Selfish Parenting Vrs. Loving Correction

Through my interviews with godly 2nd Generation Christians, I learned so much about successful parenting. These folks had been raised in Christian homes and are serving the Lord even now, and raising their own children for the Lord.

Asking the right questions of the right people has really helped me. Today, I’m going to share their answers to the question, “How did your parents discipline you as a child?” Most of them told of how their parents did right, but there were some who told of CHRISTIAN PARENTING GONE CRAZY.

Larry, an older pastor in a mid-western town, told me how different his mother’s discipline was than his father’s. “I didn’t get many whippings from Dad, but when I did, it was a good one. But Mom was different. She was very impatient and yelled a lot. She was even what I would consider abusive. She beat us with anything she could get a hold of and on any part of the body. My younger brother picked up on Mom’s bitter spirit, and now he’s a sour person.”

Larry understood why his father disciplined him, but his mother’s irritation could only be interpreted as selfishness. The children reacted to her selfishness and frustration, and it created bitterness.

Selfish Discipline:

  1. The goal of the parent is his or her own comfort. “This kid is driving me nuts!”
  2. Punishment is performed out of frustration and anger.
  3. The parent merely bullies a young person into submission “because I said so!”  “I’m the parent around here, so just shut up and get over it!”
  4. Discipline is not connected in any way with the crime committed, but usually to the amount of inconvenience the parent experiences. “You made me get up to deal with you!” or, “You made me look bad in front of these people!”

Larry’s brother still feels the effects of his mother’s abuse. As a middle-aged man, he is an alcoholic who doesn’t like anybody, and I suspect that few people like him either.

Selfish Discipline is not Biblical discipline! It has never produced happy, productive, and godly young people, and never will.  It is Christian Parenting Gone Crazy!

Selfishness is basically the root of all sin and unhappiness. The Scriptures speak over and over again on the evils of selfishness. 

Selfishness is not happiness and will never bring happiness.”

~Cael Sanderson,Olympic Gold Medalist

Not surprisingly, this is not the way most of my godly second-generation respondents were raised. What method did their parents employ? I’m glad you asked! I call it:

Loving Correction:

Loving Correction is what almost all of my interviewees experienced. In fact, ninety-six percent of them reported that they were disciplined by their parents:

  1. Only when necessary

“I didn’t get many spankings growing up,” Abby explained thoughtfully. “It’s not that I was perfect or anything, I just never wanted to disappoint my parents.”

  1. Rarely in anger

I talked to Todd, a steady young pastor’s son, after church one Sunday in southern California. He spoke openly about his father’s very effective discipline. “I can’t think of a time my parents got angry. There were times Dad pulled me aside and talked to me, but he never yelled at me.”

Though some reported that their parents occasionally got angry, they explained that it was rare. Jamie was one of those people. “My dad sometimes got angry,” she said. “But he seemed to keep the line and not sin . . . preparing for trips, he would sometimes get uptight. Mostly, though, there were not a lot of angry outbursts.”

  1. Equal in proportion to the crimes committed

Sheila said meditatively, “We were never abused. Spankings were rare and consisted of usually about three to five licks, depending on the crime. Most often, though, there was a very stern rebuke.”

  1. With a goal of Gradual training in the habit of obedience

Tracy, a pastor’s daughter who is now a missionary’s wife, told me about the results of her early training in the habit of obedience. “We had many rules, very strictly enforced,” she said. Eventually, the effect of such discipline became evident. “If I was told to take out the trash and clean the bedroom, I would never think twice about doing it in the exact manner I was told.”

5.      Gradually enlisting the young person’s will to service and submission . . . “because it is right.”

Jay, who was quite a handful as a youngster, said, “I didn’t always like what my folks did, but I eventually understood what they were trying to teach me.”

   6. Decisively when the child is rebellious

Having been a rebellious teen himself, Robbie’s experience and wisdom are very helpful to us. “I started going down the wrong path with a bunch of friends,” he told me, “and I ended up hurting my dad’s heart. My dad dealt pretty harshly with me, but I deserved it. It broke my heart to realize that I had hurt my dad. I feared Dad, and it became a fear of God. At that point, God became very REAL in my life, and I decided I wanted to serve God on my own.”

His dad dealt quickly, strongly, and decisively with his son’s rebellion. It became the turning point in Robbie’s life.

Question: What do you think? How can you implement these 6 points? Today, just take some time to pray over the principles, and see if the Lord will show you some practical ways to deal with difficult situations, rather than selfishly.

Special Announcements:

  • I have many people who follow along on my Facebook page for daily encouragements, reminders, and exciting assignments! It’s a great group of folks – come join us!

  • Keep your eyes out for the upcoming release of my new book on this topic, Lionproof: Keeping Your Children from the Claws of the Devil, coming in September! In this book, there will be:
    • Not just information telling parents why kids are going astray, but proven parenting practices that have worked for generations that are successful in raising godly children.
    • Dozens of interviews from those 2nd generation Christians who KNOW what their parents did RIGHT.
    • Charts and graphs detailing the results of the interviews
    • Assignments to help the reader implement these principles in their own parenting.
    • And much, much more!

If you have a blog and would like a review copy of the book, let me know! All you have to do when you’re done reading it is to post about it on your blog! Leave a comment here or email me, and I’ll get in touch with you. Linking up with: Monday: Alabaster Jar, The Better Mom, and Moms the Word, and Happy Wives Club Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, Mercy Ink Blog, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum


  1. Elisabeth says:

    It’s so important to understand WHY we are disciplining the children. My biggest struggle is actually my husband. He adores the children but he was raised by parents who nitpicked every little thing and were just flat out MEAN to him. I never want to demean him in front of the children and at the same time… well, sometimes it seems like he wants to such the joy out of every childish little happiness. I know he’s just following the example he was set… but it is so hard to hear it. When I talk to him privately about it he doesn’t even seem to recognize that there is an issue.

    Oh, and I would love to have a review copy if possible.

    • Lisa says:

      It sounds like your husband has very high expectations of how the children should behave, and that can be a very good thing. I’m thankful you can see it for what it truly is – he’s just following the example he’s been set.

      I would suggest that you be supportive of him, and do your best to train the children to his expectations as much as possible, while at the same time providing lots of acceptable fun!

      I’ll email you about the review copy.

    • Lisa says:

      I tried emailing you about the review copy, but I got no reply. Maybe it didn’t go through? I’ll try leaving a comment on your blog, and maybe you’ll get my addy.

  2. Scott says:

    Selfish anything – parenting, marriage, leading, etc. – is when one is attempting to feed their sense of worth, creating an identity. So, misbehaving children brings shame because worth is based on their behavior. Children also reflect our own self back to us – mannerisms, etc. – creating more shame to be covered when we don’t like what we see. Thanks for the post.

  3. Caro says:

    Wow! It was exactly what I need to read tonight!! Thanks 🙂

    Also, if it’s possible, can I have a copy of the book? My blog is a French one (I’m from Québec, Canada) but if it’s ok with you, I would like to talk about it on my blog 🙂

    Thanks again!!

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