Disciplining Children

One of my blogging buddies and I have been talking (er, writing) about how the answers to all of life’s questions can be found in the scriptures. At least, the starting point is there. After reading from the divine text, you might get further instruction about what to do or where to look.

One of the biggest questions I faced as a younger mother was exactly what discipline approach to use. I’d characterize our parenting style as authoritative, meaning that we had high expectations and were firm but fair. The children knew they’d receive a reward or a punishment based on their behavior, and I think we were pretty consistent. At the same time, we were aware of their developing minds and bodies and were willing to listen and negotiate rules as the situation warranted. We weren’t authoritarian parents whose philosophy is “my way or the highway” and who often use harsh physical punishment to control behavior. Nor were we permissive…well, sometimes I was and am a softie. Nor were we uninvolved, the fourth and probably most damaging type of parenting.

Most psychologists agree that authoritative parenting is the most effective style to raise responsible, confident, respectful children. Here’s where the scriptures come in. As we were studying Alma the other evening, the missionaries directed our study to the 39th chapter where he’s disciplining his son.

Corianton has been guilty of some pretty serious transgressions, but instead of Alma blasting him and telling him what a jerk he is and how angry he is with him, he talks in a straightforward manner and lets him know that he’s disappointed in his behavior. Alma encourages him to mend his ways and to turn to the Lord with all of his mind, might, and strength; never does he threaten, belittle, or bash him. What impressed me so much is that in nearly every verse, Alma says “my son,” and to me that’s significant. He’s reminding Corianton of the nature of their relationship and letting him know that as his father he has the right and obligation to correct him. At the same time, saying “my son” signifies a loving relationship much like our Father has for us.

Isn’t this a great example of authoritative parenting? The child is “in trouble,” but rather than get beaten or disowned or yelled out, he’s duly punished and then given reminders of how  special he is and what his potential is. This is pretty much like our relationship with our Heavenly Father. He loves us, and when we break the rules, He’ll forgive us and encourage us to get back on the straight and narrow.


Author: jayne bowers

*married with children, stepchildren, grandchildren, in-laws, ex-laws, and a host of other family members and fabulous friends *semi-retired psychology instructor at two community colleges *writer

4 thoughts on “Disciplining Children”

  1. Recently, someone told me how their granddaughter asked Grandpa not to call her by her nickname at her soccer game. He boasted how he kept right on doing it b/c “You can’t do nuthin’ with me!” You would think I was talking about an old hardore redneck (which my niece loves to refer to herself as…don’t think she realizes the inferences;-) but I am talking about a retired school teacher. I’ve seen them wioth the other grands, as well, and thought about what a nervous wreck I would be if I was ordered around like that! It’s not an easy task to raise children but it doesn’t seem difficult to “put the shoe on the other foot”, does it?
    You always give such calm, peaceful, loving advice, Marla Jayne! It gives me a warm feeling in my heart. Thank You!
    God Bless and Keep You!

  2. Hmmm. I’m beginning to get a little anxious about how disappointed you’re going to be if we ever meet face to face. I TRY to be calm and loving, but I’m not always successful, that’s for sure!

    No, it doesn’t seem that it would be that hard to be the shoe on the other foot, but I honestly think that many people can’t see the way they truly are and how they come across to others. This granddad might seem himself as an eccentric doting old coot who thinks he’s being cute and entertaining.

  3. Ah, I won’t be disappointed if you won’t ! ;-)) I think we’re realistic! Funny cuz I thought the other day we should do that sometime since we live so near! I have a niece in Columbia…

    I don’t know, Marla Jayne, sometimes I think people don’t care but perhaps don’t realize how selfish they’re being. Maybe I could tell him, ” I have a friend who’s a psychologist and she said you might not realize how you come off so I am taking it upon myself to enlighten you…” LOLOL Not!

    Seriously, I thought’ “Well, when she tells you not to come to her games…” Her younger sister (three) already tells him she needs a chance to talk! Whoops! ;-))

    Don’t know where I read it but it was something like, “When you stop growing, you start dying.” More like, start growing old. I am not going to say I’m old in seriousness. Like you said by your pic, “mature” and mature people can learn anything. 😉

  4. Sounds like a possible plan. We’ll have to work towards that.

    Just so you know, I’m a psychology instructor, not a psychologist. I actually sort of “fell” into the profession, but in retrospect, I like to think I was divinely led. That’s a story for another day.

    About not seeing things about ourselves that are so clear to others, last night my husband and I watched Dreamgirls, and one of the “stars” was incredibly selfish, but she COULD NOT see it. Her almost constant refrain was “What about me???” Although her friends tried to tell her over and over, she just never got it…at least not until the end.

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