Discipline Your Kids While There is Still Hope

We love to dig deep, at least every fifth episode, into a particular passage that really has a lot of relevance for fathers. A great one, you guys, is Proverbs 19:18. It says, “Discipline your children while there is hope. Otherwise you will ruin their lives.” That’s the New Living translation and it says similar things in other translations.

But what I wanted to talk about is why it says this phrase, “while there is still hope.” What does it mean when it says, “Discipline your children while there is still hope?” I think what is talking about, you guys, is that there are phases of parenting, phases of fathering, and there are times in which you need to win the battle during that phase. And so when it says, “while there is hope,” when your child is 23 years old and just constantly giving into their impulses, that’s not the best time to train them to live a disciplined life. It would have been better to have trained them when they were seven.

And so what it means is that for each of us as fathers, we have to be aware of what are the ideal seasons for training our kids in certain areas. I think that there are amazing ideal seasons when your children are from the ages of four to eight. That’s a great time to train them when it comes to just obedience, for example. Learning to submit to authority. Learning to understand that there’s a wisdom beyond them. When your children are from the ages of 12 to 18, it’s a great time to train your kids to really pursue the Lord with their heart, to really work on their character, to have deep conversations about why they’re making decisions they’re making, and going through that repent and believe process and Gospeling your kids. Those are just examples.

But I really think Solomon is saying here is that there are times where it’s just a lot more hopeful to work on your kids then and it’s really frustrating and discouraging to realize that, Ooh, I think that season is up and we didn’t really get to that. And so a lot of times, because a lot of us are raising our kids for the first time, we don’t have the experience to know that some of these seasons of hope do expire. Sometimes we can just kind of let things slide and then it feels like, oh, it’s too late. Doesn’t mean that you’ve ruined everything. It just means maybe for that area you’re not in the ideal timeframe for having that conversation or for training them in that area.

So I think it’s helpful to think about what are each of these seasons of fatherhood about and how can I make sure that I’ve taking advantage of each of them for my kids and to make sure that I’m training them at a time when they are most likely to be receptive to that? But yeah, Jeff, how have you thought about this one?

One thing I would just harp on to end is that that word discipline means training, which is the word you were using. But just I think there’s so many times we have so much baggage with that word, but let it be known that it’s just like anything with a sport or getting better at anything. And just like this. You’re honing, when you discipline yourself in a sport, like Paul says, when I discipline my body, you’re honing yourself towards a particular direction and trajectory, and an undisciplined person in a sport or whatever, it will be messy and get in and won’t produce well and won’t win the game at some level.

And so I think that’s just actually for a reason. It’s not just to make a better kid or a moral kid or anything like that, but all of us, and hopefully the father is leading by example of disciplining himself, that we discipline our bodies. We discipline our lives. We train ourselves for godliness as First Timothy says so that it might bear fruit so that actually the kingdom, our lives might be pointing towards kingdom mindedness, kingdom fruit. And so I think remembering that with your kids that you get to start in those earlier stages is actually a gift and a blessing and produces a longer vision, which I think is really important.

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