate this. You are love manifested. How can anyone be offended in you? Thanks again:)

  8. I toldly agree that spanking is not for everything. We are to guide our children not break them. God gave our children their spirit (personality). We need to nuture them. I like your system and seriously thinking about doing the same.

  9. I'm always delighted to see parents moving away from a punishment and control based model of discipline and seeking to parent the way God parents us :-).

    I know this is an old post, and you may have discovered these resources, but I thought I'd share them anyway. Crystal Lutton's website, gives lots of grace based discipline tools. Also her blog has some great articles article giving a helpful overview of grace based discipline tools used by many parents. Other good articles on the site. Explains in detail why the "rod scriptures" can't be taken as a command to spank, includes the cultural context - very good for those days when you doubt your convictions, and also for sharing with friends who worry that you've "left the path" by not spanking! This is from the updated version of the website you got your rod study from. I also like the article about "Time In" as an alternative to Time Out. A blog called Dare To Disciple, with several contributors. My favouritest message board, loads of stuff on bringing up children in a non-punitive way. You may already know this one as you've read the book! The blog (button on right of homepage) is very good.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts on my lessons!

I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

Jo Princess Warrior xo