8 Paradigm Shapers for Making Discipline Decisions as a Parent

I frequently have parents ask me what type of discipline they should use with their children. I’m glad parents are asking the question, but I seldom can give a standard answer for every situation. I prefer to use a paradigm through which parents can make their own decisions.

That’s the purpose of this post. Perhaps these steps will help you make wiser decisions regarding discipline. Here are 8 paradigm shapers for making discipline decisions as a parent:

Have a vision – If you don’t know where you want to take children you’ll be less likely to take them there. This should be decided before the need for discipline arises and it should ultimately help shape the discipline you use.

Have a purpose – The purpose of discipline should not be to cause harm, but to teach. Discipline is to help a child learn how to live. Keep this in mind as you discipline and it will help you make wiser choices. Ask yourself, “What can I do to best teach my child what he (or she) needs to learn from this experience?”

Step back and process – Immediately after an offense is not always the best time to administer punishment. It’s okay to let children wait for a response. Sometimes this is the best discipline for the child and it almost always makes your decision better. This step becomes more important as they get older and the discipline decisions become more difficult.

Never make a decision in anger – You don’t want emotions to make the decision. You want a well thought out response.

Consider the bigger picture – This is where having a plan/vision comes in handy. Considering where you want to take the child, how they are progressing in life, and the motivation of their heart, what punishment will most help accomplish your objectives for the child in this specific circumstance.

Make the punishment fit the offense – You shouldn’t have a standard punishment. Grounding for older children or time-out for younger children may work in some circumstances but not in others.

Make the punishment fit the child – All children are different, learn differently and require different methods to teach the principles you want to teach.

Reinforce love – Every discipline should be used as an opportunity to show children how much they are loved.

Let’s face it…parenting is hard work. I’m hesitant to say anyone is an “expert” in this subject. We all have room for improvement. I’m not assuming you will carry around this list in your pocket, whipping it out at the appropriate time of need, but I do believe having a framework of this sort in your schema will help you better address the issues of discipline you face as a parent. In the end, having this type of paradigm thought process, before the need for discipline arises, should help us be better parents.

Is this post helpful? What is the most difficult issue you deal with regarding discipline? What would you add to my list?

For more parenting tips, click HERE.

Connecting with our Community…Partnering with our Schools

I love the passion Grace Community Church has to impact our community. Our people serve their community throughout the year. The largest project, and the one that draws the most attention, is our annual Operation Serve held each fall where hundreds of volunteers serve in a one (sometimes two) day blitz of community needs. I’ve written about it several times before HERE. This past year over 1,300 people logged some 10,000 hours of service to our community meeting all kinds of practical needs.

Well, another project is stirring interest. Our community, like many others nationwide, have experienced struggles adequately funding school systems.  How can a church respond in times like these?

Introducing Operation Serve School Edition.

April 9th we hope to have hundreds of people volunteering in all 35 schools in our public school district. Operations Serve School Edition invites the community to participate with our church in landscaping, painting, cleaning, and completing other things the school needs done, but the budget simply can’t provide. The schools are compiling lists now and materials are being acquired.

To accomplish such a large task, we are also partnering with 5 Star Radio Group. They are providing publicity to recruit volunteers and providing tremendous moral support the day of the event with live remotes.

It’s catching on already. What we are finding is that whether a person attends church or not, they have an interest in educating children. Here are a few articles already talking about Operation Serve School Edition:

Besides the fact that we meet in a school…actually two schools…and doing a church our size and age would be very difficult without this partnership with our school system, it makes sense to invest in our schools this way because:

We love our schools. Our church and community are blessed with teachers, administrators and support staff who love the children and youth of our community. They are helping to build the future of our community. They need our support.

We love our community. Our church exists because the community exists. Everyone in our community may not all come to our church, but all our church lives among this community. We want to do anything we can do to support the community in which we live.

We love families. Families are a large part of who we are at Grace and the bulk of families in our community attend public schools.

We love God and others. We are called to be in the world, meeting real needs where we find them. That’s the example of Jesus.

Come join us in Operation Serve School Edition. If you live in the area, you can sign up HERE.

What are some creative ways you’re seeing churches connect with their community these days?

A Parent’s Greatest Prayer

I love the story of Manoah and his wife. They had been unable to give birth until one day an angel of God brings them news of a child to be born. As Manoah’s wife came to him with the good news, Manoah immediately did what happens to many men and wome when they discover they are about to be parents…he prayed!

