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“Go to Your Room!” (and Other Wrong Methods)

By Dr. Don and Debbi Dunlap
Pastoral Counselor
We must examine and understand the mistakes our parents made in raising us or we may repeat them.

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Regardless of how many times our parents wronged us when we were growing up, whether intentionally or inadvertently, if we are Believers, we must forgive them and love them with the love of Christ. God would not have us blame our parents, drudge up bitterness against them, or feel sorry for ourselves. We would be foolish, however, if we as parents did not carefully think through and examine the disciplinary approaches that our parents took in raising us.


For example, when you were a child did your parents tell you, “Do as I say, not as I do?” When you cried, did they admonish you, “Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about?” Did they call you names such as “cry-baby,” or “little pig?” Did they issue empty threats that you knew they would not carry out?


Were you “grounded” as a child, or banished to your room?

When you were a teen-ager, did they restrict your privileges or “ground” you when you disobeyed? Did they isolate you in your bedroom and tell you, “Think about what you’ve done?” On the other side of the coin, did they indulge your whims and encourage you to quit an endeavor when the going got tough?

Did they urge you, “Have a sense of pride and don’t take any flack off of anybody?” Did they discuss your shortcomings within your earshot, and criticize you harshly when you made mistakes and throw your past failures up to you? Did they spank you in anger or even swear at you?

These were all surprisingly common disciplinary measures in the last generation, and many of them remain popular today. While it is true that all of us make parenting mistakes, it is important to point out that every one of the child-rearing techniques named above are blatant violations of God’s Word.

Christians must not parent their children by simply rejecting or duplicating the way in which they themselves were raised.


Men and women ought not assume that they will raise their children by imitating or avoiding the disciplinary styles of their own parents. Their parents who, no doubt, did many things right, probably did several things wrong as well. However, God does not call adult children to point out the error of their parents’ disciplinary approaches in years past.


Every mother and father is nonetheless, accountable to God to examine his or her own child-rearing methods in light of Scripture. Christians should not allow themselves to be conformed to the parenting philosophies of this world, but instead, they must ask God to renew their minds with the biblical principles of child discipline.

God has given us a blueprint for how to raise children in a godly manner.

We read this exhortation in Hebrews 12:11,

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

In order to be adequately equipped for the parenting task, a person must have a teachable spirit, and be willing to read, study, listen and learn the truths regarding scriptural child rearing. According to Ephesians 1:4, parents should raise children in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord.” God has given us the Bible as a handbook for raising our children in a way that brings Him honor and glory.


Dr. Don Dunlap, a pioneer in the placement of Pastoral Counselors in the offices of Christian physicians, has conducted over twenty thousand appointments during his ministerial career. His counseling practice includes adults, children and families in crisis. Dr. Dunlap is committed to facilitating a network of telephone counselors. His goal is to provide help for the many people unable to meet face to face with a competent Bible-based counselor. For a complete library of Dr. Dunlap’s articles, indexed by topic, go to Family Counseling Ministries. You may also make an appointment for personal telephone counseling by clicking on Family Counseling Ministries. Family Counseling Ministries is a ministry Partner.

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