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No Cowardly Parenting Allowed!

By Dr. Don and Debbi Dunlap
Pastoral Counselor
If your child misbehaves in public, he or she must understand that discipline will take place.

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Children tend to assume that parents are too embarrassed to discipline them in public settings. Parents should nip that notion in the bud! In the 16th article of a 20-part series on child discipline, Dr. Dunlap explains why it is important to discipline a child privately. He also discusses the importance of communicating grief to our children when they disobey. He urges parents to heed the warning of Ephesians 6:4—not to provoke their children to anger.

When we sin against the Lord He disciplines us lovingly and privately. God never chastises us in a manner that causes us to feel humiliated or condemned. He graciously administers His rod of reproof in a way that restores us to Himself.


As we are mindful of the fact that our disciplinary measures should reflect those of the Lord, we should seek never to discipline a child in public unless it becomes necessary to do so.


There are times when we must discipline a child immediately, regardless of the fact that the offense occurred in a public place.

Sometimes, when a child commits an offense in a public place it is necessary to deal with the offense immediately. (There are some situations when discipline can be postponed until later in the day.) When we must discipline a child in a public place, it may not be feasible to find a completely private setting, such as a restroom.

When this occurs, we should get in as private a place as possible, and speak in a soft voice so that only our child will hear us. If a spanking is called for, we should try to administer it as quietly as possible. We should warn the child of an additional spanking if he or she tries to draw attention to himself or herself by crying loudly.

When God disciplines us, His intent is to restore us—not embarrass us.

The writer of Ephesians 6:4 warns parents not to exasperate children, or provoke them to anger. Correcting children in front of other people wounds their spirit and often makes them resentful. They also tend to be more concerned about what other people think, than about their own wrongdoing. We should remember that God never embarrasses us when He disciplines us.

We must always take the time to communicate parental grief over the offense that has been committed. We tell the child that we are grieved because he or she has displeased God, and because he or she has disobeyed us. We remind the child that as parents, we are responsible to God to administer proper discipline for the offense that has been committed. The child must remember that God is the final authority in all of our lives.

A parent’s face and eyes communicate many emotions. Children are very sensitive to their parent’s countenance.


We project grief through our facial expressions. It is important to express grief, not disgust. This provides time for both the parent and the disobedient child to reflect on the offense. The parent should prayerfully determine during these moments, what kind of discipline would be most appropriate.


The parent should also confess to God any anger, pride or frustration that he or she feels because of the child’s disobedience. The length of grieving time depends upon the seriousness of the offense and the individual response of the child. Parents should always associate love with their correction and they should turn the child’s attention to God’s love for him or her.



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