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4 Reasons Parents Have a Hard Time Disciplining Their Kids

Do you ever feel reluctant to discipline your kids? If so, you are not alone – the “man after God’s own heart” did the same. This article will explore four different reasons why parents may avoid discipline and what you can do about it.

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Despite the fact that God considered David to be a man after His own heart, David was not without his faults. He committed adultery, conspired to commit murder and, apparently, as we will see, had a hard time disciplining his son.

1 Kings 1:6 gives us a little insight into this last failing with regards to his fourth son, Adonijah:

His father had never rebuked him by asking, “Why do you behave as you do?

1 Kings 1:6

David never rebuked Adonijah. Never. Not even once did he question his behavior. And we can see the resultant disaster in the context of this quote. David is barely hanging on to his life and Adonijah, instead of comforting his father in his last days, says, “I will be king” and goes on to snatch the kingdom for himself. If we were to put David on the permissive-authoritarian scale, he’d be weighing in heavily on the permissive side. For some reason he was reluctant to discipline his son.

What caused this? Probably the same reasons that prevent us from stepping into our God-given role to train and correct our kids. Here are three possible reasons.

We want to be friends

Sometimes the reluctance to discipline stems from a desire to be friends with our kids and the dynamics of healthy families gets traded in for a superficial friendship. If this is something you struggle with, remind yourself of these two things: 1) friends are plentiful for your children but loving guidance is not, and 2) there will be time to build up the friendship side of your relationship when your children are grown. Now they need your guidance wrapped in unconditional love.

We want peace in our homes

If you have a particularly difficult child, you know that sometimes you would do anything for a little peace. After all, a peaceful home is a happy home…at least that is what we tell ourselves. But if peace comes at the cost of godly character, it is counterfeit peace and not the kind that God calls us to pursue (Psalm 34:14). Don’t avoid discipline for fear of “rocking the boat.” You may have to deal with a meltdown in the grocery store if you say no to that candy bar. You may have to stand by your consequence when it would be easier to just give in. Try to remember that God does not call us to take the easy path, but He promises to always walk with us on the rocky ones.

We are too busy

Intentional purposeful parenting requires a lot of time and effort. Many are simply too busy to make the investment. I want to challenge you to do a little self-assessment. Are you too busy because of necessity (single mom, working two jobs) or are you too busy because you think you should be? It seems that for many busyness has become a badge of honor. How are you? Busy. You? Yeah, I’m swamped. Take a little time today to think about what motivates your busyness and ask God to show you what should stay and what can go in your life. An investment of time now in training and correcting your children will reap great dividends in the future. And if you find that you simply don’t have time, reach out for support. Find a church body or local programs that can help you be the very best parent in the time you do have with your kids.

We don’t feel equipped

Sometimes, when we don’t have a lot of confidence in our parenting skills, we give up before we even start. We all know that kids don’t come with a user’s manual but that doesn’t mean that we don’t make efforts to know them, connect to them, disciple and train them. You can take parent classes, hire a parent coach, or seek parent counseling. For some basic tips on Christian parent discipline, check out this list of ideas.

If you find that you sometimes parent a little (or a lot) like David, don’t despair. We are not expected to be perfect, but rather redeemed people. Ask God to show you the ways in which your parenting follows after God’s heart (like David) and those areas where you tend to go your own way (also like David). And then ask Him to give you the power and desire to change more into His likeness.

[image credit: jamierodriguez37 from]

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for treatment from a qualified mental health professional. Cornerstones for Parents is not liable for any advice, tips, techniques, and recommendations the reader chooses to implement.

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About Laura

Laura Kuehn, LCSW

Laura is a licensed clinical social worker who offers individual therapy to women and moms in Connecticut. She is the author of More Than a Conqueror, A Christian Kid's Guide to Winning the War on Worry. Cornerstones for Parents is the place she combines some of the things she is most passionate about: God's word, parenting and mental health.

1 Comment

  • Laura, I like the way you connect teachings of Bible with everyday life. Parenting is indeed a tough job and disciplining a child can be challenging.We all wish to lead peaceful and happy lives and stay away from conflicts. That is probably one of the prime reasons why fathers don’t take charge when they know they should.

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