In that moment, realizing they were about to be blessed with one of life’s greatest blessings, Manoah prayed the most important prayer a parent can pray:

Then Manoah prayed to the LORD: “Pardon your servant, Lord. I beg you to let the man of God you sent to us come again to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born.” (Judges 13:8)

Parenting is hard work. All of us have seasons we could use more prayer for our children.

What are the current prayers you have for your children?  What specifically do they need the most?

What are you presntly praying about for your parenting skills?  What specifically do you need the most?

I always tried to focus my greatest prayers on the character of my children.   What character issues are your children needing to mature in these days? Try asking God to help you know how to parent your children to develop in these areas.

(BTW, if you are interested or need this, I have written two previous posts about dealing with childlessness. You can read those posts HERE and HERE.)

One Place I Receive Motivation

I always joke that Cheryl keeps pictures on her desk so she can look at the ones she loves, but  I keep pictures on my desk so I don’t forget the people I love.  (Don’t email me…it’s a joke…kinda!) Seriously, men and women are wired differently. I’m convinced there’s never a moment Cheryl is not thinking about her family.  That’s why she’s so much better at remember special occasions and where we keep our favorite socks!

It’s not that I love Cheryl or the boys less than she loves us, but most men are more task-oriented than we are relationally oriented.  When I’m in a zone of work, I’m not usually thinking about anything else.  Sometimes though I like to stop, turn from my laptop, and receive motivation for why I do what I do. Apart from giving God glory with my life, my greatest motivation is to leave a strong legacy for my wife and two boys.

Today I was deep in thought, but I turned around and saw this picture and note.  It was the spark I need to keep pushing forward.

This is a picture of Nate when he was about three years old…and a favorite stance of his back then. The note is one he left on my desk after working with our church last Summer. The two taped together make for an amazing inspiration to me!

Where do you receive your motivation?

BTW, how are you doing with the legacy you are leaving?

Urban Meyer Values Time with Family

I saw this on my friend Pete Wilson‘s blog, but thought it was good enough to share multiple times.

Years ago I made a decision not to be a golfer. I loved the game, it was a great way to unwind for me, and I enjoyed the friendship with friends as we played. The only problem was that I couldn’t be a decent golfer and I’m not good with doing anything as a casual activity. If I’m doing it, I want to do it well. The problem with golf was the time that it took to play in order to not stink at the game.  My wife and boys weren’t interested in the game and I was more interested in them than I was at being a good golfer…so I gave up the sport. (I’m a long-distance runner, but I could do that before they were out of bed.)

I love the reasons Florida Football coach Urban Meyer gives for resigning. It may have taken too long to realize this and you can’t get back lost time, but sounds like he’s headed in the right direction. Watch it here:

What have you given up so you can be a great dad…mom…friend, etc? Brag on yourself for a sacrifice well made.

Growing Service in Your Kids at Christmas


Tim Elmore is an incredible leader. He has one of the best understandings of how to reach the next generation of anyone one I know.  I recently had dinner with Tim and can attest to this man’s incredible heart for people.  I’m blessed to have Tim share his thoughts with us here today as a guest post.

In our recent work with students, Growing Leaders has drawn some interesting conclusions. We have seen a shift take place among the young people in Generation Y. (The kids born in the 80s are different than the kids born since then.) The research is in a new book called: Generation iY: Our Last Chance to Save Their Future.

One of the shifts we’ve uncovered is that kids have moved from “activists” (who want to change the world) to “slack-tivists.” They still want to change the world — but sort of. They often don’t really want to work hard or make sacrifices. They’d rather sign a petition on a website, get a wristband and then return to a video game or YouTube. They’re more self-absorbed than their earlier counterparts. So, how do we grow a heart for service in our kids today?

Try this.

In preparation for Christmas, prepare a list of Saturday chores to give to your kids. The list can include items that need to be done prior to the holidays — setting up decorations, cleaning rooms, preparing desserts, whatever. Obviously, include items that are age-appropriate.

Without telling them, hide an envelope with money in it, tickets to a ballgame or the movies, and put it where they’ll find it if they do their chores very thoroughly. For instance, if you ask them to clean the sofa, you may hide ten dollars under the cushions. They’ll see it only if they have worked hard and carefully. In other words, the reward comes when they have served well. Winners are the ones who work with excellence. Hopefully everyone will win.

