How do you discipline your kids on a Sunday? Though the Biblical “day of rest” is technically reserved for Saturday, most Christians see Sunday as the holiest day of the week. So on your version of “Sabbath,” how do you deal with it when the kids act up?

A Parenting Conundrum

I ask about disciplining kids on the Sabbath because we recently encountered this parenting challenge right before church. I’m wondering if I should just go ahead and blame myself because if I’d gotten Sophia to sing at the 8:25 a.m. service like she was supposed to with her choir, the mischief would have been managed.

But I didn’t and, as a result, approximately 15 Barbies lost their hair and were tatted up with (washable) marker. That and Sophia’s church dress (and arms and legs) were extra colorful as well. It wasn’t actually her idea, although she could be recognized as a significant mischief maker in this house.

Thankfully, the Lord has worked on me enough that I didn’t respond with rage as I’ve sometimes done in the past. But as we watched Sophia sing for what should have been her second time through, my spirit wondered, “What would Jesus do about BarbieGate 2013?”

I settled on banning all arts & crafts supplies from upstairs, so maybe that’s equivalent to turning over the money changers’ tables. I felt the familiar pressure of guilt and shame cover my head and shoulders. Are there rules about disciplining your children on the Sabbath I need to be following? Should I be allowed to worship when I’ve fussed at my kids, and am still holding a grudge about the destruction of property? 

Love In All Its Forms

I found the answer I need during worship. In a series called, “Is Love Enough?” on the Book of Galatians, our pastor discussed grace. The answer to his question (and mine) is a resounding “Yes!” The love of Christ covers a multitude of sins. That’s an idea that permeates Scripture and leads me to declare that disciplining my kids on Sundays is okay.

Yelling and lecturing with personal attacks aren’t what this is about. Holding a grudge is no bueno. Bringing it up over and over and over again, expecting it to happen every Sunday, is not the way to approach our pre-church time. I can discipline and be angry without sinning. I can react in a way that honors God AND teaches my kids about doing right vs. wrong.

It is going to take grace to do it. In these challenging moments, it’s going to take a surge of the Holy Spirit. It’s going to take His love for people I have no love for (in the moment) to remember my kids are good kids; even 15 jacked up Barbies doesn’t change that.

Certainly, getting there in time for Sunday School will help.

In case you have to deal with errant children on Sundays too, here is what I want to leave you with. If you yell, there is grace for that. If you punish, there is grace for that. God’s grace will cover you as the imperfect parent you are and work through you next time. Just ask for it. You aren’t scarring your kids, although they might have “funny” stories to tell about you later. Grace will cover that too.

I’m sure I will have an opportunity soon to employ this grace in real-time. That’s what this life is about, after all – practicing grace. Especially between the hours of 9-10:30 am on Sunday mornings.

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