Discipline Is the Secret

Yael Eckstein  |  October 21, 2022

Yael reading to her youngest daughter on Shabbat

Discipline your children, and they will give you peace;
    they will bring you the delights you desire.
—Proverbs 29:17

We continue with devotional thoughts from the Book of Proverbs every Friday. One of the 11 books in the Torah known as the Ketuvim, Hebrew for “writings,” Proverbs is part of the “wisdom tradition,” which also includes Job and Ecclesiastes.

As a mother of four, I must say that the part of parenting that I least look forward to is disciplining my children when they’ve done something wrong. Of course, when the need arises, I fulfill my parental duty and, together with my husband, I let my children know, in no uncertain terms, that there are consequences for misbehavior. But it’s just so unpleasant. This is probably stating the obvious, but I would really just rather they never did anything wrong to begin with. If you have children of your own, you know exactly what I mean.

Everyone knows that discipline is a critically important part of raising children. But not everyone follows through. Children whose parents never make them pay a price for poor behavior are liable to be less responsible, less caring, and, of course, are more likely to continue to misbehave as they grow older.

So why do we as parents sometimes neglect this responsibility? The answer is simple. As I said above, disciplining our children is unpleasant. Too many parents don’t want to make their kids angry at them. They fear that they are damaging their relationship. But the truth is that the opposite is the case.

Discipline Is the Secret

We see this lesson in the wise words of Proverb: “Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire.”

When parents neglect to properly discipline their children, they teach them to be self-centered and irresponsible. As these children grow into adults, these negative traits will become habits. Ultimately, these same destructive tendencies will be turned against the parents themselves.

Rather than respecting and honoring their parents as they age, these poorly disciplined children will have grown into adults who neglect their duties towards their parents. The perceived short-term gain from avoiding being “the bad guy” ultimately leads to long-term harm in the parent-child relationship.

As the writer of Proverbs points out, discipline is the secret to healthy and loving relationships with our children. As difficult as it can be, disciplining my children when the situation calls for it is really the best way to ensure that our long-term relationship is one of love, and, to use the words of our verse, “peace” and “delight.”

Your Turn:

Are there children or grandchildren in your life? Check out my workbook, Generation to Generation, on practical ways to help nourish your children spiritually.