Bringing Harmony to a Marriage -

' Parenting & Disciplining Children '

Below is the step by step process by which we understand and create marital harmony in parenting our children. The special area of child discipline is used as an example, but actually the process can be used with all sorts of differences between a husband and wife. Child discipline along with finances are two of the largest topics for disagreements and arguments.

I have used this approach many times. But remember, it assumes two things which should be true of a couple. (1) The husband and wife should be talking to each other. Many couples, usually due to the husband's fault, only briefly talk about superficial matters. (2) Both husband and wife are willing to accept the authority of God's Word. This is important because their opinions often differ from God's. We need to be able to accept God's opinion over ours. It is only through this process can we make those needed corrections.

The great part is that it works! Put those basic communication and respect for God's Word in your marriage and you will see wonderful improvement in a very short time. The husband and wife are not in competition with each other but strive together, hand in hand, seeking God's will. The process is outlined below.

The Illustration
The Principles
Basis for Harmony

Basis for harmony is the design of 'one flesh.'

The Lord has called the husband and wife to work together as one. "And they shall become one flesh." (Genesis 2:24)

Challenge to Harmony

The couple is two people but they need one mindset.

Being harmonious is complicated because the husband and wife are two different people. Each has a different background, will and way. This is further complicated by the fact that "opposites attract." (This is not a biblical truth but a good observation).

The couple should not take up polarized sides against each other.

When it comes to different issues such as parenting, we find the two sides form the classic set-up for an argument. Each side has his and her will and is opposed to the other. Each is loaded with their ideas that they thrust at each other.

Usually because they are immature, this infighting is aggravated by confidence in their poor knowledge. This is further complicated by their willingness to be insensitive rather than gracious to the their partner. We must curb any tendency to fight by God's instruction to love.

Husbands and wives need to have the same perspective.

The question is, "How can we avoid this infighting?"

How can a married couple operate so that though the husband and wife have different thoughts and backgrounds, they are essentially one in outlook? If they are one in heart and mind, then they will not fight.

Disharmony results in problemed children.

This unity of outlook is essential in the area of parenting. Unless there is unity, the husband and wife will be divided over how to manage the child.

Unfortunately, this often gets much worse when the parents start using their children to influence their spouse. This is plain manipulation. The children suffer greatly from this.

Another version of this game is when the child plays parent against parent to get their own selfish ways.

The child is a reflection of the parents harmony.

In reality, children are literally a beautiful union of the husband and wife. The child is one person but composed of the two. But to be sure, their welfare and strength of life is based on seeing their parents act as one in love.

Husbands and wives need to think through their goals for their children and family.

The solution for harmony, then, is to have a common goal that is outside of themselves. In this case, they are not struggling against each other but struggling hand in hand to understand and implement this goal.

Husband and wife's goal must be to conform to God's Word.

It is essential that all goals are based on the words and purpose of the Holy Scriptures. The Bible is the design manual for all living including bringing up children. Agree to it. Commit yourself to it. And then work together to bring each area of your marriage and parenting to that goal.

Biblical Worldview shaping the Husband and wife

As you commit to the study and practice of God's Word, your lives will together be shaped into a common biblical perspective. Your children and others around will be encouraged by your unified perspective. The parents and children will both be much happier.

Let's briefly look at the one area of discipline.

Goals on disciplining children

The goal will be to bring up godly men and women who are ready to respond to God's command no matter what. The way we train our children to respond to authority will be the way they respond to authority. We cannot overstate the importance of this fact.

We have to first do what we are asking them otherwise we are training them not to obey. Does a husband always obey God? Does a wife always submit to her husband in the Lord?

Obedience versus negotiator

Obedience is when we simply do what we are instructed.

Negotiation is when we go back and forth with the one in authority trying to get our own will.

How many times should a Christian hear instruction from the Lord before he obeys? The answer is of course the very first time. This is our goal. Any avoidance of doing what the Lord says is disobedience and brings bad consequences.

We then must look at how we as parents practically train their responses to authority. Why is it that many allow a different response from their children than obedience? If we train them to obey the first instruction, then they will not have to relearn through many difficult trials and mistakes later on, that is, if they ever learn.

Have trust in God's ways. He knows the best. This often means that a couple has to change what they do at certain times. My wife and I spend time together before we go to bed each evening discussing matters of the day and praying. We don't need to argue. We seek to know God's will and then pray together that it might happen. How nice it is to have a peaceful marriage!

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Paul J. Bucknell

Biblical Foundations for Freedom