License to Sin
Tracie Miles

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6 (NIV)

I heard the following story on the radio one day …

Since her divorce, a mother had been consumed with guilt for not being able to hold her marriage together. She felt bad for her children in the wake of the divorce, and wanted them to be happy. So she refrained from punishing her children. She felt that if she could be the nicest mom in the world, her children would be happier. As a result, she continually allowed her teenage son to treat her disrespectfully and take advantage of her. The younger children eventually began to mirror the actions of the teenager. The result was that the children were not happier and their mom continually struggled with feelings of insecurities.

I felt sad for this mother. The radio host stated that the actions of this mother were actually giving her children a “license to sin.” That statement really struck me. Do I give my children a license to sin?

I thought about the process of teaching a child to drive. We ride beside them, teaching them the rules of the road, and when they master those rules, they can get their license. In the same way, as children grow, we teach them the ways to live and to treat others, and at a certain age they are given a license to live independently. What we’ve taught them up until that point will greatly determine the direction they will go once on their own.

When we avoid disciplining our children, we neglect to help them develop godly character. Not teaching them what the Bible says about respecting parents and other adults, and holding them to it, is like an invitation to sin. Not disciplining them is like giving them a license to continue sinning this way day after day. If children are allowed to behave in ways that are not only disrespectful, but also displeasing in God’s eyes, they will eventually begin to believe that the misbehavior is acceptable, and this can cause life-long problems.

Throughout scripture, we find biblical references on the importance of teaching children to respect and obey their parents. Although disciplining our children is not pleasurable, it is a part of parenting according to God. Being a parent is not just a responsibility, it is a calling. If God has blessed you with children to raise, or even just to influence, then He has called you to instruct that child in the ways of the Lord. He has given you a ministry to carry out each and every day right inside your home. That ministry includes providing loving discipline.
Although you want what is best for your children, perhaps you hesitate to hold them accountable for their actions because you have grown wary of being a disciplinarian.

Maybe you have a health issue that prevents you from doing all the things you would like to do as a mom, so you feel guilty when you have to punish your children.

Maybe you have financial restraints that prevent you from buying things for your kids that all the other kids seem to have.

Maybe you harbor guilt for being unmarried, separated, or divorced.

Maybe you simply do not feel qualified to hold the title of “mom.”

If you are practicing the art of self-condemnation due to any of the above circumstances, or for different reasons, friend, you are listening to the wrong voice. The enemy lurks at all times, waiting for opportunities to pull our children away from us and ultimately away from God. As parents, we must be dedicated to developing our children into all that God intends for them to be, and that requires not only discipline, but a faith that depends on the Lord to guide all of our actions.

The happiest and most secure children are ones whose parents strive to both nurture them and to teach them appropriate conduct according to the Bible. God disciplines His children for their benefit, and expects us to do the same with those He has entrusted to our care.

Dear Lord, grant me the courage to be the parent You want me to be. Help me control my temper and my anger, so that I can discipline my children in a loving way that will help them see You in me. Help me both display and teach godly character. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Be the Parent, Seven Great Choices You Can Make to Raise Great Kids by Kendra Smiley

Being a Great Mom Raising Great Kids by Sharon Jaynes

For more parenting tips and discussion, visit Tracie Miles’ blog

Application Steps:
Read the sixth chapter of Deuteronomy.

Am I neglecting to teach my children appropriate behavior? Why?

If I were stricter with my children about their behavior, would it help them to better build godly character?

Power Verses:
Leviticus 19:3, “Each of you must respect his mother and father, and you must observe my Sabbaths. I am the Lord your God.” (NIV)

Ephesians 6:1-3, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother – which is the first commandment with a promise – that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” (NIV)

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do you change the damage you've done by giving in?

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I worry also about the damage that as already been done. So,I pray God restore what has been done.And to help me have the confidence i need to displine them today.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my own life I am trying to become proficient at denying my selfish nature and instead align my will to God's will... I deeply desire to instill this into my children as well. I have struggled many times with being a good example to my children - thankfully children are resilient and adaptable - more so than adults! Try to be consistent in your own pursuit of godliness as children learn best by example. Just as we want to align ourselves to our Heavenly father, children often desire to align themselves to their earthly parents. Trust the Lord to use any past "damage" for the good - He is the great healer! And give yourself a break; nobody is perfect and we're all going to make MANY mistakes along the way.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just this weekend, I was feeling inadequate as a mother. I felt as though my child deserves much more than what I can provide. I have feelings of guilt when discipling and often don't want to do it. However, I am a single parent and do not want to rely on his father to discipline in my household. I truly Thank God for today's devotional. It has prinked my heart and helped me.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am an abecentee parent. My sixteen year daughter lives with her father. I am feeling inadaquete as a parent because i don't have as much time to disapline her as i would like. Her father tends to be a buddy parent. " dear lord give my ex-husband-- the direction and courage to be the disaplinarin he needs to be! "thanks, in "Crists' name i pray"Amen and amen. Gods' speed to us all!

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