May Madness ~ Celebrating the Gift of Motherhood

{A Matter of the Heart}

As a child, I did not have healthy examples of discipline in my life.  I survived, but I told myself that I would do things differently with my own children.  But because I lacked understanding for much of my parenting years, I did not realize that I often disciplined out of a broken heart — a heart that was wounded and in need of healing from past hurts.

And now, years after my children have grown out of those formative first years where their character was being shaped, I realize that I had absolutely no grid for what “healthy discipline” was.  There are days when I’ve wanted to turn the clock back, to revisit times where I’ve disciplined out of anger or spoken harsh words.  But I cannot go back.  God’s grace covers the past and He gives me strength to move forward in continuing to discipline my children in a Godly and healthy way.

As a mom, I often fail my children in the area of discipline.  But the Lord continues to teach me.  God Himself disciplines.  He does so because He loves us.  He never tells us we are bad.  He simply is after our heart – that we would repent from our bad behavior and turn our hearts back to Him.

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”

(Hebrews 12:6)

 Shouldn’t it be the same with my children?  Since my children are older (21, 18, 11 and 8), their bad behavior is normally a direct result of a wrong attitude in their heart. They are well beyond the “training” ages, although they are still learning.  As a mother, my desire is to see my children restored first back to the Lord.

Here are some things that I strive to implement with my children in the area of discipline.  I am not perfect.  I fall short.  But I keep these in front of me as a tool to assist me in healthy discipline:

  1. Pray and ask for Wisdom.  No two children or situations are the same.  I must consistently pray and ask God for guidance in this area.  God is the most loving parent, and He desires to share His wisdom with me so that I can be the best mom possible, with His help.
  2. Be consistent.  An area where I fail miserably.  As a full-time working mom, discipline is not something I desire to spend what few hours I have with my children each evening doing.  I often opt to skip it and just give a pep talk, in the hopes that my children’s heart would soften and they would realize the error of their ways.  But what I am finding is that we must take the time to discipline.  When I stray off the path God has for me, He doesn’t just leave me out there to find my own way back.  He gently leads me and guides me on the path of life, and I must do the same for my children.
  3. Get to the Heart of the Matter.  When my children disobey, it is easy to focus on the behavior and not their heart.  And although I must help my children to understand the seriousness of their wrong decisions, God is more concerned with the attitude behind the sin.  If all I ever did was focus on their bad behavior, I would never grab a hold of their hearts.
  4. Reinforce your love for them.  I cannot stress this enough.  Although my children may behave badly,  it is important for them to understand they are loved, — unconditionally, no matter what!  Healthy discipline will always point a child back to a loving Heavenly Father and help them to have a right perspective of God.
  5. Be quick to ask forgiveness when you discipline wrongly.  This is another area where I fall short.  When I discipline out of anger, it makes me feel horrible and I simply want to crawl in a hole and forget what I did or said.  But my children need to see my vulnerability.  When I humble myself and come to them in my brokenness, I am teaching them that I am not perfect, that I too make mistakes.  And, I am teaching them how to forgive.

I pray that God will give you wisdom, strength and grace so that you can parent your children in a healthy and effective way.  Remember that you are not a prefect mom.  You will make mistakes.  But God is a perfect Father.  Allow Him to lead you by His example.


Barbie makes her home in Northern California with her husband and four children.  She is a busy, full-time working mom who strives to balance family, work and ministry.  Her heart is to encourage women through her journey with the Lord, and to bring hope and freshly brewed encouragement to their every day lives.  She enjoys worshiping, painting, a good espresso, chocolate, spending time with family and friends, and building her community through blogging.  You can find Barbie at her blog, My Freshly Brewed Life, or on Facebook.

  • Dawn St Amand Paoletta

    Beautiful, Barbie. I like your list. I appreciate that you rely on Him…we all parent from broken, real and imperfect places. Because He gives beauty for ashes, our hope is in Him. Thank you for standing firm in His Grace on this subject instead of waxing all preachy…it ministers life, grace and truth: something all mothers need daily. Love and hugs, Dawn

    • Barbie

      Thank you Dawn!  I appreciate you.

  • Blue Cotton Memory

    Wonderful list – I especially love getting to the heart of the matter! There is so much truth there!

    • Barbie

      Thank you so much!

  • Jennifer Camp

    Oh, Barbie, as always, I am so encouraged by your words, by the reminder that our Father parents us first — and when we allow Him to lead — He gives us the wisdom and help we need to parent our children well.  And your list here is so good.  Bless you, friend. And Happy Mother’s Day!

    • Barbie

      Thanks for stopping by to read my friend.  Happy Mother’s Day to you too!

  • Michele-Lyn

    Oh my.. there are so many days that I would love to erase and begin again… I am grateful — where sin abounds, grace does much more abound.

    These are wonderful parenting points. I love your heart for your children and your humility in sharing your struggles. There is freedom in GRACE — in learning to live without the fear of losing love, and acceptance if the job of transformation gets too messy.. we can receive grace and we can offer it to our children so they may know His grace :)

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