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The goal of discipline and punishment is not so you can vent your anger or get a load off your chest. It's not to prove that you are the boss.

The goal of discipline is always to help your children grow to become better, more mature and responsible persons. If your kind of discipline is not having that effect, stop doing it and find another way to discipline them.

Many parents get a child's will mixed up with his spirit. As a parent, your goal is not to break your child's spirit but to teach him how to control his will and submit it to the authority of Jesus Christ.

Naturally, the will says, "Me first! My way! I want to do what I want to do!" It is selfish. This is the part of each one of us that we must submit to the will of Jesus Christ.

The spirit is the inner man - who we really are. It's that little child in all of us who is so tender and fragile. Our spirit is wounded when people say cruel things to us and about us.

This is why you as a parent need to be so careful about how you discipline your children. You are trying to shape their will, so you have to be sure that the way you discipline is redirecting and harnessing their will and not wounding their spirit.

You don't want to do things that will make your children feel bad about who they are. Never call them names or belittle them. Never compare them to anyone else. Never put them down or tell them they are stupid, clumsy, ugly or mean. God says they are of great worth, and nothing they do can change that.

Our jobs as parents is to teach our kids that who they are is fine even when what they do is not. Do you see the difference? Who they are is their spirit, what they do comes from their will.

When you break a child's spirit, he feels unlovable, bad and hopeless. When you re-direct his will, you help him become able to love, to give, to share.

God gave us a will. He could have made us without any will of our own. Then we would have always obeyed Him and done just what He wanted. But He doesn't want us to be a mindless little robot that runs around waiting on Him. He wants us to obey and serve Him because we choose to - because we love Him and want to obey Him.

Our free will is so important to God that He will even let us go to an eternal hell if we choose to.

Now you may say, "Wait a minute. What do you mean, God will let me go to hell? I thought it was God who sent people to hell."

Absolutely not! God has done everything in His power to keep people out of hell - except take away their free will. He has given us His Word to warn us. He sent His Son, Jesus, Who died to pay the price for our sins. He promised to forgive our sins if we ask Him. And He has given us the Holy Spirit Who empowers us to do right. What more could He do?

No, if someone goes to hell, it's because that person chooses to. God won't send him there. God loves us and doesn't want us to go to hell, but He won't violate our free will and force us to accept Jesus.

This is the kind of discipline we are to use with our children - discipline that teaches them how to control their will and submit it to authority, especially the authority of Jesus Christ.

Source: How To Raise Your Kids In Troubled Times by Buddy & Pat Harrison.
Excerpt permission granted by Harrison House Publishers

Author Biography

Buddy & Pat Harrison
Web site: Faith Christian Fellowship
Buddy Harrison and his wife, Pat, were co-founders of Faith Christian Fellowship International Church. He served as president of the organization from 1978 until he went home to be with the Lord on November 28, 1998.

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