God’s Commands and Creative Discipline

Tena Stone is OneHope’s Vice President of Training and Research Initiatives. I’ve invited her to share her unique perspective on Christian parenting. 

God’s commands are important and the fear (awe, respect) of the Lord is the beginning of teaching a child wisdom. 

The 10 Commandments include a few very important ones for children. Children are tempted to lie. Knowing God says not to is a good place to start. We can also give specific counsel around what their heart was feeling when they told the lie and how to fight that feeling and obey God. But, like us, they need reminding. Teens sometimes require extra creativity to drive the point home.

When our oldest son was 15, we began to see some shifts in his behavior. His attitudes (argumentative), his responses (whatever), and his gestures (eye rolls) all showed less than a stellar commitment to the 5th Commandment – which of course he knew.

At 15, hormones can outpace thinking and tempt a heart to anger. The brain is also undergoing a lot of development with a much larger capacity for critical thinking (and arguing). This is all part of growing up. However, on this day, hormones and brain growth aside, our son crossed a line. Discipleship was called for. The task – teach him to honor his mother and father.

Typically, my husband is a more creative disciplinarian than I am. However, that day, I felt a special anointing. Instead of arguing with him or sending him to his room to sit, I asked him to do something creative. With pencil and paper in hand I left him to work on a list entitled “70 Things My Parents Know More About Than I Do”. In about an hour he came back, almost smiling. He said something sheepish like, “Well, here you go.”

The list (which I still have today) started out like this: 

  1. Old movies 

  2. Hairstyles from the 70’s 

  3. How to use a rotary phone (my personal favorite). 

By this time, I was smiling too. After about 25 responses he had to really think, truly and seriously, what did we know more about. At this point, the responses were more like:

  1. The Bible 

  2. How to hold a job 

  3. What is good for me. 

You get the picture. Learning to honor his mom and dad began with cleaning up the way he thought about us and critically thinking about why honor was due.

Jess and I laugh about that memory now and he tells me he was a thug in high school. Actually 80% of the time he was a joy. 

The list taught me something too. There is more than one way to help a child process truth. A lighter, creative touch in discipline, that leaves some room for fun, can be very effective. If you have used a creative method in your discipline, please share below in the comments. We would love to hear about it!

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Rob Hoskins is the president of OneHope. Since taking leadership of OneHope in 2004, he has continued to advance the vision of God’s Word. Every Child. by partnering with local churches to help reach more than 1.9 BILLION children and youth worldwide with a contextualized presentation of God’s Word.

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