Afterward, talk about how Jesus came at Christmas two thousand years ago. He said, “to serve, not to be served” (Matthew 20:28). Have a conversation about how Christmas really is about serving — God serving us and people serving each other.

“With good will serve each other, as if you were doing it for the Lord, not for people, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord…” (Ephesians 6:7-8)

Join us tomorrow at Greg Surratt’s blog as we discuss ways to develop perspective in your kids (and maybe yourself!) during the holidays.

Tim Elmore

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You can follow Tim Elmore’s personal blog at http://blog.growingleaders.com, and learn more about developing the next generation in his latest book: Generation iY: Our Last Chance to Save Their Future.

Don’t Be the Spoiler of Joy in Your Home

Then all the people left, each for his own home, and David returned home to bless his family. 1 Chronicles 16:43 NIV

What difference do you make in your home? David returned home to “bless his family”. Do you bless yours?

I am sure your family loves you. You are the mother, the father, the brother, or the sister. Of course, they love you, but are you lovable? Do they actually like you? Are you a positive influence on the health of your home? Do you add to its success, or take away from it?  If they had a choice would they hang out with you today?

Think about it for a moment. When you enter your home, what happens? Do people get excited? Are they glad you are there? Can they expect to see a smile, hear a kind word, or know they can approach you in peace? Are you a blessing to your home?

More important perhaps: Would the people in your home agree with your answers to the previous questions?

When my boys were little, sometimes I found myself as the spoiler of joy. I would come home, they would be excited about something in their life, and I would crush their spirit with my attitude.  Thankfully not many of those days (I think they would agree), but enough that I remember them.

There were days that my role was a disciplinarian…when I had to make hard decisions, but other times I was that person because I had a bad day at work or I was in a bad mood. There were many times, when I took the stress of life out on my family.  In those times, I had to remind myself that my home needed me just to be a dad who blesses them. As it turns out, the days with my boys at home were quickly gone. I am thankful for the times I chose to add joy to the home.

David went home to his family…and he blessed them! All of us play a role in creating the mood of our home.  We can choose to be a positive or a negative influencer of that atmosphere. All of us have bad days, but the way we respond to our family is most important.  Considering the current mood you are adding to your home, could that verse have been written about you?

Have you ever been the spoiler of joy in your home?

A Week Of Thanksgiving: The Top People on My List

I’ve been writing about people I’m thankful for this week, encouraging you to do the same. Obviously our greatest thanksgiving should be for our personal relationship with the Living God, but I’m thankful He allows us to have people in our life to love and help shape us. We’ve shared about people who have helped us professionally, been consistent friends, and helped us grow spiritually. You can still do that in the previous posts HERE, HERE AND HERE.

Today, I want to share the group most of us would put at the top of our thankful list….our immediate families. The people in my life I’m most thankful for are my wife and two boys. I’ve previously shared most of these points about them, but they are still true today.

Cheryl:
• Models patience for me.
• Cheryl wants nothing in life but to see her family happy. That keeps me grounded in life.
• I want nothing more than to make see her happy, so she gives me a consistent goal in life.
• Cheryl makes me to be a kinder, gentler person.
• You can read a separate post I wrote about her HERE.

Jeremy:
• Jeremy models forgiveness for me. He is the most forgiving person I know.
• He encourages me to slow down and enjoy the moments of life.
• Jeremy shapes an “it’s okay” attitude in my heart.
• Jeremy is a relationship builder and opens me up to deeper conversations.
• You can read a separate post I wrote I about him HERE.

Nate: (My 19 years old)
• Nate has always modeled reality for me. He sees things more in black and white.
• He holds me accountable. He can be my biggest critic, but he’s usually right!
• Nate stretches my innovation. He’s a creative thinker and always challenges status quo.
• He keeps me light-hearted. There is no one who makes me laugh more than Nate!
• You can read a separate post I wrote I about him HERE.

This year, as I prepare to have a daughter, I’m also extremely thankful for Jeremy’s fiancé Mary. Mary has been in our life for quite a few years now and we have always loved her as a daughter. We are happy our son was smart enough to make it official! Mary is so much like my wife Cheryl, so I know our family, and my son, is being blessed. She has beauty, grace, and compassion to offer everyone she meets. I wrote about her more HERE.

Who are you most thankful for this year? Describe your immediate family to me.

