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  • Writer's pictureJoel Strahan

The Heart Of A Parent

Updated: Jan 20, 2022

Proverbs 13:24 Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.*

God defines the heart of the parent by evaluating the parent’s use of the rod of discipline. A parent who chooses not to discipline their child with the rod hates their child. However, disciplining a child is about more than a simple spanking. The rod of discipline is built on the condition of a parent’s heart toward their child. In order to use the rod of discipline a parent must love their child enough to set boundaries for their flourishing, communicate the difference between imagination and reality, and commit to a non-negotiable training so that the child learns to order their life according to what is good for them.

Boundaries must be for our children’s flourishing.

A parent disciplines with the foreseeing knowledge of danger for their children. There is content on their devices that will destroy their lives. There are lies celebrated by our culture that when embraced will result in devastating consequences. There are daily routines and disciplines that give way to our lazy nature and hinder their ability to achieve productivity.

Malachi 2:15 states that God desires godly offspring as a result of marriage. This means that our first priority as parents is to produce disciples of Jesus who make other disciples of Jesus. Understanding God’s desire for our parenting journey helps us see for instance the inconsistencies in the kind of disciple that assure our children are potty trained but fail to make sure our children achieve the ability to share the gospel and lead Bible studies for the rest of their lives. This is why the heart of a parent toward their child is built on setting boundaries for their flourishing.

As a parent, we must continually be aware of future dangers threatening to cause our children to live outside of God’s blessing. A parent who begins setting benefiting boundaries for their children early will eventually prove their love. The parent must love the process of boundary setting. They must spend the time necessary to think through future dangers, and set boundaries that will ultimately prove their desire for prosperity.

Look both ways before you cross the street. Never take candy from a stranger. Don’t touch the stove. Do not tell a lie. Do not disobey instruction I have clearly communicated. These are boundaries set for the flourishing of the child. These kind of boundaries build trust over time that the parent loves, cares, and actively pursues the best for their child.

Communicate the difference between imagination and reality.

The child who is told not to touch the hot stove may imagine that their parent simply wants to keep them from having fun. However, the child must learn not to order their life around their own imaginations. One experience with a burned finger will prove the difference between imagination and reality.

When setting boundaries, parents must communicate clearly the reason for the boundary. If an explanation of a boundary is not, “I love you and do not want you to be hurt,” the parent should evaluate the integrity of the boundary they have set. Don’t be afraid to explain a boundary even when the child does not understand it. Clearly communicating the difference between imagination and reality will eventually help your child to grow in wisdom.

The rod of discipline must be non-negotiable.

When a boundary of blessing is set and the difference between imagination and reality is clearly communicated, the punishment for ignoring that boundary must be the rod of discipline. This is non-negotiable. Our children must learn that when they choose to ignore a boundary, they experience the consequence from which we attempted to protect them. They also must learn the consequence of misdefining our character.

Why does God teach us that the rod of discipline is so effective? Because the spanking teaches our children to think rightly about us as parents. This allows them to learn to trust the next boundary they may be tempted to ignore. This allows them to reorient their thinking about their parent’s character and love for them. This allows them to order their lives around what is real rather than what is imagined.

If you think about it, God is asking parents to care enough about their children to impose two punishments for the same crime. When our child ignores a boundary, they immediately suffer from acting outside of our protection. When we spank them, they immediately suffer again. Now they suffer the punishment for thinking wrongly about us. A child ignores a boundary because they refuse to believe that the boundary was placed out of love for them. When our children disobey, they are essentially saying to us, “You say you love me, but I do not believe it.”


God disciplines us and trains us to know His character by giving us instructions to obey, promises to believe, and boundaries to trust. He trains us like children so that we might know Him and believe Him completely. He has appointed a day of judgment, warned us ahead of time, and pleaded with us to turn from our wicked ways and thoughts to live in His blessing. Godly parents play a critical role in helping shape the next generation's view of God. This is why God declares that a parent who spares the road of discipline hates their children.

Parents in this generation often choose to spare the rod of discipline. God says that these parents hate their children. These parents are not actively protecting their children from future danger by setting boundaries. These parents are not actively communicating the difference between imagination and reality. These parents are not correcting their child’s wrong thinking with the kind of discipline that will one day help the child recognize the reality of God’s wrath.

*The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Pr 13:24). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

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