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As parents who care for our children’s spiritual well-being, we try to teach them right and wrong and help them tackle whatever spiritual problems they encounter.
However, other than the fact that they’re born into sin, it may well be that a child’s biggest spiritual problem is that the grace they hear about in the gospel story is not what they experience in their closest relationships. The same parents who send them to Sunday School fight in the car on the way home from church and don’t resolve well. Or they yell at their kids impatiently. Or they complain openly about other people. Or they insist on being right. Or they discipline angrily and without grace. The list goes on.
We may think our kids won’t notice these behavioral contradictions, but increasingly they do notice and feel embittered (Col. 3:21) or exasperated (Eph. 6:4).
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s or child’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? Matthew 7:3 (italic portion inserted by CF)”
When parents tell Lynne or me about their discipline struggles with their kids we often ask them, “What is your primary goal?” They almost always tell us that their goal is to get their child to either stop doing a wrong behavior, or to do the right behavior. Their fingers point at their kids. It turns out that this is often the problem when parents discipline their children.