Don’t Shy Away from the Word Balance

Over the years, I’ve heard differing opinions on the use of the word balance. I’ve learned there are many who actually hate the use of the word. For example, some say the life of a Christian is never balanced because God wants all of our lives. I couldn’t agree more. Others say it’s impossible to balance between work and home because one of them deserves our greatest energy (our home), and yet the two extremes will always compete for our best time and energy. I completely agree. In those contexts, I agree balance should not be our goal. We should prioritize our life around the extremes of life, ensuring that those things we value most receive our greatest attention.

Balance, however, doesn’t always mean things are equal. I prefer to use the term balance to describe how a person responds to the extremes of life. Balance to me means a person learns to stand up…keep their equilibrium, even when things in life are not equal…out of balance. When life is crazy, which it often is, the person of balance learns to juggle each area where over time none of them has to suffer. A balanced person prioritizes his or her life around what is most important, for me, that means first my relationship with God, then my family, then my work and my service to others, and then organizes life in a way where each area receives adequate attention for success.

I realize much of this discussion is semantics, but i believe it has importance in principle also. People who want to achieve success in all areas of their life must find ways to give adequate attention to each area, without neglecting those things/people of greatest importance in life. That requires balance. (The Proverbs 31 woman had balance.) I met with a new father recently and he’s having to learn how to balance marriage, parenting, and his work life, while attempting to be successful in each part of his life. He’s learning balance.

The leaders and people I respect most in life are those I see learning to balance success in all areas of their life…at home…at work…and in the world.

Don’t shy away from the word balance. Just learn to use it well. Gaining a sense of balance is a process that often takes years and even a few stumbling moments to accomplish, but it’s worth the challenge.

What does the term balance mean to you? In what area of your life are you most out of balance?

7 Emotions from the Male’s Side of Infertility

Cheryl and I have often said that one of the greatest trials we have walked through in ministry with people is the hidden pain of infertility. Every time we celebrate the birth of someone’s child we also know of a couple who can’t seem to get pregnant or have recently had a miscarriage. (I wrote about the pain of the childless in a previous post HERE.) Many reading this post will have walked through this pain personally.

One aspect which I may have overlooked is the man’s side of this issue. I knew men struggled with infertility also, but I am not sure I realized the extent of their pain. Recently I was talking to a man who shared his personal and hidden pain during he and his wife’s time of infertility. It opened my eyes to the man’s perspective.

When a couple is battling infertility here are 7 emotions the man often feels:

Helpless – “My wife and I are hurting and I don’t know what to do” is the emotion many men feel. Being wired to fix things, this problem, like many issues in life, isn’t often fixable and the man feels helpless.

Protective – The man, in an attempt to defend his wife may think, “I don’t want you to hurt anymore”, which might lead him to react in ways that make the wife feel he isn’t as interested in having children as she is interested.

Insecure – The man is probably asking, “Am I not enough?” This is a hard one for women to understand, but it’s even Biblical. Read 1 Samuel 1:8 for an example. Men naturally struggle with insecurity, but especially during this issue.

Empty – I knew the woman felt this emotion during infertility, but I am not sure I realized the man does as well. A man who wants to be a dad may feel like something is desperately missing in his life.

Scared – A lot of times the man is thinking “What if it’s my fault?” He may fear that something physically wrong with him is keeping his wife from experiencing the joy of motherhood.

Frustrated - Men don’t understand why this is happening to their marriage, so they may wrongly become frustrated with themselves, with God, and even with their wife.

Inferior – Men dealing with infertility often wonder why other men can get their wife pregnant, but not them. They may struggle with a sense of worth and doubt their abilities in other other parts of their life.

This post is not new information for those of you who have or are struggling with this issue, but, again, I never understood the weight of burden this was to a man’s life. I have always known from experience the pain in a woman’s heart who deals with infertility, and even the weight it places on a marriage relationship, but my friend helped me understand the specific side of this issue relative to men.

Keep in mind, most men are not as equipped to talk about their emotions as women may be. Some men don’t even know they have seven whole ranges of emotions (semi-joking here). Men, if this is your issue, don’t struggle alone. Be vulnerable with your wife and a few other men who can walk with you through this issue.

Men (and women), have you dealt with this issue? What have you learned that could help others?

Men, since this post addresses your emotions in this issue, please add your thoughts to help other men. Women, did you ever understand this issue from a man’s perspective?