How to Keep Your Parenting Balance

Dr. Bob Barnes and Torrey Roberts, Sheridan House Family Ministries

Much of life is about balance, finding a balance between work and play or maintaining a balanced budget. In the Parenting on Purpose process, nothing is more important than the balance between relationship and discipline.

The Right Parenting Balance

The right disciplinary program gives a child the ability to discipline himself eventually. A right parent-child relationship gives the child the motivation to say “No” and makes the child feel secure even when he hears the word, “NO.”


Avoid extremes

parentingDiscipline without relationship teaches a child to fear “getting caught.” At its worst, discipline without relationship teaches the child to fear the wrath of the parent. The child in a discipline only environment will obey only when being watched. This child will rebel when the parent is not around.

On the other hand, parenting that only invests in relationship and no discipline will raise an over-indulgent, self-centered child. This child will be too attached to the parent and grow up afraid to leave home. The child with no discipline will grow up believing that life revolves around him. This child will never learn how to be part of a team and is often un-teachable at school. Neither child will grow up learning to be a leader.

The balance of using the word “No” in a consistent manner while maintaining a loving relationship will help the child feel safe even when he fails. This child will be willing to try new things because he is willing to risk failure. The child in this home will grow up to lead others.

It is all about balance! Over time the child learns that “No” means “No” and nothing more. The child learns that “No” does not mean his mom and dad don’t love him. On the contrary, the child learns that unacceptable behavior does not make mom or dad love the child any less. This balance is extremely important. It’s the way God loves each of us.


Keep the goal in mind

The goal of parenting is to raise a godly adult. The goal of the process of parenting is to raise a child in an environment where the child spends a decade learning that “No” means “No” and that arguing is a waste of time. As that is accomplished, the parent can simultaneously develop the parent-child relationship to the point where the child can be taught the more significant lessons of life. Lessons such as the fact that it is God who knows the plans He has for the child, and it is God who can guide a child through life.

These lessons are impossible to teach to a child who will not listen because he is constantly battling the boundaries. In addition, if the parent-child communication is dominated by arguments, these lessons cannot be taught. The child who argues with the parent is a child who has learned that arguing gets him what he wants. Everybody loses in this environment.

Discipline is not a tool used to keep a child quiet so that the parent can get on with his or her life. Quite the contrary. Discipline is used so the parent can “get into” the child’s life. Discipline is the act of setting the boundaries on the field of life so that the parent can get on the playing field and teach the child. Without discipline, there is anarchy, and when there is anarchy, there is no relationship. The child in this home grows up angry and insecure.

It is all about balance and setting boundaries while at the same time developing the parent-child relationship. “I love you” really does mean I have to use the word “No” and mean it.


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