Practically speaking, the discipline that develops responsibility takes many forms, which depend on the adult's role in the child's life; the child's age; the child's and adult's temperaments, traditions, and histories. We may remove privileges, require financial compensation or public apology, issue time-outs, or apply any of a myriad of other disciplinary measures. Sometimes we simply need to step out of the way and allow natural consequences.

Whatever the means of discipline, we must commit to it. If Jake and Andre wrestle in the living room (against house rules) and break the fish tank, we can have them clean up the mess and then pay to replace the tank and the fish. If eighth-grade Beth lies to a teacher about her whereabouts, that teacher can respond by restricting her freedom until she earns the teacher's trust back. If Jennifer overspends early in the month, her parents can refuse to bail her out by giving or loaning her money. The pain that her mismanagement causes can bless her future financial decision-making, if we don't interfere. Disciplining kids in any of these scenarios will cost us time and energy, but we mustn't abandon our efforts.

Eugene Peterson, in his paraphrase of Hebrews 12, writes, "God is educating you; that's why you must never drop out. He's treating you as dear children. This trouble you're in isn't punishment; it's training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God?"

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